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Off topic warning! If you are only interested in finance and trading, this podcast is not for you. 🙂 This episode is 100%, completely about coffee: how different varieties taste, how to roast it, how to make it, and how to make the best possible coffee you can at home. If that interests you, then I think you’ll find information here you won’t find anywhere else, at least in one place. Here are highlights from the show notes:

Differences between coffees from different regions

Main division (most obvious) is between Arabica and Robusta coffee. Nearly all the coffees we will discuss here are Arabica coffees. I also discussed the hows and whys of labeling what we taste–how that is helpful to refine perception and just to help you remember what things taste like. Some highlights from my favorite growing regions (and this is far from comprehensive):

Central America

  • Guatemala, Honduras – balanced, clean. Brown sugary, peanutty.
  • Mexico – floral delicacy

South America

  • Columbia, Brazil—mellow, strong brown sugar, some spice

Africa

  • Ethiopia—natural or washed. Fruity, winey, raisin / clean and tea like. Bright acid.
  • Kenya – highly acidic, sometimes tart

Asia/Pacific Islands – a lot of coffee, various grades. A lot of robusta.

  • Indonesia-earthy, dark
  • Hawaii-$$$. Very clean and mild.

How to roast your own coffee, and why you should

Coffee goes stale in less than a week. Chances are, the coffee you are buying is older than that by the time you use it. It’s not hard to roast at home. Some equipment you can use:

  • Cast iron pan
  • Popcorn popper
  • Air roaster (fluid bed)
  • Drum roaster

(See links at bottom of this post)

I also discussed steps in the roasting process and how to store your coffee.

How to brew exceptional coffee at home

This isn’t rocket science. What we are trying to do is to get hot water on coffee for a while and then separate them and drink the coffee, but there are a few variables (i.e., things we can change) that can make a big difference:

  • Time, temperature, grind, ratio
  • Water, coffee (freshness, roast, variety), stirring.
  • Clean!

Little things, that aren’t so little:

  • Keep everything clean
  • Use fresh beans
  • Grind before brewing
  • Preheat everything
  • Drink your coffee right away. Don’t reheat!

Ideal temp is about 200 F, so just off boil. Time depends on grind, but 2-4 minutes is usually target. Different styles:

  • Turkish coffee
  • French press
  • My upside down French press
  • Aeropress (Sorry, just not a fan! Really seemed to highlight acidity to the detriment of balance. I only cupped half a dozen coffees with it, but just didn’t see the appeal. I ended up giving mine away!)
  • Drip brewing

Making espresso at home

I was reluctant to discuss this in previous podcasts, because the reality is that you’re going to need to spend at least $1,000 to get an exceptional espresso at home. Expect to spend nearly as much on the grinder as on the machine. Some highlights from what I discussed:

  • Temp/pressure/grind
  • Grind is criticial. Consistency of grind is critical
  • Stovetop moka is not espresso.
  • Cheaper machines don’t have the pressure or consistency
  • There are machines that generate the pressure required (which is about the pressure inside a scuba tank!) by hand. These methods should work better than they do, but maybe I just didn’t spend enough time with a machine.
  • Semi auto machines do the whole process, including grind, at the push of a button. (They an be really hard to clean!)
  • On my counter, I have a Rancilio Ms. Silvia and a Rancilio Rocky grinder. There are plenty of other excellent options, but I’ve been blown away by the performance I get from this pair.

The most important thing, and the one you’re gonna want to ignore

It’s not sexy, but the most important thing is to make sure all of your brewing equipment is clean and free from rancid coffee oils. If you have a plastic machine (even the standard US drip machine) that can be next to impossible. I like Cleancaf cleaner, but standard dishwashing soap and a brush will get the job done. Make a cup of “coffee” using your brewing equipment and no coffee! Taste it. That’s in every cup of coffee you make, so, if it tastes like something other than water, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Clean everything.

Rather than drop you a linkfest here, I’ll just direct you to Sweet Maria’s. I’ve been a happy customer for more than a decade, and Tom or Maria over there can answer any of your questions better than I can. (I have no business relationship with these folks, but just see someone running an excellent business with a focus on taking care of the customer. Check them out.)

If you enjoy the podcast, one of the best things you can do for me is to leave me a review on iTunes here. Thank you!

Also, if you like the music for this podcast, then be sure to check out Brian Ashley Jones, my friend, and a fantastic singer-songwriter.

Enjoy the show: