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          Archive for the ‘cuppings’ Category

          sample roasting

          Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

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          Roasted samples of green coffee last night at home in my garage. Our sample roaster is basically a solid steel drum on a spit, turned by hand, over propane flame. A few magnetic thermometers are stuck on the side for reference, next to a small door to spoon samples out. On the far side of the drum a larger hinged door, with a latch key, is for dropping beans in, and pulling finished roasts. Next to the roaster sits a leather glove.

          Our sample roaster was made for us by Sherman Dodd, who started Coffee/PER, manufacturer of the SanFranciscan roaster. Five years ago, I contracted Sherman after exhausting a short list of referenced local welders. I spent months on a few different designs, finally deciding upon one, and faxing it over to Sherman, who agreed to make it for me. He made a few upgrades to my design and the result was awesome.

          For the first year of roasting in my garage, the majority of my time was spent with this roaster. Now we roast in my garage only to do small samples, sent to us by green coffee sellers. The table next to the roaster is full of tools and forgotten bike parts, while behind is my collection of bikes.

          Anyway, last night five samples of coffee from El Salvador were roasted, that were cupped out today. Since much of the flavors were hidden today by the freshness of the roast we will also be cupping these out tomorrow, and maybe after that.

          Working on the Guatemela Palhu, calibrating our hygrometers, biking loops with the cargo bike

          Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

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          A quick reflective cupping of Guatemala Huehuetenango finca Palhu, May crop arrival into Oakland/Emeryville through Royal Coffee. Palhu is a 33.8 hectare farm; elevation 1550-2000 meters; cultivars: 75% Catura, the rest Bourbon, Catuai, Mundo Nuevo.

          We’ve gradually been finding our balance on this coffee. At the beginning of last week we were developing more of a chewy mouthfeel at a medium roast, slightly too much in the end, and we found ourselves liking the lighter roasts. Our Friday and Sunday roasts were comparatively light with flavors of Ceylon tea and lemon. Now we are slowly working back into developing the sugars without taking away the crispness in the acidity.

          IMGP3017 by you.In other developments, we have re-calibrated our hygrometers using table salt and Ziploc bags. Pictured above is a worthless Taylor hygrometer.There is actually no way to calibrate this except by bending the needle, and even then it is garbage. Synthetic hair hygrometers are the way to go, the best from Duro-Therm. Hair expands and contracts with humidity, and is a pretty accurate way to measure relative humidity. The one we are currently using is an older Duro-Therm I got off eBay. We used to use a wet/dry bulb method that we combined with a vacuum cleaner to draw air across the wet bulb, kind of like a sling psychrometer. Our cellar has been a little moist, to be expected for a basement. We have a wine humidifier running all the time but it struggles sometimes with the amount of moisture. We are currently at 68% RH and 55 F. In a beautiful world I would have us at 55% RH and 60 F. I am sure we need an above ground silo to store our green coffee. Moisture and temperature are important for keeping our green coffee fresh for as long as possible, but at the very least our store room is highly stable. Our recent investigations are part of a long term study in green coffee storage. Today we are just excited about our high tech method for calibrating our gear.

          Other news: the cargo bike had a long run yesterday from 40th & Hawthorne, 52nd & Steel, Milwaulkie & Tacoma, Fremont & Mississippi, 18th & West Burnside, Knapp & Milwaukie to 40th and Hawthorne.

          Cuppings, Veloshop at work on the cargo bike

          Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

          Saturday, samples of green coffee arrived in five 80 gram bags. I slept on these till Monday night. My sample roasts were done in a steel drum that I turned by hand over a propane torch. The spit that holds the drum I made from two shelving L-brackets, a pair of vise grips, and a scythe.

          Tuesday morning we cupped the coffees, discussed. Later in the day, we cupped some batches from our production roasts. This morning (Wednesday) we cupped the five coffees twice. A pretty fun tasting (see the apres cupping picture below). We each had three cups of each of the five coffees — two Indonesia, two Guatemala, one El Salvador. Later I found out that both the Guatemala are pre-ship samples-nice. Pre-ship samples come from coffees that either still at origin or are moving from origin to destination. Many times we taste coffees that have already been purchased and are being held in the U.S. We call these “spot.” Spot coffees are much easier to predict and to acquire. Someone has already taken the risk of purchasing to bring it to the country. Also most of the shipping has been done, and the spot samples that are sent out are pretty close to what one would actually receive, barring shipping damage. Pre-ship coffees still run the risk of being damaged during shipping/holding. The upside to tasting coffee before it arrives/ships is that roasters get a better picture of what is coming. Today we decided on the Guatemala Aldea La Granadilla (city) finca (farm) las Nubes. This coffee is still in Guatemala but should be in a container and on a boat soon.

          IMGP2967 by you.Other news: This morning our cargo bike frame made its way to Veloshop, with an extra bike thrown on the front and some coffee deliveries. Ryan of Veloshop accepted it and has been working on it through the day. He says it should be ready either today or tomorrow.

          Five roasts, different batches. More Brazil Perdizes de Minas fazenda Nossa Senhora de Fatima!

          Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

          Our coffee tasting at Little Red Bike Cafe went awesome. Evan and Ali cleared everything but the espresso machine from the bar; and good thing, because we had many, many cups. We tried samples held back from a few of the NSF roasts from the last week. (I think we had June 4th, 6th, 7th, and two roasts from the 12th.) The two oldest roasts were like a faded oil of bergamot, or, at least, the lightest and most delicate. I think what came across clearest is how different one coffee may taste as it ages, or from batch to batch. It was also a lesson in group tastings (I made lots of notes to myself). Thank you everyone who came, and thanks to Little Red Bike Cafe for hosting!


          Cupping at Little Red Bike Cafe, 2 pm.

          Monday, June 15th, 2009

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          Today at 2 pm we are having an informal cupping at Little Red Bike Cafe. Everyone is invited. We will be bringing several roasts from different days of our Brazil Perdizes de Minas fazenda Nossa Senhora de Fatima coffee. The varietal is Icatu and it is a traditional natural process, organically grown coffee. Rumor has it Evan of LRBC has made some cold press Kenya Mchana, and Ray could be making some interesting single origin espresso. This is LRBC’s day off, so the pace should be a little more laid back than usual. 4823 N Lombard at the intersection of Fiske.


          Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

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          Cupping samples right now. Roasted yesterday evening in my garage. Alex, Matt, and me. Hot coffee, hot arms.

          Sundays for relaxing?

          Sunday, May 31st, 2009

          Cupping these right now (the production roasts from last week that went out to all our accounts). Fifteen roasts, thirty samples…ten pictured here.