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Major Nikon

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Member since: Tue Sep 13, 2011, 12:26 AM
Number of posts: 35,817

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Coffee 105: Putting it all together

This is the last in the Coffee 100 series. The rest may be found here:

Coffee 101: Brewing devices
Coffee 102: Grinders
Coffee 103: Water
Coffee 104: Coffee Beans

If you've followed the series so far, you now should have your brewing device, your grinder, a good source of water, and some freshly roasted coffee beans. Now it's time to put everything together and make the perfect cup of coffee. I'm not going to explain the methods required to brew the perfect cup with all brewing devices. Instead I'll cover the method I use most often at home and you may be able to modify this method to suit your own brewing device or at least pick up some tips to improve your own method.

The method I use most often at home for brewed coffee is the Clever Coffee Dripper. I love this little device. It only brews enough coffee for one large mug or two polite cups, but it does it extremely well, it's very simple to use, it's very easy to clean, and it offers a fine degree of control over the brewing process. If you click on the link, Tom (the owner, president, manager, worker, etc. of the company) offers a complete list of instructions for using the device, along with a couple of videos demonstrating its use, so I'm not going to detail the whole procedure and will instead clarify a few things and explain how the process works and how you can modify the procedure to suit your own tastes.

Variations

Water temperature:
Water temperature is very important. I can't stress this enough. That's why I hate most drip coffee brewers. The vast majority of them do not brew hot enough and the ones that do almost never offer you any control over the water temp. 195-205 degrees F is the temperature range usually quoted for optimum coffee extraction. Even within this range you can get some considerable variation. The coffee I am currently drinking is Columbian Microlot 159 from Dodd Coffee Roaster in Houston. I've tried brewing this coffee at 205 and much prefer it brewed closer to 195. There's a significant difference. Different coffees have different temperatures in which they produce the best results. A few premium roasters even list the recommended brew temperature on their coffee when you buy it. Some electric water kettles have a temperature set and hold point. This would be quite nice to have, but they are fairly expensive and I already had a great electric kettle before these came out, so I just use a thermometer with my kettle.

Grind level:
With a burr coffee grinder, you can vary the size of the grind via an adjustment on the grinder. Varying the grind level produces different results. A finer grind will extract faster, while a coarser grind will tend to favor longer extraction times.

Extraction time:
The normal extraction time for brewed coffee is usually quoted at 4-6 minutes. I generally prefer staying on the short end of this range and use a somewhat finer grind, however some coffees may favor a coarser grind and longer extraction times.

Coffee/Water ratio:
Now certainly some people like 'stronger' coffee and some like it weaker. In order to get these results they will typically vary the grinds to water ratio. This method doesn't really work that well as it generally leads to over or under extraction. If you like weaker coffee, brew it at the recommended levels for that brewing device and then thin it down after the fact with hot water. If you like stronger coffee, get an Aeropress. Most people are going to prefer coffee somewhere in the middle. For the Clever Coffee Dripper, I use the 33g of coffee per 530ml that Tom recommends. I weigh both the coffee and the water on a digital scale.

Preparred Coffee Storage and Serving

After you brew your coffee, unless you have just made enough servings for the amount of people you are serving, you're going to need to store the brewed coffee for a period of time until everyone is ready for another cup. Most drip coffee brewers have a hot plate, and most people who have ever used one figures out that coffee left on one for too long becomes absolutely horrid. At home, I use either an insulated glass carafe, or an airpot if I'm making a lot. A good airpot that is properly preheated will keep coffee at acceptable serving temps for up to a whopping 10 hours with virtually no reduction in quality. For home use, I like coffee storage devices that are glass lined. Anything that uses metal will impart off flavors into your coffee, however glass is not that great outside the home where things tend to get banged around, so I use stainless steel in this instance. I once bought a thermos that was stainless steel lined with tephlon. I don't recommend this as it tended to impart even more off flavors than stainless alone. If someone wants specific recommendations, you can reply here and I'll tell you which devices I use and why. I've wasted a lot of money on various coffee paraphernalia that just didn't work that well.

Most people have a favorite coffee cup. Mine is a ceramic one made by the Victor Insulating Company. This particular one is somewhat popular among coffee geeks. They are no longer made, but thanks to ebay you can still find them on the used market as hundreds of thousands of them were made between about 1940 and 1980. The Victor Insulating Company originally made ceramic insulators for the electrical distribution market. During the depression, they started trying to figure out how they could diversify their products and discovered they could make coffee cups from the same ceramic insulation material. Coffee shops quickly discovered how great these cups were and soon they were in use all over the country. A genuine one is stamped "Victor" on the bottom. They are much heavier than even heavy ceramic cups. As such they have excellent heat retention. You can find them on ebay from about 6oz size to about 10oz size. I guess for a time they were quite popular with Navy guys because many of them are stamped with logos from various Navy ships. The first one I got I found in the back of a cabinet in the break room at work. It hadn't been used in years and we were about to throw it out. I instantly recognized I had something really special. I've been using that cup for the last 15 years or so and it still looks like brand new. It was probably close to that old when I got it. It's very similar to this one.

Here's what "male privilege" gets you

If you are homeless, chances are you are male and if you are unsheltered the chances are even greater.

If you die sooner, chances are you are male.

If you commit suicide, chances are you are male.

If you die of heart disease, chances are you are male.

If you get less federal funding for gender predominate cancer, chances are you are male.

If you die of HIV/AIDS, chances are you are male.

If you die on the job, chances are you are male.

If you die in an accident, chances are you are male.

If you are injured on the job, chances are you are male.

If you are in jail or prison, chances are you are male.

If you die from cancer, chances are you are male.

If you are a victim of homicide, chances are you are male.

If you aren't granted custodianship of your kids, chances are you are male.

If you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, chances are you are male.

If you die of diabetes, chances are you are male.

If you didn't graduate high school, chances are you are male.

If you are enrolled in college, chances are you are not male.

If you die in an automobile accident, chances are you are male.

If you are registered for selective service, chances are you are male.

If you have ever died in a war, chances are you are male.

Carbonating beverages

Since the subject of making carbonated water comes up frequently, I thought I would post details on how I do it here, with a list of supplies in case you want to do this yourself. Certainly Sodastream is one option which is certainly easier to set up. You just buy the Sodastream system and supplies and off you go. The problem with Sodastream is that the carbonators don't really last all that long and they are expensive. The large size (130L) costs $30 to exchange and $50 to buy one outright from Sodastream. Perhaps they are cheaper at other places, I'm not sure. I'm not really sure how to compare the Sodastream carbonator to say a 5lb CO2 bottle since Sodastream doesn't list the quantity of CO2 by weight. If I were to guess I'd say you're probably getting about 1lb of CO2 with the large carbonator at best which means a 5lb bottle of CO2 is going to be about 5 times more. My local home brew supply shop charges $10 to refill a 5lb CO2 bottle. So you get about 5 times more for 1/3rd the cost. The materials I'm listing will cost you roughly $125 before shipping charges. Add to this $10 to get your tank filled. So the initial cost is a bit more, but long term it's going to pay for itself, especially if you make a lot of fizzy water and I do. I love carbonated water and always keep some in the fridge. Occasionally I make my own root beer and ginger ale. If your family goes through a lot of soda and you want to make your own (using your own sweeteners), a system like this makes a lot of sense. I have a 20lb bottle and I don't think I've had it filled in over a year and the bottle is not even close to being empty plus I make a lot of fizzy water.

Here's what you need and how to do it.

Regulator:
http://www.beveragefactory.com/draftbeer/regulator/double/commercial_double_gauge_beer_co2_regulator.shtml

5lb Tank (or larger):
http://www.beveragefactory.com/draftbeer/tanks/co2/C5.shtml

Ball lock:
http://www.beveragefactory.com/draftbeer/couplers/homebrew/BLGI-MFLB.shtml

Carbonator cap (might want to buy 2-3 so you can do more bottles at once):
http://www.amazon.com/LiquidBread-The-Carbonater/dp/B0064OKADS

5/16" hose:
http://www.beveragefactory.com/draftbeer/hoses/airtubing/516BAL_beer_air_line_mfl.shtml

The squeeze clamp that comes with the hose sucks, so buy a better clamp at your local hardware store along with some tephlon tape to seal the all the fittings. That's all you need besides a wrench to tighten everything. Set the regulator to between 30-40 psi after you get the tank filled. I keep mine at 40.

You can have the tank filled at home brew shops, some liquor stores, gas distributors, and perhaps welding supply shops. Naturally the bigger tank you have, the less you'll need to fill it. You may want to check around and see how far you have to go to get it refilled before you decide on a bottle size. The carbonator cap fits both 2 liter bottles and 20 oz bottles(or any other bottle that uses the same size cap). I use coke bottles because the plastic is a bit thicker than the really cheap soda bottles. Make sure you remove the plastic ring from the bottle.

With this setup you can carbonate most anything liquid like soda, tea, water, juice, and even home brew beer. You can also recharge partially used 2 liter soda bottles so they don't go flat. Charging the bottles is pretty simple. You just push the pin on the carbonator cap and squeeze the air out of the bottle, turn on the valves, and put the ball lock valve on the carbonator cap to charge and shake the hell out of it for a couple of minutes then remove the ball lock and turn off your valves. You can drink it right away, but it gets a bit more fizzy if you let it sit for an hour or so for whatever reason. If you do it right you'll get at least as much carbonation as commercial soda.

Lots of stuff on the utubes:

Here's what you need

Regulator:
http://www.beveragefactory.com/draftbeer/regulator/double/commercial_double_gauge_beer_co2_regulator.shtml

5lb Tank (or larger):
http://www.beveragefactory.com/draftbeer/tanks/co2/C5.shtml

Ball lock:
http://www.beveragefactory.com/draftbeer/couplers/homebrew/BLGI-MFLB.shtml

Carbonator cap (might want to buy 2-3 so you can do more bottles at once):
http://www.amazon.com/LiquidBread-The-Carbonater/dp/B0064OKADS

5/16" hose:
http://www.beveragefactory.com/draftbeer/hoses/airtubing/516BAL_beer_air_line_mfl.shtml

The squeeze clamp that comes with the hose sucks, so buy a better clamp at your local hardware store along with some tephlon tape to seal the all the fittings. That's all you need besides a wrench to tighten everything. Set the regulator to between 30-40 psi after you get the tank filled. I keep mine at 40.

You can have the tank filled at home brew shops, some liquor stores, gas distributors, and perhaps welding supply shops. Naturally the bigger tank you have, the less you'll need to fill it. You may want to check around and see how far you have to go to get it refilled before you decide on a bottle size. I would venture to guess that a 5lb tank would probably charge at least 100 2 liter PEP bottles and possibly more. My 20lb tank seems to last forever and I make a lot of fizzy water. The carbonator cap fits both 2 liter bottles and 20 oz bottles(or any other bottle that uses the same size cap). I use coke bottles because the plastic is a bit thicker than the really cheap soda bottles. Make sure you remove the plastic ring from the cap.

With this setup you can carbonate most anything liquid like soda, tea, water, juice, and even home brew beer. You can also recharge partially used 2 liter soda bottles so they don't go flat. Charging the bottles is pretty simple. You just push the pin on the carbonator cap and squeeze the air out of the bottle, turn on the valves, and put the ball lock valve on the carbonator cap to charge and shake the hell out of it for a couple of minutes then remove the ball lock and turn off your valves. You can drink it right away, but it gets a bit more fizzy if you let it sit for an hour or so for whatever reason. If you do it right you'll get at least as much carbonation as commercial soda.

If you go with the cheapest setup, that's about $122 not counting shipping, tax, and the misc things like the clamp and tephlon tape. So the initial setup is more expensive, but you're not tied to sodastream for the CO2 and other supplies so in the long run it will be a lot cheaper.

Lots of stuff on the utubes:

How do you feel about Marijuana laws?

&feature=youtu.be

Here's what you'll need

Typical bottle sizes are 5, 10, 15, 20 lbs. I have a 20 lb bottle which lasts for a very long time even though I make a lot. You'll need a regulator, dual gauge with a valve preferably. Mine goes to 40 psi. I wish it went a bit higher, but 40 is fine. You'll need a hose and a ball lock connector. Other than tephlon tape and a wrench, that's it. You can google these things and you might find them cheaper. I don't recommend buying a used tank because you don't know what's been in it and they need to be inspected every 5 years (I think), or you can't get them filled. Used regulators are OK. You might find the tank and regulator locally cheaper. Check with gas companies, welding supply shops, and home brew supply shops. You may want more than one carbonator cap. I have 3. There are videos on YouTube which show how to charge your bottles. Make sure you remove the plastic ring from used PEP bottles or you wont get a good seal. This same setup can be used to charge home brew beer kegs. You can also carbonate home brew in 2 liter bottles the same way as soda. If you buy commercial soda in PEP bottles, you can recharge leftovers and they don't go flat.

http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/brewing/kegging/tubing/tubing-kits/gas-connector-kit-bl-ball-lock-version.html
http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/co2-cylinder-10-empty.html
http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/dual-gauge-regulator-w-1-4mfl-backcheck-outlet.html
http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/the-carbonator.html

I believe I can fly

These pictures aren't all that great, partly because it was hazy yesterday and partly because they were taken through the window of my plane. However, they should give you an idea of what it's like flying a small plane at low altitudes, even though pictures never do justice to the experience.

The story behind them is a bit more interesting. One of the groups I volunteer for is called the Veteran Airlift Command (VAC). We transport injured veterans and active duty service members (and their families) on various trips they need to take on general aviation aircraft. On this trip I flew to San Antonio and picked up an active duty specialist who had been wounded by an IED in Afghanistan last October. He has been recovering at the Brook Army Medical Center. His wife is giving birth to their third child tomorrow in Russellville, AR. Due to his injuries, a trip by car (~12 hours) or by commercial aircraft wasn't an option. A commercial flight would have only gotten him as far as Little Rock anyway. In my plane, the trip took just 3 hours and 21 minutes and I landed just a few miles from their home.

This picture is between San Antonio and Austin just at the start of the overcast and light rain that covered San Antonio. A few minutes later I descended through the weather and right to the runway at San Antonio International Airport.


This is what a small general aviation terminal looks like.


The rest of these were taken over Arkansas.






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