re: summer series

RE: Brewing The Perfect Cup

In our last Summer Series this year, we wanted to share our insights on how to brew a perfect cup. Here are 5 key elements that would enable you to Brew Greatness in any method!

1. FRESHNESS

There’s good reason behind our obsession with freshness - ALL great cups start with fresh beans (weeks old, not months old!) that are freshly ground right before brewing. See our previous posts for insights on why it matters, and how to keep beans fresh!

2. WATER

Water quality matters - remember your final brewed cup is ~98.7% water! Spring or properly filtered water is simply a necessity when brewing a great cup. The ideal brewing temperature is between 195 and 205℉, which is this slightly cooler than boiling (i.e. boil and wait a minute before pouring).

3. RATIOS

A ‘ratio’ is simply the amount of coffee you use in relation to the amount of water, or cups you’d like to brew. Using a 1:16 coffee-to-water ratio is considered ideal - i.e., an ounce of coffee for every 16 fl oz of water, for example (or half an ounce of coffee for an 8-oz cup). While weighing your beans and your water will always give you the best results, you can also use a consistent measure (i.e. a coffee spoon and a cup for which you know the weights or amounts of coffee and water they ‘hold’).

We should note, it’s ok to deviate from this ratio slightly, i.e. 1:15 for a stronger cup, or 1:17 for a milder cup - when it comes to coffee strength and taste - ‘perfection’ is in the eyes of the beholder.

4. GRIND

Size really matters when it comes to the perfect grind! If your grind is too coarse (or large) for the method you’re using, you’ll get a weak cup that lacks body and may be acidic. If your grind is too fine (or small), you’ll get a cup that is harsh, sharp, even bitter. Remember one grind size does NOT fit all methods, and small changes to grind size can make a big difference (in terms of the total ‘surface area’ of coffee exposed to the water) - so when it comes to grind adjustments - small changes are big!

5. TIMING

Time is of the essence when it comes to brewing! A great cup of coffee typically takes ~4-6 min to brew.

Remember brewing time is extraction time - i.e. the time necessary for your delicious coffee compounds to ‘transfer’ from the grounds into your cup. If too short, you’ll get a weak, acidic cup; if too long, you’ll get a harsh, bitter cup… yes, just like with grind size! They two are very closely related - coarser grinds need longer steeping times (e.g. French Press and Cold Brew), while finer grinds need shorter steeping times (i.e. Espresso is the ultimate example - as it extracts in 25-30 seconds).

Get these right, and you’ll be able to make a great tasting cup in ANY method! Let’s keep Brewing Greatness in the world!

Jolian & Lisbeth

PS. ‘Charley’s World’ - a local TV show - did a generous segment on us to help us tell our story and most importantly - spread the idea that we can make a difference. Thank YOU for making all of it possible!

There’s pics on FB, behind-the-scenes on IG, and here’s also a video.

RE: Coffee Processing: Washed + Honey + Natural Demystified!

You have probably seen the terms ‘washed’, ‘honey’, and ‘natural’ in our coffee descriptions, yet we thought a more in-depth explanation would make it a little more meaningful - and take your coffee connoisseur game to a whole new level!

First, some context on ‘Coffee Processing’ - this is the crucial step that transforms coffee cherries into “green coffee” that’s ready to be exported/imported/roasted! ALL coffees - yes, ALL coffees - must be processed before we can roast them! Otherwise, we would be trying to roast a ‘coffee fruit’, not a ‘coffee bean’ (technically, a coffee seed). Specifically, we need to remove three main layers (from the outside in) to get to our precious seeds: (1) pulp or exocarp, (2) mucilage or mesocarp (a sticky layer high in sugars), and (3) parchment (a papery layer protecting the seed).

There are three main processes worldwide : (1) Washed or Wet Process, (2) Honey (and variations), and (3) Natural or Dry Process. And it is when the layers are removed that makes all the difference!

Washed coffees get the first two layers, pulp and mucilage, removed as soon as possible after harvest. This is achieved by mechanically de-pulping and throughly ‘washing’ the coffee beans, and leaving only the parchment layer during the drying process (which can be under the sun, using mechanical dryers, or a combination of those two). Once beans are dried to ~12% moisture, they’re milled to remove the parchment layer and packed in 60-70 kg bags for export. This is the most popular method for Specialty coffees, as it yields incredibly clean, consistent, well-balanced cups. The highest scoring coffees worldwide are typically washed.

Honey coffees are characterized by the partial removal of the first two layers (pulp and mucilage), always leaving some pulp and mucilage around the seed to ‘ferment’ during the drying process. Depending on the amount of pulp/mucilage left, you may have a ‘Yellow Honey’ (no pulp, little mucilage, short fermentation, closer to a Washed), a ‘Red Honey’ (some pulp, most mucilage, medium fermentation), or a ‘Black Honey’ (most pulp and mucilage, long fermentation). ‘Honeys’ are very labor intensive, as they require constant monitoring and care during the weeks-long fermentation/drying under the sun. They’re also risky, as the whole harvest could be lost in an uncontrolled fermentation (i.e. yielding rotten, alcoholic, or medicinal notes). Yet, they can also yield amazing, sweet, complex, unique fruit flavors!

Natural coffees are dried with all layers! This means they’re dried as a fruit, under the sun or a combination of sun drying with mechanical dryers. Dried fruits are then ‘milled’ to remove all three layers (pulp, mucilage, and parchment) and coffee is packed for export. This is the most common method for Brazilian coffees, yet, it’s worldwide popularity has risen in recent years. It leads to sweeter, fruitier, and more full-bodied cups (vs. Washed), yet, as in the Honey process, there’s always the risk of an uncontrolled fermentation due to the high sugar content during drying.

We have excellent examples of all 3 processes currently online: try Poaquil or Kenya AA vs. Los Pinos (yellow honey) vs. Red Honey vs. Yirgacheffe, for example! We’re also working on some exciting new additions on this front with our ‘Poaquil’ partners! (we’ve been secretly experimenting for the past 2 years to bring something really unique to you… hopefully in just a few months!)

I hope this was insightful… and left you a little inspired to try something new!

Always incredibly grateful to get to roast for you, and Brew Greatness in the world with you,

Lisbeth

PS. We’re so excited about our Guatemala trip next year!!! We have a few spots before we hit our maximum number of people for the trip (which we would love to do, as we probably won’t do another one for a while!). The penalty-free deadline has been extended to 7/24… if you feel called, join us!

RE: Our Top Coffee Storage Tips!

Summer is here again, which means our “RE:” Summer Series on scientific answers to your coffee questions is back! In this first edition, we wanted to cover a topic that’s always relevant, yet especially important during the summer months, when temperature and humidity levels are at their peak…

OUR TOP COFFEE STORAGE TIPS (to keep freshness and keep Brewing Greatness!)

[ Hint: each tip addresses one of the three main factors responsible for the loss of aromatics and flavor changes in coffee - Temperature, Oxygen, and Moisture - which you can remember with the acronym “TOM”]

1- Keep your beans cool! Temperature is one of the main factors affecting your coffee’s shelf-life, so keeping your beans at temperatures below 75°F is a must during the summer months! If you’re traveling and taking your freshly roasted beans with you (which we love to do!), place them in your carry-on, and avoid leaving them in the trunk of your car (which gets really hot!). Generally speaking, chemical reaction rates tend to double for every 10° rise in temperature, which means that beans that would last fresh for a month in a cool place may only stay fresh for a week or two in our summer temperatures!

2. Keep your beans inside an air-tight container. Exposing your beans to the air not only “steals” away its amazing aromatics… the oxygen in the air also reacts with the naturally occurring oils in your coffee, and begin a series of oxidation reactions that result in undesirable breakdown products like peroxides, aldehydes, ketones, and free fatty acids (i.e. rancid taste).

3. Keep your beans in a dry environment. This is perhaps our most insightful tip, particularly if you live in a place where summers are both hot and humid - like Florida! Most never think of moisture as having a large impact on shelf-life - yet its effects are profound! Oxidation reactions in extremely low-moisture foods like coffee are mostly diffusion-limited, which means even tiny increases in moisture content can increase diffusion - and oxidation rates - dramatically. One of the reasons we do NOT recommend placing your beans in the fridge, is that humidity inside your fridge tends to be relatively high (plus, it also de-gasses your beans faster, and they may absorb extraneous odors from the other foods in your fridge).

So, remember to avoid ‘TOM’ and keep your beans in a cool, dark, dry, air-tight container so you can enjoy them at their best!

Always grateful to get to roast for you… let’s keep Brewing Greatness!

Jolian & Lisbeth

PS. July 1st is the last day to sign-up for our trip to Guatemala in 2020! If this is something you really want to do… please consider joining us! Sign up at eo.travel/ethosroasters

RE: In THE NEWS | Coffee drinkers live longer!

On our last 'Re: Summer Series', we wanted to cover a topic that seems to be perennially on the news... coffee & health. While there's a lot of information (and misinformation!) out there, the great news is that the latest (highly reputable, peer-reviewed) research seems to be on the side of coffee drinkers!

That's right. 'Coffee drinkers live longer' was the main conclusion of the most recent coffee study* in the latest issue of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association). They followed a group of half a million people over 10 years and analyzed the relationship between coffee drinking habits and mortality, and found coffee drinkers (even those drinking over 8 cups a day!) died at a statistically-significant lower rate than those who didn't drink any coffee. This was also true for Decaf coffee drinkers, suggesting the non-caffeinated components in coffee are responsible for the effect (something that would make a lot of sense, if you consider that is mostly phytochemical antioxidants!). If you'd like to get into the details, here's the link to the study. And while the scientist in us is really excited... we must also point out that this was an observational study... which means we can not prove that drinking coffee will actually add a few years to your life... but we can always have fun trying! (and make a difference!)

Jolian & Lisbeth

PS. A few news of our own - we recently received a "cease-and-desist" letter from another Florida roaster who had apparently registered a Trademark for "Florida Cold Brew"... so we'll be temporarily out of a Cold Brew Blend offering (alternatively, we'll be more clearly identifying some great single-origins for Cold Brewing... i.e. Poaquil & Huehue!). On a more positive note, the new roaster has given us some amazing flavor profiles, and more flexibility to do lighter roasts... we're working on our first-ever Holiday Blend that will highlight this new capability (i.e. a mix of lighter-roasted and darker-roasted coffees to balance vibrant and bold flavors) - we would love to hear your NAME ideas!!!

Finally, on an even more positive note, we have some news from our Poaquil Co-Op! Coffee growers from the whole region are meeting next month, and they'll be sharing with them their "success story" with us!!! They also said they'll try to do a video message for all of you who have (and continue to make) this all possible! Stay tuned :)

CITED REFERENCE

*Loftfield E, Cornelis MC, Caporaso N, Yu K, Sinha R, Freedman N. Association of Coffee Drinking With Mortality by Genetic Variation in Caffeine Metabolism: Findings From the UK Biobank. JAMA Intern Med.2018;178(8):1086–1097. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.2425

RE: COLD BREWING! | It's COOL chemistry + our recipe!

Summer is definitely here! And, while we still think the aroma of a freshly brewed cup of coffee is the best smell in the world to wake up to... we must admit a cup of Cold Brew on the rocks is our favorite way to cool off! So, we wanted to share with you some of our 'secret' knowledge acquired through lots of research & experimentation (a.k.a. "plant watering batches")... and hopefully give you all the tips & insights you need to make the absolute best Cold Brew at home!

First things first... what exactly is Cold Brew? The name (kind of) gives it away... it's coffee brewed with cold water, over extended periods of time. Please note, this is very different from hot-brewed coffee served over ice (that's Iced Coffee!). What makes Cold Brew so different is that cold brewing over (relatively) long periods of time favors the extraction of specific components, while hot brewing methods tend to extract all soluble components. Why? Because the solubility of different components is largely determined by temperature. Caffeine, for example, is only slightly soluble (~1-2 g/100 mL) in cold water, yet fairly soluble in hot water (~65 g/100 mL). Naturally occurring phenolic acids are also significantly more soluble in hot water (which means very little acidity on cold brews!)... yet sugars and larger components (responsible for sweetness & body) are still soluble provided enough time (but be careful... too much time and you'll begin extracting bitter components)!

Now that you understand the chemistry... it's time to have some fun making it! (we promise is a lot easier than understanding all that chemistry!). Here's our step-by-step Cold Brew recipe:

1. Mix 40 oz spring water (~5 cups) for every 8 oz of coarsely ground coffee

2. Steep for 14-18 hours under refrigeration (we commonly do 16 hours, but you can do up to 20 hours if you like a stronger brew)

3. Dilute up to 1:1 with ice/milk/water & enjoy (you'll have enough for 12 large cups) 

4. Keep refrigerated and consume within a week (8-oz batch is perfect for 1-2 people drinking 1-2 cups a day!)

Some of our favorite origins to Cold Brew are Central and South Americans... our Florida Cold Brew Blend is actually a mix of two Guatemalan beans at a medium-dark roast level, and was the 'winning' combination in our taste tests (and our best-selling Cold Brew at the farmer's market!).

Happy Cold Brewing!

Jolian & Lisbeth

PS. The new R15 roaster is finally up and running... and we couldn't be happier, or more eager to share it with all of you... watch out for pics/videos in our Instagram and Facebook over the next few weeks... and monthly tours/tastings starting in Sept! (sign-ups available online Sept 1st!). We're also working on some AMAZING new additions (including our first-ever Holiday blend!)

RE: FRESHNESS! | Why it matters? How can you keep your coffee fresh?

Summer is here! And we wanted to welcome it by launching our "RE:" Summer Series - i.e. posts intended to increase your coffee knowledge and bring your coffee experience to a whole new level! They're inspired by questions we frequently get... and we hope you'll help us keep them relevant and interesting by suggesting new topics!

This first one is on a topic we're particularly obsessed about - FRESHNESS! It is perhaps one of the most important quality attributes in coffee, and a major predictor of both aroma and flavor intensity! Why? Because the chemical reactions responsible for coffee aroma and flavor are the same that happen in baking (ever compared a freshly baked loaf of bread with one that's been sitting in your pantry for a week?) - the Maillard reaction (between amino acids and reducing sugars) and Caramelization (the thermal breakdown of sugar). It is these two 'non-enzymatic browning' reactions that transform green coffee components into delicious nutty, chocolatey, 'freshly roasted' aromas & flavors in our coffee beans! We've included links to their Wikipedia pages, for those who'd like to have some fun looking at the chemistry! (I actually had to memorize all the chemical steps for both of these for my PhD Qualifying Exams... they're THAT important... and also responsible for flavor in any food product that's baked, cooked, roasted, browned, dried, etc.... but I digress!).

Now, the tricky part is that all of the aromas (which are also key to certain flavors) formed in these reactions are volatile... which means they're lost over time. In roasted coffee, this loss is exacerbated by the natural "de-gassing" process, i.e. the release of carbon dioxide that has been trapped within the bean's cell structures during the last roasting stages, and slowly released for months after roasting. And while there's nothing we can do to stop this... there are some ways you can keep your coffee fresh longer!

The first is to BUY FRESH! - using your beans within a month of the roasting date will always give you the best experience! You can expect mild flavor changes after 6-8 weeks, and pronounced changes after 4-5 months (yet we hope your beans won't ever last you that long!). The second is to  GRIND FRESH - keeping your coffee beans "whole" means less surface area will be exposed to air...  leaving those delicious aromas "trapped" inside the beans for much longer! And the third is to KEEP COOL (but not in the fridge!) - keeping your beans in a cool (air conditioned), dark place (i.e. your pantry) and in a tightly sealed bag (i.e. the bag we ship to you is specially designed to keep your coffee fresh... only make sure the zipper is always tightly sealed!) will slow down de-gassing, and protect against flavor oxidation! Placing your coffee bag inside an airtight container will also provide some extra protection! Please don't place in the fridge or the freezer - as this will accelerate the de-gassing process (and your beans may 'absorb' some of the aromas/flavors of the other foods in your fridge).

Thank you so much for reading... we hope this was interesting & helpful... and please email us if you have any ideas/questions for our next "RE:" post!

Lisbeth

PS. Quick update on the R15 roaster... we finally got the electrical upgrade project approved, and the new panel was installed on our building last Friday... and are expecting Lakeland Electric to connect our new power as soon as this week!!!