The double hump

This post has come out of an email conversation between Andy Schecter, Scott Rao and myself. Scott had originally considered posting this as a comment on the Brewing Outside of Gold Cup post, but I thought it was too interesting to take the chance of being missed by people who might find it very interesting.

The timing seemed excellent after my last post on Cupping and French Press – for reasons that I hope will make sense once you read it.
Continue reading “The double hump”

Cappuccino as conflict

Competition season often leaves me with an uneasy relationship with a drink I usually find very enjoyable.  I should add that my own view is in no way representative of competition judges, or competitions or anything like that – just a thought rolling around my head.

Generally, it seems, we treat milk as an enemy.  People talk as if steamed milk is trying to hold a pillow over the face of coffee flavour.  We talk about whether or not a coffee “cuts through” the milk.  I’ve never really been thrilled with that phrase or way of thinking about coffee but I have to accept that I am in the minority here. Continue reading “Cappuccino as conflict”

An experiment with grind size

My experience with the ExtractMojo has so far resulted in one recurring realisation:  I often wasn’t grinding finely enough.  The purpose of this isn’t to rehash the whole underextracted thing.  More a simple experiment in terms of people’s preferences.

Accurately communicating grind size remains near impossible.  We can say coarse, very coarse or fine or whatever, but it is still a pretty bad communicator when you are stood in front of a grinder that you don’t know.

If people are up for it then I’d like to try an experiment.  Pick a method that you know well.  Record how you are currently setting your grinder for your desired grind size.  Each time you brew it, keep everything the same (brew temp, water volume and steep time if applicable) but go a touch finer.  Keep going until you hit the wall of bitterness.  You’ll know it when you taste it, when the cup falls to pieces in a bitter finish.  Come back a touch coarser, and try a side by side brew of this grind Vs your original grind.  Which is better? Why?

I hope a few people will try this – it would be really interesting.  I am interested because if someone asked me the ideal grind size for the aeropress, for example, then I’d say to keep the steep time the same and bring the grind as fine as you can before it starts tasting noticeably bitter.

(I am quite prepared for you to all come back and tell me I am an idiot)



This post should probably start with a disclaimer – I did not pay for my ExtractMojo, it was very kindly sent to me by Vince Fedele at Terroir Coffee to use and give feedback upon.  I am very grateful to both him and Andy Schecter and Scott Rao also for getting me involved.

In many ways I am surprised that this isn’t a hotter topic of conversation, especially online.  Then again many of you reading this may have done the same thing as me – download the trial software, have a little play, think it is a cool little automated coffee brewing control chart.  I sorely underestimated it.

Continue reading “ExtractMojo”

Thoughts after a public cupping


I’ve really enjoyed the discussion going on after this post.   One comment that stuck in my mind was Aldo’s Fazenda Kaquend COE Vs Maxwell House experiment. It definitely affected some decisions I made when I was choosing coffees to take with me to a public cupping I did in East London as part of a charity fund raiser.

I knew I would have two separate groups, of between 10 and 20 people each time.  I had agreed to do a cupping, rather than a tasting of brewed coffee (which I would prefer to do with the general public usually), because they were paying for a bit more of an experience.

Continue reading “Thoughts after a public cupping”

Brewed coffee and the UK

This is something of a summary of the short talk I gave at the Allegra Strategies UK Coffee Leader Summit a week or so ago.  Please also bear in mind that this talk was directed at the UK market specifically so won’t necessarily hold true for other national coffee cultures.

For me this talk was a moment of crystalisation about how I feel about coffee right now, and what I want to focus a lot of my energy on.  I had initially planned to talk about how quality focused businesses were doing well right now, but in the process of writing the talk that seemed to shift.  I should add a final caveat to this by saying that I do love making and drinking espresso.

My talk was titled “How the coffee industry lost the public’s trust, and how good coffee can win it back again.”

Continue reading “Brewed coffee and the UK”

The importance of being wrong

I feel it is about time I broached this subject.  With an eye to the last posts, as well as to the response to my Chemex videocast, I feel the need to make something very clear.

The internet is full of information, though it is also full of keyboard heroes, and has something of an issue with its signal to noise ratio.  Identifying who is a useful purveyor of information is tricky and, while there is growing use of indicators in forums, often it is he who shouts loudest that wins.

Continue reading “The importance of being wrong”