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Stop Renouncing Refractometers

It’s 2016 and there’s still a lot of misinformation and anti-intellectualism surrounding refractometers for coffee. Here’s a couple phrases I’ve read recently, and my rebuttals. Apologies for the rant, but we should be collectively well past this. “Higher extraction...

Roast Development and Colour

A while back I posted Let’s talk about roasting. This was in reference to three sliding scales of roasting: colour, development, and last-minute behaviour. I’d like to take this information on a different spin, comparing just development and colour. Roasts...

The Grinder Paper: Explained

The act of grinding coffee is full of mystery and myth. A group of likeminded people recently embarked on a project to shed some light on coffee grinding, and found some interesting results. So interesting, that we decided to turn it all into a paper; subjecting our...

BH Turns One – Looking Back (and Forward)

This week marks 1 year of Barista Hustle. A good opportunity to look at what has happened so far, and talk a little about what the future holds. Thanks so much for tagging along, reading, sharing, and commenting on everything. This is turning into a wonderful little...

The Espresso Compass

The Espresso Compass is a little more complicated than the Brewed Coffee Compass. Last year I wrote a series on Espresso, culminating in a video showing the relationship between extraction, brew ratio, and the coffee control chart. If you’re on top of that, you’ll get...

The Coffee Compass

The Brewed Coffee Compass is very simple to use: Brew a coffee. Taste it. If you experience any negative flavours, find them on the map (left). Those flavours are now the center of the compass (right).  Find the direction you need to travel in order to get back in the...

A wide thought distribution about grinding

There’s a number of various grinding-related thoughts rolling around my head at the moment. They’re not fully formed (and possibly red-herrings, so look out!) but I thought I should put them out there. I don’t have any data to back them up, and I’m even sure they’re...

VST,WTF Part 3

The Coffee Control Chart   This is the part of my presentation where Baristas lose focus and eyes glaze over. “Graphs? Numbers? I don’t need those. They’re scary. It’s all about the feels!” they say. Well perk up, because thoroughly understanding the coffee...

VST:WTF Part 2

Now that I’ve covered what a refractometer is and how it works, it’s important to understand what it can and cannot do. There’s a lot of incorrect assumptions and opinions about these devices that I find myself constantly battling. Many baristas are understandably...

VST:WTF Part 1

VST:WTF? From time to time I present a lecture called ‘VST:WTF?’. It’s a two hour long foray into the science of measuring coffee with a refractometer. More than a thousand Baristas have sat through it, and now I’d like to share portions of the presentation with you...

The Death Of The Death Of The Barista

Super-automatic espresso machines are getting better. I think it’s safe to say that in the not-too-distant future, they’ll be able to make coffee as consistently as a well trained barista. The efficiencies they provide are such a strong argument that their uptake is...

Temperature Equilibrium Calculator

Last week I shared some basic science about espresso equilibrium temperature. This week I’ve whipped up a calculator that can figure it all out for you. Put in your recipe and check out the result! Because the specific heat of water is so much higher, it will affect...

Temperature Equilibrium In Espresso

The advent of PID control on espresso machines brought with it a feverish obsession with temperature control. “We want more precise temperatures” the professionals cried; and almost all manufacturers have been delivering with aplomb. Reflecting on these advances, one...

You Want A Bold Coffee? Great!

Guests can only express what they want in the terms they know, and for many coffee consumers, the number one term they know is bold. It immediately conjures up ideas of morning cups of fuel, stoic black coffee drinkers, decisive preference, rich taste, and an ability...

Interview: Hidenori Izaki on Service

Image via The Weekend Edition. What follows is a phone interview between 2014 World Barista Champion, Hidenori Izaki, and Coffee Hustle’s editor, Alex Bernson. This version has been streamlined slightly for the web, but the full discussion is available for your...

How Hard Should You Tamp?

Tamping for espresso is riddled with an incredible amount of folk-knowledge. When I was taught espresso in 2008, I was told to practice tamping on bathroom scales (I admit I don’t remember what the prescribed weight was). Today I’d like to shed some light on tamping...

Nutation: An Apology

Back in the 2013 World Barista Championships, I used a tamping style called ‘nutation’ for all of my espressos. Many of you have been asking about this technique via email so this week I’m going to explain what it is, how to do it properly and why I don’t recommend...

Towards A Tip-less Cafe

Tipping as an institution has all sorts of problems. Moving to service fees may help cafes provide better service in a more emotionally sustainable way.

Espresso Recipes: Measuring Yield

After Strength, the 2nd step to every good espresso recipe is yield. Yield is the amount of espresso in the cup after extraction. It’s measured by weight though—definitely not volume.

Everything is a Blend

Every coffee is some kind of blend. This post details how processes at the farm affect evenness, with help from producer Aida Batlle.

To Blend or Not to Blend

This post is an exploration of Blending: why businesses blend coffee, why I believe some roasters choose to blend, and why others don’t. I also suggest why blending has a bad rep within the Specialty Industry. For a very long time “coffee” was a...

Distribution Test Results

Testing distribution methods for espresso is turning out be quite a journey. This post is another step toward understanding what’s actually going on between the grinder and espresso machine. If you’re new here: three weeks ago I sent out a survey about distribution...

WBC 2016 Rules Shake-up

Just before the weekend you may have stumbled upon a press release from World Coffee Events. It details some significant rule changes to the World Barista Championship for 2016 onwards. See the article here. I’d like to spend this week exploring and dicsussing...

Distributing for Espresso

Last week I sent out a survey with a single simple question: How do you distribute for espresso? Distribution is the act of evening out the coffee grinds in an espresso machine’s basket before tamping. This helps the water pass through all of the coffee grinds at the...

Let’s Talk About Roasting

This is a post about how to talk about coffee roasts. It isn’t a post about how to roast coffee (although there’s some nuggets in there). As I was typing up a post about extraction evenness in regards to roasting (which I promise I will get to soon), I realised...

Brew Local, Act global

Could even extractions save the industry? Yes. Sort Of. This is a condensed version of a talk I gave in Shanghai and Taipei last year for Tamper Tantrum. If you’d like to see the original – where I talk about extraction and include some more detail –...

The Most Important Thing About Brewing Coffee

This week I’d like to explain the concept of an even extraction, and what it means for flavour. The rabbit hole of evenness goes really really deep. I’m going to devote a number of weeks to discussing it. I want to drill right down into green coffee, roasting,...

The 80:20 Method

So we’ve been through how to get more or less extraction from a coffee and what that might taste like. But how do we make the most of this? The following is my super simple 80:20 method for getting the best out of a coffee with minimal effort. The 80:20 rule or...

Surface Area and Time

In this post I’ll be covering how to increase or decrease the overall extraction of a brew from a theoretical standpoint. (Angela Grieve, a Hustle subscriber asked for this via email. So Angela, this one’s kind of for you!) There are a few variables that you can use...

Coffee Extraction and How to Taste It

This post will cover some basic extraction theory and the tastes associated with over, under and ideal coffee extractions.   Extraction is arguably the most important and least understood aspect of coffee brewing. It’s everything. Without extraction, you...

Pergtamp™

For the last year, I have been working closely with Pullman Tampers to create a tamper for use with the EK43. This initially simple project has since evolved into a completely new tamper design – for use with any grinder – that markedly improves...

Extract More Better

Here’s a brief post about why I aim for higher extractions. (I have much much more to write on this topic, so be ready!) Some people will dismiss extraction yield as an irrelevant and non-subjective method of analysis and I couldn’t disagree more. (Some readers...

The Downward Spiral Of Death

Here’s a little sequence I like to call ‘The Downward Spiral of Death’. We’ll start off with a closed loop where it’s just the Barista not measuring the extraction yield of the coffee, and instead relying only on his/her palate (I’m guilty of...

The EK43 Part Three

Here is where I explain why these graphs illustrate the EK43’s superiority (when coffee burrs are used). – 1 – As I mentioned before, the grinder with the smallest median and mode is the EK43 with coffee burrs. As you would expect, the extraction yield in...

The EK43 Part Two

In October, I visited Mahlkonig in Hamburg to conduct some tests at their factory. We wanted to understand more about the EK43 and why it makes coffee taste better. They have quite a lot of equipment to analyse coffee grinders; the most important of which is the laser...

The EK43 Part One

Why the Mahlkonig EK43 is better at making coffee smaller. I’d like to start off by apologising for how long the various parts of this series are. It’s 4500 words and gets a bit heavy. Fair warning! The Mahlkonig EK43 is a 30-year-old grinder, originally intended for...

Man vs Volumetric

Jamie was entirely focused on the shots when he made them. This does not represent a true service situation and is a big leg-up for the Human party. No human can focus on 3 groups during service with any kind of accuracy. We use VST 22g Precision Filters, Lab...

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