Tag: Coffee Time

I’ve learnt something after brewing coffee at home for two months

#shareyourkape #coffeeonlock #coffeeathome

I am a coffee consumer. More importantly, I consume coffee to help me focus at work. Now before the Covid 19 pandemic and the stay at home order by the government and our company, getting coffee was easy. I could just drop by any of the places I like to get coffee from (which honestly were mostly second wave shops with the occasional specialty shop especially when I’m in the Alabang office) and buy myself a cup. Now, I have to make myself coffee if I really want a chance to get through the (longer than usual) working days working from home.

#shareyourkape #coffeeinthetimeofcovid19 #coffeeathome #coffeeonlock

Of course I chose a part of the kitchen that allows for a lot of natural light.

I admit that when the lockdown started, I just relented to drinking instant coffee – I’ll own up to that. There was still about half a jar of Taster’s Choice my parents sent over from the states. I figured since it was just for a month anyway, that I’d just hunker down at home and finish this jar of instant coffee. I even tried making Dalgona Coffee, though I always chose to add Irish Whisky to eat. That makes it better, BTW.

However, the lockdown was extended – twice. I had to accept the fact that I needed to know to brew coffee at home. For someone who advocates not drinking supermarket instant coffee, even going as far as writing a three part series about the cons of going instant, it would be hypocritical to buy copious amounts of the stuff just because I could not invest in home brewing equipment. And so, using the fact that my Instagram account finally got 500 followers as a catalyst, I decided to go on a home brewing setup shopping spree.

#shareyourkape #uggycafe #righsidecoffeeroasters

Now before this I already had some equipment: a Bodum French Press I bought from Starbucks; a smaller French Press similar to what we gave as presents to our principal sponsors during our wedding; a Melitta style dripper I also got from Starbucks; a Hario MM2 Small Grinder (ceramic burrs); and an old-school kettle (read: takure) that at least had a long spout for easier pouring. No scale.

Well two months in, I have since expanded that to a point that I had to set up a small area in our kitchen’s counter (between the microwave and the rice cooker) to be my dedicated coffee brewing station. So if you have read my piece about working from home, not only is my mind now primed to think our room is my “home” and the dining table is my “office”, I now also get to take my breaks in our kitchen which is now my “coffee shop”. It may sound crazy, but I need these things to help me work from home better.

So what have I learned from brewing coffee at home all day during lockdown? After finding a local supplier of beans in Lakbay Brew, getting to try beans from international roasters courtesy of Uggy Café, watching a ton of Youtube videos (like James Hoffman and European Coffee Trip), and buying a ton of coffee brewing related items from Lazada (V60, stove-top gooseneck, Timemore C2 grinder, bags of filters, a scale), and even buying a freakin’ Brita filter to see if my water quality improves? What have I really learned?

It’s okay to try brewing coffee at home, but we really need to celebrate the coffee people more: the producers; the roasters; the shop owners; and of course the baristas. We take coffee for granted and treat it as just part of our routine because of our busy lives. Brewing at home reminded me how hard it is to prepare a good cup of coffee. After two months, after all that new equipment, after dropping money on specialty coffee beans, hours of watching coffee content, and heck even after buying a fancy water jug that supposedly improves the water quality (it wasn’t that expensive considering the benefits) – I have learned that I still can’t create a cup as good as what I used to get from a shop. And that’s just filter coffee; I haven’t even tried making espresso at home!

#shareyourkape #coffeeonlock #coffeeathome

Your equipment means nothing if you don’t use quality coffee beans to begin with.

So continue supporting the coffee people. They work so hard to give us our awesome cups of coffee. You can buy from their online shops. Some shops are even open for pick-up and deliveries. You’ll never know how much we need good coffee until it’s (and they’re) all gone.

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Does Commercial Instant Coffee taste like expensive Specialty Coffee?

#shareyourakape #blindcoffeetastetest

This is something I have been thinking of doing since I started my first food blog: have people blind taste three different types of coffee and see what they think they like better. Specifically, will they know what the instant coffee is at least and will they like specialty coffee? Partly I also want to stop the saying that “all coffee tastes the same, no need to buy expensive coffee.”

shareyourkape coffee taste experiment

Can you tell which is the instant, pre-ground bought from the grocery, and specialty coffee?

After 6 years, I finally have three types together at one time: higher grade than usual (still bad tasting though) instant coffee; pre-ground coffee from the grocery; and a Syrupy and Fruity coffee from Kenya. Problem is, it’s still Enhanced Community Quarantine season and I only have two people who can help me with this experiment: my wife who is a coffee drinker but not as crazy as me; and my uncle (technically my mother’s cousin) who helps us out here in the house – he is a heavy drinker of instant coffee, 3-in-1 to be exact. So two people as your test population does not really give you solid, irrefutable findings from a study, but it’s the best I can do right now. Still had some good findings, though, so do read on.

Aside from the instant coffee – which I just took 1/3 of a teaspoon for each test, poured hot water on it, and stirred – I tried to make it as uniform of a brew between the pre-ground coffee and the specialty coffee as much as possible, even the grind.

shareyourkape brewing pre-ground coffee

This was the pre-ground coffee being brewed in a french press for the experiment. Aside from it looking like mud, notice that there is little to no bubbles on top

#shareyourkape #specialtycoffee#jameshoffmanfrenchpress

Now the Kenya brewed the way I prefer it after the experiment. Notice the difference?

Now as of this writing, my scale is still “being packed by seller” according to Lazada so I can’t tell you exactly how much coffee to water there is, but I have a system to yield as consistent of a cup of coffee each time in place. Eye balling everything in a shot glass and a small French press, I applied James Hoffman’s French Press technique to both the Pre-Ground and Kenya. Now, I have found that grinding the Kenya beans to medium (maybe even medium coarse) and using this technique yielded the taste of coffee I liked: Syrupy, tastes like brown sugar, with a slight acidity that helps accentuate the sweetness. That would immediately tell you this was specialty coffee so I tried to at least even it out by grinding the specialty coffee similar to the how the pre-ground were: medium fine.

I placed the coffee in three similar tea cups (yes, tea cups from a set of six), remembering exactly where I placed which, let them cool down so they can actually taste the nuances in their flavor (if there are any), and reminded my subjects to slurp the coffee when drinking each one. That is the test. Oh, if you were wondering, I use filtered water. Not sure just how soft it is, but I does not taste bad when you drink it on its own.

Of course the instant coffee, Nescafe Gold to be exact, tasted – well just bitter. I always have to add about half a teaspoon of sugar for every teaspoon of coffee to be able to drink this. For this test, I added no sugar whatsoever. The pre-ground coffee, Gourmet Farms’ Baraco Batangas, still assaulted you with bitterness upon sipping but at least had a chocolatey aftertaste and slightly better aroma – it actually smells like jackfruit (langka). It had no exact roast date but it did say a manufacturing date of 12/28/19 (I bought this April 2020, you really can’t expect much from this anymore) with an expiry date of 12/28/20 (eye-roll). The Kenya brewed this way became more acidic than usual but in a good way. In a way it tasted more fruity than sugary/syrupy. I still like it but I prefer it as syrupy with its body.

shareyourkape coffee taste experiment

This is how the store-bought coffee looked like, I tried to match the grind of the Kenya like this for the experiment

Now at the end of this experiment, I asked my wife to switch the cups around without me looking and I was still able to know which was which. It was easy to just spot the Kenya with its color but I had to taste the pre-ground and the instant to know which one it was. I’m not telling you I have the perfect palate, I just know what they taste like when I was preparing the coffee for the experiment.

Not surprisingly, both of them hated the instant coffee, helping my cause of saying that instant coffee isn’t Kape. My uncle immediately reacted to how bitter it was and my wife said it “bit” her tongue, something I also experienced. It was like the instant coffee “latched on” to my tongue for a brief moment. The bitterness also lingered. To be fair, it does taste more like milk chocolate as it cools further, but it still “bites” and still has a bitter aftertaste. It’s in the not instant ones where the results become interesting.

#shareyourkape #nescafegold #notagoodbrew

Looks fancy, tastes not so good

My uncle did not like the acidity of the Kenya. He just described it as “maasim” or sour. From what I read, this is a normal reaction of casual coffee drinkers to specialty coffee: they just lump acidity with sourness. I admit I didn’t brew the perfect cup with this eyeball method, but from my taste it still had a balanced, pleasant fruitiness. He loved the pre-ground coffee, and even asked to have the entire thing for himself. I offered to add sugar to it but he declined from any sweetener.

My wife took longer to decide on what she wanted between the pre-ground and Kenya. This was about 11 in the morning and she had to eat breakfast first before drinking any coffee, and she was still munching on a slice of white bread with chunky cookie butter spread when conducting the taste test. In the end she chose the Kenya as her favorite because of its fruitiness and it going better with her single slice sandwich.

So the findings from this informal experiment:

What could be a con from this experiment? If not done properly, like not as good as I could here with incomplete equipment, it could drive people away from specialty coffee more. Yes, you can stop them from drinking instant coffee, but you could just make a case for them to drink pre-ground coffee (the kind you buy from a grocery, still not that much help for the betterment of the coffee industry).

#shareyourakape #blindcoffeetastetest

Say what you want about my brewing method, I still added evidence to how not Kape Instant Coffee really is

Will I do this again? Absolutely – but better. I recently hit 500 followers on Instagram and to celebrate I went a little crazy on Lazada. I ordered a V60, a scale, and a gooseneck kettle with a thermometer. The scale and the kettle, not the best quality, but at least I can somewhat brew better. Watch out for more experiments!

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Working from home during quarantine, don’t forget your coffee

I have my complaints, but I am grateful I have an opportunity to work from home and even more grateful I am living in a home that makes it relatively easy to just #stayathome to help #flattenthecurve. Having said that, it’s not my dream job, but it’s what I have now and it helps pay the bills.


This may seem nice at first, but it’s not good for the long-term/ pexels via Pixabay.com

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