My Personal Coffee Journal
I began these chapters before the term "blog" was being used as it is now. The chapters listed below document my personal journey in the World of Coffee. Personal experiences, mistakes, coffee shows, opinions, rants and raves, and more are documented.
Chapters one through sixteen below document my quest for my first espresso machine including learning about espresso, how to make it, what I bought, and a lot more.|
i - Introduction, Disclaimer, and Warning
1 - Coffee in the Soul
2 - My Quest Begins - The Motivation
3 - The Grail After Which We Quest
4 - How To Make Perfect Espresso
5 - The Quest Takes It's First Steps
6 - Let's Go Shopping
7 - Machines, Machines, Machines...
8 - Yes, Virginia, There's More
(or, "Can I have the Checkbook Dear?")
9 - Are You Anal Enough For Espresso?
10 - Give Me More! More!
11 - We're Done.. Wanna Bet? I'm Roasted!
12 - Yes, You Can Roast! Who Knew?
13 - No- It's Still Not Over
14 - How to Maintain Your Bank Account
15 - Try Brewing it This Way
16 - It's Almost Here!
Beginning with chapter seventeen I document my post-purchase experiences with roasting, blending, various methods for making coffee, and much more.
17 - Nectar of the Gods (The Goods Arrive)o
18 - Some Things I Learned
During the First Few Hours
19 - Roast Away!
20 - Acidic Vs. Bitter
21 - Closer and Closer
22 - I'm Starting to Look Like
I Know What I'm Doing
23 - Biscotti, Knock Boxes, and Crema- Oh My!
24 - Good Days and Basket Days
25 - Cleaning, Frothing, and a Visit From Mom
26 - Espresso or Express'o?
Where are we Going?
27 - Mocha Ice Cream and More
28 - Steaming Soymilk
29 - Frustrations and Solutions
30 - "An Americano, Please."
31 - I Score(y) a Cory!
32 - Measuring Espresso in a Cappa Cup
33 - Too Much Vacuum Can Be A Bad Thing
34 - Getting Serious About Roasting
35 - Our First French Press Coffee Arrives
36 - More Roasting and Steaming
37 - Grinding by Hand
38 - Striving for Consistency
39 - Roasting for Blending
40 - Creating House Blends
41 - The Blending Continues
42 - Third Crack
43 - Visiting a Commercial Roaster
44 - Odds and Ends
45 - Fun With Coffee
46 - What Do You Mean, You don't like coffee?
47 - I think I am there!
48 - Roof Coffee
49 - More Guests and a Test
50 - Guests Again and Another Test
51 - It Can Always Get Worse
52 - It Can Always Get Better
53 - How Hot is Too Hot? This Hot!
54 - SCAA 2002 Convention and Exhibition
55 - Always Room For Improvement
56 - It Just Gets To Me Sometimes - a rant
57 - You Want Me To Drink That?
58 - Temp Surf or Time Surf?
59 - You Served Me WHAT?!
60 - A Lot Of Great Espresso
61 - A Nice Pair of Bunns
62 - A 38 Regular Cappuccino
63 - Me Be PID
64 - Early Observations Of A PID In Use
65 - PID Taste Test
66 - Thank You!
67 - Lighter on Accident and Purpose
68 - Everyone Has A First Time
69 - Three Years Ago Today
70 - Another Satisfied Customer
71 - How To Make Bad Coffee
72 - Another Turned from the Dark Side
73 - Happy Accident, or Accidentally Happy?
74 - Poor Planning, Good Coffee
75 - The New Non-Sense-Eo!
76 - What I Have Become
77 - The Organic Thermometer
78 - Missed it by That Much
79 - The Cost of Grinder Frugality
80 - Starting the New Year - 1/1/2006
81 - Fresh Counts!
82 - The Highest Compliment
83 - Danger! Coffee Ahead!
84 - Injection Molded Coffee
85 - When the Cat's Away
86 - Old Ground
87 - Every End Has A Beginning
88 - Under Dose (It's Not a Superhero!)
89 - Grindmaster Commercial Grinder - Model 500
90 - It's Coffee and Water, but Mostly Coffee
91 - A Great Local Coffee Shop!
92 - The Secret to Espresso... There is No Secret
93 - Coffee as a Spectator Sport
94 - A Visit to Great Infusions
95 - Blues Harp and Espresso
96 - SCAA 2008 Minneapolis Convention
97 - A Visit to Chocolate Mystique Café, Chico, CA
98 - Famous From Coast to Coast
99 - One Year With Sr. D. S. Vibiemme
100 - The Myth of the Golden Rule
101 - A Business Proposition
102 - Espresso! My Espresso! Eight Year Anniversary
103 - If and When and Why to Upgrade
104 - My First Single Shot
105 - Diagnosing and Solving Bad Extractions - One More Example
106 - SCAA Exhibition - Atlanta, Georgia - 2009
107 - K-Cups - How Old is Too Old? This Old!
108 - Three Guests for Coffee - Eight Legs - Do the Math
109 - A Therapeutic Gift of Coffee
110 - SCAA Exhibition - Anaheim, CA - 2010
111 - My First Pour Over Expereince
112 - A Scrabble Coffee Moment
113 - 10th anniversary
114 - Weighing the Dose
115 - The Best Coffee for the Least Amount of Money
116 - Alt.coffee is Dead - Long Live alt-coffee-moderated
117 - Custom Coffee Cabinet
118 - Dose, Distribution, Plumbing, Steaming, (and more)
119 - SCAA Exhibition - Houston, Texas - 2011
120 - Can You Learn and Benefit from Using "Entry Level" Equipment?
121 - Yes, Freshness Matters!
122 - Miscela, Macinazione, Macchina, Mano - A re-examination
123 - Preinfusion and Learning To Get The Best From My Equipment
124 - "The Best Coffee I Ever Had."
125 - How Bad Can Coffee Advice Get?
126 - Happy Birthday E-61
127 - Double French Roast
128 - Internet Shopping Information - Consider the Source
129 - Sampling a Commercial Roaster's Espresso Beans
130 - False Authority - Teaching How To Make Bad Espresso
131 - C.S. Bell Company - No. 1˝ Corn Mill
132 - Electrical Safety and Consequences of Ignoring It
133 - SCAA Exhibition - Portland, Oregon - 2012
134 - Coffee in Literature - Chandler's "Philip Marlowe"
135 - Cold Weather Roasting
136 - 2013 SCAA Exhibition - Boston, MA
137 - Miracle Maid Cookware coffee maker by Advance Aluminum Casting Corp.
138 - A New Bistro Table for Our Morning Coffee
139 - Once Again Variables Are King
140 - 2014 SCAA Exhibition, Seattle, Washington - Part 1
141 - 2014 SCAA Exhibition, Seattle, Washington - Part 2
142 - Pay Attention to the Roast. No, the Puppy. No, the Roast
143 - It Could have Been Worse – Roasting Accident
144 - Fourteen Years - October 22, 2000 – October 22, 2014
Recent Updates of this Site
1/25/15 - Updated SmartTamp review (new website links and lower price)
8/4/14 - Added Chapter 144 - Fourteen Years - October 22, 2000 – October 22, 2014
9/5/14 - Added Brazen Plus review
9/5/14 - Removed Behmor Brazen Review
8/22/14 - Minor update (addendum) on Brazen review
8/4/14 - Added Chapter 143 - It Could have Been Worse – Roasting Accident
• The Bonavita BV4000ID Immersion Dripper is a porcelain drip brewer with a manual valve that allows full-immersion steeping of coffee or tea.
• The Bonavita BV2000SC Digital Scale is likely the scale you have been looking for. While it is a bit large for sitting on the drip tray of most espresso machines, it is the scale I had been looking for and it has helped me discover "Bonavita."
• The Beko Automatic Turkish Coffee Maker, imported and sold in the USA by Kafette. Add water, sugar, and ground, insert the carafe into the machine, and push a button. Delicious, real Turkish coffee in about three minutes or less!
• The Smart-Tamp from MG Coffee Tools is the most unique tamper you have likely ever seen. With an electronic display of the tamping force in real-time it supplies the user instant feedback and the ability to easily vary their tamp with the only added effort being that to give the tamper a gentle shake to turn it on when compared to a "regular" tamper.
• RL-HT-CTRL Hottop Roaster Computer Interface - With the MLG Properties' (JimG's) HTC+TC4C boards out of production (at least temporarily) "GreenBean" (aka Tom) has developed a replacement that is a bit smaller and has all the same functions as JimG's boards. This is also a micro-review of RoastLogger as well. To hopes that this design is a temporary solution to fill the gap until Jim can resume production. In the meantime, at least there is a solution, albeit one that will be available in limited quantities.
• Behmor Brazen Plus - Behmor has improved the original Brazen drip brewer which is now called the "Brazen Plus." Can the best be better? I think so. Read the review and decide for yourself.
• Friis Coffee Vault - My first product review for an item I have not used. Why? This company makes claims (up to this point, unproven and unsupported claims) that the presence of CO2 damages the flavor of coffee. My research indicates the opposite. Read the review and decide for yourself.
• Coffee Joulies - Stainless steel coffee beans? Read my review of "Coffee Joulies" which bring your coffee down to a drinjkable temperature sooner and keep it there longer.
• Vibiemme Domobar Double - Vibiemme's Double Domobar ("DD") double boiler is the flagship of their home line of espresso machines. Now in its third generation, and benefitting from countless hours of R+D, this PID-controlled, dual boiler machine is definitely worth considering if you are thinking seriously about a serious espresso machine. UPDATED 12/5/2013 with a 2˝ year ownership report!
• Sowden SoftBrew Coffee Maker - A coffee maker with three parts, and one is the lid! A simple and elegant design using a high-tech filter design.
• Espro Calibrated Tamper - Most of us think of the tamper as just another tool, or possibly a piece of espresso bling. Some espresso machine companies think even less of it, supplying us with plastic tampers that do not even fit their own baskets!The Espro Calibrated Tamper might change your mind. It did mine, and it sure beats having a bathroom scale on your kitchen counter!
• Mypressi Twist - The Mypressi Twist is affordale, easy to use, portable, and has the potential to make great espresso.
• Espro Press - Espro's newest creation is an improvement, if not the perfection of the press pot. It changed my opinion of press pot coffee!
• Cafelat Barista Tools - Cafelat sells a selection of espresso-related items. Here is a review of three Cafelat barista tools that I think you will find useful.
• Magic Power Coffee - I discovered this product at the 2010 SCAA Exhibition in Anaheim. It claims it possesses libido-enhancing powers, so with you in mind, I had a sample sent to me. Too good to be true? I can only say, read the review.
• Tambaroo's "The French Kiss" - Cleaning a press pot after brewing makes a real mess in the sink. This device is designed to make clean up fast and easy while helping to protect the sink as well as the floor.
• Espro Toroid Latte Art Pitcher - Two sizes of these pitchers are available, and their special shape really does help even a novice stretch milk effectively.
• Koa Plantation Kona Coffee - Kona coffee has always been a delight to most coffee drinkers, and this plantation grown Kona is a fine example of what Hawaii has to offer.
• Mazzer Kony Grinder - The Mazzer Kony is a massive commercial espresso grinder with very large conical burrs. Do you need one? No. Will you want one after you read this? Maybe!
• Vibiemme Domobar Super - As of 6/2008 I have been using my Vibiemme for about a year now and it is a well-built machine capable of years of superior performance. It was a giant step-up from my Silvia for a lot of reasons.
• Gene Cafe CBR-101 - The Gene Cafe coffee roaster is an excellent roaster in this price range, and hard to beat for the money. Although it lacks after-roast cooling, it makes an excellent cup.
• Hottop KN-8828B - The Hottop roasters have a reputation for dependability and excellent coffee. Find out why. The "B" model allows a high-level of user control during the roast that emulates commercial sample roasters to a great extent.
• Hottop KN-8828P - The "P" model allows a high degree of pre-roast programming to allow hands-off roasting while still creating a roasting profile to satisfy the user.
• MLG, Do it Yourself Silvia PID Kit - The MLG Properties PID kits are put together from high-quality components and come with excellent, step-by-step instructions making it easy for the user to install on their own.
• Baratza Virtuoso Grinder - The Baratza folks have a long history with coffee grinders, having designed the Solis grinders. Now selling their own designs, these compact, high-quality, affordable grinders are worth a look.
• Aerobie Aeropress - This is my personal, favorite method of brewing coffee, second only to espresso. At less than $30 I consider it the best device for the money. It is our travel brewer of choice.
• Urnex Grindz - All Urnex products perform as advertised, and these grinder cleaning pellets are no exception. See the before and after images in the review and decide for yourself.
1 -Backflushing - Backflushing is a method to clear inaccessible areas of the brewing path of coffee debris and oils. Here are step-by step instructions on how to accomplish this.
2 - Brew-Temperature Control - Small, single boiler machines have poor control over the brew temperature because of the thermostats that are used. Here is a work-around that gives better control.
3 - Rocky Doser Modification - The Rocky doser can leave a mess. Here is a simple modification that helps a lot.
4 - Your First Roast - Thinking about roasting coffee? Here's what to watch and listen for so that even your first roast can be successful. Educational, even if you do not intend to roast.
5 - Changing the Portafilter Gasket - A portafilter gasket can be difficult to remove if left to long before being changed. Here are some tips to help get it out.
6 - Permanent Filter Replacement for Hottop - I prefer to avoid disposable items when I can, and so I came up with this method to create a permanent main filter replacement that fits all the KN-8828 models.
7 - Brew-Temperature Check - Don't know what the temperature is when making espresso with your machine? here is a simple way to estimate the brewing temperature.
8 - Descaling Espresso Machine Boilers - If you use tap water, minerals will build up in your espresso machine. here are the instructions to descale a single-boiler machine.
9 - Add Bean Temperature Monitoring to the Hottop - Some like to roast to a specific bean temperature. Here is a relatively easy way to add a thermocouple probe to the Hottop coffee roasters. Includes link to printable cutting pattern.
10 - Stretching Milk and Pouring Latte Art - I am getting better at this, but it takes practice. Here are detailed instructions with photos and lots of tips I learned along the way that will help you out. Completely rewritten 2/2009.
11 - Disassembling Rocky for Cleaning - Disassembling the Rocky gives access to areas deep in the grinding chamber and allows inspection of the burrs. Here's how to do just that.
12 - EASY GUIDE TO BETTER ESPRESSO AT HOME -[updated 11/19/2013] - If you are beginning to make espresso, this guide will be invaluable in helping to avoid many pitfalls and will help build good habits right from the start. If you are having problems with your espresso, the solution is probably in this very complete guide to making espresso. Nw with linked "Table of Contents" for easier navigation
13 - How to Remove and Replace an E-61 Shower Screen and Group Gasket - E-61 brewheads are different from other brewheads. The shower screen has no screw in the center and cannot be removed without also removing the brewhead gasket. Here are detailed instructions on how to do that.
14 - How to Profile a Roast With the Hottop KN-8828B Coffee Roaster - If you are interested in the best possible coffee, there is a lot more to roasting than "heat and beans." This "How To" documents, step-by-step, how I control my KN-8828B for the best possible coffee.
- Placing your Espresso Machine on a Timer - Having your espresso machine hot and waiting every morning is enticing, but not for every machine nor every situation. This article will help you decide if a timer is a good choice for you.
- The Four M's of Espresso - Understanding the Factors that Affect the Espresso - Shopping to avoid disappointment - This article centers on you, your coffee, your espresso machine, and your grinder. It is aimed at new home baristas shopping for their first espresso setup. Beginning to shop? Having problems making drinkable espresso? Is it you or your equipment? Here is a good place to begin figuring it out.
- Kony and Other Commercial Mazzer Grinder Modifications - I was asked to document all that I have done to turn my "commercial" Mazzer Kony grinder into a more firendly "Home Kony." Here it is, all in one place.
- Simple Lubrication of the E-61 Group - When all you need is a quick lubrication of the E-61 cam due to a stiff or squeaky lever, here is the simple, step-by-step, illustrated procedure.
- Overhauling and Lubricating the E-61 Group - When your E-61 group neeeds more than a simple lube, this How-To covers complete disassembly, lubrication, and repair of the E-61 from top to bottom, and all points in between. Everything but removing the group from the machine is covered here. Includes valve seal replacement. All done step-by-step with plenty of photos.
INTRODUCTION - The source and inspiration for the articles in this section.
• Percolator - Remember those ubiquitous aluminum pots sitting on the stove? Many are still in use, but read here why this method should be on the bottom of the list if you want the best coffee you can make.
• Drip - The quality of coffee varies because of the wide range of quality of these devices, but the better ones can make a good cup every time.
• Press Pot - A favored method of many because of the rich tasting, full bodied coffee from these devices.
• Vacuum Pot - For those special occasions a vacuum brewer is only fun to watch, but can make excellent coffee as well.
• Espresso - The king of coffee-making methods. Difficult to master, but once you taste really good espresso it is difficult to go back. Cappuccino, latte, Americanos, and more all start with espresso.
• Pour-Over - The most simple method of making coffee and highly recommended by many for the ease of which you can make excellent coffee. Think of it as a highly portable, easy-to-clean manual drip machine. They come in many different sizes from one cup to a full pot.
assorted educational pages
• "All About Coffee" by William H. Ukers" - If you have not seen this wonderful book from 1922, it is available as a free e-book through the Gutenbeg Project. For the illustrations alone it is worth the time to download.
• The "Espresso Star of Variables" - I wanted to create a visual representation of the major variables that affect the creation of espresso. Here it is - The "Star of Espresso!"
• Plumbing in an Espresso Machine - Part 1 - Many upper-end espresso machines are designed to be connected to a watrer system ("Plumbed In"). Part 1 of this multi-part article deals with planning a system to safely plumb in an espresso machine.
• Plumbing in an Espresso Machine - Part 2 - This portion covers the installation and p0lumbing of teh rest of teh soft water system begun in Part 1.
• 3-Way Valve How and Why - This detailed and illustrated article will teach you how a 3-way valve works and why any machine with a traditional 3-way valve needs to be backflushed.
• How a Rancilio Silvia Works - Various detailed schematic illustrations showing all functions of a stock Rancilio Silvia as well as illustrations of PID wiring, all with full explanations.
• Rancilio Silvia Wiring Diagram in COLOR! - A One page color electrical schematic.
• A Beginners' Guide to tasting Espresso - Bad espresso is an insult to the
palate, but good espresso is a real delight. Here's how to enjoy it to its fullest.
• Hottop Bean Roaster FAQ - Questions and answers that might help you understand your Hottop a bit better.
• See a Pull From Silvia - An animated GIF showing the possibilities using a simple machine like Silvia when it is operated properly with fresh, properly-roasted coffee.
• How a Pressurestat Works - A simplified explanation of how a pressurestat controls temperature in many espresso machines.
• How a Pressure Relief Valve Works - A simplified explanation of how a pressure relief valve (sometimes called an over pressure valve or "OPV") operates.
• How a Heat Exchanger ("HX") Works - A simplified explanation of how a heat exchanger works.
• How a Double Boiler ("DB") Works - A simplified explanation of how a doiuble boiler espresso machine works.
• Understanding and Preventing Thermosyphon Stall - Thermosyphon stall can be a frustrating event. This article explains what it is and how to prevent it.
• How a Pressurized or Enhanced Portafilter Works - Some entry-level machines come equipped with a crema-enhancing device built into the portafilter. Here is an explanation of what they are, how they work, and why you may or may not want one.
• Improved Roast Profiling - It is easy to get into a rut when roasting with appliances that are pre-programmed. Here are generic instructions to achieve a more advanced roast profile that should work with any roaster that allows the user to control the roasting temperature throughout the roast.
• Espresso & Coffee Links - A couple of hundred links, categorized and alphabetized
• Espresso & Coffee Forums - Various places online where you can talk coffee with others
• Biscotti Recipe - A recipe we tried and found delicious. Homemade biscotti is amazing with coffee!
• Ice Cream a la me! Recipe - A delicious ice cream treat... with coffee as an ingredient, of course!
• iRoast2 Owners Manual - A PDF copy of the owners manual that came with the iRoast and (I believe) the iRoast2 as well.
• Vibiemme Domobar Super Black - Rust Prevention and Solutions
• How I Named This Website - The title of this site came from another of my interests- the American Civil War
• Tribute to Madeleine Page - The most delightful person I never met, but knew so well. I still miss her