Tuesday, October 28, 2008

   from Nick

Michelle Campbell

This is Michelle Campbell.
Today was her last day at the SCAA.
She was the Director of Community & Events.
She was the administrator of the US Barista Championship.
She was the administrator of the World Barista Championship.
She was the staff liaison of the Barista Guild of America.
For six years, she was a supporter, cheerleader, advocate, defender, enthusiast, admirer, and crusader for baristas all around the US and around the world.
She was a friend to all baristas.
The specialty coffee community owes her a debt of gratitude.

Thank you for your work, your dedication but most importantly your love.
Best of luck in your future endeavors.
We'll miss you!

We love you Michelle!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

   from Nick

Portafilter Podcast July 2005 - March 2008

It's with greatly mixed feelings that I announce that the Portafilter Podcast is no more.

Over three years, the podcast has been downloaded over 200,000 times (over 2,600 per episode on average), and it's been an unbelievable run.

In the interest of not digging into unnecessary messiness, my co-host and I find ourselves with certain irreconcilable differences, and I am unable to continue the partnership.

I do thank my co-host, Mr. Jay Caragay, for a great series of podcasts, and I wish him well in his continuing endeavors.

A coffee podcast may be reborn in one sense or another sometime in the future, and for now, the podcast RSS feed (via iTunes) will live on, and with 4,000 downloads of old episodes per month right now, I have no intention of pulling them off-line. The blog will continue as well.

Thanks to the throng of devoted listeners. From industry movers-and-shakers to home coffee enthusiasts, my hope from episode one to episode 75 was for the podcast to, in any way, add to your entertainment and coffee experience.

Our email addresses will always remain one way to contact us: nick@murkycoffee.com and jay@jaysshaveice.com.

With that...

...party on.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

   from Nick

Roast Magazine Roaster of the Year 2008...

Congrats to PT's Coffee and the Coffee Klatch for winning Roast Magazine 2008 Roaster of the Year!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

   from AndyS

Got Mojo?

I've recently beta tested a nifty system that gives direct and immediate feedback on your brewed coffee technique. It's called "ExtractMoJo" from the George Howell Coffee Company, and it has helped me to brew the best non-espresso coffee I’ve ever made.

(OK, since I usually don’t drink a lot of non-espresso coffee, maybe that ain’t sayin’ much. But still, the brewed coffee’s been GOOD lately!)

The ExtractMoJo system consists of two parts. The first part is a computer program that quickly and accurately calculates the doses of coffee and water to prepare any size batch at your preferred proportions. The second part is a compact digital refractometer that, along with the software, allows you to determine the strength of your cup (aka, total dissolved solids) and the solubles yield (ie, what percent of the dry coffee went into the brew).

So why is this helpful?

Taste panels over the years have usually found that the best brewed coffee results when your technique is adjusted so that two criteria are met:
(1) 19-21% of the dry coffee mass is extracted into your cup and
(2) the resulting beverage ends up containing somewhere around 1.3-1.5% coffee solids.

It’s interesting to note that it’s NOT ENOUGH simply to start out with the proper proportions of dry coffee and water. It’s also necessary to tweak your temperature, grind, steeping time, and stirring to achieve that 19-21% extraction rate. This can be done by trial and error, for sure, but that can be a fairly lengthy process without experience. ExtractMoJo allows you to zero in on the right technique after only a few test brews.

OF COURSE you still have to adjust the coffee TO YOUR TASTE; no one and no system can decide for you what your coffee should taste like. In particular, the 1.3-1.5% coffee solids is very flexible depending on the coffee and your preference. But this system gets you in a reasonable range much more quickly, and allows you to reproduce your favorite recipes (for different coffees) at another time. And for a shop where many people prepare the coffee, it makes it relatively easy to create objective quality control standards that are verifiable and repeatable.

A side note: the refractometer may help to explain the mystery of why different clover and vac pot stirring techniques have fiercely loyal adherents: up to a point, more stirring results in a bit more thorough extraction, and more extraction changes the flavor. We shall see as people experiment with these tools.

And, with a bunch more development, ExtractMoJo may become be useful for espresso brewing, too (I hope!) Espresso "standards" are hugely variable right now, and it would be great to be able to accurately make strength and solids yield measurements. Not to try and force people to make an arbitrarily "correct espresso," but simply to begin to understand how people are arriving at the particular flavor profile that they prefer. I believe that someday soon this technology will become de rigueur for quality oriented coffee shops.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

   from Nick

Is it iced coffee weather?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

   from Nick