Wiser Web Wednesday

Wiser Web Wednesday – a weekly link to posts of interest from around the web:

The Unroyal Warrant
A new Field Notes colours release always brings a good degree of interest around the web. This, a unique one in that we have a larger sized notebook in a two pack rather than the traditional 3 pack of pocket-sized notebooks. I’m really looking forward to getting some of these myself, however in the meantime, some thoughts from The Unroyal Warrant:
Field Notes Arts and Sciences Edition Review

Office Supply Geek
Whilst we are on notebooks, a look at the new limited edition 80 Year Anniversary Rhodia Ice notebook range from Brian at Office Supply Geek:
Rhodia Ice 80th Anniversary Notepad

The Writing Arsenal
OK – last notebook link. Writing Arsenal Tim with his Field Notes Shelterwood Review, concluding this particular edition is not a pocket notebook:
Field Notes: Shelterwood

From The Pen Cup
Of course we also need something with which to write in these notebooks. This is a great post from Mary describing how impressions of a pen can change markedly depending on paper and proposed/actual use. When I purchase my Metropolitan will it be M or F?:
Too fine?! The Pilot Metropolitan/Lizard/Fine nib

Gourmet Pens
I’ve been using my trusty Retro 51 Tornado (all black Stealth model) for a good while now, and hadn’t really been in the market for another, however the colour of this Kiwi model is enough to make me reconsider. Azizah at Gourmet Pens appears to be a fan as well:
Review: Retro 1951 Classic Lacquer Tornado

Chambers Daily
With the ever increasing number and size of apps, along with the amount of photo and video we all take these days putting a significant strain on a 16GB device, a nice guide from Bradley Chambers on managing this precious space:
How to Free Up Space On iOS

World Aeropress Championships
The World Aeropress Championships took place in Rimini, Italy last weekend, alongside the World Barista Championships (congratulations to Hidenori Izaki for becoming the new WBC). Give Japanese and WAC Winner Shuichi Sasaki’s recipe a run for yourself. Perhaps a return to the traditional, non-inverted style of brewing may be the order of the day?:
Shuichi Sasaki’s WAC winning recipe

Macstories
I’ve been a long time user of Launch Center Pro on my iPhone, and am currently setting up some actions on my iPad. A recent update of the app to version 2.3 saw IFTTT integration added, greatly expanding LCP’s ability to trigger automated web recipes in addition to the URL scheme actions that have long been at its core. Macstories also has a fantastic guide to getting started with LCP, a link to which appears early in the article:
Launch Center Pro 2.3 Extends iOS Automation

~PD.

Wiser Web Wednesday

Wiser Web Wednesday – a weekly link to posts of interest from around the web:

The Gentleman Stationer
I posted a few thoughts on some of the pen cases from Nock Co. myself, but a trilogy it was not. A great three-part “mega” series on these very products:
Nock Co. Three Part Mega Review: All the Cases, Part I
Nock Co. Mega Review: All the Cases, Part II
Nock Co. Mega Review Part III: Hightower and Brasstown

David Smith
Although I personally tend to seek out cafes to try when travelling, here is a nice in-room option if that is your thing (thankfully in Australia, kettle not required):
My Travel Coffee Kit

The Clicky Post
Although not unique to this AL Sport stone washed version, I have often thought about the shape of my Kaweco Sport and Ice Sport models in the same way:

Almost like you’re not sure whether it is “attractive” or not, but it draws you in and definitely has a beauty all it’s own.

In any event, some great images (and review) demonstrating a masterstroke (in my opinion) of pen body design and finish:
Kaweco Al Sport Fountain Pen Stonewashed Edition

Pens! Paper! Pencils!
Ahh…of course. The Retro 51 Tornado – a long time Pen Addict Podcast staple. A great review by Ian (as usual), which also reminds me I must seek out the Schmidt P8126 refill and given it a spin in my own Stealth model:
Retro 51 Tornado rollerball review

Macsparky
A reminder of times gone by and what the future might bring. My solution to solving the Rubik’s cube as a kid was unfortunately the pull apart and reassemble method:
Inconceivable

Asian Efficiency
It’s all about the OmniFocus 2 for Mac upgrade recently, and I have no hesitation in recommending the update if you currently use this task management programme. I much prefer the new interface, however perhaps this may come from using the iOS versions exclusively for 18 months prior to purchasing the Mac version.

In any event, for those who were not involved in the Beta testing (let’s face it, if you were, you wouldn’t be reading this blog) and OmniFocus 2 is all new to you, I found this 13 minute video from AE immensely helpful to point out the key changes, and the drag and drop workaround is a nice touch – definitely worth a look:
The Differences Between OmniFocus 1 and OmniFocus 2 for Mac

Simplicity Bliss
Speaking of OmniFocus, a nice round-up of a number of reviews and guides out there to help you on your way:
The Big OmniFocus 2 For Mac Round-Up

What’s Brewing #11 – Costa Rica Terra Bella

Terra Bella LatteIt has been a little while since the last What’s Brewing post, however back we are today, having roasted another batch of Costa Rica Terra Bella (Honey) last weekend. Having picked up a kilo of this coffee from Ministry Grounds a few weeks ago, this was my second roast batch, which seemed to do a better job at bringing out the flavours than the first attempt.

On with the review:

What
Costa Rica Terra Bella Villa Sarchi
– Altitude: 1450–1500m
– Crop Year: 2013
– Varietal: Villa Sarchi
– Processing: Honey

 Terra Bella Estate is located in the West Valley region of Costa Rica, about 35km west of the capital city of San Jose. This is one of the most classic coffee regions of Costa Rica and the one with the highest coffee production in the country nowadays. The reason for this is the excellent conditions to produce coffee that are prevalent here: deep, rich volcanic soils, high altitudes, moderate and well-distributed rainfall, cool temperatures, etc.

Information courtesy Ministry Grounds via The MTC Group

A little more on the Honey processing method, courtesy of The Coffee Review:

“Honey” is a relatively new term describing coffee that has been dried with all or some of the sticky fruit pulp or “honey” (miel in Spanish) still adhering to the bean. Those familiar with coffee processing methods will, of course, recognize this practice as a kind of compromise between two more familiar processing methods: the dry or “natural” method, in which the beans are dried while entirely encased inside the fruit, and the wet or “washed” method, in which all of the soft fruit residue, both skin and pulp, are scrubbed off before the coffee is dried.

How
Latte, V60 Filter, Aeropress, Espresso

Assessment
Through milk in a latte or flat white, this coffee performed extremely well and resulted in a creamy, sweet brew with subtle apple and caramel flavours. When brewed as an espresso, I couldn’t help but think perhaps I should have let the roast run a little darker, as the acidity overpowered things a little. Not undrinkable by any stretch, however not quite as pleasant as some of the other varieties I’ve roasted and tried recently.

Which brings us to the V60 filter and Aeropress methods, which seemed well suited to both the coffee and the roast profile, producing a very well-balanced cup from either method. The V60 probably outshines the Aeropress slightly, with a cleaner, brighter cup, again containing sweet apple and a caramelly, honey like layer, with a nice long finish.

Conclusion; Know This
I really enjoyed the Costa Rica Terra Bella, with my preference being either as a milk drink, or on its own through the V60. As I mentioned above, this was my second roast batch, and definitely an improvement on the first. Looking back through my notes, the second time around was a slightly larger batch (450g vs 300g), which probably slowed the roast down a little, although I used the same heat ramp profile. In any event, if you get the chance to try this coffee, you certainly won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 3.75/5

My Aeropress Recipe – 2014 Update

Aeropress plungeWhile writing a recent post on coffee pod machines, I looked back on my original Aeropress recipe and brewing method in use at the time. Now almost a year ago, I think it’s time to write an update of the recipe and method I am now using, given it is quite different to the original.

Although many readers will be well aware of the Aeropress as a brewing method, for those that aren’t, the Aeropress is a total immersion brewing system, which forces water through ground coffee by a large syringe like plunge mechanism, which pushes a pocket of air, forcing water through the coffee grounds at pressure.

According to the manufacturer Aerobie (yes the same company which invented the flying disc), the benefits of the Aeropress include:

Total immersion of the grounds in the water
results in rapid yet robust extraction of flavor.

Total immersion permits extraction at
a moderate temperature, resulting in a smoother brew.

Air pressure shortens filtering time to 20
seconds. This avoids the bitterness of long
processes such as drip brewing.

Why the Aeropress?

Although the Hario V60 pourover is probably my favourite form of filter brewing, the Aeropress has been a great method to use in the office due to its ease of use, minimal clean up, and being a little sturdier than the glass french press chambers I have chipped or completely broken on occasion. In terms of clean up, the Aeropress beats the french press hands down, with the spent coffee “puck” ejected straight into the bin, and a quick rinse of the filter cap, chamber and plunger completing the process.

As for the resulting brew made by the Aeropress, I have always found this to be smooth and well-balanced. Probably not quite as crisp and bright as the V60, but very enjoyable none the less. Although the recipe below uses the standard paper filter (of which 350 are included with the purchase of an Aeropress), using a metal filter disc allows more oils and some fines from the ground into the brew, providing a fuller bodied cup if that is your preference. Whilst negating the need for paper filters and more convenient for travel, the disc then becomes another item in the post brew cleaning process.

Overall, I see the Aeropress continuing to be a mainstay in my brewing repertoire for some time to come.

My Aeropress Brew Method

As I have already mentioned, the recipe below is certainly different (and more enjoyable) than the one I was using 12 months ago. The reason for the change? In part due to always working towards a better brew, however mainly due to attending an outstanding brew class at the Cup Specialty Coffee roastery here in Brisbane. The following recipe works well for me both in terms of the resulting brew, as well as overall convenience, and has a total time of about 1 minute and 15 seconds:

  • 12–14g coffee (med-fine grind; on the finer side)
  • 200g water (full chamber)
  • pre-heat chamber and cup; place filter paper in cap and rinse
  • assemble plunger slightly into chamber; invert
  • add ground coffee into chamber
  • add shot of chilled water^, then a little hot and rest 10–20 secs to bloom
  • fill remaining chamber with boiling water (swirling as fill)
  • screw on cap with filter paper
  • apply gently downward pressure to chamber to squeeze out air through cap
  • flip Aeropress onto cup
  • at 45 seconds, commence a 30 second press time (1 min 15 sec total brew time)
  • enjoy your coffee after minimal clean-up

^ As I am limited to the “always boiling” hot water urn in the office rather than a kettle, the shot of chilled, filtered water cools the overall brew a little and avoids dumping boiling water directly onto the ground coffee.

Aeropress fullAeropress cap

Conclusion

Aeropress cupSo, there you have it. My updated Aeropress brewing recipe. I’ll be sure to post an update again in another year or so should this change significantly. I’d encourage you to seriously consider this form of brewing both for variety and convenience, if it sounds like something that may suit your needs (and taste).

As always, there are many resources floating around on the web as far as recipes and techniques are concerned. Here are a couple to get you started, although a quick Google search will lead to many more:

Speaking of Aeropress championships, I am looking forward to getting along and watching the QLD rounds at Strauss in Brisbane in a few weeks time. Wait…no…am I going to have to change my recipe again?

What’s Brewing – El Salvador Miravalle CoE

El Salvador CoEPurchased in the same Ministry Grounds run-out sale of Cup of Excellence offerings as the previously reviewed Guatemalan CoE, this coffee certainly did not disappoint. You may remember the Guatemalan took a little “wearing in” before I truly discovered its magic – well this El Salvador was a more straight down the line brew.

Let’s see how it tasted.

What
El Salvador Miravalle CoE Lot 12 2013
– City: Santa Ana
– Region: Santa Ana
– Variety: Bourbon, Pacas, Kenya
– Processing: Washed
– Lot Size: 36 boxes
– Altitude: 1,650 metres above sea level
– Farmer: Doctor Jaime Ernesto Riera Menendez
– International jury score: 86.33

Finca Miravalle is located on the Ilamatec Mountain Range on the fertile foothills of El Salvador’s Santa Ana volcano at an average altitude of 1,650 metres above sea level. Due to it’s high altitude Miravalle’s coffee berries ripen slowly, which allows the sweetness and complexity to develop in the cup.

Information courtesy Ministry Grounds

How
Latte, V60 Pour over, Aeropress

Assessment
Latte – although many would consider your CoE’s to be best appreciated “uncontaminated” by milk, this coffee was certainly very enjoyable in my morning latte[1]. The flavours were able to cut through the milk well enough to provide a good platform for the citrus notes, whilst having enough body to create a well-rounded drink.

V60 – Similar to the Guatemalan, a definite stand out method of brewing. Fantastic balance between the acidity and body, with increasing sweetness as the drink progressively cooled. When consumed as a filter, the purity of the citrus and lime flavours really shine through. Immensely enjoyable, and I often found myself brewing enough for two cups rather than my usual one with the V60 (though limiting myself to one at any given time is an effort in itself – regardless of the variety)

Aeropress – There was certainly a contrast between the V60 and Aeropress forms of brewing. At times there was quite a lolly-like taste quality similar to a toffee apple, with a thicker mouthfeel and longer finish. A great mid-afternoon boost in the office.

Conclusion; Know This
Although in my opinion not quite to the heights of the Guatemalan CoE of the last review, this coffee scored ever so slightly higher in the CoE judging (86.33 vs 85.83 for the Guatemalan). Whether or not this is indicative of my amateurish palate or not, it is pretty safe to say I enjoyed both immensely. This is best demonstrated by the fact that all bar about 100 grams of the 2 kg purchased I consumed myself, with very few beans going to family, which sounds terrible I know, but these were something special (now that I write that, so are my family – more will be shared next time!).

Although now out of stock, be sure to keep an eye out for these varieties next season, they are well worth the money.

Overall Rating: 4/5


  1. I also endeavour to try as many of the different forms of brewing I use on a daily basis with all of the coffees I roast.  ↩