Readers of the blog may recall I have attended the odd coffee tour around Brisbane, run by the friendly, yet professional team at Bean Brewding. I’ve written about some of those occasions in previous posts:
Kicking things off with your choice of either a blend or single origin offering from El Salvador, the recently launched Bean Vault complements the Coffee Tour side of Bean Brewding perfectly. Judging by the tasting notes, either coffee will result in a great tasting cup, and a couple of bags of the aptly titled (and coffee tour themed) Great Day Out blend are on their way to my mailbox. I’m always particularly interested in blend expressions and interpretations, and this combination of Colombian, Brazilian, and Ethiopian origins sounds like a beauty – well worth an extra bag to pass onto a friend.
If you are thinking of sampling what I’d say will be a pretty impressive brew – now is the time to do it. For a limited time, the team are offering a Self-Guided coffee tour from their stable of offerings free with any bean purchase. Why not end up with a glimpse into the Bean Brewding tour portfolio as well as a bag of beans to boot?
With Bean Brewding having been in existence since 2010, George and Glenn’s limitless dedication, passion, and thirst for greater knowledge and understanding of coffee is only surpassed by their desire to share it with the broader Brisbane community.
With ties to the Brisbane coffee community strengthening with each year of tours, there was of course no better way to expand things a little further than with their own line of coffee.
I’d highly recommend giving the coffee a try, and perhaps we can compare tasting notes on a future tour…
In the latter half of 2016, a number of fantastic coffees come through my usual green bean supplier Ministry Grounds. This naturally processed Ethiopian certainly stood out, resulting in a repeat order for an additional couple of kilograms to go into the yearly festive blend given to family and friends at Christmas. There may have also been the expectation a little would be “left-over”, which I would have to take care of myself of course!
In relation to Shakiso and its surrounds, where the Kayon Mountain farm is located — Wikipedia tells us:
Shakiso is a town in Southern Ethiopia, in the Guji zone of the Oromia region, an area known for gold and titanium mining, along with native forests. Guji is bordered on the south by Borena, on the west by the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region, on the north by the Ganale Dorya River which separates it from Bale and on the east by the Somali Region. The highest point in this zone is Mount Dara Tiniro. Cities and major towns in this Zone include its administrative center, Negele.
Many outstanding coffees originate in and around Guji, and it is not uncommon to see many pop up in the offerings of speciality roasters as the season comes around each year. Generally, if you are looking for some berry flavours in your cup, just about anything from this region would be a great place to start.
The following information courtesy of Ministry Grounds:
The Kayon Mountain coffee farm is a local family-run enterprise with over 30 years experience in the production of Guji coﬀees.
The family’s rich experience has included many years of seed selection and nurturing of heirloom local varieties. Two spring fed nurseries are maintained to for the planting of seedlings in the loamy-clay soils of Kayon and coﬀee is grown in a semi-forest environment under native Acacia trees.
In the cup: Strawberries & cream, stewed apple, toﬀee & jam aroma, medium acidity, creamy body with notes of strawberry jam, cherry, blueberry, candied fruits & chocolate with a clean ﬁnish
Here, things have been many and varied — from tasting and testing both filter and espresso roasts for the festive blend I’ve referred to above, to full immersion cold brewing, pour overs on ice, and the occasional iced latte (given the usual hot summer weather here in Brisbane).
As I’ve alluded to above, an Ethiopian naturally processed coffee was a good place to start when seeking some berry flavours for the annual festive blend. With this flavour the predominant aim, the Kayon Mountain comprised 60% by weight, with the remaining 40% a washed El Salvador — Finca Patagonia — providing deeper plum notes for the filter roast. For the espresso roast, the remaining 40% was shared equally by the Finca Patagonia, along with Guatemala Ceylan, which added a little more body and chocolate flavours. Overall, the blends were reasonably successful in achieving my aim regarding the overall flavour profiles, and feedback has been positive from those who received some at Christmas.
The Kayon Mountain brewed as a single origin? Equally well received, however I must admit most of the small amount remaining I kept for myself.
When prepared as espresso1, a lovely rich cup resulted, with strawberry and blueberry flavours, followed by a rich chocolate finish. With milk as a latte or flat white, again those berry flavours were at the forefront, and combined with a little chocolate, the overall profile resembled a Cherry Ripe.
Even if purchased with filter brewing in mind, it is certainly worth running through your machine as well, regardless of roast level. I honestly don’t think you would be disappointed.
With filter brewing2, a clean, crisp, full flavoured cup ensued, with flavours of red berries, a hint of blueberry and chocolate with a creamy, medium bodied, lingering finish. Most of my filter brewing was done using a V60, along with kicking off many a December morning in the office with the AeroPress — both providing equally impressive results. As you’d expect, the V60 produced a cleaner, more nuanced cup, however there were no complaints about the AeroPress brew, from either myself, or my office coffee pals Tracey and Andrea, whom I must thank for determining the final ratios for the festive blend.
Last but by no means least cold brewing. Although a couple of 1 litre batches were indeed “cold brewed” using full immersion over 16-18 hours (similar to this method), I’m also partial to hot brewing and flash chilling — using a V60 over a jug of ice. This method simply involves around half of your usual brewing water already in the vessel as ice, with the remaining half off the boil as usual for brewing a V60 (the dose generally being a little higher than what you might otherwise use). If you’re interested and have not yet delved into the world of iced pour over brewing, perhaps use this as a guide.
Depending on your preference, while adding milk to either of these chilled brews is an option, doing so mutes a little of the richer berry flavours. When consumed black (my first preference, with only one test cup consumed with milk), I’d have to say it was definitely one of the more refreshing drinks I consumed over summer. When you have four or five 200ml bottles of cold brew stashed in the fridge, it becomes mighty hard to limit consumption to a reasonable level on those hot days.
I think you get the idea.
I have been quite taken by this fabulous naturally processed coffee from the Kayon Mountain farm in Ethiopia. Having been put through a wide array of brewing methods over the course of the past few months, it handled all with aplomb.
My preference — despite enjoying it across all forms of brewing is probably by filter, although the bias introduced by these long, hot days of summer probably push the cold brew into first place.
If you are able to get your hands on some, I for one highly recommend it.
For reference, espresso brewing was done on a Sunbeam EM7000, using a 1:2 brew ratio – that is 19-21g dose, yielding 40-44g in the cup. ↩︎
My filter brewing is typically done at a 1:17 ratio. ↩︎
After a little deliberation over the past month or two, I’ve decided to hit the pause button on the Wiser Web Wednesday posts at the current time.
The past couple of months have seen more than a few Wednesdays missed – far from the end of the world of course. Also a predictable scenario, and the very reason the little blurb at the beginning of the posts describes each as a “semi-regular link to posts of interest from around the web…” — tailor-made for those who may slacken off a little with posting. Nothing like planning ahead!
I’ve always maintained (and indeed commented to others) that no apology should be necessary when personal blogging schedules change for whatever reason, and continue to believe in that philosophy.
Think of this as more an update, and a wholehearted thank you to regular readers who found the occasional link useful or interesting, and of course to those who provided feedback or comment.
The reason for the change is probably as you’d expect — the time taken in putting things together, notwithstanding the handy iOS action extension sending content from the web straight into Ulysses with titles, links and text. There is obviously a little tidying up and additional comment to be added before publishing.
Easy enough, however the little things add up — whether it’s a few minutes spent checking social media (doing less of this); the few dollars per month on subscriptions (auditing and prioritising those), or your daily coffee (still doing this equally as much – no surprises there!). In any event, while relevant, this is not a post about priorities or time management per se.
So, after deleting the half-dozen Sunday through Wednesday reminder points from TaskPaper, perhaps I’ll just sit and work on something a little longer on those days, happy enough the looming Wednesday morning deadline is no more. Of course I do plan on continuing the somewhat irregular, yet ongoing stream of regular posts as always.
In finishing up, thanks for reading — I do appreciate your support.
The nature of intermittent pen-related posts appearing on this blog would lead you to believe my pen-life is mostly fountain and little else. Inherently there would be nothing wrong with that, however in reality it’s not all nibs and pistons. There is quite some variety in the writing instruments I use on a day-to-day basis, and on that score I’m sure I’m not alone.
A big part of that variety is the rollerball, or if you prefer — liquid ink pen (for consistency and convenience we’ll go with the term rollerball from here on in). Although the specifics of my rollerball history are varied in themselves (more on this below), in recent times my usage has largely revolved around the “capless” rollerball refills of both the Retro 51 (at times stamped with the P8127 designation), and Schmidt P8126 variety.
Like many before me, and no doubt many after — my initiation into said refills came through The Pen Addict podcast, although the exact episode number is not known to me. I’m sure there is an enthusiast or two out there able to pinpoint the actual number, however given Retro 51 pens are mentioned at least every few episodes, specifics are probably not relevant. With a little trepidation (the hype surely couldn’t be matched by reality) I ordered a Retro 51 Tornado pen (the all black Stealth model), and upon receipt was pleasantly surprised. This was a fine-looking and equally stellar-performing pen, and that refill? Yes – it’s a beauty, and has been a regular purchase of mine ever since.
Although you may find interchanging use of the Retro 51/P8127 and Schmidt P8126 designations when searching online, they definitely are different beasts when talking line widths. If I had to pick my favourite? Probably the ever so slightly thinner line of the 0.6mm P8126, however to be honest I’m happy with either, and my local pen store (Brisbane’s Pen and Paper) which I often visit when refills are required, stock the Retro 51 branded P8127 (0.7mm) version.
A description of the P8126 refill from Jet Pens tells us the following:
the refills use a ceramic ball in the tip
they are available in black, blue, green and red (the Retro 51 refills in black and blue only)
“capless” means a one year cap off time without drying out
the P8126 refill is 3.9″ (10 cm) long. It is not the same as the Schmidt 8126 refill, which is 4.3″ (11 cm) long.
Probably worth noting that last point as far as ordering the correct refill size when the time comes. Speaking of which, when it comes to refills and options for them, you could do no better than to consult an epic guide on such matters, aptly titled The Epic Refill Reference Guide: Rollerball, Gel and Ballpoints by Ana Reinert of The Well-Appointed Desk.
Once you’ve taken a look at Ana’s post, the realisation dawns of the multitude of options out there — many of which I have yet to explore myself. Just prior to finalising this post today, I came across Joe’s review of the Steel and Flint Kickstarter pen on The Gentleman Stationer, which contained the following:
For some reason, I’ve never had the opportunity to use the Schmidt Easyflow 9000 ballpoint refill, and that’s a shame. After using this pen for a few days, I ordered a pack of six, and have since swapped out all my Retro 51 / Schmidt liquid ink rollerball refills for the EasyFlow. It’s that good…
Stay tuned for my future ”Having an absolute ballpoint” post perhaps…
Some current pens
Anyway, the rollerball refills in question are known to many within the pen enthusiast world, and are accommodated by an array of pen housings, with Kickstarter often fertile ground for additions to the list. There are quite a few pen options to choose from really, a couple of which I have previously written about (links below), and the others in the list I’ll no doubt look at in future posts as well.
Again, certainly not an exhaustive list, however the pens I commonly rotate these refills through, provide a good example of the variety at your disposal in terms of overall design, weight and feel in the hand. The writing experience however is of course consistent and familiar.
As with many in this hobby, the memories of where specific points of interest or phases began are quite vivid. I distinctly remember dabbling in a few different types of pens through high school, and in my university years beyond that (student budget permitting). There were no fountain pens to be seen at that time, with the first to come almost a decade later, however you would definitely have found a rollerball or two on my desk.
Although it’s a bit of a stretch to remember exactly what they all were, I do recall sampling a good few of your disposable varieties, like the Uni-Ball Eye Rollerball, and I believe some Pentel variants of whatever specific moniker they carried at the time. In attempting to become a little classier (I guess), the Parker Vector made an appearance, along with a Diplomat (the model escapes me), creating my most distinctive memory of them all — it ran out so quickly I was driven back to ballpoints for a while.
Clearly unfazed, over the next two decades (yes, its been that long) I dabbled here and there, however in recent years with a renewed vigour and enthusiasm for writing instruments in general, the rollerball has made a somewhat triumphant return.
Why the attraction?
There are probably two main reasons I attribute my fondness for rollerballs: my writing style primarily; and the saturation and vibrancy of the liquid ink a rollerball produces.
My writing style does not lend itself well to ballpoints or gel inks below about 0.5mm in tip size. At times depending on what I’m specifically doing, even 0.5mm is a stretch. Of course your average ballpoint or gel ink pen will typically write drier than say an EF fountain pen nib. The angle and stroke of my natural writing provides a very scratchy experience with finer non-fountain pens (and certain very fine fountain pen nibs as well), however a rollerball in the usual 0.7mm or 0.6mm is just about perfect.
As for the saturation and vibrancy of the ink, this speaks for itself really. A good rollerball will often provide output (once on the page at least) not dissimilar to what you might see with a fountain pen. The blues are deep, saturated and hold their colour over time, the reds and blacks are generally the same.
Of course it goes without saying that your colour choices are generally somewhat limited, unless you look further afield to something like the J. Herbin rollerball pen, which I’ve not personally tried, and accepts standard international ink cartridges. Personally, for the uses mine see, I’ve no real need for a vast selection of ink colours, and the basics do just fine.
Here the immediate thought of: “well for lots of things where fountain pens dare not tread” is probably not 100% accurate. As you probably know, rollerballs — while perhaps more versatile in some ways than fountain pens — still do not have the ubiquitous acceptance a ballpoint might.
On very glossy paper or card stock, they can be just as bad if not worse than a fountain pen. In addition, poor quality standard paper will see feathering typically less than fountain pens, however the ghosting and/or bleed through can actually be worse. If you are anything like me, and unintentionally take a rollerball as a ticket to writing with a firmer hand — this effect can be exaggerated significantly.
That said, there is a pretty decent range of paper types that will provide a fantastic writing experience with one of these capless rollerball refills. Personally, I’ve found some of the best to be on slightly toothier paper, such as Baron Fig’s Confidant, or your typical Field Notes for example. Even the standard copy paper we use at the office is a pretty good match, upon which I print out an Emergent Task Planner for the day’s tasks and scheduled activities, and a Cornell notes formatted printout for general note taking.
Although I find the writing performance of these capless refills quite an enjoyable experience, longer form writing is not something I choose to use them for. For various reasons, the pens are either a little thin, fairly heavy, or a combination of both. I say that not in a negative way, simply to point out I’d probably choose one of my fountain pen options were I to sit and churn out a few thousand hand-written words.
That being the case — where do they excel? As short form note takers. That is, for meeting notes, recording phone calls, daily planning and brainstorming, or outlining blog posts. They are hardy enough to withstand a drop, or lend to others without the need for undue concern. Perfect office pens really, which as I’ve mentioned, is mostly where you’ll find mine. I’ve also been known to have them rolling around on the shed workbench while recording coffee roasting data — a task for which they are more than hardy enough.
The benefit of having so many choices available for these great refills is just that — the choices. The variety of pens available should see something suitable for just about any particular preference — all the while retaining the same great writing experience between refill tip and page.
Of course there are other great rollerball or gel based refills around, and I’m not suggesting the Retro 51/Schmidt’s are the be-all and end-all in this category, however are a standard and favourite for me, seeing some form of use pretty much every day. With the newly arrived Nova Minimal pen, I now have five options — perhaps a ready-made Monday to Friday rotation! More likely though is that I will simply continue what I’ve done for some time — use one for a while, and switch when the desire to do so hits me.
One thing remains a certainty — although the housing may differ, the smooth, rich, and vibrant writing experience certainly won’t.
Wiser Web Wednesday– a semi-regular link to posts of interest from around the web, by those far wiser than myself:
The Finer Point
A couple of popular A5 notebooks within the fountain pen-friendly sphere. Of the two, I prefer the Rhodia paper slightly — finding a little too much nib glide with the Clairefontaine stock.
A nice round-up of a selection of fountain pens manufactured by Pilot in Japan. Perhaps not news for the long time pen-obsessives, though a good background for the developing pen enthusiast: Luxury Japanese Fountain Pens
The Pen Habit
Coincidentally, I recently received a letter from a friend written with the illustrious broad nib of a Gaston’s Exclusive. Written in Iroshizuku Asa Gao on Tomoe River paper, it came up a treat.
They are super-smooth and deliriously juicy. If you have an ink where you want to highlight its sheening capabilities, then this is the nib for you. It is a marker of a pen, but with a whole lot less feedback
And yes, even just looking at the cursive writing on the page, I reckon I can confidently confirm the above.
With the Platinum Preppy such a great pen, a natural next step might be the Plaisir, which is great value at around AU$30.00. Some great colours available as well.
the medium has a very large sweet spot. It can be rotated and held upright or even at a low angle and will still write well. As a gift to a newbie, the fine is worth considering as it produces a line more comparable in width to the familiar rollerball or gel pen.
As a dedicated listener to a podcast put together by two of the founders of this cafe, I chipped in a very small amount to the Kickstarter campaign referred to in the post.
Although I hear regular updates on how things are proceeding on the podcast, its nice to read an overview of the business itself, and the philosophy taken by the owners towards their staff in terms of entitlements and development.
The SIAM Journal of Applied Mathematics (full article PDF Link) is not the usual place I turn to for coffee news.
Although the principles of grind size/distribution, and the shape of the filter vessel and coffee bed are often discussed in coffee writing, I think this may be the first time the principles have been looked at from a mathematical modelling standpoint.
If formulas for finding “the constants of integration remaining in the outer solution by using modified Van Dyke matching” is your thing — then I’d suggest clicking through to the full PDF article I’ve linked to above.