Archive for September, 2009

window blog update on the 31Aap

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

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We started a new journal at the workshop, documenting our experiments brewing coffee. Yesterday we continued trials with the Fetco 31Aap coffee brewer. Previously all coffee has been awful.

We started by shortening the length of time the brew solenoid opens to dispense water, to equal 1.9 Liters. This shortens the amount of time/extraction to worry about. Then we prepared our ideal amount of coffee grounds, with our ideal grind setting. Having found our approximate ideal ratios we started to tackle two issues yesterday: grounds getting properly saturated, and temperature of the brew water during the extraction.  Basically we got to know the Fetco 31Aap a little better. Thanks to our log book we have  kept track of our work. It would be rad if we could coax the 31Aap into making beautiful coffee.

The picture was added to our window blog last night.

second batch of El Salvador Santa Ana finca la Reforma & el Cerro- El Borbollon 100% red bourbon varietal

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

Eleven minutes and thirty one second roast. This is the coffee we have been sleeping on, and if you are on our list for pre-dawn or morning delivery, you just might receive this coffee.

Monday morning will be the second time this has gone out roasted for coffee. A few batches have made their way to Little Red Bike Cafe for espresso, and a few more have been available at our workshop only.

The El Borbollon arrived with the finca Alaska coffee, in burlap bags of 132pounds. We purchased a small amount of this coffee, not as much as the Alaska or Guatemala finca las Nubes. It makes a beautiful espresso.

Three group La San Marco Leva together

Friday, September 25th, 2009

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The three group is coming along well. Wiring connections were corrected. The autofill works properly. The machine gets to pressure. All three groups have now been rebuilt and are in place. There are a few parts we still have on our list, but these have been identified. Finding the type of electrical wire we want will be a trick. I personally would like the autofill wire to be cloth braided.

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Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

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making coffee for friends

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

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amidst trying to nail the roasts, sometimes we get to brew coffee for friends. This setup looked really pretty. Brown demitasse cups, and French press, were nestled in the messenger bag.

Saturday morning found us sitting around a table at Little Red Bike Cafe, four minutes before opening, around a French press of our friends coffee.

Sunday morning thirty demitasse cups, coffee delivery, some presses, all under a tarp as we biked through the mist to breakfast.

tasty coffee with Fetco 31Aap brewer

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

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The three group La San Marco Leva is still on the table, power off, full, waiting for us to go over its electrical. The Rio two group semi-auto is on, fully operational, so that we may taste espresso of the last few days. There is a disassembled Synesso steam wand valve cleanly laid out on our copper bar, so that we may muse over its cup seat gaskets sealing ability. Underneath our sink a mass of 3/8″ poly tubing, and quick connect Tees and shutoffs, one of the water tubes hooked up to our side project, the Fetco 31Aap.

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The Fetco 31Aap is an older model coffee brewer, made in Chicago. This machine has been discontinued for years, but its parts are still being manufactured. This Fetco is on loan from the Little Red Bike library, and today we are testing its ability to make tasty coffee.

The Fetco 31Aap is equipped with a digital temperature controller with LED readout, pictured at the top. Water completes issuing from a plastic spray cutter at 3 minutes. The spray cutter splits the water into 5 or 6 different streams, that attempt to evenly distribute water over the coffee grounds. There are so far problems like coffee grounds not wetting entirely, and, in general, over or under extraction. Amidst tackling other tasks the Fetco is one of our many projects for the day. At the same time we are doing checks on the heat holding ability of our 3 Liter stainless steel lined airpots from Fetco.

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the fear

Monday, September 14th, 2009

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Again we lifted the three group La San Marco Leva onto the table. This time very little leaking, but we corrected a seal, and it holds line pressure. Friday Alex installed three new copper washers in the group to boiler nuts. The old asbestos copper crush washers had failed. Generally these washers are one time use only, but sometimes, with copper, it will seal multiple times.

Alex temporarily wired the machine, with the original wiring, dressing exposed areas with electrical tape. After manually filling the boiler half way with water, using the manual fill lever, Alex flipped the power on. The autofill circuit clicked on, filled the boiler a little, then shut off just before filling the entire boiler, a little too much. Then we noticed the heating element work as the machine warmed to not-that-hot-at-all and then stop, pressure gauge rises a fraction. We then decided to fear our electrical work just a little, call it a day, and go ride our bikes.

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Well, we actually did a massive cupping of coffee batches roasted in September, as well as many other things today. Dylan of LRBC showed up just in time to cup, and get in on our note taking. Today we did something new and broke beans apart pre cupping, taking note on the color, and gradation of color of the roast, this happening just after all the cups had been set out. The differences, I thought, between each batch stark, and all of them I could see room for improvement. The cupping went awesome.

I also had a lovely morning working the coffee bar at the Half& Half Cafe with Kristen. She steamed milk, while I made espresso, and we went over a little technique. Alex and I met up and started our day at the Half and Half Cafe, later meeting back up at the workshop. Still much to do. The table is full of coffee that needs sorting and packaging, and we still have bench tests to run on our newest batch of stainless steel lined airpots.

New Robur for Little Red Bike Cafe

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Bicycle delivery of a new Robur grinder to Little Red Bike Cafe this morning. This will be the Robur’s second bike ride out.

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We love that Little Red Bike Cafe cares a ton about their coffee service. This is yet another investment on their part in making their drinks awesome. The Robur is one of the top espresso grinders, and a must have for any serious coffee bar. It is also one of the most expensive grinders on the market, and therefor normally not seen in smaller cafes.

Previously on loan from the Courier Coffee library, LRBC has been using a Mazzer Major grinder. Major is pretty much a step below Robur. What makes the Robur rad are its huge 83mm tool hardened steel conical burrs (or cutting surfaces), slower burr rotational speed, and its propeller mounted above the burrs creating more even drawdown of coffee beans. It basically grinds faster, quieter, cooler, and more consistently. By cutting cooler, and having an even draw down of beans through the burrs, making nicer cuts, flavors unfold more in the cup. While the Robur was at our workshop it certainly was a joy to use. The speed alone, in not having to wait for coffee to grind, is almost satisfaction enough.

Congratulations Little Red Bike Cafe on your new Robur!!!

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Other news: We have been running temperature tests lately on 3 Liter stainless steel lined, vacuum insulated, airpots. We have wanted to know specifically about heat retention over time. Yesterday we set up a few different scenarios to learn more about our airpots. Much of what we are learning will be a moot point, since coffee is garbage anyway for us after 30 minutes in any kind of container, however lets learn a little! The first run of tests has just been with water, but after a few more runs we are going to move onto coffee.

As a side note- Our newest run of Fetco 3 Liter SS airpots straight from China!!! has new improved hinge where the lid meets the body. It seems like one factory makes these containers and then different companies rebrand them. After much not-caring from our supplier, it looks like someone has finally decided to alter a poor design to a slightly better one.

sweet new cranks and a long weekend

Monday, September 7th, 2009

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Veloshop hooking me up with these sweet new cranks. Ryan used to do freeride and he had his mother send these up for me. These are now on my Surly 1×1. For nine years my bike has rocked the same square taper jis Shimano Deore crank arms, and finally the tapers are dead. These new ones are Shimano Saint cranks, and utilize hollowtech bottom bracket, or a two piece system. They are so stiff, the bearings moved to the outside, with some gold RaceFace cups.

This morning was super quiet biking my deliveries at 5am. Today is over.

Alex Geddes building his roasting skill

Friday, September 4th, 2009

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Alex has been roasting coffee at CCR. Actually for some months Alex has been roasting, but lately he has been doing more. We are still not at the point where Alex roasts alone, but he is definitely making crucial decisions at the end of the roast, like when to pull the coffee from the drum. Some of the batches he has been producing are awesome.

The only way to tell who roasted what is by the handwriting in our logbook. When we come back to a coffee to cup it, days later, we use our notes to reference. The notes are loose, but they sometimes remind us of the particular batch. What Alex has been learning is the structure in how we roast coffee, and also the variables.

We have been super pleased with our two coffee coffees, and have been playing off the idea that we need to preserve the citrus sugars, and not get into caramelizing the sugars too much. This is hopefully why all the coffee has been coming out with citric florals, tangerines, and Kumquat aromas.