Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Cup of Sulawesi Enrekang "Mount Alla"

So I started off this morning with grinding and brewing a pot of my home-roasted coffee from yesterday. The first thing that struck me about this bean was the smell. It had a strong smell of oils that reminded me of popcorn. I've noticed that about coffees before, but this was particularly strong.

When I poured the hot water over the grounds and saw the liquid accumulating in the carafe, the second thing that struck me was how light in color it was, when compared to the first bean I had tried, last week.

The coffee tastes very good. It's light and low in acid, but still has a very rich taste that pleases my palette. There is no hint of bitterness, just a delightful coffee that I thoroughly enjoy.

I'm going to continue on with these beans for the next four days (that's about how long a half pound seems to last me). Then I'll roast another batch late in the coming week.

I'll post about my next foray into home roast when I do it.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A triple shot of joe

So today was a three-way coffee experience. First, because I had brewed the last of my home-roast coffee yesterday, I prepared a pot of the remaining Gevalia I had on hand.

My first impression of it, when compared to the coffee I'd been enjoying, was that it tasted very dark and bitter. Now, that may have been just the variety, as it was a mocha blend. I might have guessed that it was partly due to the Gevalia coffee being more darkly roasted. However, if one reads the description, it's advertised as lightly roasted.

So, perhaps the difference was the home roasting. ;)

This afternoon, I had some Wawa (decaf) coffee after lunch. It tasted decent, but as with the Gevalia I was comparing it in my mind to the home-roasted stuff. It compared better, in my opinion. But then, I've always liked Wawa coffee (as do most people I talk to in this area ;)

So, the last experience was that I roasted again today. The first batch was so enjoyable that I want to ensure I don't go long without more home-brew. I find the process easy and enjoyable, and the end-product is incredibly tasty, compared to brews roasted by companies.

I just finished roasting Sulawesi Enrekang "Mount Alla". I was going to link to Sweet Maria's catalog entry for that variety, but all I could find was this.

I'm going to post the relevant text from that link, just in case it disappears with the natural changes of the site:
In 2008 we have offer both super-clean, bright, non-traditional wet-process coffee from the Toarco estates, and traditional Semi-Washed, rustic type Sulawesi Toraja. We had a special lot of the later type too. I am referring to the Mount Alla coffee from Enrekang. In 2006 and 2007, Sulawesi offers have been brighter and cleaner in general, which throws a few cuppers for a loop since they look to Sulawesi to have no brightness/acidity. I think a good coffee needs the liveliness of some amount of acidity, and welcome this cup profile. The preparation of the green coffee, the absence of defects, has been fantastic. And now we have a wet-processed Sulawesi to offer alongside the traditional dry-process (well, semi-dry-processed). This is the first time I have cupped a wet-process Sumatra or Sulawesi, the most rustic of Indonesian coffees, and been impressed ... well, actually, blown away! It's fantasic stuff. Those looking for a more natural, earthy cup, head to the Sumatra Classic Mandheling or Gayo Mountain.

The bag that the coffee came in describes it as "At Full City+ chocolate, spice, and earthiness. Low acidity with pepper and caramel aromatics. Both clean and earthy". Here's what the final product looks like:

It doesn't seem that different than the last batch, does it? ;)

Anyway, I'll be brewing a pot tomorrow morning. I'll post with my take on tasting it.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The best part of waking up...

is not Folgers in my cup, it's my own home-roasted brew. ;)

This morning I ground and brewed my home-roasted coffee that I'd talked about yesterday. Since I'd gone to the trouble of roasting my own coffee, it only made sense to me that I brew my coffee in a more purist fashion.

So, I forsook the coffee machine and went for the old-school method of just boiling the water in a kettle and pouring it through a filter filled with the freshly-ground beans. The whole procedure worked fairly well, I was able to grind the beans while the kettle boiled the water, the timing was almost perfect.

As I poured the water into the coffee grounds, I was struck by two things. Firstly, the water foamed as it was poured over the beans. It's been a while since I brewed in this fashion, where I could see the process unfold. Because of the difference in color of the different roast levels of the beans, there was a gradiant in the color of the foam, as well.

Regardng the other sensation that really struck me, the smell and taste was definitely unique to all other coffee I'd had to date. Yesterday, I'd roasted the beans to about a "city" or "full-city" level (see the wikipedia article on the matter). As such, I believe the flavor of the beans really came through.

The cup I'm finishing now, even as I write this, has a much lighter flavor than most coffees I drink. I can sense the oils in the coffee, and the taste really kind of resonates upwards into my nose, as opposed to being heavy in my throat (my typical experience with coffee). I would almost say there was a "green" sense to the taste, perhaps the freshness of the beans coming through (?)

In any case, I really am enjoying the thinner quality to this coffee, it's nice not to have a cup that sits so firmly on the palette. I've got a travel mug full of the stuff yet, so I'm looking forward to finishing that as I head into work.

I'll definitely be brewing again, I've got another five bags of coffee yet to go. After that, I'll be buying more from Sweet Maria's. When one does the math by pound, it's actually cheaper than most roasted coffees (of any quality) that one may buy. (By 30% or upwards...)

So, for now I think I can say this was a complete success. I'll be posting more as I roast other coffees and learn more.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Home Roast

One of the presents my wife gave me for my birthday was green coffee beans for me to roast at home. Years ago I'd already made the leap to grind store-bought beans, so this was a neat step up.

Linda bought me a sampler pack from Sweet Maria's. Sadly, because we're so busy, we didn't try it until today. It's hard to say yet if it was a success, but I'll be able to tell tomorrow morning, after I grind & brew my first cups. ;)

In any case, here's what I did.

We followed the directions given at Sweet Maria's website for skillet roasting. While we have a very nicely seasoned cast iron frying pan, we opted for the wok method, as it would be (1) less work, and (2) easier to see what's happening. Maybe next time I'll try the shake & bake version. :P

For this first batch, we started with the "Colombia Huila Valencia" variety. Green beans smell very different than roasted coffee. After all our gardening, I'm rather surprised at the smell. I would have anticipated a smell closer to the green things that grow right outside our window, but coffee beans have a very strange, musty tentor to them. It's not a foul kind of smell, mind...nothing like anything rotting or molding.

However, it doesn't smell fresh, either.

Here's how the beans looked when we started, when we had just poured the green beans into the hot pan.

It was incredibly easy, and took very little time at all. All I had to do was keep stirring the beans while they heated.

As we cooked the beans in the wok, the smell of roasting coffee started to waft over us. It was very subtle at first, but before we knew it, the atmosphere was saturated with it. The smell had a very dark flavor, an aromatic air that quickly filled the entire house.

Within about five minutes or so, we heard the beans start cracking. Right or wrong, I had expected the cracking to follow the same progression as popcorn popping. First one, then a few, then many upon many until the sound started tailing off.

However, that didn't happen with our experience. What did happen was we heard the first crack, and then silence. It was sometime before the next followed, and a while after that until the next one.

One thing that concerned me, though it may have been unavoidable, was that there seemed to be great disparity among the beans. A few of them darkened up very quickly, while most remained green or a very light brown.

Nonetheless, as roasting continued, the overall color of the beans continued to darken. After about fifteen minutes, we took them off the heat and dumped them in a glass bowl to cool.

We took them outside and stirred the beans for another ten or fifteen minutes before finally deciding they had cooled sufficiently. Then we transferred them to a colander to shake the chaff off. Another twenty or thirty minutes, and the coffee was cool enough to put away.

I'll be grinding and brewing it tomorrow. Here's hoping it tastes great. ;)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Legendary Content with MythTV

Okay, so maybe the title of this post is a little over hyped. Myself, I blame the guy who called the Linux PVR software "MythTV".

As a geek, Mr. Richards should have known the pun potential he was letting loose on the world. ;)

But enough of that. Here's what I did. It's nothing revolutionary or untried before, just a little tweak on what others have done before, as well as a plug for Myth.

Long story short, there's a new and free site out on the Internet called which provides free, legal TV and movies, for free.

Did I mention it's free?

Oh, yeah...there are advertisements. One thirty-second commercial every fifteen to twenty minutes.

Yeah, I know the die-hard Myth users are probably turning up their noses (the commercial skipping feature of Myth is amazing, I use it all the time ;). However, you can't argue with free TV and movies.

How is that different than what we get on the airways? Well, go to Hulu and see for yourself. Simply put, they provide content that you can't find on TV anymore. Good shows, too, that were on major networks, a few years ago.

How's it work? Well, it uses Flash to provide the content. Since Linux runs Firefox, and that lovely browser has a Flash plug in, it was fairly trivial to get up and running.

First, I followed these instructions on my R5F1 install of Knoppmyth. Then I took the remote and went to "Utilities / Setup" -> "Setup" -> "Info Center Settings" -> "Web Settings".

From there, I did two things. I created a "New Bookmark" for, and I changed the Browser from "/usr/bin/mythbrowser" to "/usr/bin/firefox".

After having configured the built-in browser to be Firefox, I again used the remote and went to "Information Center" -> "Web". There was the link I created, so I just selected that.

Firefox loaded quite nicely, but I had no way to control it using the remote. So, I had to make use of the mouse and keyboard. Mainly the mouse. It was a bit of a pain, but it works, so it'll do for now.

As it turns out, the instructions didn't quite work for some reason. I was told that I needed a more current Flash plug in. Thankfully, because Firefox works so very well on Linux, all I had to do was click the "Install Missing Plugin" button at the top of the brower's display.

At that point, it all worked. There's even a button inside of the Flash display to go full screen, which works perfectly.

The only other quirk is that the volume is appreciably lower than regular MythTV usage. I'm not sure yet how to fix that, but it's not a show stopper. It's just an annoyance.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Only in Windows...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sticking with Blogger

Well, after a few days of evaluation, I've decided that I'm sticking with Blogger. Wordpress can go take a hike.

What changed my mind, after all my ranting about Blogger's limitation? It's simple, really.

Wordpress asks you to pay for their advanced features. Features like...custom fonts and colors.

So, maybe I'm just a cheap bastard, but I have a problem with the principle of someone charging me for the privilege of using `font-face:` and `color:` tags in my website's cascading style sheets.

Blogger, of course, is subsidized by Google, who makes their money through advertisements. As of yet, I haven't found anything on Blogger that requires payment.

So, I'm going to stick with this old horse.

Besides, knowing Google, they'll improve matters around here. ;)

Sunday, June 15, 2008


If you've ever owned a cat, odds are you can appreciate this video:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Trying a new blog

I've gotten a bit sick of Blogger and it's limitations. So, I'm looking at moving to Wordpress.

So far, I like what I see.

Friday, June 6, 2008


I love LOLcats. This has to be one of the funniest I've ever seen (it's something we all should be able to relate to...)