Friday, October 13, 2017

Persistent Coffee Myths #142: Uniform Particle Size of Grind is Good


We had a customer walk in today who told us he read an interesting article about how you could achieve a more consistent particle size when grinding your beans if you freeze the beans first... Okay, where do we start?

First of all, please... never put coffee in the freezer. The foil and plastic bags get brittle at that temperature and allow the coffee to soak up odors from the freezer. What do you have sitting next to that coffee? Fish, garlic spinach... whatever it is, that's what your next cup of coffee will taste like. Coffee is one of nature's most efficient odor-absorbing substances, which is why they use spent coffee grinds to clean the floors in fish rendering plants. Yes, eeeeew. Also, freezers are not cold enough to stop the normal oxidation process, so it doesn't even help to keep your coffee fresh.

Somewhere at some time, some burr grinder manufacturer popularized the notion that burr grinders make uniform particles when they grind, and that uniform particles are for some reason optimum when brewing. There are two points to this, and both are wrong.

1. Burr grinders do not make uniform particle size. They do make a MORE uniform overall size than small countertop types, but not by much. I enjoy grinding some beans in our $900 Bunn burr grinder and showing it to customers along with some I ground in a $15 small blade grinder. They can readily see tons of "fines" in both samples. It is a comment on human nature that somebody makes this claim, and everybody copies and pastes and re-blogs it, but they never actually look at samples from both grinder types to see if it's true. It's simply not true.

2. Uniform particle sizes do not improve an average brewing. If you are lucky, it might improve the occasional brewing. This is simple math: Coffee grinds have a "sweet spot" for brew time. In a Press, that sweet spot is maybe 20 seconds, and is affected by the humidity that day, the temperature of your water, whether you stir it or not, etc. Since this sweet spot is very hard to hit on the button, except for odd people who want to watch all these variables and use a thermometer and stop watch, we might want to consider the math of non-uniform particle sizes.

The average person just adds hot water to a press or drip machine or pourover and does not have total control over these variables. That means they are more than likely missing that "sweet spot" most of the time. Now, if you have a 50% variance in particle size, your "sweet spot" gets broadened considerably. Yes, a few particles overbrew, and some underbrew, but here is the final funny thing: That's good. Because any time you are getting exact extraction from one particle size you are not getting as wide a range of elements in your brew as you would otherwise. The positives outweigh the negatives.

Summary: You will hit a "sweet spot" much more often with non-uniform particle size, and you will get a fuller range of tones extracted from the beans. As often, the simplest methods and the cheapest machines are fine for everyday use and enjoyment.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

New Website Merge and Changes May 25th, 2017

On May 25th we will realize the dream we have been pursuing for several years to unite our three websites under one roof! 

As most of our long-time customers know, we have had contract restrictions on our reseller products and other issues that resulted in us having three different websites that retailed coffee. That will all be ending on May 25th, 2017, when we unite the whole product line under www.LensCoffee.com!

We created the Len's Coffee® website in 2015 when we created the Len's Coffee® trademark, as a green, unroasted coffee bean site for home, hobby and commercial roasters, but we had to wait a year for that trademark to be approved and for other changes to take place.

Now that we are able to bring all our products under one site, Len's will feature our full Trung Nguyen, G7, Bach, Truong  Lam, and Indochine Estates coffees as well as our own roasted coffees and blends, the new Cascara line, our Vietnamese teas, brewing accessories, and the full green unroasted coffee bean lines.

To celebrate, we will be running a Grand Re-Opening Sale on Len's Coffee, beginning May 25th, 2017. Please do not expect the full product line to appear on that site until May25th... we are "Under Construction" and testing for our final big day on Friday.

When the merge takes place you will be able to use your same account (your email address) to log in. It's possible you will be prompted to create a new password... but otherwise you will see no change.

Hundreds of products of all types on one website... no more confusion or duplication. We  hope you are as excited as we are, and will visit www.lenscoffee.com on May25th for the Grand Re-Opening!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Cascara - Coffee Fruit is Here!

I fell in love with coffee fruit while touring the farms we buy our coffee from. The farmers would catch me munching on a coffee cherry and spitting out the seed (what we call the coffee bean) and give me the eye. Many times I asked, "Why aren't we using the fruit?" And I got lots of logical answers - it's hard to collect and handle, nobody wants it, we just use it for good compost, etc.

Well, thanks to Charbucks and a few others, coffee fruit (Cascara - meaning fruit skins) has finally made its debut in the USA in big volume, after decades and even a few centuries of being a favorite brew or "energy fruit leather" for Roman soldiers as early as the first Millenium. And we personally could not be happier. With 8X the antioxidants of blueberries and more polyphenols and healthy substances like anti-inflammatories and immune boosters than pomegranates, coffee fruit is the delicious way to get the good stuff into your body and mind.

We are not content to bring it in in just one form... we have the dried flakes, and the "simple syrup" that can be used to flavor espresso lattes and make sparkling sodas, and we have learned a dozen ways to enjoy both products. Cascara in any form has a truly unique taste that stands alone. With notes of honey, hibiscus, cherries and tamarind, it soon takes a place in the familiar lexicon of flavors that you crave. We've had to give our helpers here their own supply of cascara because they just can't get enough of it.

While it is delicious simply brewed hot as a tea or infusion, it pairs incredibly well with tart flavors like lemon, and it really kicks up any cup of coffee or espresso, which is why it's first introduction to most people was as a Cascara Espresso Latte. It is so versatile you can find many ways to brew or mix it, from Italian-style sparkling soda to iced teas, spiced teas, coffee espresso lattes, and as a flavoring for yogurt, pancakes, and a cocktail ingredient.

You will have a lot of fun with this! Look for our special "try me" prices on Cascara flakes and syrup in the next few weeks.