Optimising coffee brewing water and the Peak Water Kickstarter campaign

In a haphazard though never-ending quest for consistently better coffee quality at home, recently I have found myself tinkering with some brewing water recipes.

Why think about the water you brew with?

Whether espresso or filter brewing, if you think about what is actually occurring – water breaking down ground coffee particles, thereby extracting flavour compounds and solids from the coffee into the water you are about to drink – it makes sense that tweaking the water not only to provide an optimal extraction and also taste better makes a whole lot of sense.

The more you read and research, it is clear a more scientific approach is being taken to many aspects of brewing, and thankfully resources exist which help the consumer at home apply at least some of them to improve the standard of our coffee. One such resource being Barista Hustle, where you can find instructions and recipes for optimising brew water at very little cost.

Why would you want to do that? Well, for very little money (ultrapure or distilled water, sodium bicarbonate and epsom salts), you can test for yourself whether you notice any difference in your coffee from the water you are currently using. Let’s face it, delving further into the science around optimal coffee brewing can at times lead to the choice between either an expensive purchase or a dead-end for the home tragic who doesn’t carry an unlimited budget for such tweaks.

My advice? give the recipes a try, and experience for yourself the astonishing difference in flavour and cup quality that using tailored brewing water provides. Again, think about what is occurring during coffee extraction and the proportion of water in the final beverage in your cup. Believe me, it is definitely worth it – particularly when you go back to basic filtered water after running out of the supply you prepared earlier!

A timely Kickstarter campaign

Maintaining my water supply is precisely why I find the Peak Water Kickstarter project so compelling, and now eagerly await the day the jug arrives on my doorstep. As I mentioned above, using a recipe and making the water yourself isn’t overly complicated – keeping enough distilled or ultrapure water on hand sometimes can be. Water can be bulky to store and buy – filter discs not so, and I’m excited at the possibility of even more easily optimising the water I use for brewing at home.


From the project page:

At the heart of Peak Water is our innovative disc filter, combining precisely calculated flow dynamics with our new ‘filter maze’ system — ensuring that your water is completely treated, every time. The filter utilises highly specific ion-exchange resins to control and manipulate bicarbonate — the variable with the greatest impact on a coffee’s cup quality — while balancing the water’s ph level and retaining crucial minerals required for great brewing.

Check out the Kickstarter page for yourself, and as with any campaign, check the FAQ’s and comments as well, however I’m pretty confident in the product given the team behind it, and their history in looking at this aspect of coffee brewing.

I guess this post is part encouragement to experiment with the water you use to brew coffee with, and part suggestion to perhaps do so in the next few weeks before the Peak Water Kickstarter ends – just in case.


Wiser Web Wednesday

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

Gourmet Pens
Azizah takes a look at the Rhodia Ice No 16 Notepad. I have linked to a review of one of these previously, however this one is worth having a look at for the gorgeous colourful test writing alone. I was also pleased to read I am not the only one disappointed by “messy tears”:
Review: Rhodia Ice No. 16 Notepad A5

Nock Co.
Nock Co. is fast becoming another one of those sites where you go specifically for one or two items, and checkout with a full cart. Are you kidding me? Now we have TWSBI pens and Organics Studio inks to throw in as we wander the store. Great value too, however the groan you heard was the collective stationery budget around the world stretching a little thinner:
Nock Co. On-line Store

Mac Sparky
Following along nicely from last weeks link to Les Posen’s Presentation Magic, now up for sale on the iBooks Store, is David Sparks latest Field Guide, which will help you create exceptional presentations. It’s also made specifically for the iBooks format. You can read a little more about it on David’s blog:
The Presentations Field Guide is now shipping

The Pen Addict
As I do not own one myself, it was only fitting I read about Brad purchasing his third! No bitterness folks. All jokes aside, I have always been wary of acquiring one of these untried, as I do have concerns the clip position may annoy me a little. This is a great looking pen though, and the title contains two my favourite descriptors, gun-metal and matte:
Pilot Vanishing Point Gun Metal Black Matte Fountain Pen Review

Serious Eats
Another article by Nick Cho for Serious Eats, this time on the science and technique of making French Press coffee. A coarser grind and longer brew time of 6–8 minutes probably a little different to what most are used to:
Coffee Science: How to Make the Best French Press Coffee at Home

Matt Gemmell
What better way to put down some thoughts on the lost art of handwriting than a letter. No, really… a letter.

A review of the Kaweco AL Sport, in a fantastic grey body. Why, it’s almost gun-metal:
Pen Review: Kaweco AL Sport

If you are anything like me, consideration of various pen and paper related Kickstarter projects is a fairly regular occurrence. This one is a beauty, which I have backed to the tune of two each of both the No 1 and No 2 notebooks. The customisation feature is a winner, and though still deciding on the cover, inside it will be dot grid on Tomoe River paper:
Stateside Co. Notebooks

The Great Discontent – Merlin Mann

The Great Discontent described by its creators:

The Great Discontent is an online magazine featuring interviews on beginnings, creativity, and risk.

This particular interview from October 2013 with Merlin Mann of 43 Folders fame, and many a podcast worth listening to, provides a somewhat philosophical, though exquisitely realistic view about why we end up doing what we do. Why we think we should know both what we are doing and where we are headed; generally why we don’t know; why those who do often aren’t happy; and why we end up where we do, even though it is not where we think we should be.

And ultimately, why it probably doesn’t really matter in the first place. We are all who we are, where we are from, and more alike than we generally realise.

I wish I could be more helpful and say, “You should find your dream path and paint a rainbow to your love cloud!” But, most of us are so stuck in this notion of how stuff should go that we want to find one of seven stories that matches our narrative. The fact is that most of us are wandering around, scared shitless, wondering what the —-’s going to happen next. That’s as true when you’re 11 as it is when you’re in your 40s. It’s one reason that people feel very discouraged or disinclined to try new things—they feel like it’s not for them.

As my wife and I have always said, things generally don’t get any easier, they just get different:

How many people out there say, “Gosh, I wish I could own a house”? Everybody I know who owns houses are losing their minds trying to make their mortgage payment or they’re scared to death about having to replace the roof. Anybody who wants more money, a better job, or a bigger house is ultimately just wishing for a new set of anxieties. It can be a great set of anxieties, because that means growth, but there are trade-offs to everything.

And a few other gems that ring decidedly true:

If you want to really help people, then go out and help people. It’s like when people say, “Buy this pink yogurt, and a portion of the proceeds will go to charity!” Well, you know what’s really great? Donating directly to a good cause and having the entire portion go to charity—and you don’t have to act like you’re Gandhi because you bought a snack. Just go spend some money on something you care about, then shut up about it: that’s a dignified way to be an adult who helps people.

I would highly recommend reading the entire article, which is a long one, and typically not done justice by the few quotes above – if you do, grab a coffee and settle in for a decent read. This is not one of those scratch the surface internet snippets we are so used to these days, and what makes The Great Discontent a quality site.

In a world going increasingly digital, TGD thinks contrary, and currently has a Kickstarter project running to produce a high quality print version of the publication. Certainly worth considering if a you are at all interested in more in-depth intervies and profiles such as those found on the site.

More can be found on the Kickstarter project page here.

Update – Nock Co. Kickstarter Project

This is an update to a post from earlier this month about Nock Co., and their Kickstarter project aimed at raising funding to manufacture high quality, hand made pen cases. At the time of writing, only 58 hours remain, with the project guaranteed to be funded on Wednesday, October 30, with things having gone pretty well to this point – currently at an amazing $70,000+ of the original funding goal of $5000.

As a backer set to receive one of each model manufactured, I will be waiting with much anticipation in January when the shipping date rolls around.

This would be a great time to get in before the initial funding period ends, both to give the boys at Nock Co. a bit of a kick along, and to guarantee yourself some pretty smooth merchandise once the manufacturing is complete.

For a look at what is on the way, head to the Kickstarter page, or to Nock Co. on the Web, Instagram, or Twitter.

Looking beyond the current fund raising, on a recent episode of the Pen Addict podcast, Brad Dowdy, aka The Pen Addict and co founder of Nock Co., remarked how keen he was to get through this initial phase and get the cases manufactured, as there are already a lot more great ideas for future Nock Co. products.

Cannot wait for those!

Nock Co. Kickstarter Project

Many pen-obsessed folk similar to myself have been waiting for the day to arrive when Nock Co. launch their Kickstarter campaign seeking funding to manufacture a series of high quality nylon pen cases. The project is now live – so get cracking!

Images: Nock Co. Kickstarter page

Images: Nock Co. Kickstarter page

In a post published on this blog back in June about my four favourite podcasts, you may recall The Pen Addict with Brad Dowdy and Myke Hurley was an inclusion in this list. For those who listen to the podcast, read the Pen Addict blog, or follow Brad on Twitter, the launch of this Kickstarter campaign will come as no surprise, however the email advising of the start to the campaign was a most welcome arrival in my inbox.

Brad has teamed up with Jeffrey Bruckwicki of Old Fourth Tailoring to design and manufacture pen cases (all hand-made in the USA), and in a nice touch, we see notebook case integration into some of the designs as well. The two appear to be a great fit (pardon the tailoring pun), and have created some fantastic designs (those pictured above are just two of many available) which you really should check out for yourself, as any attempt at describing the products to you in words will not do the cases justice. Depending on the model, the cases are either lined or unlined, and come in some cool launch colours (including a limited edition colour on a particular model that will only be available through this launch project).

You needn’t take my word for it that many are interested, with the $5000 funding goal being met within the first hour, and (at the time of writing) the project now supported to the tune of over $27,000, the numbers speak for themselves. All bar one ($25) of the 10 funding levels are still open, with 28 days left to run in the campaign. I understand the money raised will be used for additional manufacturing equipment which bodes well for the company in the longer term.

Enough from me – go check out Nock Co. on Kickstarter and be sure to watch the video outlining the project.

What’s that? Oh yes…sorry – my backing? That would be “All the Cases” at $75.00 (which is a steal for what you will receive). Told you I had been waiting for this day.