Thursday, April 29, 2010

Coffee for those who were otherwise occupied

For the man or woman who was dozing at the back of the classroom when the high-end coffee scene happened, here's a handy study guide:

A tidy description of common espress-based drinks can be found halfway down the page. If one had a scientific mind, one would order one of each and determines how it suits. Jack is pleased to find that froo-froo Starbucks milkshakes are not represented on this list of actual, real drinks.

I bring this matter up because I am currently getting my ass handed to me on a serving tray in chess at Lone Pine Coffee Roasters (downtown). Last meet, the chess hustler mentioned that the high-end coffee scene came to Bend when he was otherwise distracted; and he expressed an unfamiliarity with the current drinks which are common among the coffeenista.

So to him, and others who are unsure about what to order when facing a chalkboard and a hipster barrista in a coffee shop, I commend that article at theoatmeal,com. One could work one's way through the various espresso drinks and order them. See which ones suit.

At Lone Pine Coffee, one can't got wrong with the beans if one is seeking a big coffee taste. The roasting syle leads to coffees with a fat midrange and nice rich "bottom end" [bass] (it turns out that audio descriptives work well with coffee). I like how "chunky" their roasts are.

But they do lack the high notes -- the citrusy, floral notes that are characteristic of different beans. Scott, Lone Pine's owner, told me that he'd made a conscious decision to roast for big richness.

Thump Coffee's beans, on the other hand, let a fellow taste the differences between varieties.

So Jack finds that for an afternoon cup, when Jack so desperately needs something to savor, a drip cone or French press of Thump's beans is richly-rewarding; while in the morning, when Jack is grumping about the kitchen wishing that he could sleep in more, a Clever Coffeemaker of Lone Pine's middle-shelf beans provides all Jack needs to start appreciating the day.


  1. The Clever Coffeemaker seems to operate on the same basic principle as the old Chemex coffeemakers that were very big, oh, 40 years ago and are still being made. Other things being equal, simpler is always better.

  2. Not at all. Unlike a regular pourover cone dripper (chemex, etc.) the clever coffeemaker does not start dripping as soon as the water is poured. It holds it until it is placed atop a cup. They are really more like plunger-type presses, in that you can control the brew time, and unlike plungers, you can use a much finer grind due to paper, rather than screen, filtration. What they do share with your cone type drippers is ease of cleaning: plungers require hosing out, with these you just toss the filter. For taste and ease of use, the Clever Coffeemaker is my favorite.

  3. So it's basically a Chemex with a valve-type thingy?

  4. Indeed. Without the valve thingy, the water drains out of a chemex or other drip cone in less than a minute, resulting in under-extraction. The workaround is to pour just enough hot water onto the grounds to soak them, and wait a few minutes before pouring on the rest of the water for the drippage, which still falls short of ideal because the small volume of "soak" water cools quickly and much of the flavor never gets a chance to develop. These problems are overcome by the valve thingy.

  5. I should add that it makes a great cup of coffee.


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