Kurt Vonnegut. David Letterman. The Indy 500. President Benjamin Harrison. Indianapolis is home to a lot of famous people and things. Not as famous, but just as noteworthy in our humble opinion, is Indianapolis’s growing specialty coffee community. Although long eclipsed by larger markets in neighboring states, the coffee scene in Indianapolis is refreshingly passionate and non-partisan. The latest addition to this burgeoning community is Coat Check Coffee, a small lobby café already punching well above its weight class.
McDonald’s in the United Kingdom released a commercial ribbing specialty coffee shops last week, and a lot of baristas took to social media to voice their anger. The video ridiculed craft coffee shops for having limited hours, being over priced, taking too long, having rewards cards, and frankly just being too precious when it comes to coffee. As voiced by one actor in the commercial, McDonald’s is the place for people who “just want a cup of coffee.”…
You’re probably ignoring the second most important ingredient in your coffee. Although coffee nerds meticulously select their coffee, equipment, and brewing techniques, most just use whatever water comes out of the tap. But water makes up more than 98% of filter coffee, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that water can radically change the way your coffee tastes.
The chemical composition of the water both affects how the soluble coffee particles are extracted and how those flavors are perceived when consumed. For example, softer water will accentuate a coffee’s bright, juicy flavors, while water that is overly-hard will like taste flat and astringent. But it gets more complicated. As Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood and Chris Hendon explain in their seminal book, Water For Coffee, although water hardness is determined by the cumulative ppm of dissolved minerals, it doesn’t tell you what minerals are present. This matters because minerals like calcium and magnesium aid coffee extraction and don’t negatively affect flavor, but other minerals like iron and sodium bicarbonate can have an off-putting affect on coffee flavor. In other words, water matters.
While serious coffee shops spend thousands of dollars on their water filtration systems, for most consumers buying filtered spring water is the only viable option. But different brands and even different bottles of spring water can have very different chemical compositions depending on the source water. This problem bothered a couple of coffee-loving entrepreneurs in Southern Ohio which led them to create a product they call Third Wave Water….
Hang around a coffee shop long enough and you’ll likely hear a barista mention cupping. No, they’re not talking about competitive cup stacking. Cupping is a century-old quality control technique utilized by coffee producers and roasters alike to evaluate coffee. Thanks to a great new educational video from Cafe Imports, you too can learn how to cup coffee. Watch as roasting guru Joe Marrocco walks you through the basics, including water temperature, brewing ratios, and best practices. Cupping spoons and coffee not included.
Scientists at The University of California Davis have successfully sequenced coffea arabica‘s genome. The findings have been posted to the public database Phytozome.net so the breeders and researchers around the globe can have access to the data. The project, which was funded by the Japanese beverage corporation Suntory, was complicated by the fact coffea arabica has four sets of genomes, twice as many as most plants, including other species of coffee. Researchers chose to sequence UCG-17 Geisha’s genome, an heirloom coffee variety indigenous to Ethiopia but now being grown commercially in California. Geisha varieties are known for disease resistant qualities and researchers hope their finding will help coffee producers fight leaf rust and other diseases. Watch a video and read about the the findings from actual scientists here.
There’s a million ways to pull a bad shot of espresso, but the easiest way is to mess up the tamp. Although it might appear to be a menial task, tamping is essential for an even extraction, i.e. ensuring all of the coffee grounds are saturated with the same amount of water. Any inconsistencies in the bed of coffee grounds and the water will channel, resulting in an unpleasant, astringent espresso.
As a barista educator, I can testify there are few bar skills that take as long to master as tamping. Even veteran baristas tend to tamp at a slight angle, ensuring the full flavor potential of that shot of espresso goes unrealized. Traditional tampers have the further problem of placing a lot of tension on the barista’s wrist. More than one barista I know has needed physical therapy because of repetitive stressed caused by tamping. The UK’s Clockwork Espresso claims to address both of these issues with a revolutionarily simple device they call the PUSH Tamper….
Kickstarter has been a decidedly mixed bag when it comes to coffee. On one hand, it’s given us success stories like Acaia, whose Bluetooth-ready scales have become a fixture in quality-minded cafés. On the other hand, the failures have been numerous– perhaps none more disastrous than the ZPM espresso machine, which after years of delays failed to come to market. The outcry that followed garnered the attention of the New York Times and even motivated Kickstarter to change their policies. …
It can be tough selling a hot beverage in the desert. Against all odds, roasters like Cartel, Press, and Peixoto have long championed locally-roasted coffee in the Phoenix area. But a new wave of cafés are introducing the Valley of the Sun to out-of-state roasters, adding a depth and diversity to the Phoenix coffee scene. On a recent trip to Arizona we visited three Phoenix coffee shops changing the local scene. …
Still looking for the perfect present for that caffeine-addicted person in your life? Don’t worry, we’re one step ahead of you. We’ve compiled a list of presents any barista, roaster, or home brewer would love to have. Our criteria was plenty simple: only pick products we also want for Christmas. From stocking stuffers to major purchases, there’s something on this list for everyone.
Clockwork Espresso PUSH Tamper
From wrist tension to shoulder pain, baristas are prone to all sorts of repetitive stress. This long-awaited tamper Clockwork Espresso promises not only a more ergonomic approach to tamping, but also a more consistently level espresso bed. Did we mention they come in fun bright colors?…
Every coffee professional has had the experience: a coffee blows you away on the cupping table, but subsequent brews don’t measure up. Or perhaps you’ve invited your friends to a cupping, only to see them look confused when you hand them a spoon and spit cup….