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March 16, 2012


Team Presentation I gave for Boundless


March 16, 2012

Other Decks in How-to & DIY


  1. Friday, March 16, 2012 I've been a daily coffee drinker

    since my teens. It was usually a cup of my parents' week-old pre-ground Dunkins "Original Blend", brewed in a Mellita cone, and soaked in hazelnut non- dairy creamer, or maybe a large Dunkins iced cofee, two creams, two sugars. I think this is pretty typical. We're all drinking loads milk and sugar, maybe some splenda, with trace amounts of burnt, acidic coffee. When I moved out I continued the same habits It wasn't until I got a job at startup with a commercial style espresso machine in the kitchen that I really started to think about what I was drinking. At LocaModa, all important information exchanges happened in the 6 feet between the espresso machine and the kitchen’s whiteboard. Surrounded by coffee snobs, I learned that pulling an espresso shot is equal parts art and science. Even with years of practice, I could only pull a really good shot about twice a week. Steaming milk? Witchcraft. Forget latte art. Always tip your barista. So I set out to try every form of coffee I could find. Turkish, French press, affogato, Toddy, there are literally hundreds of different brewing methods, 40 different cultivars, 9 levels of roast. I discovered that there was a fantastic small batch coffee roaster just 10 minutes walk from my apartment. The owner hand built his own roasting equipment and designed custom thermostat microcontrollers to perfect his product. On some days, he would sit at the mouth of the roasters, picking out “beans that didn’t look right” with his bare hands. I started collecting coffee makers. Today I own seven, three of which I use regularly. I use the same style crank-powered grinder that Kevin Costner’s character in “Dances with Wolves” used in demonstrating coffee to the Sioux indians.
  2. Friday, March 16, 2012 At the dawn of the 12th

    century, a fasting Yemenite Sufi mystic is wandering in Ethiopia. He notices a flock of especially lively birds eating the berries of a small tree. He adds these berries to hot water which he then drinks, and subsequently experiences that same vitality. Another legend attributes a similar discovery to a different Yemenite cleric. This time, our hero is exiled from the city of Mocha, and while sustaining himself on nuts and berries, happens upon a method for cooking and then boiling the bitter cherries into a revitalizing serum. When word of his miracle drug reaches back Mocha, he is welcomed home and ordained a saint. You may have also heard of a herder named Kaldi. In this apocryphal tale, it's only 600 AD, and it was his goats who first illuminated the coffee bean.
  3. Friday, March 16, 2012 With alcohol forbidden by the Koran,

    coffee becomes the recreational beverage of choice for the Muslim world. The first coffee house opens in Constantinople in the year 1453. So central to Turkish culture is coffee that the Turkish word for breakfast, kahvalt literally means "before coffee". Turkish law even entitled women to ask for divorce if her husband failed to provide sufficient coffee. Our primal coffee house served coffee that had been roasted, ground into a very fine powder, and added to cold water, which is then very slowly heated. The aromatic oils in coffee are released at 96C (205F), which is just below boiling, while the bitter acids are released when the water has reached boiling point. The mixture is then allowed to settle at the bottom of the cup rather than being filtered. If you were so inclined, trained coffee-readers could inspect the leftover grit to see your fortune. The Middle East Club in Central Square will serve coffee in the turkish style. It's very rich, a totally different experience. By the way, if that first coffee house had been a Starbucks, we would now have around a quarter million Starbucks world wide, occupying an area one third the size of Manhattan.
  4. Friday, March 16, 2012 In 1600, Pope Clement the Eighth

    baptizes coffee drinking, making it an acceptable beverage for Christians. Coffee's future is secured with the two largest religions in the world now accepting its consumption. England gets its first coffee house in 1652. By 1669 its favored by the court of King Louis the 14th. In 1714 one of his plants is stolen from a greenhouse and smuggled to Martinique in the Caribbean, where it becomes the ancestor of 90% of the worlds coffee plantation. Back to Boston, 1773, and the Boston Tea Party, when the colonials switch from tea to coffee as a political duty.
  5. Friday, March 16, 2012 This is when percolator-style coffee makers

    start to emerge. If you’ve ever seen cowboys sitting around a campfire drinking coffee, they probably made it using something like this. For the first time, there’s a barrier keeping the grinds out of your coffee. By 1880 Brazil's coffee plantations have expanded massively, causing the price to plummet, and transforming coffee coffee from a drink only for the elite into an everyday drink for the people.
  6. Friday, March 16, 2012 In the 20th century there is

    an explosion of creativity around coffee brewing. 1903 sees the invention of decaffeinated coffee, using a process of brine and benzene. Other, less dangerous methods come soon after. The leftover caffeine becomes a secondary source of income for coffee roasters when it is sold to pharmaceutical companies (to enhance the effects of certain pain killers) and of course soda makers. Paper coffee filters were invented in Germany by Melitta Bentz in 1908. With this method, hot water is poured over finely ground beans. It’s a big improvement over Turkish and Percolator styles, and for the first time you definitely won’t get any coffee beans in your teeth. In 1933 Dr. Ernest Illy develops the first automatic espresso machine. Espresso is truly the perfect method. When done properly, only the most desirable traits are extracted from the bean, using the smallest possible amount of coffee and water, in a very short amount of time. These facets help make espresso a huge commercial success. In 1938 the Nestlé company developed its own freeze dried instant coffee to assist the Brazilian government in solving its coffee surplus problem. In World War Two, American GIs are issued instant coffee in their ration kits. Coffee is more American than ever. We get the French press in 1958, and 1972 sees the debut of Mr Coffee, the worlds first automatic drip coffee machine. Mr Coffee’s descendants now occupy most of the homes and offices in the developed world. So we have something like a thousand years of coffee-fueled history. In that time we’ve
  7. Friday, March 16, 2012 The coffee plant itself is as

    sensitive to soil and climate conditions as the grapes used for wine, and has just as many regional cultivars. Just as important is the roasting process. By varying the temperature and duration, you can express different features of a given bean, including caffeine. Darker roasts, despite having a more pronounced flavor, have significantly less caffeine.
  8. Friday, March 16, 2012 This is what dry, washed, unroasted

    coffee beans look like.
  9. 329 °F Drying Phase Friday, March 16, 2012 As beans

    roast, they lose water and increase in size.
  10. 383 °F Cinnamon Roast Friday, March 16, 2012 The first

    and lightest roast level. On this end of the spectrum you get nutty, fruity and floral flavors. With a lighter roast the bean will exhibit more of its "origin flavor"; the flavors created in the bean by its variety, the soil, altitude, and weather conditions.
  11. 401 °F New England Roast Friday, March 16, 2012 Moderate

    light brown, still acidic, a traditional roast for Northeastern U.S. Coffee.
  12. 410 °F American Roast Friday, March 16, 2012 Medium light

    brown, the traditional roast for the Eastern U.S.
  13. 428 °F City Roast Friday, March 16, 2012 Medium brown,

    the norm for most of the U.S., good for tasting the varietal character of a bean. At this point in the spectrum you start to get richer, chocolaty flavors.
  14. 437 °F Full City Roast Friday, March 16, 2012 Medium

    dark brown with occasional oil sheen, good for bringing out more bittersweet flavors.
  15. 446 °F Vienna Roast Friday, March 16, 2012 Moderate dark

    brown with light surface oil, more bittersweet, caramel-y flavor, acidity muted. This is occasionally used for espresso.
  16. 464 °F French Roast Friday, March 16, 2012 The “default”

    American coffee roast. Interesting thing about french roast. At this temperature, much of the regional variation is lost, so Starbucks and Maxell House can offer a very consistent product regardless of shifting sources and bean quality. At this level, the flavors will still cut through a ton of milk and sugar, allowing vendors to merchandize more freely. Milk is also slightly basic, which helps cut down on the acid.
  17. 473 °F Italian Roast Friday, March 16, 2012 Very dark

    brown and shiny, burnt tones become more distinct, acidity almost gone, thin body. The most common roast for espresso blends.
  18. 482 °F Spanish Roast Friday, March 16, 2012 Extremely dark

    brown, nearly black and very shiny, charcoal and tar tones dominate, and very little caffeine.
  19. Friday, March 16, 2012 This little guy is a Lewak,

    a common sight in Southeast Asia. They fill the same ecological niche that raccoons do in North America, but also perform an additional service to certain elite coffee growers. When they eat ripe coffee berries, enzymes in their digestive tract break down most of the acid but leave all of the caffeine and flavors notes intact. Their scat is cleaned, roasted, and sold for up to $600 per pound. A friend’s father has a hobby coffee farm in Indonesia, and brings me a bag whenever she visits home. I have a sample of some Kopi Lewak here if anyone is curious.
  20. Friday, March 16, 2012 Ancient coffee plants probably evolved caffeine

    production to ward off parasitic insects. It actually is poisonous to humans, but for an average size person, it would take about 150 shots of espresso per hour to kill you. Caffeine works by blocking the chemical signals in your brain which tell you its time to sleep. It doesn’t give you energy. It’s more like borrowing energy from your future self. The negative effects are worse for morning people. A recent study showed that people who naturally tended to be active in the morning, when taking caffeine, also tended to have interrupted sleep during the night.
  21. All You Need to Know • The cheapest coffee is

    anything you make at home. • Grind lazily • Caffeine takes 30 minutes to work Friday, March 16, 2012 The ideal ratio of coffee to water is 60 grams per liter, which works out to about 15 servings of coffee for a one pound bag. If you’re paying more than a dollar per cup of coffee, I think that’s too much. 90 minutes after the grind, the good stuff starts to disappear. Get a simple burr-style grinder and buy whole beans. My favorite coffee hack has to be the caffeine nap. It takes about 30 minutes for the effects of caffeine to manifest, so drinking coffee immediately before a 15 minute power nap gets you a stacked powerup.