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Amulet's Coffee

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by Amulet, Dec 12, 2018.

  1. Amulet

    Amulet IL Hall of Fame

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    One of us in the Amulet household can talk about peaberry and arabica varietals, the history of coffees, and even chicory production with the true enthusiasm of an addict. The other one is a happy pillion rider soaking up the good cheer, but is the home barista and bottle-washer. We have a collection of machines, in all genres, espressos, siphon, and mere gravity-drip. We hate coffee makers that need to use any sort of paper filters. This has to do with our aversion to melamine fortified (to increase wet strength) paper and the taste it will pass on to coffee.

    Some coffee makers, usually the siphon kind, are great works of glass art. Taipei, Taiwan is the best place to find these in shops. For regular daily household use, as in coffee for two, when the coffee maker is half asleep, one should have an unbreakable coffee maker. The dependable Madrasi Stainless Steel coffee maker. This conclusion is very like how, in the movie "The Wizard of Oz", after much hankering after Oz and the Wizard, Dorothy comes back to Kansas with the moral:
    ”There is no place like home”.
    I roast green coffee beans in a small hot air popcorn maker. This is not an original idea, but learned from someone’s youtube video on the internet, and the practice modified in technique. The popcorn maker has an automatic safety feature to stop and cool down when the temperature of the cavity goes above 250C. It goes back on when cooler, and stops again when too hot. I use this intermittent stops to stir the roasting beans with a pair of wood chopsticks, so that no bean is stuck somewhere without being able to move in the hot air, and gets charred. The beans are heavy enough to stay within the cavity, instead of popping off like fluffy popcorn does. Hot air popcorn makers come in various colours, and wattages; I would recommend the highest wattage (1200W or more) one could get. These are simply redesigned, oddly shaped, hair dryers.

    upload_2018-12-12_10-15-31.png
    Popcorn makers come with a transparent plastic top. One can use this top to direct the chaff that would fly out. This chaff comes from the thin skin covering some of the coffee beans. When the roasting proceeds, this skin would detach from the coffee and fly out. Instead of heat-discoloring this plastic piece, I simply cover the top with a small (metal mesh) colander (see the picture), and put the popcorn maker inside a plate or tray. The chaff comes off the hot well, and gets redirected by the colander to fall into the plate/tray. In the picture I show a large wok being used as a chaff-catching tray. You can see the stirring rods (chopsticks) in the picture also.
    upload_2018-12-12_10-14-26.png
    A typical popcorn maker would roast about 60 grams of green beans in one session. This is good enough for making coffee one morning for a family of two grownups. Coffee roasting would require a good kitchen hood fan to push the smell out. You must also close all the doors to rooms where you have clothes closets; otherwise, you’re clothes will take on the smell of a coffee shop. If you have a balcony in your flat/house, you can move roasting outdoors.
    How dark to roast ? This would depend on your taste. Some like dark roast, and some don’t. Since coffee is an acquired taste, how/where you acquired it would be key to the decision of how much to roast. People used to drinking at Starbucks, would want to roast their coffee to the level of Starbucks own “medium dark” roast. They sell this roasted coffee in vacuum packed bags at their stores. Most India coffee stores ( like coffee-day) that grind their own coffee beans on location, would give you a single roasted bean, if you asked them. The coffee connoisseurs like to eat the roasted bean, by itself, or in chocolated form. You can borrow a roasted bean, if you like coffee-day coffee, and use that level of roast as a guide.

    I roast my coffee by listening to the “crack” — there are two levels of crack. The cracking sound that comes off a roasting beans when the volatiles escape the beans. First crack is when the beans have all turned brown, and pretty much ready for those light coffee drinkers. The second crack is when the coffee beans are all markedly black, and have a dull aspect on their surface. During this second crack, oil escapes the coffee and the beans start to acquire a sheen on their surface. You can easily hear the crack, as well as see the shiny surface of the beans as they levitate and go around in the well of the popcorn maker that has been repurposed as a coffee roaster. At this point, the coffee is ready to come off the roaster. I switch off the roaster, and empty the contents onto a large ceramic plate. The beans lie in a single layer, and cool off under the kitchen hood fan. Once the coffee beans are completely cooled off to room temperature (about half hour or so), you can grind that in a coffee grinder. Or store it in a tightly capped bottle in your fridge for the next day. Use it up within a couple of days. For filter coffee, you need a very fine grind.

    Coffee making is best done in a Madrasi Coffee filter, of the traditional kind. Like this one in the picture below, that has four parts: two beakers, one water spreader and a lid, all made of stainless steel. Unlike many western style drip coffee makers, the Madras style filter coffee decoction does not have a PAPER filter, and the problems/health-risks associated with such filters:
    upload_2018-12-12_10-11-49.png
    The Vietnamese coffee filter is similar to a Madras Filter, but differ in one crucial aspect. No decoction collecting bottom beaker. You provide your own. If you can imagine placing the Madras coffee filter’s upper beaker on your own coffee mug or tumber, and proceeding on with the coffee making, you’d be using what is similar to a Vietnamese Phin Coffee filter.

    In the vietnamese filter, the coffee powder is placed in a beaker that has holes on the bottom (just like the madrasi filter), but the filter also comes with an additional plate with holes, which is used to seat the beaker on top of your own coffee mug or tumbler. The lid and the water spreader are the same as a Madrasi Filter. This unit comes in several sizes. I recommend a medium size ( 11 Oz. ) for a family of 2 to 4.

    In my morning coffee I do not use the additional “seater” plate, but simply put the beaker on top of a glass tumbler that has the correct diameter to fit my 11 Oz. Phin filter. I like the glass tumbler for two reasons :
    • (1) Unlike the stainless steel decoction receptacle, the thick glass tumbler does not get too hot to touch &
    • (2) I can easily see the progress of the coffee making, because I see the dripping coffee through glass.
    Coffee decoction has to be thick (not transparent), and from a fresh roasted and ground coffee, it will also produce the familiar morning aroma in the kitchen and house. Evenly spreading the coffee grinds before placing the water spreader on top is a crucial step to make sure that there are no quicker ways for the hot water to get down, and ruin the decoction. Adding a little bit of water at first, waiting for it to seep through all the way, and then adding the rest of the water required, would guarantee that the coffee grains are enlarged in the first soak, before the full weight of the water comes down upon it. The enlarged grinds do not tend to go down with the decoction. Having coffee grinds in the final serving is a big negative point.
    [​IMG]
    [I shrank the Gif of my Coffee making to fit it in here]​

    For those who do not wish to roast their own coffee beans, I would recommend buying a vacuum packed bag of unground roasted coffee of their liking. Never buy roasted coffee from a bin that customers can weigh their own, by opening that bin and scooping what they want into a bag. When roasted coffee is out in the open, it deteriorates fast. If it is kept in the fridge in a tightly closed bottle, then it is good for a week. Roasted and ground coffee is only good for a day or two after it has been ground, when stored in a tightly capped bottle in the fridge. The increased surface area (in the coffee grinds relative to the roasted bean) makes the coffee volatiles escape that much faster.

    On winter weekend mornings, coffee at 6 AM followed by another snooze with the one you love, is a practice that can never get old. Try it. If you live in the tropics, move ... or take a holiday. And take your coffee paraphernalia with you.
     

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  2. HariLakhera

    HariLakhera Finest Post Winner

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    OMG,
    So much goes into coffee and we blame the caffeine in it. Well I like coffee but hardly know anything that goes into its efficacy. Earlier it was Nescafe. Then someone said try filtered coffee. Bought one coffee filter from Karol Bagh. Tried at home and looking at the mess I made in the kitchen, was barred entry for future adventure. The stainless filter kept sulking in the kitchen corner. So back to Nescafe. Tried Bru also. Once traveling stopped at a highway coffee shop. It tasted good. He said boil half cup milk half cup water and add sugar as per taste. Since I love sweets, I added three spoons and the coffee bitterness is somewhat less. I take only a cup a day so there is not much damage.
     
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  3. kkrish

    kkrish IL Hall of Fame

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    Wow! That was a Ph.D thesis on coffee making @Amulet :thumbup:
    You roast and grind coffee every day! :number_one:

    I sure am happy because now it's breakfast at Indusladies.
    Vadai and hot steaming Pongal with gothsu will complete my plate. Oh... and a wee little bit Asoka Halwa would be the cherry.

    I like my coffee only at 6am and the colder it is outside the delicious the coffee is. (The rest of the day it is tea!)

    After moving to the US, we were insulted by the thin see-thru coffee the coffeemakers gave us.. So the R&D began . We tried every coffee on the market and now finally settled to making my own combination of coffee with chicory blend, and in the traditional south indian filter.
    Using frother for the milk I get "Kumbakonam" degree coffee every time, all the time.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2018
  4. Amulet

    Amulet IL Hall of Fame

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    Once upon a time people used to mention "Coffee", or a favorite Barista or a Coffee shop in their Thesis acknowledgement page. Not cool to do that any more. Also not cool to mention significant others, with things like "Suzy Cheesecake (or Brian Beefcake), who was always suscept'able".

    I roast/grind coffee late in the evening, and store in the fridge for morning coffee. Just to keep the morning very quiet, except for the smell of coffee.

    If you are living in the USA, there is an online outlet that sells good unroasted beans. Their "Monsooned Malabar" is a uniquely large coffee bean, and produces a very nice thick decoction. This is called Estate Coffee in Mysore- with some letter-grade.

    Adding Chicory to coffee came into being because of the French. Endive is grown a lot in France and Belgium, and since roasted chicory produces a very dark brew on its own, adding that to coffee decoctions that are weak (albeit a dark roasting) can fortify and produce a nice body for a coffee drink. Pondicherry French brought it to India, and it is now the standard in Madras coffee. Most European coffee concoctions are dark and strong, and contain chicory in various percentages -- from 10 to 50%.

    Airline coffees are usually less coffee and more chicory. They are dark no matter how many pouchettes of creamer you empty into a tiny cup of coffee. It can be so frustrating sometimes -- we'd keep adding cream, and the coffee would resist lightening, and would only cool down, because the cream is cold.

    Another thing you can enjoy in USA is to go to an Ethiopian restaurant and see a coffee ceremony -- roasting, grinding and making coffee in an earthernware pot. And a Dosa like dish (injira, made of teff grain) with spicy-hot subji's, followed by fresh roasted-ground coffee.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2018
  5. shyamala1234

    shyamala1234 Platinum IL'ite

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    I never knew coffee can be made in so many ways. Coffee shops I know. But I make stainless steel filter coffee at home. I like it. Roasting coffee beans and the process is too much for me. I want my coffee within 15 minutes after I wake up.
    Syamala
     
  6. Amulet

    Amulet IL Hall of Fame

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    The storage life of coffee beans is very long when it is unroasted. Roasted coffee loses its "goodness" pretty fast. That is the reason why coffee places claim "fresh roasted", even though they don't.

    Coffee (as I said) is an acquired taste. And those who are at the deep end of appreciation do not make sense to people who drink coffee without a fuss. The same would happen to wine drinkers who wouldn't know why there is such a hulla-balloo about Pinot-noir, and should one swirl a glass of Cabernet S. clockwise or counter clockwise for good aeration. One may (should?) chalk it up to odd behavior, and move on.
     
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  7. poovai

    poovai Platinum IL'ite

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    @Amulet - when can I visit your home for a cup of coffee?
     
  8. sneha1985

    sneha1985 Gold IL'ite

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    Have tried many different coffee's in US... but nothing tastes like coffee made using Madrasi filter or Bangalore filter coffee... Starbucks is no where close to these coffee... :blush:

    Wish I could find the filter here in US.
     
  9. Amulet

    Amulet IL Hall of Fame

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    Madras SS coffee filter is sold in many desi grocery stores in USA. You can call them first to see if they have it.
    Phin Filter (the Vietnamese version of the Madras filter, is sold on Amazondotcom). Madras filter is also sold on Amazon, but pricy.
    Coffee grinders are also sold on amazon, as well as many b&m stores - like Target, kohls, costco...etc.
    Like kkrish had pointed out, your coffee would make a difference no matter which drip filter you use. Try Trader-joe for their dark roast, or medium roast Colombian. You'd end up making a mix of these, and adding chicory to it in your hunt for the perfect Leo or some other brand of filter coffee powder.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2018
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  10. GeetaKashyap

    GeetaKashyap IL Hall of Fame

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    @Amulet,

    Excellent article on the art of coffee making. Thanks for enlightening us on many hitherto unknown facets of coffee.

    We get pure coffee powder from a local supplier. Since we don't drink it very strong, it works for us. Nothing can beat the invigorating flavour of the early morning coffee.:thumbup:
     
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