New eBook –’s 5 Steps to Better Coffee

Dear dear reader,

You, dear reader, are very special to me. I feel like we have a bond. A deep and dependant bond. I feel like we’ve established some sort of rapport. I feel like you’d like to know some of the stuff I’ve learned in my years of coffee snobbery.

I put a book together for a seminar I’ve run a couple of times, then I added a bunch more content, then I chose some fonts (Helvetica Neue Ultra Light, in all caps, and Palatino), then I made the book into a PDF, made a fancy 3D cover, and finally uploaded it to this place that lets you sell ebooks with PayPal.

You can now totally buy this book. For $5. Which, at the price of a cup of coffee (or slightly more) is a bargain.

Cover jpg

These latte art tips almost guaranteed to make you better at it

My latte art is sporadically impressive and depends largely on how good the milk I’m using is (and how well I’ve textured it – but if that’s wrong it’s just easier to blame the milk).

This slideshow from Serious Eats, perhaps more than anything else, made me more consistent because now I think I know what I’m trying to do.

“To begin, we have to lay a foundation of liquid milk underneath the crema. Start by pouring a thin stream of milk from about three inches above the top rim of your mug. The thin, liquidy milk will sink below the foamy coffee and create a supporting base for it in the bowl of the mug.
Think of the milk at this stage as being like an Olympic diver, making her body as thin as possible to pierce the surface of the pool water without creating ripples.”

Then, skipping a few steps to you have to click the link…

“When you bring the pitcher down low and increase your flow, you should see a dot, or halo, of white foam collect on the top of the coffee. This is your artistic belly-flop, and is also the genesis of the rosetta.
To begin forming what will become your leaves, you should start moving the pitcher from side to side at this point. Be sure to do this by using your hand only, not your whole arm: You’re not simply “painting” on top of the latte. Instead, imagine yourself riding a bicycle with hand-brakes, and “pump” the handle of the pitcher with your fist as though you were trying to slow your bike down on a hill.”

There’s also a guide to tulips

“When a white circle or ring appears on the coffee, lift the pitcher up again and stop pouring milk. Practice will help you get this first white blob looking neat and symmetrical.
The cup should be about a third of the way full at this point.”

“Repeat the bring-it-down-low step one more time to create the smallest top part of the flower, and then “pierce” the design to bring it together by slowly lifting the spout of the pitcher while pouring the last bit of milk in a thin stream through the middle of the circular blobs you’ve placed on the coffee.”

Handy stuff.

Ice hot: the key to brewing tasty iced coffee

Cold Drip kind of fascinates me in an “I don’t actually enjoy the flavour like I enjoy every other brew method” kind of way. I’ve had several cold drips now ranging from palatable to mildly enjoyable. I just don’t get the fuss. And this might be why – coffee is made to be brewed hot. So if you want good iced coffee. Brewed. Here’s a nifty trick. Brew onto a bed of ice (though from what I remember of high school science this has the potential to smash glass if not carefully managed). But also. Factor the ice into your brew ratio. It’s clever stuff from the Counter Coffee mob. Here’s the thinking behind it. And here’s the beaut video.

How to Make Japanese Iced Coffee from Counter Culture Coffee on Vimeo.

And another…

How to use a Pourover Coffee Brewer – Pourover Basics from Counter Culture Coffee on Vimeo.

Barista Basics from Cup Coffee

Cup is one of my favourite cafes. It was one of the first places I reviewed here, and it remains in my top three cafes in Brisbane.

It has been far too long since I’ve last enjoyed the fruits of their Slayer. And I feel like I should go back there even if it’s just to update the photos used in that review… But we can all enjoy the fruits of their labours together – thanks to their freshly published guide to making coffee which they’ve launched into cyberspace. This is top shelf stuff. Apparently its the material used in their barista course, and apparently there’s an advanced guide in the pipeline – at least that’s what the link says.

This is gold. There’s little tips in there like this one about splitting the milk into two jugs before you pour it into your coffee:

Splitting milk for multiple drinks should be done immediately after steaming.
Pouring multiple drinks from one jug will result in the first drink having more foam.
Milk is best served around 60 degrees celsius. You should learn to feel this temperature with experience. Splitting milk into a cold jug will reduce temperature by around 5 degrees. Always preheat jugs before splitting.

Like I said in my review. These guys pay attention to detail. They sweat the small stuff – you can see it in the typography in this guide, and you can taste it in the cup.

Coffee Recipe: Chemex/Vietnamese Coffee Icy Poles

I saw some coffee icy poles floating around on the internet once upon a time. And I thought to myself: “delicious.” Time passed. We moved house. And in the process I found a set of rocket moulds for icy poles. And I thought to myself: “I should totally make some coffee icy poles”… so I did just that. Here’s how:

I brewed up a Chemex using some delicious Brazilian “Toffee” Cerrado coffee from Ministry Grounds, roasted by yours truly. I’m playing with a fun brewing app called Bloom, so I know that this particular chemex had 40gm of coarse coffee, which I bloomed for a minute, with 60gm of water, and brewed with a 2:34 pour.

I added about three quarters of a tin of condensed milk, and a few dollops of cream to this mix. And stirred.

I poured this concoction into the moulds.

Then added a dessert spoonful of condensed milk to each.

Which sank to the bottom.

The lids went on, and these bad boys went into the freezer.

And then I ate them. Though the tips didn’t come out of the moulds particularly cleanly.

They were quite delicious. And I highly recommend making them yourself. I had some left over mixture, which I drank. It was silky smooth and ridiculously sweet.

DIY: Home made espresso machines

This looks a nice little holiday project, a sub-$30, pocket espresso maker.

Unfortunately it requires mad welding skillz, which I do not have.

It includes a little alcohol stove thing for heat.

If that looks too easy, you could go all out and make one like this

Or you could go all out and make a lever machine, a grinder, and a roaster, pretty much from scratch…

These all seem somewhat beyond my capabilities. But it’s nice to dream…

Coffee Video Friday: Stovetop Brewing with James Hoffman

Good stove top coffee is almost impossible. Not impossible. Just almost impossible. Another video guide from James Hoffman. The man is a prodigious maker of worthwhile video guides…

Videocast #4 – Stove top/Moka Pot from James Hoffmann on Vimeo.

Preheating the water (even preboiling) before tipping it in the stovetop chamber is the top tip. He also uses a much coarser grind than I have in the past.

Coffee Video Friday: Home roasting with

I roast my coffee. I love roasting. It’s great fun. Cheap. And guaranteed better coffee. I use a purpose built Behmor Coffee roaster, you can use a popcorn maker, a breadmaker/heatgun combo called a Correto (named after the coffeesnobs user who invented it), or just about anything that produces heat and agitation.

In this video uses a stovetop popcorn maker.

Creative design from the South

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