Monday, July 13, 2009

Does Coffee Prevent Skin Cancer?

I recently came across an article published on reporting on a study showing caffeine may help prevent skin cancer. Researcher discovered that caffeine destroys damaged cells by blocking a specific protein that leads to the destruction of these cells. Researchers said the study showed caffeine reduced the amount of damaged cells by 50%.

Being a former health care professional, I do not want to give the idea drinking coffee will prevent you from getting skin cancer. Yes, you still have to put on SPF: ridiculous strength, when you are going out into the sun for prolonged periods, and take all other recommended precautions. I just thought it was nice to know, our beloved bean is giving us a little bit of extra protection.

The link provided below will direct you to the full article:

Friday, July 10, 2009

Don't Forget the Mug

This is a brief article on the importance of preheating your mug. This incredibly simple step is almost never done. Even good coffee shops miss this one frequently. Pay attention next time you go to your local coffee shop. See if they preheat their porcelain cups before they pour drinks in them or if they preheat their cups before they pull shot of espresso into them. Chances are they do not.
There are two reasons this step should not be overlooked. Coffee served in a preheated mug stays warmer longer. This is a particularly helpful tip for making your travel mug last longer. The coffee I brewed at my coffee shop stayed hot longer if I brewed them in a pre-warmed decanter.
More important though is the effect pre-warmed containers have on espresso. Espresso is more sensitive then brewed coffee. It is served in a smaller volume and more concentrated. Whenever there is a variance in temperature, it will cause the espresso to become bitter. This becomes particularly evident if you have ever tried to make iced coffee, but that is another article.
All it takes is a little rinse of your mug and coffee pot with some hot water before you pour or brew and your coffee with markedly less bitter and stay hot longer.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sonofresco Coffee Roaster Refurbishing Project

I purchased a used Coffee Kinectics roaster about a year ago. It was pretty beat down when I got it. It was sitting in the back of a restaurant salvage warehouse. I got a great deal on it but it needs quite a bit of refurbishing.

Of course Kinetics is now Sonofresco. It is a nice little air roaster that roasts 1 lb. batches. The advantage of this over the hot top or other similar home roasters is its overall output capabilities are commercial. The downside is price and it needs to be run outside or ventilated. The good news for me is after all my expenses for this roaster won’t have set me back much more than a hot top and I will be able to run a small commercial coffee roasting operation.

Over the last year I have been perfecting my roasting skills with more Spartan home roasting devices. I am finally ready to begin my rehab project of the Sonofresco coffee roaster. As you can see in this picture it needs quite a bit of work.


Besides general cleaning I have identified the three main components that need to be replaced. The heat sensor, the roast chamber, and the fuel source needs to be converted from natural gas to propane, since I am not equipped for natural gas.

You can see the roast chamber was in a pretty sorry state.

I ordered a propane intake to replace this natural gas valve.

So that is the current state of my coffee roaster. I spoke with a rep for Sonofresco today and a new heat sensor, roast chamber, and propane conversion kit are on their way. I will post updates to my coffee roaster refurbishing project.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How to Store Your Coffee

Whether you roast your coffee or buy it at the store chances are you have more than one serving on hand at a time. This means you are going to have to store your coffee. Which also, means you have to know how to store your coffee. Bad news, there is a lot of bad information on coffee storage. The good news, coffee storage is a simple process and the trick is there really is no trick.
So how should you store your coffee? You want to store your coffee in a cool dry place and out of direct sun light. You want to use an airtight container preferably one with a one-way exhaust valve.
Coffee lets off carbon dioxide after roasting until the moment it cupped. Drinks like espresso actually give off carbon dioxide during and after being brewed. That is what the crème on top of the espresso is, but I digress. You can purchase coffee storage containers that have these built in or you can built one yourself with a Tupperware type container, an Exacto knife, a straw, a balloon, and a hot glue gun. I’ll provide the basic directions on how to make a cheap coffee storage container, but you’ll have to find and arts and crafts blog for tips on decorating it.
Okay so you have your storage container purchased or improvised. You have placed your coffee beans in a safe cool dry environment. How long will they stay fresh? The important thing to remember is that coffee is an art not a science (although there is actually a lot of science surrounding it). I have heard experts say you can store whole bean coffee any from a month to six. I do not recommend buying more than a week’s worth of coffee at one time. This is mainly because the coffee you buy at the store has already been sitting on the shelf for a weak and it might have been sitting in storage at the roaster for a month before that. If you roast your own coffee, I would not recommend roasting more than a week’s worth either but you can wait to start the clock until the beans flavor has matured. This is anywhere from 12 hours to 2 days depending on the blend and roast profile. If you are storing ground coffee, don’t, but if you must I would not keep it more than 15 minutes in open air or maybe a day if stored properly. Ground coffee has more surface area exposed which makes it a much better medium for brewing, but also means it goes stale much faster.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Water: You're Coffee's Canvas

Think of water like a canvas for your coffee. The canvas underneath is not the focal point of a painting, but a painter takes great care to use a quality canvas before he begins his painting, because what is underneath the painting will have a marked affect on how it looks. Okay I’ll it leave at that before this article takes a turn for the ridiculous, and I think I’ve made my point that water is an important component to a good cup of coffee. So let us look at how to improve our water at home.
I used an inline filtration system with six filter tubes at my coffee shop. This is a critical reason why you can never seem to get your drip coffee as good as your local coffee shop, even though you may be using the same coffee beans as them. You can purchase these for your home, and if you are handy could probably install it yourself. If you do, you will need to the change the filters at least every 90 days. If you are not as handy, there are several other options requiring zero handyman skills available.
The easiest of these options is to purchase purified water. You can purchase it by the gallon at your grocery store or even have it delivered. This is an easy option but is not kind on your pocket book.
You can purchase secondary filtration systems for relatively cheap and they require little to no installation. Some attach to the end of your faucet and require minor installation. I prefer the pitcher type filters. These are as easy as filling up a pitcher to use and since you keep these pitchers in the refrigerator; your water will be at a lower temperature than out of the tap, which will give your final product a cleaner taste. Of course, with either one of these filtration methods you will have to regularly change the filter for them to be effective. The manufacture of the filter system you purchase should provide guidance on this.
Even though water may not be the star of the play that is your cup of coffee, remember the supporting actors need direction as well. You would so not paint on a dirty canvas why brew with unfiltered water.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Turkish Coffee

Turkish coffee can be defined by two main characteristics. The first is the grind. Turkish coffee’s grind is finer than any other type of coffee. The grind has a baby powder consistency. The second is the way Turkish coffee is brewed. Turkish coffee does not utilize a filter in its brewing process. It is also brought to a boil not once but twice and sometimes a third time. These two factors create several unique quirks about Turkish coffee. The first is how you grind the beans. The second is how you pour Turkish coffee and the third is how you drink it. The good news is none of these techniques are particularly complicated, and in fact they are all pretty simple.
We will start with the grind. Turkish coffee is one of the few coffees I condone buying pre-ground. This is because getting the right consistency can be tricky but is critical to the final product. However, purist will find that grinding Turkish coffee is not rocket science. The most important thing to realize is that the grocery store coffee grinder will not get you even close. I know it has a Turkish coffee setting , but that setting will not even produce a good espresso grind. If you want to brew your own Turkish coffee, you will need to purchase a Turkish coffee mill. These mills often double as decorative pieces. If you do decide to grind your own Turkish coffee, you will not regret your decision.

Before you brew Turkish coffee, you will need to purchase a few items. Do not worry they are all relatively inexpensive. Unless of course you opt for the more decorative pieces which are available in great variety. The first thing you will need is an ibrik, this is the pot you will use to brew Turkish coffee. It is sometimes called a cezve. You will also need a set of demitasse cups. These are the small cups that Turkish coffee is traditionally served in and because of the coffee's consistency play an important role in its enjoyable consumption.

To brew Turkish coffee:

1. Add cold water to the ibrik, measure with a demitasse cup.

2. Add one spoonful of Turkish coffee per cup.

3. Stir the coffee

4. Add the coffee to medium high heat source and watch the coffee throughout the whole process. This is critical.

5. You will notice a film form on top of the coffee when it begins to roll over remove from the heat source.

6. Let the coffee sit for about 30 seconds.

8. Place back on heat source until it begins to roll again. You can drink your Turkish coffee at this point.

9. If you prefer sweeter coffee. Remove from heat source add sugar and reheat one more time before serving.

10. Let the Turkish coffee sit for about 30 seconds before pouring. This allows the sediment to settle on the bottom of the ibrik.

To pour the Turkish coffee set up the demitasse cups. Fill each cup a third of the way up. Then make another pass filling each cup to the top. When you drink Turkish coffee also leave the bottom fourth of the coffee remaining in the cup, since this will be largely sediment.

Here is a great video showing the process: