Coffee and Bugs

If a bug drowns in your coffee, should you still drink it? This post from thewhirlygirl struck me. My quick answer is, certainly not. Not in my wildest dream. In desperate situation maybe. The natural course of actions is throw it away and get a replacement. Plus, cursing of the poor bug several times. We never considered that it never did anything wrong. Its the coffee that was in its way.

coffee and plastic drinking cup

How can anyone stomach it. The usual insect accidentally fall into our beloved coffee, tea or whatever it maybe is “housefly”. It is considered one of the dirtiest insect because of its tendency to alight to virtually anything. It is likely to carry a lot of microorganisms including E. coli. If it is a housefly, the outright choice is not. For other bugs, such as small beetle, we usually consider the removal and continue drinking. For large beetles, moth, butterfly and if so unlucky, cockroach. The action is discontinue.

Just a small side note. We usually don’t mind if insects land to our solid food. Driving them away repeatedly often suffice.

Let’s go back to my professor’s lesson. He said, we should be thankful if we found a live crawling worm in our freshly bought leafy vegetables. It signifies commodity safety. If the tiny creature lives in it then perhaps it is safe to eat. It was not sprayed with harmful chemicals during the growth period. I am not telling it is okay to throw a handful of bugs in your coffee. Instead, it is not as bad as we think.

Food buying decision is base on the following. Is it delicious? Is it healthy? Is it safe? Is it clean? Could it be stored longer? Well, if you highly prioritize cleanliness, think again. Food regulatory authorities never set zero tolerance on any contaminants.

For example, canned juice may contain up to 5 fly eggs per 250 ml. Cacao bean may have up to 4% mold count. Less than 10% insect and insect filth in coffee beans is fine and yet we immediately throw away the hot coffee with drowned fly. There are more of these thing at USFDA defect levels handbook. Our local regulatory has its own version. However, it is harder to find. And in case you do, there is no guarantee it is the latest.

To depth of my knowledge, cleanest production plants are semiconductor manufacturing. Strictly zero contaminants allowed. Products that are obviously not edible.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Instant, Finely Ground Brewed Coffee

I first thought it was ground coffee. As in green coffee beans roasted and ground. Not the usual commercial instant coffee which gone through brewing and crystallization process. Its elegant gold packaging was suggestive of the former. Gold is an expensive element and so any piece of jewelry made of it or has it is also expensive. Any object covered with gold inherits a premium look.

On the back label written “instant coffee finely ground roasted coffee”. I could not clearly see if the “instant coffee” is separated from the rest with a comma. Perhaps it is. It makes it two ingredient product with two same ingredients but passed through different process. Same coffee batch, divided, processed differently and mixed to certain ratio may result to a unique flavor. This time, their purpose was to add a natural brewed taste which is rather unique to instant coffee scene. I once said instant coffee taste was flat and boring. You too may say the same thing if you are a black coffee drinker.

On the other hand, it could be just one. Finely ground roasted coffee. Ground to fineness to point imperceptible to human tongue and remain suspended in plain hot water. In this case one heaping tablespoon per cup is not practical. It will be too strong and all the undesirable flavor will be into the cup. For enthusiasts, coffee preparation is a very delicate thing. Extreme care is taken to exclude unwanted flavor extraction. The product offset this problem by recommending only two grams ground per 100 ml hot water.

The product has hint of naturally brewed coffee. No visible signs of solid powder. Whatever the case maybe, solid is solid. It will settle to bottom after a while. Not unless they added minimal amount of finely ground.

Currently, preparing own brewed coffee is getting easier. There are cheap espresso machines out there. Espresso shots that can be done quickly with even cheaper machines. Filter drip brewer and table top grinders are even cheaper. Grinding can be done with regular blender or bullet type. There are growing numbers of small coffee processors. So fresh coffee grounds are accessible. Roasting coffee at home are become possible with small capacity roasters and diy setup. Huge companies have to do something with current trend.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Coffee Stain

You are so focus on your coffee that you never pay attention to less important thing. The stain it creates. Ohh! There are few instances. The moments it accidentally spilled on your clothes. I bet it was so annoying. It happened to me several times so I know well how it feels. There is always an option to change clothe if where you live is comfortably near or you have an extra. A cowboy style, always ready! On the other hand, the only choice is dry it patiently in front of electric fan, or, better yet, a freezing cold air con. It is ugly while still wet and ugly still after drying. It leaves a shade with prominent border. Often looks like a roughly drawn map.

Those annoying memories came back when I noticed this stained coffee filter. There must be a way to treat this filter clean.

stained coffee filter

Okay! We will not talk about cleaning. We will talk about the less important thing. The stain pattern. Notice that it always create a ring on your shirt?

Let us go back to coffee filter for a bit. In a normal drip process. Coffee grounds is place on filter then water is pass though it to extract. The filter is conical and the direction of the liquid is toward gravity. More particles pass trough the lowest point (the tip) so more stains are trapped in the end.

In white and poorly coated mug. The stain tends to get darker toward the bottom. Coffee is often drink like wine, sip by sip. The upper part, near the brim is less exposed while lower is more. More often than not, there is a bit of liquid left to dry after. That where the darkest stain shade lies.

Things get different when it spilled accidentally on table. Whatever the shape of the stain is, it always has distinct, darker shade border. Assuming the suspended particles are equally distributed and the dome shape of spilled liquid. The dome center should have the most particles. The center must also be darker when it dries out.

coffee stain on table

Coffee stain formation has interesting law of physics. The thinner part of the dome dries first. However, as it dries, the suspended particles flow toward the edge, making it darker. Thanks to livescience.com for pointing out. This coffee behavior is attributed to its rounded molecules. On the other hand, oblong and other molecule shapes holds to each other more strongly leaving a more uniform color upon drying.

Is this important? Maybe or maybe not! In any case you want to print your edible wrapper with edible ink, coffee derived pigments may not be a wise choice.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Soaking Coffee Beans in Honey?

Honeyed Robusta? Interesting!

When it comes to commercial coffee production, Robusta is the king. I guess it is attributed to its huge fruiting capacity, ease of cultivation, pesticide resistance and wider choice of growing lands. Excelsa and Liberica have low fruiting capacity while Arabica is picky on its growing altitude. Arabica is well raised in mountain areas and is the choice of specialty coffee makers.

Coffee can be sweetened during cup preparation. As in adding sugar to boiling concoction or individual cup by drinkers preference. Instant coffee in sachets and bigger packs are often added with sweetener, milk and other flavorings before packing. Kind of fast and convenient but strips away most of the inherent flavor. Whatever, there must be fewer people who are very particular with the taste. Instant coffee is a boom business.

I saw the post on Coffee Roaster Forum, with short provided description. Based on my understanding, it was whole unmilled Robusta soaked in honey. Robusta usually undergo dry processing – harvesting then immediate sun drying. Soaking maybe done before drying or after, then re-drying. The latter is more labor intensive but may allow better absorption. Removing the husk first will surely save on precious sweet liquid.

So why add flavor before the coffee is sent to roasting chamber? The roasting temperature for sure will degrade and evaporate those. A method with more sense is spraying flavor right after roasting. When the freshly roasted coffee is in cooling stage. If vanilla flavor is sprayed, there is a good chance it will be carried over to cup. However, if coffee beans was soaked in vanilla solution, dried, then roasted. Do not expect a vanilla flavored coffee after. For light roasted coffee, maybe. I might do some testing once our own built drum roaster is in operation.

I also heard this trick with cacao beans. Adding fruit flavors such as calamansi and mango during fermentation process. In artisinal setting where makers roast their bean light. Flavors added during fermentation may survived roast. Even more chance for raw chocolate makers, beans never undergo roasting. Ohh! I remember. There is a thing called “green coffee”. I mean literally selling the ground green coffee. In this case, any infused flavor is surely retained to great extent.

Honey flavor may not be the real intention. Roasting is a complex process. One of this is sugar caramelization. Reinforcing the sugar content by soaking in honey may improve the end flavor a lot.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Making A Cold Brew Coffee

I am making a cold brew coffee for myself. I feel like drinking coffee today but the weather is hot. Smoking hot coffee intake might add to uneasiness. Way back in my laboratory work where the air conditioning is often broken. Our best friend were the staggering electric fan and cold drinks. Whenever we wanted coffee in the middle of daylight, we prepared coffee hot, let it cool and froze. We make it right after office arrival so we can enjoy it real ice cold when the heat wave attacked.

Today is different. I will be preparing the cold brew cold from the start. The coffee grounds I will be using came from refrigerator. We keep it there once opened. I put enough grounds in mason jar and filled it up with filtered water. There is no strict rule on the amount. Black coffee lovers may add more to their liking. Then put it inside fridge again to allow flavor extraction.

They recommend 18 to 24 hours steeping time. Placing the grounds in cheese cloth bag so you can just lift it off clean after. No filtering. Less work. I have no such at the moment. I mixed the grounds and water together and planned on filtering it off with coffee brewer fine filter. It is more work but the coffee filter is easier to clean than cheese cloth.

making cold brew coffee

For intricate preparation, all the details should be recorded and observed. Such as ground weight, refrigerator temperature, steeping time and coffee brand. All the coffee processing details in case you roast it on your own. I have watched several demonstrations of barista style coffee. They are very precise down to very small details. Not following but jotting down details has its own benefits. You’ll soon discover which combination of parameters makes the best cold brew.

Let us wait 24 hours!

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The set 24 hours waiting time became almost 48. I was too busy yesterday that I lost track .  I hope it is still good to drink. I take it out of the fridge and notice almost all grounds are settled to bottom. They absorbed enough water, loose air and became more dense.  The few specs left on top are those clinging on glass sides.  It can be decanted carefully but I choose to use filter. I want all the dots out of my sight.  There can be no coffee without it but it running down the throat feels bad.

It is a cold morning coffee but it is fine. It is strong. It kicks. The bitterness kinda overpower the chills. There is bitterness not in my usual filter drip and espresso cups. The extra 24 hours did the work of over extracting,  getting also the unwanted.

 

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.