House Coffee.

I recently moved from Silver Lake into downtown Los Angeles. When comparing the neighborhoods and different sections of Los Angeles, downtown is about as unique as any of it gets. If you’ve seen the movie ‘500 Days of Summer’ then you can get a decent picture of where I live. The architecture is beautiful and ornate. As it mentions in the movie, everything ground level is a bit ugly, but when you look up, it’s genuinely beautiful.

Living in the new digs has had me exploring coffee at home once more. This is something that I believe to be essential to sharpening ones skills as a barista. I’ve said it before, but we can all make decent coffee at our coffee bars with the equipment we keep around. However, it becomes a different battle when the scace thermometer is gone, the water isn’t coming off a cirqua system, and the grinder is a beat-up home grinder, as opposed to your Ditting grinder. In fact, I like to challenge myself and other baristas to see what you can do with a blade grinder… But that’s a whole different kind of post.

When moving out of the house I was in, I also moved away from living with Devin Pedde. This meant that more than half the brewing methods we had were now at his apartment, about three miles from where I am. So, I had to rebuild the collection. After some thought out purchases, I’ve set myself up with three Hario V60 brewers… One plastic, one glass, and one ceramic, and all are of the 2-cup variety. I’ve got the Hario woodneck, cloth filter brewer, a Yama TCA-3, and two very old french presses that I purchased from Jana Oppenheimer when she was still working at Stumptown Coffee in Portland, OR.

For my v60’s and Woodneck brews, I’ve been borrowing the method developed by the Intelligentsia Educators. The method is based on weight of water and brew, not volume… and with the right aged coffee, and a solid grind I’m getting beautiful coffee. I’m also using the same method for both the cloth filter woodneck and the paper filter v60’s. The cup profiles are similar in sweetness and acidity, but the mouth-feel is far more velvety in the cloth filter.

What I need help with is the siphon. I’m struggling again to find stable temperature, without the water getting too hot or so cool that the water drops before my coffee has brewed. I’m using a fairly reliable butane burner. Still, somehow I’m getting a flavor in the cup that just tastes slightly scorched. I’m also finding it might be time to replace my Virtuoso. The burrs are solid, but it’s taken some beatings, and the grind settings seem to be unreliable. In fact, it’s at a point where I have to hold the hopper down a bit to keep the grind even. If anyone out there has any suggestions for a TCA-3, 12 ounce brew, I’d love to hear them. I know the industry has been back and forth and all over about the siphon, but it’s after I had put it down and am coming back to it, now, that I’m struggling again to find the groove.

Bottom line is, I’m glad to be working with coffee at home again. It’s so much more delicious when I can sit on my own couch and drink out of my favorite mugs. It’s also drinking coffee in my living room that somehow inspires me to start writing again. Who knows, maybe it’s not time to kill the blog after all…

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3 thoughts on “House Coffee.

  1. i know that over in the states there seems to be a lot of large steep times. I’m not saying that our method is better or worse but I thought I’d simply post the recipe for how we’re brewing at the moment.
    TCA3
    34-36grams
    360 mls
    Grind setting 7 on a ditting (half way between paper filter and french press)
    Add water and turn on flame/heat lamp/
    Close the two chambers and let the water settle in the top – this allows the temperature to stabilize a little.
    Spiral the water and add the coffee, being careful not to over agitate the grounds.
    Steep for 30 seconds and remove the flame.
    At the first signs of a natural downward draw give the brew a gentle stir and wrap the base in a cool (not freezing) towel to increase the vacuum.

    We find it gives a great balance between sweetness and body. Upping the steep time to around a minute (on the flame) greatly enhances the body but with a loss to overall sweetness, both taste great however.

  2. I’ve played with my hario tca3 a bit and have had some decent results with the following

    26-28 g dose ground around 19 on my virtuoso (they are all a bit different)
    if you wait until just a little bubbling you can get a solid upkick without it boiling up top.

    I then drop the flame til the temp stabilizes around 202ish

    Ground coffee is added and a swift but gentle stir until the coffee is fully saturated. There should be a visual cue of two separate layers that are both saturated (top being light, bottom darker)

    At 30 secs. there is a brief stir to reintroduce all the coffee to the water

    45-50 second the flame is pulled and five circular stirs to spin grounds.

    Drop finishes with last bubble at about 1:40.

    See if you might have any luck. I don’t love the updose, so if you find better results with a lower dose it would seem worth it.

  3. Ryan – I don’t have any suggestions as I don’t yet own a siphon. However, I wanted to encourage you to keep on blogging and YES, it’s vital for us to continue our craft while at home as it enables us to connect with our customers and educate them with our hands on experience. I’m currently in the process of moving farther away from the shop I work at (live .25 mi away right now), and can’t wait to use my equipment for more than just impressing my friends.

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