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Topic: [The Great Can/Am Brewer Throw-Down] (5 msgs / 188 lines)
1) From: Michael I
Coffee -- Kenya Thika Gethumbwini Peaberry, 5-6 days rest, roasted to FC
Brewers -- Espresso (Spaz Vivaldi II), Vac pot, French Press, AeroPress
I chose to do this as a heads up match between two sets of two brewers,
Final Four style.  I matched them up to compare what I thought would be
dissimilar brews.  So the espresso went up against the vac pot, and the FP
vs. the AP.
Round 1, Saturday -- Espresso vs. Vac Pot
Saturday I did the first round, and pulled a regular double shot (15 grams)
in 24 seconds, topped off to 7oz with hot water.  I wanted to taste the
Americano against the Vac pot, as I thought that I wouldn't be able to
adequately compare straight espresso to the vac pot brew.
The vac pot was made in a Hario Deco, with the paper filter (still waiting
for my glass rods to arrive).  The load was 40g of beans, ground a bit
coarser than drip in a Zass, for 5 "cups" (20 oz.), with the water up north
for 1:15 before being allowed to traverse back down.
The vac pot has quite a bit of acidity, and is somewhat citrusy, which first
hits the palate, but has berry components to it, too.  The body is medium.
The Americano actually has more acidity on the tongue, but the high citrusy
notes are much more muted.  The body is a bit more full than the Vac Pot,
but not as much as I may have expected.  Many of the flavors of the Vac Pot
are there, they've just been blunted.
Overall, I prefer the Vac Pot to the Americano.
Round 2, Sunday -- French Press vs. Aeropress
The FP was ground a little finer than the vac pot, but still coarser than
drip.  A four cup (16 oz.) pot was made with 32 grams of beans.  The water
was boiling when added, and it was pressed at 3:00.
The AP was made with 2 AP scoops, off-boiling water, and was pressed for 25
seconds.  I topped that up to about 7 oz., to make an AP Americano.
The FP cup is fairly bright, but with some darker, leathery overtones on the
finish, which lasts quite a long time.  The fruit isn't quite as aggressive,
but it's still definitely present.  The AP cup has a little of that acidity,
but mostly the mid-to-low flavors of leather and a bit of unsweetened
chocolate are present.  I can still detect some of the berry, but mostly
because I'm looking for it.  The body is a bit heavier in the AP, I think,
but not ridiculously so.  The AP cup has a much longer aftertaste.  Neither
cup is nearly as "clean" tasting as the vac pot, but I think I'd have to
give the edge to the AP.  It's clean, but not that bright (kinda like me
when I get out of the shower).
Of these, I prefer the AP.  With this coffee.  This morning.  I think that
even with the same coffee, some mornings I might prefer the press.  It just
depends on what part you want to highlight, I suppose.
Summary
So, the vac pot and AP were the winners, and they should probably square off
against one another.  I think I'll have to roast some more first, though.
I'm not particularly surprised by any of my findings.  The differences in
the vac and espresso/Americano were quite pronounced, while between the FP
and AP they were more subtle (but still quite noticeable).  For this coffee,
I thought that vac pot did it the most justice, allowing me to actually
taste many of the flavor components that Tom noted in his review.
I very much enjoyed this coffee in all of its preparations, and will have to
order some of the new lot.  It's a good balance of acidity and deeper notes
that I enjoy, and makes a surprisingly good SO shot.  But I'd like to try
this with a coffee I prefer as espresso, like the India MNEB.  Maybe next
weekend...
-AdkMike
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2) From: Paul Helbert
On Sun, Mar 30, 2008 at 12:01 PM, Michael I  wrote:
<Snip>
Hi Mike,
Seventy-five seconds in the upper vessel of a vac pot strikes me as rather
short. I wonder if that wouldn't improve with twice that time, especially
ground course. I'll try a shorter brew if you try it longer.
-- 
Paul Helbert
All rivers flow downhill. They do not favor any particular compass
direction.
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3) From: kevin creason
You guys have inspired me.
I'm going to do this with El Salvador OB as soon as the rod for my Cory
comes in. That and remember to sneak my AP home from the office-- those
@$%#$% guys are pretty protective of that thing staying there. I should just
get a second one.
-- 
-Kevin
/* Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you
with experience. */
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4) From: Michael I
Paul,
Is it short?  I've been experimenting with different grinds and times, and
have found that a bit finer grind, and shorter time is yielding me good
results.  It's definitely not overextracted, and I don't think I'm missing
out on many flavors.
The other aspect of the finer grind is that it takes a bit more time to go
back to the lower vessel.  So, while I stop the heat at 1:15, it still takes
another 45 seconds to get all the way back down.  I've also tried the Hario
wet-towel trick, but haven't had any discernable difference in flavor (and
it's only marginally quicker).
Plus, Tom's tip sheet http://www.sweetmarias.com/brewing.inst.hario.html)says to leave it up there for one minute.  On the Bodum tip sheet he
actually says 30 seconds.  On the Cona sheet, he says 1-3 minutes, depending
on grind.
BUT, for the sake of science, I will coarsen it up a bit and try for 2-2:30
up top, and see how it changes.
-AdkMike

5) From: Paul Helbert
Mike,
I'm suggesting you might try longer gurgle time with the same grind you are
using. And yes, I forgot to account for the time to descend back into the
lower vessel and about the cloth filter rather than glass rod.
Since you've been trying different grinds and times it is probable that you
have already found what you like. I'm in a bit of a habit, though, so I will
try doing it quicker.
--Paul Helbert
On Sun, Mar 30, 2008 at 2:59 PM, Michael I  wrote:
<Snip>
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