Sunday, May 26, 2013

Coffee Log: Barismo, and Toddy coffee

So, about this time last year, I put up a post on making ice cubes out of coffee, and got a comment pointing me to cold-brewed coffee. Cold brew became my new favorite thing that summer, to the consternation of my wife, who was pregnant and couldn't drink coffee at the time. When the jars that I was using to brew the coffee would collect in the sink, she refused to wash them in protest.

Well, this summer's different. Not only can she drink caffeine, thanks to the presence of a three month old at our house, she pretty much has to... as do I.

My old method was, 1/2 cup of beans into the grinder on its finest setting. Ground coffee into a 32 oz jar. Fill jar with water, let it sit on the counter for the day and night. Filter in the morning, and drink with ice and milk. 

Enter Barismo. Specifically Nick, who is a barista there on Saturdays. I wandered in about a week ago, looking for coffee. I like local, and I like good coffee. So, this local roaster seemed like a good fit for me. I talked to Nick for a few minutes, and he told me that what I was doing was called 'toddy' coffee. And, he told me that one of the important things to do was to cold brew in the fridge for 24 hours, (I was brewing at room temperature) and then filter, followed by letting it mellow out for ANOTHER 24 hours.

 Day one you grind, add water, and throw the jar in the fridge. Day 2 you filter the coffee, which takes a while. Day 3, you finally have coffee to drink.  I was skeptical, but he was right. it really mellows out the coffee. I don't know if it's a question of oxygenation, like letting red wine breathe, or if it's something else that's going on.

This seemed like an un-necessarily complicated addition to the process. But while the extra day adds an extra step, as long as I'm doing it every day, the morning starts out with immediately-drinkable coffee. I filter the rest as I have time to, and do the grind and soak bit while the filtering is going on. So I'm not actually waiting for the filtering to finish to have my coffee. (Truth be told, I never really waited much before, either, since the bulk of the initial filtering moves so quickly.) As long as you keep the process going, you'll always wake up with iced coffee ready and waiting. 

Nick wasn't really 100% on my fine-grind method, saying that it makes the filter work too hard. But in his context, that's a justifiable argument. The jar he uses for cold-brewing is several times the size of my 32 oz jars, and it takes a #4 paper filter in my kitchen about 20-25 minutes to completely filter one of those. The initial flow is pretty quick, but as the fine particles collect, it really slows down. 90% of the filtering is done in the first 5 minutes. The rest of the time is a slow drip-drip-drip of the last bit of coffee to get through. When the process is done, the inside of the filter looks like it's been coated with brown latex paint... the coffee particles and sediment are that fine.

He also mentioned that toddy coffee worked well with beans that weren't freshly, freshly roasted, so the coffee off of their discount rack (8+ days past roast date) would be just fine. So, he helped me to make better coffee, at reduced cost. The discount rack is hit or miss some days, but it's still worth it. It just means I have to stop by more often, which I don't mind doing.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Coffee Log: Quick Review: New Bodum Chambord Press

I bought one of these for myself after the holidays.

In general, Bodum seems to make a quality product. That means that I have certain expectations... and that led to a little bit of disappointment here.

The spout is attached to a plastic piece that settled into the top of the beaker. (Older models had the spout made into the actual glass) That would be great if the gasket worked well all the time. But it doesn't. The result is a leak that happens underneath the pour spout, which then runs down the front of the press, and onto the table, while you pour your coffee.

There are 'ears' made into the top of the metal cage that holds the beaker. They are clearly designed to hold that top in place, which they do. But it's a screw-in kind of feel, and the ears aren't really sufficient for that: they deflect, allowing the top to continue to rotate. Not really a functional issue, but it does lead to a feeling that the metal is flimsy. Functionally, it doesn't need to be robust. But that lack of robust-ness combined with the leaky top just leads to my impression that this just isn't as good as the kind of product I expect from Bodum.

(The coffee is fine... it's still a Bodum French press. I just wish it felt like a nicer product, and I wouldn't ever use this over a table cloth.)