Tag Archives: Roasting

Where in the World Is Wilson Hines

Anybody remember the computer game called “Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?”  I played that thing on a RadioShack Tandy back in the day!  And I OWNED it!  I could beat it ten ways each day!  🙂

I guess some people are asking where I am and what I am doing.  I have a few answers:

  • It isn’t work that is keeping me from posting quality information to my site.
  • It isn’t a lack of quality coffee (will reference some later in the post).
  • It is Twittering.  There is the whole blame.

The last post was the 21st of December.  I have found that Twitter is a fantastic tool for “Micro-Blogging” and I have been using it more and more every day.  On the mobile, at the desktop and checking the DMs constantly.  I “tweet” about anything and everything, coffee included.

Christmas was special.  We really had a good time this year.  I love Christmas and we try to make it a special coffee experience every year, as well.  This year, as previously posted, we went across the pond to the United Kingdom and purchased a fantastic group of coffees from @SquareMile Roasters in London (see there I go twittering).

The coffee Square Mile sent us was fantastic.  The Los luchadores Espresso was surely in a class by itself.  Everybody knows I like Toscano from CCC and this espresso was just as good and in some respects, better.  The Santa Rita Natural was just that: Natural.  Really full of flavor.  I even sneaked a espresso shot of that COE and it was great just as a SO espresso.   While there wasn’t anything wrong with the  El Portillo, it just wasn’t the Santa Rita!  It was great, please don’t misunderstand me.  But, the Santa Rita just kept coming back to us.

We surely enjoyed our time with their coffee and the shipping was great too; eight days to the Eastern United States off of roast.  I think that is perfect timing for some degassing and such.

Since running out of the Square Mile, the wifey and I have been going to Raleigh every 10 days or so and buying whatever strike our fancy up at Helios Cafe in downtown.  They serve Counter Culture Coffee.

Thanks for the visit and enjoy your coffee for the day!


Espresso Test: This is a test

A friend of mine and I travelled yesterday up to Cary, NC to Crema Roasters to get a couple pounds of espresso.

Kevin gladly responded by saying, “You want some espresso I am working on?” Meaning it was going to be a test.

“Sure thing.  You got my attention”

  • Ethiopian Guji
  • Costa Rica La Pastora
  • Columbian Hvila
  • Brazil Pedre Grande
  • Sumatra Mandilin

Well if this is a test, please let me grade this with a “Oh, my word!

Look, I am not trying to toot my own horn, either.  But, Mark said the espresso tasted better out of my machine (Faema).  Kevin’s is a temp stable La Marzocco FB/80.  This almost has to be a temprature issue – IMHO.  I know that machine runs hot, almost 205.  I am running in the 199-201 range, according to everything Shannon and I discussed.  Ahh, alas I need a Scace of my own with a data logger.

Running into Helios Cafe in Raliegh and end up meeting important peeps!

rich_futrell_s Hmmm, I quickly with a rush blow into Helios Cafe in Raleigh to grab some Counter Culture whole bean for the press and some espresso to tide us over until the Square Mile comes in and “lo and behold” Rich Futrell is sitting there getting wired up on espresso Aficionado.

I had never met Rich, but dude was there and with the very limited time we had we were able to talk shop!! I wish I had much more time, but I had my sister’s family and mine in the Excursion waiting!

Good to meet you Rich and I hope we can run into each other again very soon!

While I was there I got a pound of Counter Culture’s Espresso Aficionado, Ada’s Finca Mauritania, & Kenya Kangocho (a personal CCC fav).

Can’t wait until the morning when I can get into this stuff.

Holiday Coffee & Espresso


Well, it really is that time of year again.  I have heard all of my life that time flies faster and faster the older you get, but it seems like yesterday I was sweating my brains out in 100 degree heat!  Now, we have had a great month of November and late October in averaging in the high 50’s.  A bit odd, even for North Carolina this time of year.

So, what to do about Christmas?  Last year, it was my first Christmas with “the unit” hooked up in the house.  It was  a sprint to get it all hooked up as a 220v electric line had to be brought in from the service box, we had to plumb it for water coming in and out and finally, I had to get a couple hundred dollars of accessories like cups and such.  Finally, when I did get things going all I had was a Kitchen Aid Proline Grinder, which was suppose to work fine with espresso and probably would for the average setup, but quite frankly I was trained on a Mazzer (Jolly & Robur) and I just couldn’t see using that PL.  So, a Mini Mazzer was acquired.

Coffee wise, I ordered five pounds from Crema Coffee Roaster and I shot through that in about three days!  That is high volume for a house!  And to be honest with you, it wasn’t that great of espresso.  No fear my friends, it wasn’t Crema’s fault.  It was squarely my fault.

This year, I am still considering ordering three pounds from Crema, as I just spent through a three pound order that was fantastic.  But, I am keeping my options open.  I may just mix things up and go “West Coast” this year.  The only issue I have is not knowing what it should taste like and then not knowing if I am dialed in right.

What are you doing for the holidays with your coffee purchases?  Spicing things up a bit?  Staying with your stalwert coffee sources?

Basics for a new generation coffee business

The wife and I have been just plugging at an idea for a coffee kiosk business.  We have a plan in our head which we intend on putting on paper, but right now it is just in the air.  All we would be doing is sucking off of $B top.  We would be in a high foot traffic educational area and we would keep the menu as simple as possible.  A very, very constricted menu such as a espresso, Latte, cappuccino, with the usual soy and such variations and finally the drip/French press via only two single origins.  Nothing fancy and nothing to argue about.  It is a kiosk and the point is the student doesn’t have to drive four miles off campus between a set of classes to go to $B.  The concept further states that we “are not $B and thus we are different.”  Two flavors, which I don’t even want to offer, but we feel like there is some necessity for it, especially at first.  Hopefully, we will be able to offer at least two tables for chair seating and there is some benches all around this large enclosed rotunda area that we have our eyes upon; Thus we hope we can offer the espresso “for here” only.

Jim Hoffman has some spectacular reading going on over at his blog that, in his words, covers “quite a broad topic within coffee, that covers not only elements of brewing but sales, consumption, successes and failures and the challenges that lie ahead for anyone in the industry.”

The first topic is Trust, then Pricing, and finally Expectations.

I would have to say this is required reading, even for a customer.  I know that Miss Nikki and myself will be studying this short, but very helpful primer.

What is going on over at Crema Coffee Roasters?

Kevin from Crema Coffee Roasters sent me some espresso and a pound of Korate for the press pot.

What in the world is going on with that espresso, Kevin?

In the word’s of my wife: “That stuff is like Tim McGraw…”Everwhere.”

It is all over the map.  Some of the best espresso I have had lately.  Nutty, floral, chocolatey.  Just all over the map!

French Press: Beginnings and Advancment

French Press? I talk a lot about it and I even have a link up to “Coffee Kid” where Mark Prince talks about his discovery and progression of the world of specialty coffee. Mark has a lot to say about the subject and I highly recommend you read his “progression” because it seems to be almost a mirror image for everybody in the world of coffee. The names and places seems to be different, but the ones of us who have turned into true specialty coffee hounds, critics and passionate nuts seem to have relatively similar stories.

Those stories seem to quickly gravitate towards one method of coffee brewing above others: The French Press. Mr. Prince says in his disposition that “The Bodum press pot was my real introduction to quality coffee in my own country.” As it was my true introduction, as well. My mother-in-law purchased a Starbucks branded Bodum Press at her local $B and gave that to me for Christmas. As I sit here typing, it is four inches from my arm! As much as I love espresso and as well as my commercial two group Italian made Faema running off of 220v on my kitchen counter makes that espresso, I will always be forever indebted to and in love with my French Press. I have two different models and the second model is a Bodum “Young Press.” It is great for the truck as it has a neoprene and/or plastic cover that just works well for travel. I actually picked the Young Press up at my local Target (I haven’t ever seen Wal-Mart offering presses of any kind).

Finally, as my journey has continued, I find myself intrigued with tweaking my press experience. I currently grind with a KitchenAid Proline Grinder which was also at the suggestion by Mr. Prince. He swears by the grinder for anything excluding espresso grinding. It just won’t “put out” that fine quality without some severe modification (said that for you Tommy). Well, after almost two years with the grinder I too swear by the grinder. I can’t recommend it enough and at the Amazon.com price for a brand new one of $159.95 you can’t beat that with a stick. I paid $200 for a “reconditioned” unit.

While I have been well pleased by the performance of my KA PL grinder and my French Press I know this can get better. What I mean is I simply can’t just “leave well enough alone.” I am a natural tinkerer. One who looks at the Peterbilt and has to make it seem to “do this or do that.” Dropping this and exchanging out that! I modified my grinder to make an even better grind (again, thanks Tommy) by simply taking “plumber’s tape” and wrapping the burr carrier shaft a couple times. It really made a swell difference in the consistency of the grind.

But, finally, there has to be more done. Just as if when your grinding for espresso the grind must be “right” in order to make the right cup of espresso and finally the right latte or cappuccino. To “tight” and your going to be bitter and slow and and too loose and your going to be “sour” and fast. Well, with French Press, ANY DUMMY can make a decent to very good cup of coffee in four minutes flat! But, if you want to tweak it, you start thinking about the grind and how that effects the coffee. You start thinking about the amount of coffee in relation to the amount of water. Common sense tells you that too much coffee and the right amount of water makes bitter coffee. Too much water in the right amount of coffee makes watered down and bland coffee.

In steps Jim Hoffman to rectify this. Jim is the 2007 World Barista Champion (WBC). Jim is a fantastic teacher of how coffee should be prepared, no matter the application.

Here is my next step in my “coffee evolution.” I must get a gram scale to properly prepare whatever the method of brewing coffee. Whether we are discussing French Press, vacuum, or espresso or even old fashioned “drip” and the list goes forward. I think that is what I am going to ask for Christmas. Some fantastic tulip shaped 6 oz cappuccino cups and a good gram scale that will work with “tare” weights, as well.

In the mean time, enjoy this short video on Jim’s french press method. It is a learning experience. I mainly stick to Mr. Prince’s method: Boil your water and as soon as it is boiling pour it over the fresh (seconds old) grinds in the press. Let it steep for two minutes and stir. After two more minutes (4 minutes total) you push the shaft on the press and pour yourself a cup :). Real easy!

Videocast #2 – French Press Technique from James Hoffmann on Vimeo.