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Thread: Coffee things I've learned in 2017

  1. #1
    Senior Member simonsk8r's Avatar
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    Coffee things I've learned in 2017

    Hi all, yes I was supposed to post this a month ago haha.. but thought I'd share some observations and things I've learned into coffee I've had over the past year, just for fun. Nothing groundbreaking hehe, and keeping in mind, they're not universal truths or anything, but just things specific to me that I've realised, so if it helps anyone else in the process that's a bonus .

    Here we go!


    -Keeping it simple: I got very wrapped up in and obsessed with the process and lost sight of outcome. Moreso relating to what you're trying to do with coffee. ENJOY it! Letting taste be my guide was pivotal. I got very caught up in the best distribution method, timing, ratios, whilst all very important for sure, but sometimes it can lead to overanalysing how something looks rather than the actual end product. Sometimes even mentally dismissing a shot because it wasn't 'perfect-looking' (whatever that means..), and whilst sipping it even thinking of how the pour 'should' have looked. Ridiculous haha..

    Of course guidelines are great to go by, but it makes sense to let taste be the guide as to what variables should change. I've had funky looking shots that tasted just incredible!

    Better to find a distribution method that makes sense, understand what its purpose is, and keep things consistent with that while altering other variables like grind/flow rate, timing etc. Finding something that has repeatability and consistency led me to focus more on taste.


    -Latte art: stretching the milk slightly less than what I was doing got muuuuuch better results. Also relaxing whilst steaming and pouring helped a great deal.


    -I get the feeling that ground coffee stales or changes in structure/molecule-bond-adhesiveness/SOMEthing potentially much quicker than I thought... The second shot of the day always ran quicker, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why.. even within 10-20 minutes after the first. I get the feeling ground coffee oxidized faster than I thought, and only a slight amount of older grounds mixed with the new can cause confusing results... (up for discussion though ;D ). Quick sweep out the chute of old grounds and purging about 2 grams of new coffee before my next shot seemed to sort that out.

    This also goes with beans.. I'm putting less in my hopper, only enough for the total amount of shots roughly (plus bit more so that it has a bit of weight pressing down), and also any leftover beans from the morning's usage I put into their own separate zip lock bag to use first before the others.


    -Resting roasted beans has become more and more important! Sure they can be tried early, but for consistency sake it definitely helps to rest them. Still great to note the changes over each day.


    -Roasting: measuring temp and temp changes is seeming to be quite important! I'm only just starting to get into measuring temp (fiiiinally) after years and years of using sights, sounds and timing as my guide, so looking forward to this part of the journey.



    That's it haha, but feel free to share any insights or anything you've learned the past year, this was good reminder and reflection for me personally, but others may get something out of it too . So feel free to add your own, would love to hear them!
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  2. #2
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    Thanks for that Simon,

    For a relative newcomer like me your post is very very helpful...

    Cheers.
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  3. #3
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    Thanks for sharing that.
    My best tip from 2017 is that it pays to weigh. When I started weighing my coffee grind my coffee got better and more consistently pretty damn good.
    If your a scraper try weighing !

  4. #4
    Senior Member greenman's Avatar
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    The biggest thing for me was realising that there are no hard and fast rules in coffee, experimentation with roast levels, lighter roasts for espresso based long blacks and lungos, super tasty naturals for cold brews--we never stop learning and that is what I love about coffee and all of its nuances!!
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  5. #5
    Senior Member simonsk8r's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grillsy View Post
    Thanks for sharing that.
    My best tip from 2017 is that it pays to weigh. When I started weighing my coffee grind my coffee got better and more consistently pretty damn good.
    If your a scraper try weighing !
    Ah awesome, there's life advice right there, "If you're a scraper, try weighing!" XD

    Definitely, that's a great one Grillsy, and so true, weighing helps immensely! Changed my results dramatically too, because that's one thing you then don't have to worry about, can keep consistent, and then can focus elsewhere on where it's needed. Nice

    Quote Originally Posted by greenman View Post
    The biggest thing for me was realising that there are no hard and fast rules in coffee, experimentation with roast levels, lighter roasts for espresso based long blacks and lungos, super tasty naturals for cold brews--we never stop learning and that is what I love about coffee and all of its nuances!!
    Great stuff, yeah I'm finding that for sure, it's so much fun experimenting and you can surprise yourself with what you find, always something new to learn, and it can pay to choose the "road less travelled". I've been experimenting too, and even just chucking all different roast depths into espresso or other brew methods, just to give it a go and see what happens. Sometimes it's a winner, and others a flop haha but you get to still taste why things don't work that way.


    Thanks heaps for sharing guys, keep 'em coming! We can all learn. Even if it's a little snippet you gleaned somewhere, doesn't have to be dramatic, only if you feel so inclined

    Here's another snippet I learned: I learned that I actually really enjoy the cleaning process to coffee too (backflushing, cleaning out old grinds from grinder etc). Strange! At first I thought it was cos of obsessiveness hehe, but I feel it's because it ensures my next cup is going to the best it can be. It's like a nice dedication and respect to the hobby and passion of coffee. It's nice pulling shots with a clean grinder and machine

  6. #6
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    If your grinder can do an even particle spread, try running slower, slightly longer espresso shots - still cutting it pre-blonding.

    They came out so much stronger and cleaner than the traditional shots that I ended up using a 7g VST after 40+ years of considering anything smaller than an 18g as too weak.

  7. #7
    Senior Member simonsk8r's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TampIt View Post
    If your grinder can do an even particle spread, try running slower, slightly longer espresso shots - still cutting it pre-blonding.

    They came out so much stronger and cleaner than the traditional shots that I ended up using a 7g VST after 40+ years of considering anything smaller than an 18g as too weak.
    Ah nice, will give that a go, I've found it depends on the coffee if it will suit it, some will just taste harsh (I guess here's where an even particle spread would help..). Although if it is still cut at preblonding and at standard yield it may balance it out.. But I am definitely loving slower shots nowadays...

    So roughly the same yield as a normal shot, but slowed down so it reaches that point later? (35, 40 seconds?)

    Cheers

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by simonsk8r View Post
    Ah nice, will give that a go, I've found it depends on the coffee if it will suit it, some will just taste harsh (I guess here's where an even particle spread would help..). Although if it is still cut at preblonding and at standard yield it may balance it out.. But I am definitely loving slower shots nowadays...

    So roughly the same yield as a normal shot, but slowed down so it reaches that point later? (35, 40 seconds?)

    Cheers
    Actually, the yield / extraction ratio goes through the roof. Trad grinders & methods usually go to slok at about 15 or 16% extraction. My Mahlkonig Varios / VST baskets combo averages well over 21% and often just top 23% before it goes bitter. That is partly why I had to downsize basket size markedly.

    Enjoy your cuppa - all else is secondary anyway... (worrying about whether the pour "looks good" is almost as pointless as "the useless art of puckology")... Taste rules!

    TampIt
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  9. #9
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    Thanks Simon. I enjoyed the read and can agree with a lot you said :-)
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simonsk8r View Post

    Of course guidelines are great to go by, but it makes sense to let taste be the guide as to what variables should change. I've had funky looking shots that tasted just incredible!

    Better to find a distribution method that makes sense, understand what its purpose is, and keep things consistent with that while altering other variables like grind/flow rate, timing etc. Finding something that has repeatability and consistency led me to focus more on taste.


    -I get the feeling that ground coffee stales or changes in structure/molecule-bond-adhesiveness/SOMEthing potentially much quicker than I thought... The second shot of the day always ran quicker, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why.. even within 10-20 minutes after the first. I get the feeling ground coffee oxidized faster than I thought, and only a slight amount of older grounds mixed with the new can cause confusing results... (up for discussion though ;D ). Quick sweep out the chute of old grounds and purging about 2 grams of new coffee before my next shot seemed to sort that out.

    This also goes with beans.. I'm putting less in my hopper, only enough for the total amount of shots roughly (plus bit more so that it has a bit of weight pressing down), and also any leftover beans from the morning's usage I put into their own separate zip lock bag to use first before the others.


    -Resting roasted beans has become more and more important! Sure they can be tried early, but for consistency sake it definitely helps to rest them. Still great to note the changes over each day.


    -Roasting: measuring temp and temp changes is seeming to be quite important! I'm only just starting to get into measuring temp (fiiiinally) after years and years of using sights, sounds and timing as my guide, so looking forward to this part of the journey.
    Good post Simon.
    Yep! guidelines are exactly that, as far as I'm concerned taste is everything.

    Distribution and tamping, I agree, keep it simple, forget the gadgets, hocuspocus and incantations, as you say, consistency is the answer.

    Your right, ground coffee stales a lot quicker than most people imagine, I can tell the difference after beans have been ground and left for an hour, quite a fall off in quality.

    I don't leave beans in the hopper, I weigh and dose each shot.

    Yes, resting is important, says he who roasted a batch and pulled a shot from it today.

    Monitoring temps during roasting! you have a lot more control and should see quite an improvement.
    greenman and simonsk8r like this.

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