Coffee Library

Outline:

  1. Resource
  2. Background
  3. Coffee Pantry Lists
  4. For Beginner
  5. Cost Breakdown
  6. Priority

How-to’s: Will link them here when available

(in queue)
Three Ways to Get Your Coffee Fix When Traveling
Three Coffee Roasters Worth Visiting in Seoul
From Beans to Brew in Five Simple Steps

1. Resource

Out of thousands online articles and blog posts here are the ones I found most helpful, easy to digest, and informative. If you have suggestions to add feel free to leave in comments below.

Topic

Comment

Links

Coffee Brewing: The Big Picture Start here for total newbie! https://goo.gl/r7MJYZ
Beans Different origin, different flavor. https://goo.gl/NCwy54
Roasting Style The same reason why steak is made rare, medium, or well done. https://goo.gl/nteibZ
Coffee Trading and Sourcing (photos) Ever wonder what Ethiopia coffee farm is like? https://goo.gl/S2FBGr
History of Coffee Pre 15th Century (podcast) Cut from the same cloth https://goo.gl/bH5j0o
The Coffee Compass Troubleshoot your coffee https://goo.gl/wO6yQK
Coffee Flavor Wheel Flavor vocabs https://goo.gl/n8yfMq

2. Background

Frustrated with inconvenience of getting a decent cup of coffee when I went back to my hometown, I started carrying homebrew kit during travel in 2016.

IMG_6207.JPG
Tastes 10X better when in bed and pajamas

The town my parents live is mid-sized suburban area; two large scale supermarket, two small scale shopping mall, two government hospital, two private hospitals. Traditional style cafe ‘kopitiam’ (plenty around) serve black coffee, or does it? Third wave coffee shop (not so plenty) serves the modern fares of coffee based drinks. My friend, a doctor with crazy work schedule, would drive 30 minutes to our town to come to one particular cafe. She proclaimed it “the hippest place in the north”. Rightly so because we don’t have many contenders up there.

 The roasted date on their beans is 4 months old

Sadly on my visit to the said cafe I found that the roasted date on their beans is 4 months old. Oy, you gotta be kidding me.

In any case, I don’t like driving 10 minutes just for a cup of mediocre, or worse, terrible coffee. When I’m back in my hometown I’d rather spend my precious time at home. And so the start of my home brewing obsession..

3. Coffee Pantry

Past and current brew. Also my tools of trade.

3.1 Beans

This list isn’t an explicit recommendation. Instead it’s my way of keeping logs as I train the palate to distinguish coffee flavors from different regions.

Type

Origin Country
/Blend Name

Roaster

Roaster’s Location

Blend Dark Libre Cafe Libre Seoul, Korea
Single Origin PNG Goroka Quest Coffee Queensland, Australia
Blend Bella Donovan Blue Bottle Coffee Oakland, CA US
Single Origin Sudan Khartoum Homeroaster Khartoum, Sudan
Blend No Surprises Cafe Libre Seoul, Korea
Single Origin Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Brown Bag Coffee Seoul, Korea
Single Origin Brazil Brown Bag Coffee Seoul, Korea
IMG_6321.JPG
It’s like Christmas

3.2 Tools

img_6151
Handgrinder, pour over cone, and whole beans.

3.2.1 Handgrinder

Ceramic burr handgrinder Made in Korea I found in (out of all place!) a shipbuilding town south of Korea

3.2.2 Scale

Another Made in Korea. Tarr function available, small issues with accuracy (1~3g off). Sometimes go off in the middle of pour over. WTF?

3.3.3 Pour-Over Cone

Plastic cone made in Japan from Daiso

3.3.4 Kettle

Caydanlik kettle (Turkish tea pot) that has a nice curvy neck to control water flow. Not a gooseneck kettle. I’d call it duck neck instead because the neck is shorter yet still have that curves. I bought it in Istanbul.

img_6148
Caydanlik kettle

3.3.5 Decanter

My French Press pot from IKEA. Why buy new one when you can improvise?

3.3.6 Coffee Mug

Random cups in my kitchen. When I want to keep the drinks warm longer: 300ml tumbler (a gift)

4. I’m A Beginner! Do I Need All Above?

If you start having thoughts like “my coffee tastes like bad water “, “I like coffee but I don’t know how to appreciate it”, ” how do I make it taste like the one I had at this cafe”, then you’re ready to step it up. It’s time to start paying attention to scale, ratio, and beans. Until then, just play around!

Short answer: no

Long answer: use what you have and follow these five steps.

1) buy 200g (or the minimum amount) whole beans

2) grind it using blender, not recommended but we’ll work on that later. or ask the roaster to grind it for you.

3) brew it. Campstyle, French Press.. whatever floats your boat

4) separate the grounds from brewed liquid

5) pour your delicious coffee

Play around with the parameters (if you don’t have scale, play it by unit i.e, scoop), taste the end product, tweak it to your liking.

True story: I used electric blade grinder and eyeballed the portion for few months before upgrading to ceramic burr grinder and kitchen scale.

IMG_6465.JPG
My upgrade after one month tinkering

If you start having thoughts like “my coffee tastes like bad water “, “this is too strong”, ” how do I make it taste like the one I had at this cafe”, then you’re ready to step it up. It’s time to start paying attention to scale, ratio and beans. Until then, just play around!

5. Costs Breakdown

img_6199
Fancy equipments not necessary

In the spirit of exemplifying it costs very little to start brewing coffee at home here is my cost breakdown.

Item

Price (Won)

US$

Ceramic burr handgrinder 25,000 23
Kitchen scale 14,000 12
Pour-over cone 2,000 1.8
French Press pot 12,000 10
Beans (200g) 13,000 11

Total Start Cost

62,000

60

Compare that to

Item

Price (US$)

Latest iPhone $649
Nike sneakers $120
Amazon Kindle $119
Monthly gym membership $63

Keep in mind you don’t need to purchase all items in one go. You can upgrade to two items each month, thus mitigating the cost per transaction. Also, once purchased you can use it forever (except beans). Or until it breaks down 10 years down the road.

6. Priority

All being said, if I must give the tools credence here is how I’d rank them from most to least useful.

Item

Affects

Recommendation

CRITICAL
Beans Overall taste Fresh roasted (1 day) or less than 2 weeks
GOOD TO HAVE
Grinder Ground uniformity You want uniform grounds, so burr grinder.
Kitchen Scale Coffee extraction Golden ratio is 17:1
NICE TO HAVE
Cone Extraction rate One big hole
French Press pot Serving volume From serving one cup to five servings
Kettle* Water flow Gooseneck or long neck for better pour control (*drip specific)
INDIFFERENCE: Decanter, Mug.
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