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Thread: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

  1. #1
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    After comments in another thread about the quality of advice offered at times I figured it was time we created a list of "Coffee Snobs Home (Barista) Truths" which is the sort of standard FAQs that you often see on other forums advising new people to read before posting the usual questions we get. Perhaps these could be placed in a sticky and Andy puts a link to these in his autogreeting message.

    OK I also know that these are also often not read so someone will ask that question anyway but I thought it might also be useful to hone some of the advice offered so at least its consistent. Even so, it might assist the lurkers who are afraid to ask. I must say that CS is one of the friendliest forums I have ever participated in. Fire extinguishers rarely get a work out - very civilized. Anyway, here goes, feel free to add or correct anything I contribute


    What sort of machine should I buy?
    First you need to tell us a few facts to help us such as your budget, coffee preferences (short or long black, latte, cappuccino, etc), how much coffee you consume daily.

    However, if you are new to the world of coffee, we suggest you spend some time looking through some of the Brewing Equipment threads to get an idea of what others have bought and their experiences.

    If you are still confused then your best bet is to look at the list of sponsors on the left. Many sponsors have a range of coffee equipment set up in their shops. You could look at a range of options and possibly even try out a few. Our sponsors are very experienced and knowledgeable and only too happy to help. And guess what? You may even get a CoffeeSnobs discount on your first purchase.

    How much should I spend on a good espresso maker?
    This is up to you. Espresso machines can range from a couple of hundred dollars to several thousand. Having an expensive machine is no guarantee of superior coffee making. You can also get very nice coffee from plunger or filter coffee.

    However, we all agree that your most important purchase could be a coffee grinder. Freshly ground coffee from a good qulaity grinder is more likely to provide a great cup of coffee than using pre-ground coffee.

    What sort of grinder should I buy?

    If you are considering upgrading your current coffee making equipment then a good grinder should be your first consideration as this may improve the coffee produced from your current brewing equipment. Generally speaking buy the best grinder you can afford! Have a look in the Grinder forum for ideas.

    It should be a good quality burr grinder, not the blade kind that may also be used for grinding spice. The type of grinder you buy also depends on how much coffee you intend to make. High volumes of coffee need a grinder that will be able to cope with the work. Our sponsors (listed on the left) will be able to provide you with the correct advice on a range of machines at varying prices.

    Prices can range from a couple of hundred dollars to several thousand but if you are lucky you might get a bargain from the Coffee Hardware for Sale section.

    What is the best coffee to buy?

    Everyone has different tastes so what tastes good to someone may not suit your tastebuds. However, whatever you settle on, it should be freshly roasted. Coffee beans are generally at their best for up to 3 or 4 weeks after they have been roasted. They need to stored properly too.

    Should I store my beans in the fridge or freezer?
    Not recommended. Coffee contains volatile oils which create the flavour. Not storing your beans carefully may reduce or even ruin the flavour. Store your beans in an airtight container kept in a cupboard. Beans are often sold in resealable bags that have a one-way valve. These are also OK to store your beans in. [s]You can also buy containers which allow you to pump out the air.[/s]

    Many here roast their own beans. *What should I do when the Home Roasting Bug Bites?
    Home roasting is not for everyone, but the cost savings are substantial not to mention the opportunity of having the freshest beans always on hand for your espresso pleasure.
    Search the Home Roasting threads for ideas to get you started.
    Green Beans are available from Bean Bay.

    (thanks for the tip KK!)

  2. #2
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    I dont like the last line about pumping air from containers.
    The rest is all good bar a few typos.
    Example would be "Not storing your beans coffee may reduce or even ruin the flavour" from the last FAQ.

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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Quote Originally Posted by Thundergod link=1224157582/0#1 date=1224159993
    I dont like the last line about pumping air from containers.
    Seconded!!

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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Should I store my beans in the fridge or freezer?
    Not recommended. Coffee contains volatile oils which create the flavour. Not storing your beans coffee may reduce or even ruin the flavour. The best place to store your beans is in an airtight container kept in a cupboard. Beans are often sold in resealable bags that have a one-way valve. These are good to store your beans in. You can also buy containers which allow you to pump out the air.
    Once coffee is roasted some very dramatic changes have taken place structurally as well as chemically. Elements in the bean which were safely held in it green state have now become volatile. Some of these will rapidly oxidize once exposed to air. Because of this, folks have come up with all sorts of methods to try to slow the process of oxidation and staling.

    Removing the air from the container is one of the methods mentioned, but it is not effective. It does nothing to stop the chemical process of staling, but also removes the CO2 from around (and in) the beans which helps to isolate the bean from oxygen. Once the container is opened the air rushes in and the beans quickly react to the oxygen. You can test this with Illy canned whole beans which are packed under pressure of nitrogen gas. They taste pretty good the first day the can is opened, but by day three they taste like they are months old... because they are. The chemical changes of the staling process have been going on all the time since the beans were roasted, and the beans, hungry for oxygen, eat it up in a hurry.

    Another mistake is to depend on the one-way valve bags. Why are these in existence? Try this: roast some coffee, seal it in a heavy duty plastic bag (or a vac seal bag which can be sealed air-tight), and place it on a shelf for three or four days. If it doesnt explode on the shelf, you will find it inflated, ready for a football match. I once sent my brother a parcel of five batches of coffee, all sealed in individual vac-sealed bags. When the parcel arrived he told the the box was nearly spherical and ready to burst open from the pressure of the expanding bags inside. Even if heat sealed, once the bag is opened any benefit of the valve is lost because oxygen is introduced and the beans drink it up.

    The only way I have seen that can actually slow or stop the chemical process which causes coffee to stale is to place them in an air-tight container and place them in a deep freeze (the freezer of a home fridge is not cold enough). I forget the actual temperature, but it is well below freezing.

    Solutions:
    - Only have enough roasted coffee on hand for about ten days use
    - Live near a commercial roaster
    - Move next door to me
    - Home roast
    - Learn to enjoy stale coffee

  5. #5
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Well it was getting late and these werent intended to be final copy. Can I suggest that rather than debate the truth of these home truths, to provide an alternate. The removing the air part - gone, but sponsors who sell the vacuum containers might differ.

    Randy - Im sure your ideas have merit to ensure the freshest coffee is always on hand but they arent realistic (unless you are earnest about the move next door offer and can come good with a house, job, income, etc : ) but Ive removed the words "The best place to .."

    To make a coffee, would someone have to dig their bag out of the freezer, extract the beans carefully so they dont become in contact with the air, move them to the grinder (hoping they become defrosted in that time) and grind them?

    What I wrote were ideas to educate the newbie Snob who up to now has relied on pre-ground coffee purchased off a supermarket shelf. Most of us would have done that in our pre-Snob days.

    Staling is inevitable. Airtight containers or 1-way valve wont stop your beans from becoming stale but they will slow it down a little. Ive heard varying figures on how long coffee will remain fresh after roasting but the CS standard is around the 3 week mark.

    Meantime, feel free to add your own home truths

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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    flynnaus

    i like what you have written, (good to see the deleted line)

    this is relatively easy to read and understand, without going into the details, and making it more confusing

    at a beginners level this is all they really need to know, and as they progress, increase their knowledge, and yearn for better coffee then they can start digging and asking questions.

    there has been a number of times when people have asked simple questions (as answered in flynns subject) and been bombarded with technical and scientific responses :-? :-?
    this can be scary

    KISS
    keep it simple stupid

    graham

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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Staling is inevitable. Airtight containers or 1-way valve wont stop your beans from becoming stale but they will slow it down a little. Ive heard varying figures on how long coffee will remain fresh after roasting but the CS standard is around the 3 week mark. Meantime, feel free to add your own home truths
    Three weeks!? I keep my roasted coffee in air-tight mason jar in a dark cabinet. One 300 to 310 gram batch (green weight) fills a liter jar and lasts about 7 to 10 days. At the end of about 10 days, if I have not used the coffee up, the beans are smelling stale and the taste of the espresso indicates that the beans are at the end of their life. 15 day old coffee is thrown out in my home because the taste of the espresso is undesirable. 21 day old roast? Maybe for a benign brewing method like drip, and if the coffee was dark roasted (which I never do), removing more of the volatiles that go stale most easily.

    When freezing coffee it is best to first bag it in three to four day parcels and freeze the bags (jars, whatever). Then remove one the evening before a batch is needed to allow them to reach room temperature before opening. This way condensation will not add moisture to the beans.

    Shelf life of three weeks for fresh-roasted coffee? That is a long time in terms of beans intended to be used for espresso. By day 6 to 8 of my home roast, I can taste the "age" and find that the coffee is about two days from being undesirable.

    One way valves do not stop the chemical process going on in the beans, nor does an air tight jar. Shortly after either of those is opened and oxygen is introduced, you have lost nearly all that you have gained. The canned Illy beans are an excellent example of this, and I am not the only one, by far, to have experienced this.

    I have a magnet out in the garage made to be wrapped around the fuel line of the car, and it is sold with the claim that it improves gas mileage. How about "deer whistles" which claim to lower the possibility of hitting deer with you car? Tests show that the sounds they emit are beyond the range of hearing in deer. Just because it can be purchased does not mean it works.

    So, worst case scenario...? My only choice is to buy a month of twos worth of coffee at a time.... What would I do? I would use Mason jars and fill each as completely as possible to displace as much air as I could. Presuming the coffee is really fresh when i bought it and is still out-gassing a bit, I would leave the lid on a little loose for the first 6 to 12 hours to allow the CO2 to build in the jar to displace a bit more O2, and then seal them tight and place in the coldest place I have (the freezer section of the fridge). I would then take a jar out the evening before I needed more coffee to allow it to reach room temperature before opening.

  8. #8
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy G. link=1224157582/0#6 date=1224197327
    Three weeks!? I keep my roasted coffee in air-tight mason jar in a dark cabinet. One 300 to 310 gram batch (green weight) fills a liter jar and lasts about 7 to 10 days.



    When freezing coffee it is best to first bag it in three to four day parcels and freeze the bags (jars, whatever). Then remove one the evening before a batch is needed to allow them to reach room temperature before opening. This way condensation will not add moisture to the beans.
    Sure, but as Graham said this isnt meant to be an advanced guide - just simple answers to simple questions e.g. No, it isnt OK to store your beans in the fridge.
    I never said storing in the airtight container or bag will stop it becoming stale. Your stale beans might still taste fresh to someone who has been storing their old pre-ground beans in the fridge. But Im sure you will agree that the beans will last longer in the bag/container than out of them, or left on the bench.

    Shelf life of three weeks for fresh-roasted coffee? That is a long time in terms of beans intended to be used for espresso.
    Hence the intention of this thread. To sort out the home truths . As mentioned, 3 weeks is a figure that has been quoted many times on CS. It might not apply in the Randy Glass household - fair enough - but once again these are beginner guidelines.

    I have a magnet out in the garage made to be wrapped around the fuel line of the car, and ...etc
    No need for this sort of comment. Nobody is claiming that bags or containers will keep your beans fresh indefinitely. I am happy to add your freezer method to the list but realistically, how many will have a deep freezer? I dont.

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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Good idea in principal but you have ommited a large slab of manual gear. Zass or other conical hand grinders are great on a budget. Also Aeropress, Syphon, Plunger, Drip Filter, Stovetops and Presso derserve a mention as it is the BEAN that counts ;) . Good well ground beans in a plunger at the corect temp. make a HUGE improvement over purcolated stupormarket.

    As you said it does not need to be exact into the nth degree of snobbishness just a how to start and some basic "Coffee Mythconceptions & Basics" (tm beanflying *::) ) that are common questions.

    Any longer than a page and you will loose people too. Should be emailed to all newbies when they join too ?

  10. #10
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Youre welcome to submit an FAQ along these lines BF. I was envisaging a locked post or topic somewhere on CS but unless it gets the go-ahead from Andy and/or the mods, there proably isnt much point in pursuing along these lines.

    The alternative is just to settle on what are the real home truths. Many of these have been argued over( e.g. coffee storage) but it would be good to have a simple and safe answer.

  11. #11
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Flynn,

    if you are trying to set this up as a first post to read then you NEED to have manual brewers included as good alternatives. Most people coming to this site already have one or more of these and are not nessecerily looking to spend $500-3k to get better coffee straight away. 2/3 of my coffees each week are manual and in some ways they are better than machine made (happy to debate this elsewhere ;) )!

    Coffee storage is real simple Andys rule of 3 from memory. 3 weeks for beans in bag, 3 hours in the hopper, 3 minutes when ground. Actually thinking about it it might have been 3 years for Green?

    Needs to be
    Start with good fresh beans and how to keep them.
    Grind them well with a Non Blade Grinder either Conical or Flat Burr manual or electric
    Process - Manual options but certainly not how to use them but mentioning that water just off the boil produces the best results and the different types.
    - Espresso Machines (what you have above is fine)
    Roasting - as above is fine

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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    A valiant attempt; lets put some stuff out there and see what feedback we get.

    Regarding freshness, I think that its a bit of a mistake to state what works for you and presume that it is a golden standard. *If you buy and try coffee widely, you will see that the optimum period for consumption varies. *At the extremes, I have had nitrogen flushed coffee that was five or six weeks old and performed pretty well. *I have also had coffee that pulled fairly decent espresso two days out of the roaster. *From what I have tasted, coffee roasted for non-espresso brewing doesnt benefit from resting periods in the same way as espresso does.

    Ill take a go at rewriting the freshness paragraph and everyone can critique it to try and arrive at something thats worthy of being posted:

    "Everyone has different tastes so what tastes good to someone may not suit your tastebuds. *

    Whatever coffee you decide to buy, it should be fresh whole beans that you grind at home. *For espresso, roasted coffee needs to rest after it has been roasted. *Coffee that has not rested long enough can produce espresso that is thin and acidic, with crema that rapidly dissipates to half the volume that was originally extracted. *The length of this resting period varies: *

    For home roasted coffee and coffee sold in unsealed paper bags, the resting period is generally a few days to a week. *

    For some commercially roasted coffee sealed in bags with one way valves, a resting period of a few weeks is optimum. *

    Coffee sealed in one way valve bags and flushed with nitrogen is rare on the Australian market, but coffee packaged using this method can sometimes rest for up to six weeks before consumption. *

    If in doubt, a good rule of thumb is to try to consume coffee within three weeks of the day that it was roasted on and within a week of opening the packaging that it is sealed in. *Of course, this implies that you know the roast date. *Coffee sold in the supermarket often does not have a roast date on it and the logistics of stocking and running a supermarket mean that they are unlikely to stock fresh coffee. *Similarly, it is very difficult to transport coffee roasted in Italy to Australia quickly enough to sell it freshly. *You are most likely to be able to obtain freshly roasted coffee directly from coffee roasteries or by roasting your own at home. *Specialty coffee roasters are usually more than happy to answer any questions that you might have about their coffee and how fresh it is.

    Finally, if it is at all possible, you should grind your own coffee at home. *Ground coffee has a surface area to volume ratio many orders of magnitude higher than whole coffee beans. *This means that much more of it is exposed to oxygen and air, accelerating the physical and chemical processes involved in staling. *In practical terms, this means that if you buy preground coffee it is likely to be fresh for a few days, at best. "

    Regarding brewing methods, I love the idea of giving newbies an overview of everything that is available - comments on this are welcome:

    "How should I brew my coffee?

    Australia is almost unique in the world in that almost 100% of coffee beverages sold are espresso-based. *That said, there are a number of ways of brewing coffee, each of which produce a different result and have their own advantages and disadvantages. *All of these brewing methods have several things in common; it is important to use fresh coffee, to grind it yourself and to keep your equipment clean.

    Espresso: *Espresso is the most unique of all of the brewing methods. *Water is forced over ground coffee at approximately 9 bars of pressure to produce a very small, concentrated and viscous beverage topped by a distinctive foam called crema. It is difficult to make anything similar to a milk based espresso beverage using other brewing methods because of the concentration of the espresso base and the steaming of the milk. In general, espresso requires a slightly darker roast than most other brewing methods. Espresso based beverages are arguably the most difficult to produce and certainly require the most expensive equipment.

    Cupping: Cupping is the polar opposite of espresso in terms of simplicity, results, roast level and purpose. Cupping is used by roasters as a quality assurance technique and involves steeping ground coffee, usually of a light roast, in hot water for several minutes. The ground coffee floats to the top, forming a crust. After several minutes, the crust is broken with a spoon, releasing a puff of aroma and floating ground coffee and foam is skimmed. The cupper then slurps the coffee with a spoon as the cup cools. This technique is not used to produce coffee to drink, but, rather, as a method to ensure consistency. Nonetheless, it is very easy and requires no specialised equipment, so if you are interested in coffee, it is worthwhile giving it a go."

    TBC

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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Brewing methods continued ...

    "Filter/Drip: Filter coffee produces a light bodied, clean and watery cup that tends to be higher in acidity than espresso. Depending on whether paper or mesh filters are used, the resultant brew can be crystal clear or slightly cloudy. Automated filter brewers range from cheap domestic brewers that usually have a ten cup capacity to expensive commercial brewers capable of brewing many litres. Overseas, it is reported that some domestic brewers do not adequately heat water. Manual pourover brewers are cheaply available. These are essentially a plastic or porcelain cone that holds a filter above a cup or jug. Water is poured over the brewer from a kettle and it is easy to obtain the right temperature. All filter brewers require a filter of some sort. Mesh filters must be washed and re-used, whereas paper filters must be wet before use and are disposed of after use. Filter brewing can be very cheap, quick and easy to clean up after.

    French Press/Plunger: Plunger coffee produces a similar cup to filter, albeit often with heavier body and more sediment in the bottom of the cup and some claim that plunger coffee is more bitter than filter coffee. These apparatus are very common throughout Australia. Ground coffee is added to a vessel and topped up with hot water. The coffee is allowed to steep and a mesh filter - the plunger - is pushed to the bottom of the vessel to retain the ground coffee in the bottom whilst the beverage is poured out. Plungers are widely available at a reasonable price. The filter on the plunger accumulates ground coffee and oils surprisingly rapidly, so care should be taken to keep it clean.

    Siphon/Clover: Siphon coffee is similar to filter, but the brewing process gives the user more control. Siphon brewers are popular in Japan and just beginning to show up in Australia. These brewers comprise a bottom globe, a top chamber, a filter, a stand and a heat source. The stand holds the bottom chamber, to which hot water is added. The filter is fitted to the top chamber and slotted into the globe. Heat is applied to the globe, creating steam and forcing the water into the top chamber, at which point ground coffee is added and the mixture is stirred. When the user removes the heat source, the globe cools, forming a vacuum that sucks the liquid from the top chamber, through the filter, leaving the user with brewed coffee in the globe and spent ground coffee in the top chamber. Youtube up a video; it will make more sense then! The siphon brewer limits the water temperature in the top chamber so that the water is unlikely to be too hot for the coffee and the user is able to control the steep time and, if desired, the brew temperature. Siphon enthusiasts often claim that siphon brewers produce the ultimate cup of brewed coffee. Siphon brewers are often expensive, are fragile, have many parts and are difficult to clean, particularly if they use a cloth filter. The alcohol stove commonly provided with siphon brewers is usually not capable of producing much heat; small aftermarket butane burners make the process much easier. The clover coffee brewer is essentially a large, automated siphon intended for commercial use in cafes. Unfortunately, the manufacturer of the clover has been acquired by starbucks and now only provides machines to that company."

    TBC; others are welcome to pick up where I left off and to criticise and tear apart ...

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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Good to see youre working hard on your law degree there Luca hahaha.

    Ill read it in its entirety soon, not sure Ill be tearing much apart though.

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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Heaps of info there Luca, could you or someone else *possibly add stovetop *to the list cause thats where I started, at the tender age of about 10.
    Good thing about spending many of my younger years growing in and around Carlton.

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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    TBC; others are welcome to pick up where I left off and to criticise and tear apart
    luca,
    awaiting the next installment
    makes interesting reading

    graham

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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    After comments in another thread about the quality of advice offered at times I figured it was time we created a list of "Coffee Snobs Home (Barista) Truths" which is the sort of standard FAQs that you often see on other forums advising new people to read before posting the usual questions we get. Perhaps these could be placed in a sticky and Andy puts a link to these in his autogreeting message.

    OK I also know that these are also often not read so someone will ask that question anyway but I thought it might also be useful to hone some of the advice offered so at least its consistent. Even so, it might assist the lurkers who are afraid to ask. I must say that CS is one of the friendliest forums I have ever participated in. Fire extinguishers rarely get a work out - very civilized. Anyway, here goes, feel free to add or correct
    Has anybody read the purpose of all this in post #1 “as in the quote above?”The purpose of all this is a "QUICK NEW CS MEMBER GUIDE" with CS links that can be added to a sticky post and also to Andy’s welcome to CS message

    Lucas contribution is fine but in this context it will be better for that amount of detailed information to have a separate section e.g. “Advanced and Detailed Guide to Coffee”
    It will be better to have a link to this or any other relevant post
    Remember the KISS principle

    I sent a PM to flynn to include the basic home roasting section
    as you can see it is 3.5 lines long


    KK

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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Hi KK,

    easy thing to do will be to place a hyperlink with "further reading" on it to the relevent sections of Lucas or whoevers expanded sections. I still like the idea of a simple intro section too.

    Now back to finish digesting Lucas novel :)

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    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Thanks KK. That was my original intention. It wasnt meant to be full-on all encompassing. I made that decision when I started writing the first one and realised that it could go on for some time; had to set a limit.

    Another purpose of this thread is to iron out the "home truths" side of things such as what Luca & Randy have raised.

    Perhaps there is room for two CS Home Barista Truths - one for the newcomer/first-timer and one for the "OK, I think Ive got it - what next?" or "tell me more about blah" types of questions. Especially the ones that come up time again.

    Perhaps there is a book in it that we can sell online for Faircrack funds?

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    Senior Member Koffee_Kosmo's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Hey Flynn

    Just wondering if we have any progress on this topic

    KK

  21. #21
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    no, doesnt look like we are going to get any further contributions. I will put together sonmething on what weve got so far. Sounds like we need another one around the old dose/distribute/tamp that seems to cause so much problem with the simple solution "its what is in the cup that matters" but pointers to general techniques and referral to sponsors for training.

    I wouldnt mind hearing from Andy or Mods that they are OK with this idea before spending any more time on it

  22. #22
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Keep it rolling, its a great idea and a good cause.

    Ill get it up as an FAQ or make it a "required reading" sticky or even have it emailed to people when the first become a member.

    Good content can always find a home!

    8-)

    PS: It would be better to email me a link if you want me to see or comment in a specific thread... I read nearly all of them but around BeanBay packing time a few fall through the gaps.
    ;)

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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Quote Originally Posted by Koffee Kosmo link=1224157582/0#16 date=1224220719
    After comments in another thread about the quality of advice offered at times I figured it was time we created a list of "Coffee Snobs Home (Barista) Truths" which is the sort of standard FAQs that you often see on other forums advising new people to read before posting the usual questions we get. Perhaps these could be placed in a sticky and Andy puts a link to these in his autogreeting message.

    OK I also know that these are also often not read so someone will ask that question anyway but I thought it might also be useful to hone some of the advice offered so at least its consistent. Even so, it might assist the lurkers who are afraid to ask. I must say that CS is one of the friendliest forums I have ever participated in. Fire extinguishers rarely get a work out - very civilized. Anyway, here goes, feel free to add or correct
    Has anybody read the purpose of all this in post #1 “as in the quote above?”The purpose of all this is a "QUICK NEW CS MEMBER GUIDE" with CS links that can be added to a sticky post and also to Andy’s welcome to CS message

    Lucas contribution is fine but in this context it will be better for that amount of detailed information to have a separate section e.g. “Advanced and Detailed Guide to Coffee” *
    It will be better to have a link to this or any other relevant post
    Remember the KISS principle

    I sent a PM to flynn to include the basic home roasting section
    as you can see it is 3.5 lines long


    KK
    This is something thats worthwhile getting more feedback on.

    I think that the FAQ should be a document that provides a relatively full and uncontroversial answer to each question in as brief a format as possible. I dont think that we should be concerned with the length of the whole FAQ. The idea is that the reader navigates to the section that is of interest and reads that, not that the reader reads the whole document in one go.

    My spiel on freshness is about 375 words long. An average reading speed would be about 200 wpm and I imagine that many would read at 350 wpm or more. This means that an average person would need to spend two minutes reading that segment. That being the case, I dont think that its worth shortening the answer. If we are going to create this FAQ, I think that we have an obligation to make sure that it is accurate and complete. There are many, many coffee FAQs around the internet and most of them are a joke, precisely because they endeavour to answer everything in one sentence. I dont think that CS should sacrifice completeness and accuracy for the interests of length, but I think that it would be good to get everyone elses opinion on that.

    Similarly, every spiel that I have written for brewing methods ought to take less than a minute for your average person to read. The purpose of this section is to pick up on beanflyings excellent point about manual brewing methods. People may have something sitting in the cupboard that they dont know much about and it would be wonderful if the FAQ would set them on the path to getting great coffee out of it without feeling that they need to spend hundreds of dollars on an espresso machine and grinder. They dont need to read each entry and the structure of what I wrote facilitates easy skimming. If you can get across the characteristics, methods of use, advantages and disadvantages of each brewing method in fewer words, please do so. For example, I was probably wordier than necessary in writing about siphons.

    I dont think that you can move the overview of coffee freshness or brewing apparatus into a more advanced document because if you are drinking coffee or planning on drinking coffee, you need to know something about your brewing apparatus and you need to know about fresh coffee.

    Personally, I think that people reading a coffee forum are probably willing to spend several minutes getting the right information. The layout of the FAQ would be important in allowing them to get the right info quickly. Typical FAQ layouts are very good for this. If necessary, I guess that you could put a summary at the beginning of the document or you could begin each question with a one sentence overview in italics (I did that on the machine review on my blog because I suspected that people would want to skim read it).

    Thoughts?

    Cheers,

    Luca

  24. #24
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Well given Andys OKd it, I will make a start on putting a list together on whats been added so far and include some milk steaming tips as well. Sounds like "Should I buy an automatic coffee maker?" might need to be added to the list

    I write training docs, FAQs and work instructions as part of my job so Im aware of the depth vs brevity balance but I find its always best to tend towards the latter as too much detail confuses. Its meant to be an introductory thing and if they require more detail well there are plenty of willing CSers to answer these.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Koffee_Kosmo's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Luca

    I still stand by my comment that your content is not suitable for a welcome message or a brief FAQ

    It is however very appropriate to go in a more detail post
    “Advanced and Detailed Guide to Coffee” or similar heading

    What will be suitable on a welcome message is a link to this topic

    So get to writing one and post it
    If you have omitted something the CS community will tell you :)

    KK

    Edit
    I should add that I for one enjoy reading Lucas in depth posts
    I know how much work goes into them
    Keep up the good work ;)

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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    flynnaus, KK,

    I understand what your position is, but what I would like to know is what you propose to put up instead. I presume that what you propose regarding freshness is the existing answer under "what coffee should I buy?" How do you propose to address beanflyings point about other brewing methods? As I said, I dont consider the basic overview of different brewing methods to be "advanced and detailed." It might well be detailed in the sense that there is a fair bit of writing there, but I dont think that what I have written about any of the brewing methods could ever pass for "detailed" or "advanced." In most other countries, that would be basics and anything to do with espresso would be advanced. The non-espresso brewing methods are generally cheaper and easier than espresso and, so, are things that I imagine would be of interest to newbies to at least consider. Particularly if they are also interested in home roasting.

    No offence taken whatsoever and I am genuinely keen to see what you propose.

    Cheers,

    Luca

  27. #27
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    I will add something about other options as per BFs suggestion but in basic terms. For example,

    "Those machines look rather expensive. Do I have to buy one to make good coffee?"
    No, if you aready have a coffee plunger, drip or filter equipment, they are more than capable of making excellent coffee. Click here for some other options for preparing excellent espresso. But to get the best out of your coffee maker, it is a good idea to use freshly ground coffee.

    Then a "Read more.." link to Lucas content perhaps in a different thread.

    Reading isnt just about speed, comprehension is more important. *I think your content is great - I learnt a lot from it *- but not necessarily for a newbie Snob. For example, you mention terms like light/heavy body or acidity which someone who isnt beyond the instant coffee experience may not understand.

    Your siphon/clover explanation is too long-winded for what I proposed. For example, I would start with "Siphon coffee is similar to filter coffee, but uses a vacuum to draw the coffee through the filter. Then a picture of one then "Siphon brewers are often expensive, *have many fragile parts and are difficult to clean but the user has more control over the process"

  28. #28
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Gday flynnaus,

    Would you like me to make this thread a "Sticky" or maybe create a new thread for "Final" posting of information that could be sticky and use this thread as a kind of "Sandbox" to throw ideas around?

    Mal.

  29. #29
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    The latter I think Mal. It would be good to keep this one as a thinktank and have a proper one to house the agreed product. Not sure whether it should be a wiki with open access or restricted access open to a few.

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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    To my way of thinking it seems most sensible to keep the initial post as concise as possible then place a link or read more hyperlink at the end of that section.

    I think that to much information initially is off putting to a lot of newbies but to have to search hard for it causes some of the repetitive questions that appear on the fotum.

    Also the thread should be locked when complete and kept just for info and not a discussion thread as it would just get really confused. Even if locked Andy or one of the mods can always tweak it later.

    It also makes sense to keep all detail in the one thread including dragging in say KKs milk texturing simple how to that way you can either read the detail points or read from top to bottom as desired.

    Just trying out some code Link to stuff Post

  31. #31
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Quote Originally Posted by flynnaus link=1224157582/20#28 date=1224581466
    The latter I think Mal. It would be good to keep this one as a thinktank and have a proper one to house the agreed product. Not sure whether it should be a wiki with open access or restricted access open to a few.
    Rightio mate....

    A "wiki" would be ideal of course and I think that is one of the many things that Andy has on the back-burner. Until such a thing is a reality though, a Sticky with a Heading that makes it clear that posting is restricted and a link back to this thread so anyone with ideas can post em here and not clutter up the Sticky.

    Id suggest dropping Andy an email with these questions to see whats the easiest thing to do for now, and then let us all know. All the best,

    Cheers, :)
    Mal.

  32. #32
    Senior Member Koffee_Kosmo's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    I have been thinking about Lucas comment
    I can see both points Quick and easy guide or Detailed Guide

    They are both equally important
    The only way that I can see for it to work is a marriage or combination of both

    If one has more penmanship than me the solution is simple
    The answer came to me when I tested Beanflyings (post 26 link)

    I hope this will work ?? as it is achievable

    The quick and easy answer to a particular heading should be formulated in this way
    The easy guide should form the first part of the complete answer

    The more detailed answer is a continuation of the easy guide

    This detailed answer to be linked like BFs suggestion

    I imagine would be of interest to newbie’s to at least consider. Particularly if they are also interested in home roasting
    For mechanical things such as roasters the CS posts have so much information including guides it is easier to link to it

    It is dependent on the readers own ability to build or to buy a device for roasting

    KK

  33. #33
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Yabb Code issue?

    I have seen that some Yabb versions allow [iurl] ... [/iurl] as a code this would then go to the post in the same page rather than opening a new page like the code above. It would then just skip down to the mentioned post.

    Is this enabled or possible to be enabled on this forum?

  34. #34
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Quote Originally Posted by beanflying link=1224157582/20#32 date=1224640551
    Is this enabled or possible to be enabled on this forum?
    See above.....
    Quote Originally Posted by Mal link=1224157582/20#30 date=1224594382
    Id suggest dropping Andy an email with these questions to see whats the easiest thing to do for now, and then let us all know.
    Mal.

  35. #35
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    OK folks. The draft list of Coffee Snobs Home Truths. This is about as much as I can fit into a single post. There isnt room to fit Lucas suggestions for answers to storage and brewing methods. Will need to link to these posts I think

    What sort of machine should I buy?
    First you need to tell us a few facts to help us such as your budget, coffee preferences (short or long black, latte, cappuccino, etc), how much coffee you consume daily.

    If you are new to the world of coffee, we suggest you spend some time looking through some of the Brewing Equipment threads to get an idea of what others have bought and their experiences.

    If you are still confused then your best bet is to look at the list of sponsors on the left. Many sponsors have a range of coffee equipment set up in their shops. You could look at a range of options and possibly even try out a few. Our sponsors are very experienced and knowledgeable and only too happy to help. And guess what? You may even get a CoffeeSnobs discount on your first purchase.

    How much should I spend on a good espresso maker?
    This is up to you. Espresso machines can range from a couple of hundred dollars to several thousand. Having an expensive machine is no guarantee of superior coffee making. You can also get very nice coffee from plunger or filter coffee. Many Coffee Snob members are also using manual espresso making equipment with excellent results. See the next question.
    However, your most important purchase could be a coffee grinder. Freshly ground coffee from a good quality grinder is more likely to provide a great cup of coffee than using pre-ground coffee.

    I have a coffee plunger/filter. Should I buy an espresso machine?
    No, it isnt necessary. Manual equipment is capable of making excellent coffee and some members with expensive espresso machines swear by this kind of equipment. It is the quality of the bean which is the biggest factor in the quality of cup of coffee. Some other options are siphon, stovetop, Aeropress and Presso

    What sort of grinder should I buy?
    If you are considering upgrading your current coffee making equipment then a good grinder should be your first consideration as this may improve the coffee produced from your current brewing equipment. Generally speaking buy the best grinder you can afford! Have a look in the Grinder forum for ideas.

    What grinder you buy can depend on how much coffee you intend to make. High volumes of coffee need a grinder that will be able to cope with the work. Our sponsors (listed on the left) will be able to provide you with the correct advice on a range of machines at varying prices. Avoid the blade kind also used for grinding spice. Prices can vary but if you are lucky you might get a bargain from the Coffee Hardware for Sale section.

    What about hand grinders?
    Certainly, these can be suitable but take a more effort and time to produce ground coffee. Buy a good one. Zassenhaus is the better brand of hand grinder to look out for - available for around A$100

    What is the best coffee to buy?
    Everyone has different tastes. What tastes good to someone may not suit your tastebuds. Try different brands. Whatever you settle on, it should be freshly roasted. Coffee beans can be stored for up to 3 or 4 weeks after they have been roasted.

    Should I store my beans in the fridge or freezer?
    Not recommended. Coffee contains volatile oils which create the flavour. Not storing your beans carefully may reduce or even ruin the flavour. Store your beans in an airtight container kept in a cupboard. The resealable bags that your beans were sold in are also OK to store your beans in for a short time.
    Remember the "Rule of 3" for bean storage: 3 YEARS for green beans. 3 WEEKS for roasted. 3 MINUTES for ground.

    Many here roast their own beans. *What should I do when the Home Roasting Bug Bites?
    Home roasting is not for everyone, but the cost savings are substantial not to mention the opportunity of having the freshest beans always on hand for your espresso pleasure.
    Search the Home Roasting threads for ideas to get you started.
    Green Beans are available from Bean Bay

    Help. I have a good machine and grinder but I still cant make good coffee
    Dont worry. Learning to use a new machine will take practice and patience if you are not familiar with making coffee. There are a number of factors involved in achieving a great tasting coffee. The best thing to do is to book into a Home Baristra course as offered by many of our sponsors listed on the left.

    How do I steam milk?
    This depends on your machine but check here for some good tips.

    How do I make latte art?
    This also takes a lot of practice but starts with having the milk steamed in the right way. Attending a latte art course is recommended

  36. #36
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    hi flynn,
    This is a well thought out and easy to understand *Q and A .As a relative newbie here ( still think i will be on p plates for years *he he ) ;)
    So much of your time and effort has gone into this post.
    I find the helpful folks here at CS a wonderful source of info and encouragement . well done flynn and all other members who contributed to this informative project.
    Makes us newbies *feel better informed and makes our coffee journey a little less intimidating.
    happy sippin vasanna *;D

  37. #37
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Hi Flynn,

    I sent Andy an email about the yabb code question and "The content might not live in YABB… it might go in a wiki or similar but I’ll wait for the content creation and bedding-down before I decide where it lives." was his thoughts so maybe a little more structured might be in order.

    Looks like about the correct level of text for each of the initial sections. It might read even easier if it was put into sections of perhaps the following would suit a Wiki type page better.

    Coffee, Beans & Storage
    Storage dos and donts. (what you have is fine)
    Bean Types - Aribica, Robusta & blends.
    Home Roasting - mention it can be as simple as a bowl and wooden spoon and heat to small commercial automated roasters or home made. then refer to more info section.

    Brew Equipment & Methods -
    Instant - YUCK still deserves a mention and why it is evil ;)
    Manual - what you have is a good starting point then link to methods (such as Lucas posts) and even a good utube video of a Syphon method.
    Semi Auto Machines and then link to methods (Milk, Late Art, Grind, Tamping etc along with basic errors) also good utube video links for the different detail sections.
    Fully Automatic - you get what you pay for and maintainence intensive issues.

    Grinders
    Manual
    Electric Blade types and why they are best avoided
    Electric Conical or Flat Burr types (what you have is good maybe just mention figures of $200 - $1000+ ?)

    Just my thoughts but while refering to a specific forum section is great the content will bamboozle most newbies so referring them to a specific well thought and concise post on each of the sections is a better thing to do (where available) as well as referring them to the specific forum section might be best.

  38. #38
    Senior Member Koffee_Kosmo's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Looking good so far
    And agree with BF to link on expanded info
    KK

  39. #39
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Thanks.

    As posts have a 5500 car limit (icl. YaBB code) there wasnt much more I could add to it.

    I think the in-depth material such as what BF and Luca have put forward could be spread over different posts where it has thematic relevance but it is then more difficult to administer when editing is required. I have emailed Andy and suggested a Coffee Snobs Home Truths Forum - a completely new section containing both the above faqs and the in-depth stuff.

    If we have a wiki, I dont think it should be open to all but to those with good knowledge of an area (and I dont include myself in that description)

  40. #40
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    What is started here to my way of thinking is not designed for discussion "truth" is in the title so it needs to be general and uncomplicated and correct (ie not up for discussion or questioning) so a limited wiki or certainly locked threads are in order BUT ...

    An overall monitored comments or suggestions section would be in order so it stays a living and up to date document. So many items on the web that start with great ideals finish up dated fairly quickly especially with hyperlinks are concerned. So no disecting of each post by the masses.

    A CS Wiki is sounding more and more like a good idea.

  41. #41
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Agreed. I would keep this thread or the other usual CS threads going as a discussion area. When something is considered worthy of becoming a CS Home Truth then it can be moved to the new area.

    I dont think Truth can be separated from Coffee Snobs as it isnt absolute, just what CSers agree on. Coffee Snobs Home Truths is a somewhat whimsical title I thought might be fitting for the thread, not an indication of its overall veracity. But who am I to question the greater knowledge of the CS cogniscenti? 8-)

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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Truths like the best coffee is made with water in the 91-93 degree temp. rather than an absolute answer or 92.5 ;) It would be like placing a comment on the best machine a HX and not a DB ;D Keep the content fairly general and simple to avoid the your wrong I am right attitude is important.

    Simple title like "Coffee for Trainee Snobs", "Coffee Primer for Snobs" ....

  43. #43
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    More that "Coffee Snobs Home Truths" are what we believe is good advice rather than what we say is the ultimate truth.

  44. #44
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    OK, its growing. Andy has suggested overcoming the character limit by spreading over several posts. Didnt stipulate what, but I imagine General, Coffee Equipment and Coffee Roasting would be the topics in question. So I would need expert help on adding the info to these.

    Under Coffee Equipment perhaps have the following categories:
    Manual equipment
    Sub-$1000 Espresso Machines (I think it worthwhile having the manual equipment as a separate category)
    Single boiler Machines >$1000
    Heat Exchanger Machines
    Double Boiler Machines
    Commercial Espresso Machines
    Automatci Coffee Machines
    Grinder - domestic
    Grinder - Commercial (not sure if two categories are needed)

    Under Coffee Roasting I suggest these as a possible starting point:
    Coffee Bean Primer
    Single Origin Coffees
    Coffee Blends
    Home Roasting Method
    Home Roasting Equipment

    As far as a wiki goes this probably wont happen so consider it off the table. We need to work within the current YaBB limitations.

  45. #45
    A_M
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Quote Originally Posted by 404A5F4848475355260 link=1224157582/43#43 date=1225084353
    OK, its growing. Andy has suggested overcoming the character limit by spreading over several *posts. Didnt stipulate what, but I imagine General, Coffee Equipment and Coffee Roasting would be the topics in question. So I would need expert help on adding the info to these.

    Under Coffee Equipment perhaps have the following categories:
    Manual equipment
    Sub-$1000 Espresso Machines * (I think it worthwhile having the manual equipment as a separate category)
    Single boiler Machines >$1000
    Heat Exchanger Machines
    Double Boiler Machines
    Commercial Espresso Machines
    Automatci Coffee Machines
    Grinder - domestic
    Grinder - Commercial (not sure if two categories are needed)

    Under Coffee Roasting I suggest these as a possible starting point:
    Coffee Bean Primer
    Single Origin Coffees
    Coffee Blends
    Home Roasting Method
    Home Roasting Equipment

    As far as a wiki goes this probably wont happen so consider it off the table. We need to work within the current YaBB limitations.


    Considering the ongoing requests for info and many wishing to obtain more info...

    1: Location and other info ? should be part of the sign up (Y/N)

    2: Sticky or Primary Level section with Fixed Topics... Covering off on much of the great work done by other previous to this post...

    Just my 2 cents worth...

  46. #46
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    Re: Coffee Snobs Home Truths

    Quote Originally Posted by 042B22203708242B24222028202B31450 link=1224157582/44#44 date=1241482797

    Considering the ongoing requests for info and many wishing to obtain more info...

    1: *Location and other info ? should be part of the sign up (Y/N)

    2: *Sticky or *Primary Level *section with Fixed Topics... Covering off on much of the great work done by other previous to this post... *

    Just my 2 cents worth...
    How about its own Clickable TAB .. Home/ Help/ Search/ .... n00bs [ :) ]



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