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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