お任せ Omakase ... trust the roaster
We deal with small micro lots (really) of coffee in order to bring you some of the most delicious and rarefied beans. Sometimes we will run out of your first choice of beans between when you place your order and when we roast your order. Trust Rojo's roasters (Audrey & David) and allow us to make a suitable substitution in these rare cases. If we offered the same beans all year round you would be guaranteed some pretty tired and baggy out-of-season beans that are better utilized mulching your garden. So, due to seasonality and small batches, we appreciate your understanding. Celebrate the seasonal new arrivals with us!
Why shouldn't I grind my fancy coffee on a $15 helicopter grinder?
In a nutshell, too much heat from the high RPM, and too much particle size inconsistency from the combined effects of an imprecise cutting edge and centrifugal force, resulting in a less than optimum cup (a mishmash of under- and over-extracted organoleptics).
Does water really matter?
Yes! A good cup of coffee is comprised of approximately 98.5% water. You need water with a composition that contains a certain amount of “good tasting” minerals, in the range of 120-150 PPM TDS (Parts Per Million of Total Dissolved Solids); too high or too low a TDS number will produce a less than ideal cup. Without getting too geeky, a lower TDS number (<120 PPM) TDS does not provide enough of the tasty minerals - calcium, bicarbonated salts, potassium - and will cause a bad extraction; too high a TDS number (>150 PPM TDS) will also cause a bad extraction. DO NOT USE “RO” (Reverse Osmosis) or distilled water (no minerals). Well water can be within the good range (120-150), and there is no valid blanket rule about the appropriateness of well water for brewing. If you are serious about having a good cup, you might consider investing in an inexpensive TDS meter; if your water source has too low a number, there is no simple remedy to bring up the TDS; if your water source has too high a number, you can “calibrate” (lower) your TDS by adding some RO or distilled water to your source water until you get a good reading on your TDS meter. (By adding water without minerals, you effectively reduce the TDS count.) Finally, DO NOT USE softened water; briefly, it will introduce NaCl (or PCl), mineral salts that throw off the extraction process, and produce a bad cup. We will test your water for hardness if you bring it into our shop; let your cold water source run for 30 seconds, then fill a clean Mason jar, and cap it – be sure there is no residual soap or other beverage on the glass or lid. Most manufacturers specify compliance of you water hardness parameters (120-150 PPM TDS) in order to honor any warranty claims; this is for a good reason: excessive minerals will destroy heating elements, solenoids, thermal sensors, and over time, destroy your electric brewer. You now have two good reasons to pay attention to water quality: 1) to ensure a good cup; and 2) to keep your electric brewer in good working condition.
What else matters (other than water composition) in the brewing process?
There are a whole host of factors that can contribute to a good or bad cup; briefly, here are the most important ones: water composition (see above), proper water temperature (195-205F – darker beans and decaf need the lower range temperatures, and lighter roasted beans need the higher range temperatures), particle size of grind (not too coarse, not too fine, for the brewing technique of choice), quantity of beans (expressed as a ratio to the quantity of water), quantity of water (expressed as a ratio to the quantity of beans), gradient or filter for separating the grinds from the beverage (proper porosity for water flow, and taste-neutral), turbulence of the water (energetic pulsing of the grinds and contacting of the grinds with sufficient downward focused force and thorough coverage of the grinds), contact time (water in contact with the grinds), and bed topology (shape of the bed of grinds through which the water passes). You can control these factors best by brewing a pourover method (Chemex, Hario, Melitta drip, Clever, Aeropress, and the like); with the exception of the Technivorm and BonaVita electric brewers
, no home electric brewers achieve a high enough water temperature, and all fall short of meeting the other important factors mentioned above.
Do I really need to use a gram scale?
If you want a repeatable and consistently good cup, yes. The “gold cup” standard promulgated by the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) prescribes 8.25 grams of coffee for each 150 ml of water (5 ounces). (The goal is to achieve a roughly 19% solubles extraction.) Some of the important variables in a roasted coffee bean include density, mass, hardness, moisture content, surface area (size), heat resistance, and degree of breakdown of the cellular structure. One scoop of a Brazil bean will weigh significantly less than one same sized scoop of a Guatemala bean. Equal mass (weight per unit volume) will level the playing field. We recommend weighing out a slightly heavier portion of beans than the amount prescribed for the brew volume you are making; place a pinch in the grinder to purge remaining stale grinds and residue from the preceding bean (the decontamination process). Dump the rest into the grinder. Weigh out the grinds from the grind receptacle and discard the rest.
Brew yield Coffee weight Water weight
16 OZ 32-33 grams 500 grams
Should I use a paper or mesh filter?
Paper filters will generally result in a better-defined taste profile with the potential for observable acidity, with a slight reduction on overall body (the projection of concentration of aggregated flavor sensations). We recommend that you flush the paper filter (seated in the filter holder) with boiling water to remove any residual manufacturing dust, with the added benefit of optimizing adherence of water to more particles for a more efficient extraction – no floating grinds! The mesh filters will generally allow more of the organoleptics (flavor containing molecules) to pass through to the cup, with the potential for increased body, with more colloidal “mud”, thus, a less defined and clarified taste profile, with typically reduced acidity (the “treble” top notes, such as tanginess and citrus). You will see the “oil slick” with a French press, Eva Solo, Chemex and Aeropress with metal filters, Technivorm with metal filter, and less so with a paper filter extraction.
What is the proper grind for my brew technique?
Ask us to give you a sample grind for each type of brew technique you use – it’s best to develop a tactile and visual experience with the particle size. For most drip techniques, you want the feel coarse (but not chunky) sand rolling between your fingers, with little or no residual powder (the “fines”) remaining in your fingerprints. Use your taste buds and your powers of observation to fine tune your adjustment: cone-shaped filters should be ground finer than flat bottom (the water passes through more quickly, so you effectively increase the contact time by grinding to a smaller particle size – smaller particle size means increased surface area (an exponential relationship – I know, it is a bit counterintuitive). Flat bottom means coarser grind – more direct contact between water and grinds. Some guidelines: for a fixed given weight of beans, a finer grind will result in a higher solubles extraction percentage, which, if too fine, will taste bitter from over-extraction; a coarser grind will result in a lower solubles extraction percentage, and will deliver an under-developed cup (weak). Play around with the fine adjustment of your grinder until you taste no bitterness, and taste a nice well-defined cup. You cannot compensate your cup by adding more beans (muddy cup) or by grinding finer (bitter cup). Don’t be cheap and add a finer grind to get more mileage – it does not work that way. Do not add more beans than the recommended ratio (0.055 grams of coffee per milliliter of water) in search of a “stronger” cup: “strength” is a function of proper water:bean ratio. You cannot change or intensify the “body” by adding more beans – the body in any given bean stays the same (think of “body” as the force of the projection of the totality of the taste components that hit your taste buds as you sip and swallow – a delicate body will be lighter to the taste, while a full body will project more forcefully on the taste buds; the strength (more precisely “brew strength” is an expression of whether or not you brewed with a proper proportion of beans:water. Too “strong” a cup will taste like mud, not like coffee. Your quest should be for a well-defined and clearly delineated taste profile that allows you to identify the taste notes you are experiencing; we are musicians, so we use musical terminology – treble (acidity), midrange (middle notes, e.g., fruit, nuts), bass (the foundation, e.g. semi-sweet chocolate, caramel). A well- balanced cup will resonate and coexist in your mouth at all frequencies (treble, midrange, bass), without any one frequency obscuring another. You will introduce more caffeine per unit volume into a cup that has too much coffee component for the proper coffee:water ratio, but you will not by any means improve the taste.
Why we recommend whole bean...
Freshness; a properly roasted bean off gasses most of its internal carbon dioxide typically within 48 hours after roasting (notice our puffy bags? The headspace is filled with carbon dioxide that drove the staling oxygen molecules out of the bag through the one-way de-gassing valve built into our bags.) As soon as you grind the bean, you are liberating more residual carbon dioxide, and releasing the volatile organoleptics and aromatics into the air. The staleness associated with grinding is detectable (depending upon the sensitivity of your palate) within hours of the grind. Again, depending upon your palate, whole beans significantly degrade five (5) days after roasting. Our bags are designed to maintain freshness for at least ten (10) days, as long as you take precautions in proper handling once you have opened the bag. (no light, no sun, no cold, no heat, burp the bag as you close it, seal the bag tightly – treat your beans like a bottle of expensive red wine.)
Should I freeze my beans?
No. There is significant back-and-forth opinion as to the benefits or detriments of freezing your beans, whether whole or ground. None of the literature is persuasive in either direction. We recommend that you purchase enough beans to last you for five-to ten (5-7) days, then you avoid all of the unresolved debates about special storage, and will typically be finished with the bag(s) within ten (10) days after the roast date.
Should I refrigerate my beans?
No. See discussion above.
Should I place my beans in the microwave or toaster oven?
Should I transfer my beans into an airtight container?
Not unless it has an effective way to evacuate the air that you let in once you seal it shut. You should leave your beans in our specially designed bag – the bag is resealable; you should burp the air out of the bag (by using the one-way degassing valve) as you seal it. There are some fairly geeky battery-operated storage canisters for sale that purport to evacuate the air by pressing a button. We are not advocates of this technology. We believe that our bags are quite effective – use up your beans within 5-10 days and you have significantly mitigated the staling problem.
How long will one bag of beans last?
One 12-ounce bag will produce approximately 209 fluid ounces (1.63 US Gallons). Do the math: Determine the volume of your cup/mug. Subtract for the amount of whitener you put in – never mind – don’t go there. So, 209 ounces will give you 26 cups. If your household drinks one 8-ounce cup per day, you better go halfsies with someone or your beans will be mighty stale after 26 days. If your household drinks four (4) eight-ounce cups per day, your bag will be empty by day 6-7. If you are filling a small 16-ounce thermos daily for your commute, after you down one 8-ounce cup, your bag will last 8-9 days.