Must Finish | Books

In recent years I’ve acquired a stack of half read books. It’s time to finish them before launching into anything new. The list is The Marriage Proposal by Jeffrey Eugenides, The Fires of Spring by James A. Mitchner, Finding George Orwell in Burma by Emma Larkin, The Life-Changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo, and Days of Reading by Marcel Proust.

I really enjoyed The Virgin Suicides and loved Middlesex. That lead me to pick up The Marriage Proposal. To be honest I’ve tried twice to get into it. It’s just not resonating with me. I am having a hard time relating to the characters. I’ll probably donate it after reading it.

The Fires of Spring is a book I saved from donation years ago. I was probably in early high school when I rescued it from my parent’s pile. I’m enjoying it so far. It’s a little bleak but that is expected. It sits at my work desk and I read bits when I arrive early. I may also donate this one after reading. It’s good but probably not something I’d want to re-read.

After reading Burmese Days I discovered Finding George Orwell in Burma. Burmese Days was a sad book. I didn’t care for the ending but the overall picture of what it was probably like then interested me. After reading it I quickly got a used copy of Finding George Orwell in Burma. It is really good book but all the oppression is depressing. Since Myanmar is back in the news I’ll probably finish it soon. I think this one is worth keeping.

I got The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up because it was all the rage on the clothing and lifestyle blogs I was reading. My hope was that it would help me sort through the few boxes of items I have stuffed in my garage. I have a problem with letting go of sentimental items I don’t use or need. Her writing style annoys me. I haven’t gotten in far enough to decided if it’s worth reading or not. I’ll probably finish it and donate it. I’ve found a few books that sound more like what I’m looking for in this category. I’ll get one of those after I donate this one.

The final book is a more recent purchase. I got excited to find it and then got busy. I have a few of his novels. Some I’ve read and some in the to read pile. So when I saw Days of Reading on a random Tumblr I knew I needed it. It’s is quite enjoyable. It just got lost in the shuffle.


Roast #2 | Coffee

I promise at some point I will stop posting pictures of beans going around in the roaster. Maybe after I create a great roast. Until then here are more pictures of beans going around in a roaster.

The plan was to add 30 seconds to my roast. I’d still preheated, hit 1/4 lb, and then Start. It would be similar to roast #1 but hopefully more flavorful.

It started as planned. I stayed close by and hit start later when I need to confirm I’m still there. At this point I tried to added a total of 2 minutes. It only let me add 1:45. Based on roast #1 I assume I wasn’t far enough to hit C.

Later when there was less than a minute left I hit C and it added the magic amount of max time.

Like 5 seconds later I heard second crack and quickly hit Cool. I had gone too far. My beans are rated at City to City+. I had taken them all the way to what should be Full City+. So I knew they would be over roasted. I put them in the jar to rest and do their thing.

I was planning to wait 36 hours again. That would have meant trying them at work this morning. The panic of “What if they suck?” kicked in. What would I do if I got to work and it was undrinkable? I grind before leaving the house. I didn’t want to have to bring a second set of grounds.

If this was drinkable I would have ground the other beans early for zero reason. Before getting the roaster I wasn’t concerned about grinding beans and having them sit a day. I’m not brewing them within the recommended 3 minutes of grinding but it does feel important to at least keep it to a couple hours.

I only waited 24 hours before brewing some just in case. So last night I made some coffee before dinner.

The verdict is yes, they are over roasted. But they still have some flavor and the coffee is totally drinkable. It didn’t taste “baked” so I have something to be happy about.

Next time I won’t preheat the roaster. I’ll also try a lower setting. P1 is full heat. Maybe they need more time to get up first crack. Full heat and preheat might have been pushing them there too soon.

Also I remembered to record a couple temperatures in my notebook. One day I’ll have all the parts written down to make a consistent cup of coffee. I have a 1/2 pound of these beans left so 2 chances. Then it’s on to the next one.

Roast #2 down…many, many more till I get it right. This is fun!

I Bought a Roaster | Coffee

Behmor 1600 Plus

Having the roasting process demystified really pushed me to get a roaster. I did the basic math that I was spending $12-15 every 12 days for coffee beans. Sometimes more like $20 depending on the beans I bought. That is at least $365 a year.

The list price on the Behmor 1600 Plus is $369. I was eyeing it on Amazon for $351. Then I found it at Home Depot for $324. I added a 10% discount code and after tax my total was $322.62. That is what really tipped me over the edge.

Grand Centrals sampler pack of green beans.

I have friends who swear by Sweet Maria’s so I tried them first. I ordered a sampler pack. So I could try out various coffees. The total for 4 pounds of coffee was $27.49 (with shipping).

To keep it simple I used the Nicaragua beans first. They take less time since they only need to go to City or City+. I roast 1/4 lb using the method the manual said to try first. Hit 1/4 then start. This defaults to the P1 profile. I added 1:30 to the time and hit cool just after 1st crack.

The beans mid roast.

Once the roast was done I had 3 3/8 oz of roasted beans. They smelled like coffee. I then put them into a mason jar with a lid to let it off gas. I figure it is cheaper than buying special containers. I have two of these & they fit on any wide mouth jar. It was $14.99 for a two pack on Amazon.

If I lose 15% weight each time then this 1lb of coffee will last me about 13 days. If I did the math right it is $.52 a day for a cup of coffee. I drink one cup a day during the week. Random weekends I’ll have two.

The roasted beans.

Once they were done I just had to wait 24-48 hours. It was about 36 hours later when I brewed some.

First cup of brewed coffee from roast #1.

My first impressions are that I didn’t get it quite right. There was some flavor but it wasn’t fully developed. Also a little negative acidity. So I plan to add more time for roast #2. This should allow the flavor to develop more and make it a sweeter roast.

Golden Memories | Coffee


Image taken from.

Today I love the internet. I was dreaming of favorite coffees past. I decided to look up the most recent Cup of Excellence coffee winners. There were two great winners I purchased from a local coffee shop Zoka Coffee. Both were from Columbia. Turns out they have an archive of the past winners. It also says who bid on them. I was able to look both of the coffees up.

In 2001 we started frequenting Zoka. Back then they had one location in Tangletown. In 2004 they opened University Zoka and we frequently stayed till closing. Back then it was midnight. We were crazy enough to leave Seattle at midnight before dragging ourselves to work the next day.

This is where I learned what a quality hand crafted mocha tasted like. It was also where I bought my first Colombian coffee beans. It was Colombia Palacio. Those were the beans that changed my way of thinking. Coffee became so much more when I realized exactly how amazing it could taste. I only purchased one pound of roasted beans (they used to sell full pound bags). I was a broke recent college graduate.

I’ll never forget all the senses associated with discovering amazing coffee. Until today I only knew when I purchased it and that it was a Colombian Cup of Excellence winner. Thanks to the internet it has a name, a farm, and other important stats.

Years later in 2009 when I had money to spend on coffee they had the Colombia Villarrica. It was $24 for 12oz of beans. I filled most of a 12 punch bean card buying it. It was almost as amazing as the Palacio. Most of those beans were purchased at their Kirkland location. When I came back with my full card to get my free bag of beans they no longer it. Instead I picked the most expensive coffee they had that day. The guy ringing me up even commented on it. But I figured I’d earned it.

These beans lead me down the Colombian path. I try every one I see. I even got a 1/2 pound the Starbucks Cerro Azul at $80 per lb. It was also a really good coffee but not still not as amazing as I remember the Palacio being.

I hope someday I’ll have a chance to taste more Palacio beans.


Currently Reading | Books & Coffee

This arrived on Friday. I am most of the way through it. Its a great book. I knew a little about coffee before but have learned a lot. I was having a conversation with my Mother the other day. She said Dad brings his own coffee when the babysit my nephews. My brother drinks coffee from a can. It turns out it is probably made with a Robusta bean. The bean is not know for making good coffee. But it is higher in caffeine content.

I’ve just gotten to the section on coffee from different regions. It’s neat to know what I should be looking for in a bean. Which flavor profiles tend to grow where. It should make the bean buying process easier when in the store.

Also the book told me I’ve been brewing my french press coffee wrong. What I typically do is brew for 4 minutes. Stir the bloom down and then press down and serve. It turns out I should have let it rest after getting the bloom to the bottom and then plunging. They recommended 5 minutes for the resting time.

I tried that this morning. I think I need to play with the time. Like maybe get the bloom down after 2 minute and then rest for a few. Or just less resting time. I’ll test new times tomorrow.

Learning | Coffee

Sunday we went to a coffee roasting demo. We sat through some introductory slides before getting hands on. That was amazing. I knew roasting wasn’t super hard but I didn’t realize exactly how easy it is.
There were three machines. A Behmor roaster, a Huky drum roaster, and a Sonofresco air roaster.

The Behmor was the most interesting to me because it is affordable. It is simple to use and seems easy to clean. Also it is compact. It could easily fit on a kitchen island or in garage. It does put off some smoke but not that much. I imagine if you had the kitchen window open or a vent fan going you’d be fine. In the garage just open the door or a window.

We brought home some South American blend City Roast + beans done in the Behmor. And some Mexican Full City Roast +/Vienna on the air roaster. The City Roast + should be ready to drink this evening. The Full City roast we could try on the day.

The presenter brewed some and we got to try it. Oddly he only had flavored creamer to add in. I was hoping for something that wouldn’t alter the flavor profile.

Anyway, the coffee is amazing. I had no idea what a difference fresh roasted coffee makes. It tastes really great. It was even better with the lingering smells of roasting in the air.

So now I’m running the numbers and seeing how much I’d save by buying a roaster. It’s $370 for a Behmor. That is a little more than I spend on coffee each year. Then it’s about $60 for a 5 month supply of green beans. That really depends on which beans you choose. The presenter said the beans will be good for about 6 months. So I’d buy 10lb bags. I could easily pay less if I got a 20lb or larger bag. I see a 20 lb bag of Mexican beans for $89. Wow!

The Behmor only does 1lb at a time with an output of .75lbs. It also can take upwards 20 min to roast for a Full City+. So not the fastest if I was making some for other people. If I got a 20lb bag I’d need a little help going through it in a reasonable amount of time.

The large air roaster took a lot less time and took 3lbs of green beans. It was also super simple. Just dial in the darkness of the roast and turn it on. It magically shuts off when it needs to. It comes with a giant price tag. It’s 3-5k to get one. I’d need to start a coffee business and sell beans like the presenter has done. I’ll stick to a less expensive one.

I make french press coffee at work. At home I use a scale and measure out the coffee and hot water. For work I grind and measure the beans. The water I just eyeball it. It occurred to me I have a liquid measuring cup at my desk. I could be more precise. I still don’t have anything at work to measure out the sugar.

This morning I put 7 oz of water on my .5 oz of coffee. I need to tweak it a bit more. I don’t have a fancy scale at home so I’m not sure if the fluid ounces it measures match the measuring cup. I usually do .75 oz of coffee to 13 oz of water on the weekends. Enough to fill a 12 oz mug.

The other thing that makes it enticing is we do a craft fair at work every Christmas. I could easily make up some half pound bags and sell them. Even if I only sold 10 or 15 it would help pay off the roaster. There’s a cost to buy bags but Amazon will sell me 25 8 oz bags for $17. That would be more than enough I assume.

Argus C 3 Matchmatic | Camera

13 out of 36

That is how many photos I managed to get. Between the advance issues and the questionable visibility through the focusing window 10 of them are okay. Three are super blurry but almost in an interesting way. They would be more interesting if they weren’t all the same colors.

Overall I’m glad I shot a roll with it. It was a fun experiment. I don’t think I’ll use it again but having lenses is cool. It occurs to me that part of the focusing issue could have been a lens problem. I have no idea which lenses I used. I’ve been good about writing down lens, f stop, & shutter speed when shooting the Nikons but failed to do any of that with the Argus. I was focused more on all the many steps to simply take one photo.

This was nothing like my first experience with a C 3 Matchmatic. My Grand Father’s has a clear focusing window and advanced as it was supposed to. I recall metering being easier then too. My original meter is dead. I have one I got used at Glazers years ago. It works well. And the Matchmatic system on the camera makes it pretty easy.

So here they are in all their glory.


New Toy | Typewriter

I got distracted by my newest typewriter. The typing action feels great. I do miss the apostrophe key though. I guess children didn’t need to use them back in 1938…