Autumn. The leaves become blazing colors dancing chromatically from the sky to the ground, the smell of crackling fires tickles the chilling air and pumpkin and spice start sneaking their way into everything olfactory or gustative. And coffee drinkers bid adieu to iced coffee season. With that in mind I couldn’t resist saying my seasonal farewell on the subject with one last post pondering the divisive drink.
In a previous post I posit that a better way to preserve coffee to be consumed, cold, much later than it was brewed is to can it. To summarize some results from this casual experiment…
- I brewed coffee at 1:16 ratios, transferred to a sterile canning jar, sealed it and submerged it into a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
- I also “flash” brewed coffee at 1:16 ratio of coffee and water and ice split equally by weight, then transferred it to a sterile canning jar, sealed it and submerged it into a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
- I did several batches of each brew method and stored them in my refrigerator.
- After one day, normal brews were becoming cloudy. Flash brews showed no signs of turbidity after several weeks.
- First taste tests were conducted after 3 days and all participants preferred the flash brew over canned “normal” brew, cold brew but not fresh flash brews.
- Follow up taste tests over a week later focusing on the canned version had consistent tasting results with the initial tests, leading me to believe that flash brewed, canned coffee preserves coffee acidity and flavor well.
Since then I’ve been continuing to “can” coffee with pleasing results. I’ve eliminated the boiling water bath step in most cases (simply out of trying to minimize preparation) and have noticed no notable difference. In celebration of this waning iced coffee season and some of the amazing African coffees that are ending their season, I am going to can up several batches of coffee that I plan on tasting next Spring. More on that in a few months…
In talking with several folks about all this iced coffee ado, a coffee geek contemporary and retired chemist suggested that lowering the coffee, just post brew, to it’s vapor point could aid preservation of desirable coffee volatiles. With this notion in mind I couldn’t resist getting some dry ice and seeing what would happen. This is what happened:
Longer video of entire brew here:
Needless to say this first attempt was not successful – the brew pretty much turned into a noxious smelling slurry as most of the liquid vaporized as it came in contact with the dry ice. It also bubbled up into a creepy looking mess as it did this:
I’m ending this iced coffee season with interest in flash brew as a preserved coffee option and even more interest in playing with dry ice again in the future – the latter mostly just for fun. I’m sure I won’t be alone when I pick this topic up again around April – at which time we will see if some of these experiments can pan out.
Posted by bludviksen on October 19, 2013
Deltron 3030 – Event II
Ten year tunes with weight to date
Not a moment late
Chvrches – The Bones of What You Believe
Almost a guilty pleasure
It’s more good than bad
Forest Swords – Engravings
Sounds like a soundtrack
to something that’s really cool
but lacks any depth
Pity Sex – Feast of Love
Tastes like mbv
with a dash of shoegazing
and hint of first wave
The Julie Ruin – Run Fast
Listening makes me
reject all americans
and kill all rock stars
Cults – Static
Reeks of the nineties
cozy the a cardigan
Fun but takes no risks
Soft Metals – Lenses
It sounds like a rave gone wrong
on Disney channel
Posted by bludviksen on October 19, 2013
Belle & Sebastian – Third Eye Centre
Suicide Girl is
quite possibly one of the
worst songs ever made.
Julia Holter – Loud City Song
This jam screams talent
This lady sings beautifully
Heavy mettle band
Speedy Ortiz – Major Arcana
Punchy, punky pop
I’m totally into this
Guilty pleasure? Nope.
Earl Sweatshirt – Doris
Weird name, silly rap
Can’t seem to get into it
But Pitchfork loves it.
Fuck Buttons – Slow Focus
Cool, chaotic fun
Always down with some F.B.
Soundtrack to awesome
King Krule – 6 Feet Beneath the Moon
Chill, deep, relaxed, confident
Love makin’ music
Mum – Smilewound
Man, I love this band
but I really miss the twins
Not bad, not that good
Posted by bludviksen on September 10, 2013
If you know me or read this blog then you probably understand my thoughts on iced coffee. With acknowledgement of that flat, Cold Brew taste that is its eponymous flavor I wanted to propose some alternatives making ice coffee. Not to wax preferences here but just acknowledging that there is a ubiquitous flavor profile inherent to the cold brew process and seeing if there were other ways to produce a similar product. Some have speculated that oxidation or oxygen present during the longer cold brew process is the culprit. I’m not sure if it’s specifically oxidation or maybe simply the loss of volatile components of fresh brewed coffee (wait is that the same thing?) but I can’t help but think a long brew process is the problem. My friend, Tim Hill, thinks so, too. We decided to test a couple of theories to see if we couldn’t improve the current state of iced coffee.
Tim is a good friend, colleague and kind of mad scientist/artist/jack-of-all-trades. It came to no surprise when I heard his idea for better cold brew: finer grind, shorter ambient brew, nitrogen added to a hermetically sealed chamber. Tim’s main concerns were oxidation – both during brew time and during storage. In his initial experiments Tim still used room temperature water and a relatively longer brew time (sometimes upward of 10 minutes) but immediately flushed the brew with nitrogen, bottled it and capped it. He later augmented this method to remove nitrogen and use an airlock and the brew’s natural CO2 off-gassing to remove oxygen out of his storage situation.
I took a different angle as my problem is the entire cold brew method, including less than hot water and extended brew times. I hypothesized that vacuum storage, in this case canning, might help preserve more volatiles lending to a fresher tasting, multi-dimensional iced coffee that could be stored for a period of time. I made coffee like I normally do – 1:16 ratio on a Kalita Wave with 200F water for approximately 3 minutes. Then I immediately put the brew into a sterile jar, sealed it and immersed it into boiling water for 5 minutes. I did this with a couple of variances in concentration and two that I did not immerse into boiling water. Too my surprise all of the jars seem to have sealed – which means the boiling part of the process might be able to be removed (bonus, right?!).
We tasted some each other’s brews three days later – one of Tim’s bottle brews (which ended up with a 1:11 ratio coffee to water) and two variations of my canned concepts (one at 1:16 and one at 1:12 ratio coffee to water). The bottled brew was very light and weak but had a good sweetness, leaving it inoffensive but not too good either. The canned coffees were definitely thicker in body, with the higher ratio even a bit too chewy. Both of these also had more pronounced brightness and flavor albeit still not as good as fresh, flash-brewed iced coffee. We’re going to do some more testing and playing around as none of the brews were fantastic, but my initial conclusion is that flash-brewed iced coffee made to order is the best way to prepare iced coffee but if one were to want to store coffee to consume at a later date, canning may be a better way to do it.
Posted by bludviksen on August 20, 2013
Whenever I first brew coffee with someone I am more often than not asked – “Do you rinse your filters?“, in an almost taunting tone as if choosing to or not too would have a polarizing effect on our relationship. I get it, though, because if you’re like me this whole filter rinsing business has been a roller coaster ride. Actually, roller coaster ride implies excitement and we are talking about coffee filters – let’s just say I’ve flip-flopped a lot.
I started off not rinsing, just like most everyone else. It was the dioxin scare a few decades ago when consumers first made a peep about filters, prompting a wave of non-bleached alternatives. Eventually white, oxygen-bleached filters won out and consumers were able to brew with out worry of poison. But then it was taste. By that time handcrafted coffee was back in style and filter taste became a new topic of debate. Some filters deemed too off-putting to even use while others proving to be generally acceptable once rinsed, a generous filter flush soon became a staple step in the specialty brewing process.
I’ve seen (and done) a lot of subjective taste tests to determine whether or not filters lend any taste to a brewed coffee. The most common is that of hot water poured through a filter and then smelled and tasted. I feel like that’s fair and you might find a small number of poor quality filters that impart some off tastes but the majority of nominally insignificant traces you might (think you) sense will never affect your coffee. Filter companies like Melitta have been saying this since the 80′s and more thorough research has been done in recent years to back it up but most coffee enthusiasts I know still insist on rinsing to avoid tainting their brews. To that I say bollocks and balderdash! I sincerely doubt that nearly anyone could discern an un rinsed filter in a triangulation precisely and accurately. In fact, I’ll bet that the main contributing factor to filter taints is contamination after the package has been opened. I’ve seen filters stacked hundreds high on top of dirty brewers, uncovered and tucked under shelves or stored out of plastic in cardboard boxes – all of which are open invitations to contamination.
In the line of defense for rinsing filters I’ve also heard hypotheticals about filters absorbing the initial yield of brew and wondering if that could throw off concentration. I mention this because I think it’s rather clever to conceive but I also yield no merit to it. I can find no evidence to contradict or support such a notion but I also imagine this to be due to its unlikeliness.
Now I might say bollocks and balderdash to rinsing to avoid taints or things in that nature, but I never said how I answer the initial question - Do you rinse your filters? I do. I do because it’s sustainable and easy to do so as I preheat my dripper and vessel (I usually toss said water into a flower pot, too, for good measure). I do because I mostly brew at home and have no need to worry about this in scale or process. However, if I had a shop and was pumping out hand-brews left and right I might reconsider. To sidestep rinsing would most certainly save water and time and if it made my brew bar run more efficiently I’d do it in a heartbeat. So, when asking yourself “to rinse or not to rinse” you should feel good about doing it if you can but not because you have to.
Posted by bludviksen on August 19, 2013