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.


Ben Chen said...

You gotta file down the ears of the plastic cap a bit to use the polyfelt filter (will not affect the use of paper filter). Check out the link I sent you earlier ;-)

Stirring is not impossible. Simon can do it w/ the bamboo paddle under 3 seconds... it just takes a lot of practice, haha.

Jason Haeger said...

Oh, I know it's just a matter of practice. I just didn't expect such a mellow learning curve.

Give me a couple of weeks. heh.

Branden said...

Under three seconds? Wow.

Jason Haeger said...

Oh, it's doable. I haven't figured it out yet, but I can definitely imagine it.

It takes some vigorous work, but NOT circular.

Ben Chen said...

You know, it's funny, but gentle but firm motions work a lot better than frantic stirs.
But you have to be really precise...

Alexandre said...

Just got my own AP a few days ago. My approach to it is pretty much the same as yours: a tool for coffee experimentation.
The instructions along with the espresso comparisons are extremely misleading. To me, it has more to do with Turkish-style ibrik/cezve, vac pot, and French Press than with any other brewing method (including drip, espresso, and moka pot). Haven't tried coffee from a Clover yet but I tend to imagine Clover coffee to be in the same range of flavor profiles as those, yet with something closer to espresso.

Results I've been having with the AP ranged from mediocre to really very interesting. Some cups give me things out of my blends that I can't get with other brewing methods. One cup I might remember for a while was as syrupy as I ever got any coffee drink to be like.
Once I move to Austin, we should find a way to meet up to experiment a bit.

Jason Haeger said...

Just shoot me an email and I'll see what I can do about getting down there again.