Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Couple of New Toys to Play With

So, Along with the two bags of coffee from the Barismo "Virtual Cupping Club", I received a brand new Hario TCA-2 vac-pot. Sweet deal!

I have to say, using this thing in Simon's "Aroma method" is quite a challenge. Stirring 4 doses (28-32g) of coffee into two cups (~12oz.) of water until full saturation without over-agitating in under 5 seconds is a task that borders on the impossible.

The boys at Barismo say that the Aeropress paddle works wonderfully for this task, unfortunately, that is something I just didn't have on hand.

A few days ago, I saw a "like new" Aeropress that had been used once go up for sale on CoffeeGeek. Being the gadget geek that I am, I opted for it.

It arrived today.
I like the nifty new packaging, however, I just can't get past Alan's refusal to remove "espresso" from the box and description. It's a unique brew method in its own right, and is NOTHING like espresso.

I do, however, think that this brew method allows manual control over so many variables, it just might be the best tool for experimentation since the espresso machine. (did I just say that?)

I know that a lot of people hate on the Aeropress for a variety of reasons. The fact of the matter is that I've had great results, and I've had terrible results from the same coffee from the same brewer.. the only difference has been user control. The skill of the barista.. in a very simple (and surgical-looking) format.

I've been waiting for metal disc filters to become available, and they have been promised from multiple vendors, however, no-one has actually come through. Maybe I'll have to start dismantling an espresso filterbasket to put this one together, though I'd prefer something with smaller holes. (photo-etched anyone?)

Ben Chen (of Barismo) sent me some polyester felt to be cut into a filter disc awhile back. I've cut it down, but not enough, apparently. The clearance between the filter cap and the chamber body is very very tight. The thin paper filters are about all it can take in terms of thickness.

I can cut it down farther so that it fits inside the chamber's diameter, but the only thing holding it in place would be the pressure from the plunger. I'm not sure that's such a great idea, though maybe I should withhold judgment until after some experimentation.

I LOVE the TCA-2. I really do. Unfortunately, it takes quite a while to set it up and to do things right. Not bad for one person, but when someone is waiting, it can feel like an eternity for the one doing the waiting. What an art it is, though, and the result is worth every second.

Aeropress takes a little less time, I think, though maybe it's just a bit more simple to use. I haven't really done any timing at this point.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Excitment.. from a picture

I'm not sure how many who read this blog have heard of/have participated in an online virtual cupping club before, but the boys at Barismo have been sending out roast samples to compare cupping notes, I suspect, partly to educate those in participation, but also to get a few outside opinions via blind tasting.

At any rate, I saw this picture today, and this means.. .. another round of tasting.

This time, via vac-pot.

Hmm... I wonder what's in that bag with my name on it.

New tastes, new experiences, and a chance to help some friends progress. Dig it.