How to Make a Great Cup of Coffee

Talk Cover Page

I presented a two hour talk called “How to Make a Great Cup of Coffee.”

Here is the slide deck I used. I also published it for the attendees as a chapbook.How to Make a Great Cup of Coffee

The talk focused on basics:

  • Cold brewing coffee, plunge frother
  • Arabica vs robusta
  • Coffee maker types: gravity, immersion, steam pressure, vacuum and pump espresso
  • Paper vs screen filters
  • Burr vs blade grinders
  • Growing coffee
  • Coffee pods

Different Sizes of the Green Beans

Coffee beans at various stages of growth
Matias Zeledon of Down to Earth Coffee in Costa Rica posted an interesting picture of coffee beans with different sizes on the branch. This is an example of why you have to hand pick coffee to only get the ripe cherries. Here is Matias’ description:

Happy to see the coffee healthy and developing well in the Providencia highlands farm. The different sizes of the green beans are produced by the different waves of blooming, which generate the different stages in the harvest. The big differences in size comes from the fact that this year we had rain on Feb 9th so the first blooming came early and that is why the beans look so well developed compared to the others. This also means that we are going to be harvesting coffee in early November, a sizable bunch and not just a few.

Coffee Smoothie II

In Coffee Smoothie ONE I showed how to make a coffee smoothie with freshly ground coffee. Since writing that post I have probably made a hundred of them and have perfected the recipe.

First I purchased a few bottles of Lorina Lemonade at the grocery store. The drink is amazing but what I really wanted was the resealable bottles.

Lorina Lemonade bottles
Lorina Lemonade bottles

The bottles are strong and the seal is both interesting and functional.

Cold Brewed Coffee Syrup
Next rather than making small batches of coffee syrup I moved to a 12 cup French Press. I put in 150 grams of coffee and fill with water. After sitting 24 hours in the fridge I get a full bottle of syrup. This is basically triple strength.

The other bottle is sugar syrup. I tried cocoa rather than Quik and really liked the result. You have to change the amount of sugar syrup as cocoa has no sugar or sweetener in it.

The last change was adding a banana. One issue with the original recipe is the drink tends to separate into the ice on top and the fluid below. The banana adds a pulp that keeps the drink from separating. It also is more creamy.

Here is the revised recipe.
Iced Coffee Smoothie
1/2 cup Cold Brewed Coffee Syrup
1/4 cup cold Sugar Syrup
1 tbsp cocoa
1 peeled banana
1 1/4 cup cold milk
1 1/2 cup ice cubes

  1. In a blender place Cold Brewed Coffee Syrup, milk, Simple Sugar Syrup, banana and cocoa
  2. Add last ice cubes last to avoid melting
  3. Whip and pour

Coffee Smoothie

Coffee Smoothies
Coffee Smoothies
Recently I bought a commercial blender to make fruit smoothies. Being a coffee junkie I wanted a coffee smoothie recipe. Most recipes I found started with instant coffee – not going to happen. I tried making strong hot coffee, adding milk, sugar and ice and blending. The result was a bland cool drink. Yuch.

Then I found an article on making strong coffee base with a french press and cold brewing. Normal hot coffee uses 10-15 grams to a cup of water so this is 2 to 3 times stronger. Cold brewing also reduces bitterness. I have been working on this recipe for months and here is my result. It is interesting how the type of coffee bean and roast changes the taste. A full city roast of Sumatra is one of my favorites.

Since releasing the recipe I had found an improvement. By adding two tablespoons of powered milk the smoothie stays creamier longer and tastes more milk shake like.

Continue reading “Coffee Smoothie”

Computer Controlling the Ohaus SPE2001 Scout Pro

For some of my coffee roasting experiments I wanted a scale I could connect to a PC or Mac. I looked at many scales and the Ohaus Scout® Pro Balance series was a nice blend of capability vs price. This series is designed for educational applications. RS232 (part 71147376) and USB (part 71147377) interfaces are available. This article documents the use of the USB interface. I assume the RS232 is identical as the user manuals appear identical except for how to connect to the computer.

Ohaus SPE
Ohaus SPE
Model Capacity Readability
SPE123 120 g x 0.001 g
SPE202 200 g x 0.01 g
SPE401 400 g x 0.1 g
SPE402 400 g x 0.01 g
SPE601 600 g x 0.1 g
SPE2001 2000 g x 0.1 g
SPE4001 4000 g x 0.1 g
SPE6000 6000 g x 1 g

Product Data Sheet (PDF)
Instruction Manual (PDF)
USB Interface Manual (PDF)

Continue reading “Computer Controlling the Ohaus SPE2001 Scout Pro”

Pro-Tips for Home Coffee Roasting

Guest contributor: Samantha Joyce

Behmor 1600
Behmor 1600

Through interviews I conducted for Seattle Coffee Gear’s Coffee Review I have visited and talked with local professional coffee roasters around Seattle, Washington from Caffe Ladro, Caffe Umbria, Middle Fork Roasters, Velton’s Coffee and Zoka Coffee. Roaster set-ups vary in size, capacity and philosophy.  The most common refrain was to pay attention to the sights, sounds and smells. Do not get distracted or try to multi-task. Focus on the roast. Continue reading “Pro-Tips for Home Coffee Roasting”

Crystal Caffeine – Angel Hair

Caffeine is released during roasting. Some of this caffeine crystalizes on the outside as the smoke escapes.

Temperature Probe Setup on HotTop Roaster

This is a HotTop roaster. The yellow devices on top are temperature probes. As the roast progresses, smoke escapes from the probe holder. Over time, amazingly intricate white crystal structures appear. These caffeine crystals are know as angel hair in coffee jargon.

Caffeine Angel Hair formed on the bean temperature probe handle

These are microscope shots of the crystals after removed from the probe.

Caffeine Crystals under a microscope

Same cluster under higher power.

Caffeine Crystals under higher power