Coffee On The Brain: Timor & Catimor Coffee Varietals

What do you get when you cross a Robusta and Arabica plant?

The Timor coffee varietal!

This cross breed is a rare and hard to find coffee varietal. The Timor was discovered by chance on the East Asian Island of Timor (where it got its name) and was loved because of its unique characteristics. The Robusta parent had blessed the Timor with disease resistant qualities that farmer’s love while it maintained the desirable flavor profile of its Arabica parent.

Eventually, the Timor grew up and had other coffee varietals of its own. One of those varietals is the Catimor, the child of the Timor and Caturra coffee varietals (here in the coffee-sphere, we mashup coffee names like they’re celebrities). It was purposely bred to have the disease resistant qualities of the Timor and the sweet and fruity notes of the Caturra. The flavor results of the Catimor, however, weren’t satisfying.

If you’re lucky enough to find high-quality Catimor beans, the notes are nutty with an herbal aroma. Occasionally, some beans have cherry or berry undertones. However, without the proper care, the beans become overwhelming earthy and rubbery (mmm, delicious). Because of the Catimor’s flavor profile, it’s not a highly sought after varietal, and therefore, it’s rare to find.

Luckily, as Amber points out, there are way better coffee varietals out there! Amber gave us the 411 on the Caturra varietal last week on Coffee On The Brain. Check out the full video on the Timor and Catimor varietals below and subscribe to our YouTube channel to get a healthy stream of all things coffee!

Crew Review: Bonavita Travel Kettle

If you’re looking for a traveling companion for your spring break plans, then you need the Bonavita Travel Kettle! Whether you’re traveling within the US or to Europe, this series has got you covered with the Bonavita Dual Voltage Travel Kettle and Bonavita Mini Travel Kettle.

In this Crew Review, Gail wants to see which one will brew faster. Which one do you think will win? Find out by watching the video below or continue reading. Ready. Set. Go!

Bonavita_Mini_Travel_Kettle

Here are some stats to help you guess which one will win. Both kettles hold half a liter of water despite the different heights (you can see the Dual Voltage is taller). They both auto shut-off once it’s boiling to save the heating element from burning out—a must-have when traveling because who wants that added stress?

The real differences come down to the power. The Dual Voltage model features a 700-watt heating element for fast boiling. This travel kettle model, though, can switch from 120 to 220 voltages, which is great for traveling in Europe. It doesn’t come with a converter plug-in so you’ll have to grab one of those separately.

The Mini is built for traveling within the US. Its itty-bitty size is packed with 900-watts for boiling super fast (no spoilers! You’ll know the winner soon enough). Its smaller size takes up less real estate in an office or suitcase and as long as you only need it for US travels, it’s a great little companion!

Time’s up!

The winner is the Mini Travel Kettle!

The Mini boiled the fastest at four minutes with the Dual Voltage right behind it at about five minutes. So what you’d really want to look for in these travel kettles is how often you’ll need the dual voltage.

Thanks for checking out this week’s Crew Review! Subscribe to our YouTube channel to discover new products and learn how they work.

Ask Gail: What Is My Superautomatic Bypass Doser Scoop Size?

“Help! I lost my bypass doser! What do I do now?”

Don’t worry, Gail is here to save the day! Check out the full video below and drop us a comment on our YouTube channel if you got a question for the next episode of Ask Gail.  

The quick and easy answer is to buy another scoop. Or, if you’re in a pinch, you can use a tablespoon to replace your missing scoop!

coffee_espresso_scoop_dual

On most superautomatics, like Saeco and DeLonghi, you want to put one tablespoon or 10 grams of pre-ground coffee into the bypass doser. On a Jura, it’s about two tablespoon or 14 grams of pre-ground coffee. Make sure to only put one scoop in for each brew! Too much coffee will clog up your brew unit.

The beauty of the bypass doser is you can quickly switch coffee types and specialities without having to remove all the beans from the hopper. Need decaf in the evening? Use decaffeinated pre-ground coffee or even grind whole beans for a quick decaf espresso.

If you’re grinding whole beans, make sure to use an espresso grind setting. If you’ve never used a bypass doser, the brewing process is the same but without using the built-in grinder on your superautomatic. Pro tip: Even though you’re skipping the built-in grinder, you still don’t want to use a dark, oily bean. The bypass doser still drops the grounds into the brew unit and that can get clogged up with oils.

Tune Up For What: Backflushing vs. Descaling

Did you say you know a way to extend the life of an espresso machine? That’s music to our ears!

Keeping up on your machine’s maintenance means you’ll get a properly functioning machine making delicious coffee every time. Spencer and Jeremiah break down the difference between two popular maintenance procedures, descaling and backflushing, and why those methods of cleaning are important to keeping your machine running at full speed!

Let’s start with some basics.

Step 1. Preventative maintenance is the best kind of maintenance! Check your water hardness—which is the mineral content, particularly lime and calcium, in your water—and make sure you’re using soft water. You can check it by using water testing strips.

Step 2. Read your manual on how to best care for your machine. Manufacturer’s recommendations vary from each other, so if you’re switching machines be sure to read up on their maintenance advice.

Descaling:

Descaling removes the build up of minerals, such as lime and calcium, from water in your machine. A solution, such as Dezcal, will be mixed in through the tank and run through the pipes and boiler. The solutions are made from citric acid, so it’s non-toxic when used properly to clean the machine.

dezcal_espresso_machine_descaler

As we mentioned in step two, read the manual of your machine to see the recommended cleaning method. Some don’t recommend descaling, while others do but advise different solutions. We recommend descaling every one to three months depending on how often you run your machine. The more you use it, the more frequently you should descale!

Backflushing:

Backflushing is only done on semi-automatics that have a three-way solenoid valve. While descaling focuses on cleaning your water system, backflushing removes coffee oil build-up on the brew head. Removing oils will help the water flow through the brew head and improve the taste of the shot.

Like we said, this is only done on machines with a three-way solenoid valve. We recommend backflushing more often than descaling. If you’re using the machine daily, we recommend every week.

And remember, preventive maintenance is the best kind of maintenance! Read the cleaning section of your manual and figure out the best way to take care of your machine.

Watch the full report on descaling and blackflushing below and subscribe to our YouTube channel to watch more helpful videos!

Crew Comparison: Eureka Mignon vs. Rocket Fausto

Get that barista quality coffee with these professional grinders! Designed to complement high-end espresso machines, the Rocket Fausto and Eureka Mignon got it going on. Both grinders feature stepless grinding, stainless steel flat burrs and timed dosing for a consistent, quality grind that will make any professional barista proud.

mignon_side_black_2

Right off the bat, we can tell you that if real estate is important to you, then the Mignon might be a better option. It’s smaller footprint and boxy design makes it a perfect companion next to a sleek espresso machine or, let be honest, the microwave. That slim size does mean that some features, like the 8-ounce bean hopper, are smaller. Don’t let that deter you! It’s packed with all the bells and whistles you need for a good shot.

Rocket Fausto

The Fausto, on the other hand, is a big kahuna. It’s outfitted with 65mm burrs, a 22-ounce bean hopper and a large chute topped with a programmable digital display. The Fausto spits out a great grind faster thanks to the larger burrs. Its giant bean hopper also means you can grind up more beans. This can be great for multiple cups, but otherwise, it might be excessive for a cup or two.

While we’re talking about the nitty-gritty details, the Fausto’s timer can get down to the second with the easily programmable digital display. It can also save two settings for a single or double shot. That means you can start your morning double shot and end with a pre-lunch single shot. After lunch? Rinse mug. Repeat. 

The Mignon also has a timer to control dosing, but it’s on the side of the machine, meaning you’ll have to reach around or angle the controls toward you. That sort of beats the purpose of its small footprint when you’re moving it around. 

By no means, though, does the Mignon make a disappointing shot! Its small size and the manual timer doesn’t affect the power of those 50mm stainless steel flat burrs. It produces a practically identical grind like the Fausto but without taking up the whole counter.

Both grinder machines complete the whole coffee package for home brewing! Pair one with a machine like the Rocket R60v (we’ve got it reviewed, too) and you’ve got a match made in caffeinated-heaven.

Check out the full review below and tell us what you think about the Fausto and Mignon! As Gail said, “The proof is in the feeling.”

If you can’t get enough of our videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel here!

Coffee Collaboration: Head To Head: Cold Bloom Method

It’s a Brew Off!

On a previous episode of Coffee Collaboration, Carl sent us a cold bloom French Press recipe that we tried and loved. A new challenger, Ian, sent us his recipe and was absolutely sure it was better! We love a good competition, so we brewed up both recipes for Gail to judge.

How did our competitor’s fair?

Check out the full video below to see who brewed it better! Plus, watch Gail be, well Gail, and make a mess as she brews both Ian and Carl’s cold bloom methods.

Have a recipe you want us to try out? Drop us a comment on YouTube with your recipe!

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Ian’s Cold Bloom Recipe:

Coffee: 18 grams, finer than drip coffee

Water: 60 grams of cold water

Mix water and coffee before leaving for about 20 hours. Drop the slurry into an AeroPress and top up (to the number 4) with hot water at 195F.

Brew for 10 seconds. Plunge!

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Carl’s French Press Recipe:

Begin prep for French Press coffee (12 hour wait time). Put the grounds into the press, pour enough water to get all the grounds wet, then add just a splash more water and let sit for 12 hours.

Add your hot water (195F) to the slurry and brew for the normal amount time (about four minutes) and there you have it!

Coffee On The Brain: Gesha Coffee Varietal

Described as complex and ethereal, the Gesha coffee varietal sounds as divine as it tastes. The delicate, floral and black-tea-like profile make it a sensational brew that’s highly sought after.

The Gesha is just one of the Ethiopian Heirloom coffee varietals but by far this varietal’s taste soars above the rest.

The rareness of finding the varietal, too, makes it even more desirable. The Gesha plant is just as delicate as it tastes. The thin, frail branches make it difficult to grow and the cherries are easily knocked off the plant. It’s also vulnerable to pests and temperamental to weather, which makes this varietal more expensive to care for.

How did such an otherworldly plant come about?

An Ethiopian heirloom was transported to Central America where it mutated and created the Gesha (not to be confused with Geisha. It was named from the town of Gesha, Ethiopia). It wasn’t until the 1950s in Costa Rica that the Gesha was discovered; however, the coffee really grew in popularity after a Panama farm won a competition with their Gesha varietal. 

Join Amber as she explores the Gesha coffee varietal in the full video below. If you love our videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel to get your fill of all things coffee!

Crew Review: DeLonghi EC860 Espresso Machine

The traditional artistry of semi-automatics meets the one-touch capabilities of superautomatics in this entry-level machine. The DeLonghi EC860 is a semi-automatic with programmable features and a milk carafe to froth-up a piping hot cappuccino right into your cup!

DeLonghi_EC860

We know what you’re thinking, it’s strange to see a milk carafe on a semi-automatic. The EC860 comes with the option to auto steam with the carafe or manual steam with the panarello. If you’re worried about the milk temperature with the carafe, don’t! The carafe delivers hot, frothy milk right into your cup just like a one-touch.

The programmable features also don’t fail to impress us. Customize the temperature and volume of your espresso shot and, for the speciality drinks, you can change the milk volume. That’s something you generally don’t see in an entry-level machine! 

This entry-level machine is also equipped with a pressurized portafilter with baskets for a pod, single or double shot. With a pressurized portafilter, newcomers don’t need to worry about dialing in a consistent grind, it’ll compensate for you!

Con-wise, we’re not too keen on the plastic scamper—the scoop and tamper combo (which is not as convenient as a spork). Even with the pressurized portafilter aiding your shot, you still want a nice, even tamp to reduce grinds on the brew head and, of course, deliver a delicious espresso. We recommend purchasing a sturdier tamper. Also, this machine lacks a three-way solenoid valve, which makes a soupy coffee puck.

No matter how you look at this machine (oh, by the way, super nice stainless steel body) the pros outweigh the cons. We recommend this machine for entry-level folks who want a semi-automatic with the convenience and programmable features of a superautomatic. Or, hey, this machine is great seasoned coffee-brewers, too! Check out the video with the full review below and tell us what you think!

Coffee Collaboration: A Stovetop Americano (Plus Half & Half!)

We’re calling this recipe, courtesy of Asher, a Stovetop Americano! Flavorful, stout and full-bodied, this brew makes one delicious cup we’ll be making for a while! Let’s get started on replicating this hot drink right in your home.

Bialetti Stovetop Espresso

Ingredients & Equipment:

Instructions:

  1. Fill up your kettle with water and bring it to a boil.
  2. Have 25 grams of freshly ground or pre-ground coffee ready
  3. Once the water is boiling, fill up the stove top chamber with it. Leave the hot water boiling.
  4. Add 25 grams of pre-ground coffee into coffee chamber.
  5. Carefully screw on the top of the stovetop (it’ll be hot!) and place it on the stove to boil. You’ll notice it start to brew quickly, so don’t walk away! It took us about 45 seconds to percolate.
  6. Now comes the fun! When the stovetop is done, pour 95 grams of the freshly brewed stove top coffee into your mug, then clear the scale and add 135 grams of hot water in, too.
  7. Add your shot of half and half and enjoy!

We’re always taking new coffee recipes. Leave your recipe in the comments on YouTube!

Tips & Tricks:

Add some extra hot water to reduce the concentration of coffee or if you like it stout, add less.

Ask Gail: Adjusting Your Grind Based On Roast Level

On this episode of Ask Gail, we were asked if you need to adjust your grinder setting based on the roast level? The short answer is: Yes!

Watch the short and sweet video on how different variables (sounds like high school science class) affect the grind of your beans and, ultimately, the taste of your coffee.

Have some burning questions for Gail? Leave us a comment on YouTube!

Tips & Tricks

You’ve probably been advised not to put dark roasts into your superautomatic. If this is news to you, stop putting those oily, dark roasts into your superautomatic! You’ll just clog it up and get frustrated when the machine stops making caffeinated goodness.