Six Months Of Coffee

7 June 2023

Continuing from last time, this is another six months of coffee.

coffee bags

Coffee bags in the photo are ordered by roast date from left to right, top to bottom.

NameRoasterTasting NotesRoast DateOrigin
Decaf Los MontanosRitual, San Francisco, CaliforniaCherry Pie, Muscat GrapeNovember 29, 2022Colombia
MetapanVerve, Santa Cruz, CaliforniaGreen Apple, Shortbread, CocoaDecember 18, 2022El Salvador
Coto BrusArtbean, Brooklyn, New YorkChocolate, Honey, CitrusJanuary 27, 2023Cost Rica
BondeVesta, Las Vegas, NevadaFloral, Green Tea, KumquatFebruary 27, 2023Ethiopia
Las FloresDevoción, Brooklyn, New YorkOrange Blossom, Mandarin, Honeysuckle, VanillaMarch 1, 2023Colombia
WorkaSimple Kaffa, Taipei, TaiwanPineapple, Dried Mango, Chamomile, Black TeaMarch 13, 2023Ethiopia
Sweet DreamDream Beans, Hanoi, VietnamAsteraceae, Lemon, Baked Sunflower SeedApril 16, 2023Vietnam
Colombia Single OriginStumptown, Portland, OregonBaked AppleApril 25, 2023Colombia

I’ve been traveling a lot in the last six months. My travel setup consists of a grinder, Aeropress, and a small scale, although I’m trying to travel lighter in the future. These coffee bags more or less represent my travels.

I’d been talking forever about going to New York, so I decided on a whim to spend February there. My second day in Manhattan’s Chinatown, I went to the closest coffee roaster and bought the ‘Coto Brus’ bag from Artbean Coffee Roasters. It wasn’t exactly my cup of coffee but it helped me through the not-so-cold-to-a-New-Yorker-but-very-cold-to-a-Cali-boy month of February. Besides Artbean, I picked up the bag of Devoción beans just a few days before coming back to the Bay Area. These were probably some of my favorite beans. The Devoción shop in Williamsburg is a nice place but it does get a bit crowded on any given day.

In March, I went to climb in Red Rocks which coincidentally overlapped with my birthday. We picked up the bag of ‘Bonde’ from Vesta Roasters on the way to the crag one day. Remote work has enabled me to live the ‘travel + work + climb’ life fairly consistently for the last year and a half. I’m very lucky to be in a situation where I can both build a career and pursue my personal passions.

Speaking of traveling, in late March, I took off on a six week ordeal, going from Taiwan to Vietnam and ending in Japan. Simple Kaffa was the first of many coffee shops I visited in Taipei. At times I wished I hadn’t bought that bag, not because it wasn’t tasty but because I would have liked to spend my caffeine budget checking out the countless coffee shops of Taipei.

In Vietnam, I started off with visiting my Aunties and Uncles in Saigon. Of course, I indulged in my fair share of cà phê sữa. Then going up north to Hanoi, I learned to produce the illustrious, dangerously rich, egg coffee. On my last day in Hanoi, I visited Dream Beans Coffee to try some Third Wave Vietnamese coffee. I talked with Long and Duc, the two baristas, about the up and coming third wave coffee scene in Vietnam. Most coffee grown in Vietnam is Robusta but Dream Beans is bringing attention to Vietnamese Arabica. Robust is ingrained in Vietnamese culture but the younger folk are starting to take to the complex flavors of Arabica. I’m hoping that Vietnam can really take off in the next few years and join the likes of an Ethiopia or Colombia on the world coffee stage.

I love talking to other coffee enthusiasts like Long and Duc. It’s good fun to talk about different brew methods, compare gear, discuss brew methods, and just share in the joy of our addiction.


”So what kind of coffee do you like?”, the Japanese man in a white lab coat with curled hair asked me. I mean, I’m in Japan, most everyone is Japanese.

”I like coffee that’s more acidic, fruity."

"Hmmm okay but like what kind of fruit?"

"Maybe like cherry or raspberry?” voice wavering a bit, feeling unsure. “I just like to try local coffee."

"Well how about this one?” Curly Coffee Man pointed to square ‘G’ on the menu placard. “It’s a Geisha roasted in Tokyo."

"Sure, why not.” I answered half enthusiastic. The price was a bit high, but the Yen is weak right now right?

And with that I was off, up to the counter. To coffee man number two. He was wearing the same white lab coat (must be a uniform) but instead had long wavy hair swept back and held in place by a rich hair mousse. And yes, of course he’s Japanese, most everyone in Japan is Japanese.

”So what’s the ratio that you use?” I asked, attempting to pry into their trade secrets.

”We used 12 grams of coffee and 192 grams of water.” he said as I watched him. He tested the water temperature with a kitchen thermometer, then waited a bit more. “The water should be at 33C… so… you’re American right?"

"Yeah"

"Hmmm so I think that’s 92F.” Wavy Coffee Man started to pour from the chrome goose neck kettle.

”What kind of dripper is that?” I pointed at the conical ribbed metal cylinder.

”This is a Kalitta, and we also use V60 depending on the type of coffee."

"So what kinds of things do you change when you’re trying to dial in?"

"Sometimes we will change the brew time to bring out different flavors and to balance that we adjust the coarseness of the grind. And the different cones too."

"Ah, I see, so a coarser grind is a longer brew time?"

"Uh, yes.”

He was almost done brewing now, just under 3 minutes.

”So, do you make coffee at home?” finally, it was time to get into home barista territory.

”Yeah, usually make pour over in the morning."

"What kind of brewer do you use?"

"Oh, its like a hobby so I collect a lot” he said, giving me a laundry list of brewers “V60, Kalitta, Origami, Chemex. What do you like to use?"

"Oh! well since I’m traveling right now I have an Aeropress but usually I use a Melitta at home."

"Whats Melitta? Is it like Kalitta?"

"Uh, let me show you.” I pulled up a photo of the classic Melitta dripper on my phone.

”Ahhhh” Coffee man 3 looked over the shoulder of my barista to take a peak. I was taken aback, they really hadn’t ever seen a Melitta before? I guess it’s not as common in Japan as it is on the shelves of Target back home.

”What about your grinder?” I asked.

”I use a Comadante."

"Oh I heard those are like the best grinders out there."

"Yeah I’d hope so.” He laughed. “It was really expensive. But I think most people don’t need something so expensive. Even if the grind is not even it can make it more interesting."

"How so?"

"The difference in grind gives more complexity in flavors” he said. He surprised me with that nugget of wisdom. I had always seen coffee through the scientific lens: every brew must be perfectly reproducible, any small variation in equipment or technique would lead to disaster. But really, even if it’s not a perfect replica every time, coffee is still coffee. And coffee is delicious.