Saturday, February 28, 2015

If you're in a bind...

...desperate times call for desperate measures. 

Weekends are when I really get to indulge my coffee addiction. I have to get up at 4:15am during the week, so I usually grind what I need on Sunday to save a little time each morning. I run a cup through the Braun and have it with a bowl of cereal. When I get to work at about 5:30am, I wait an hour and a half for the cafeteria to open and get a biscuit (I keep butter & some kinda spread in our little dorm-size fridge, 'cuz they charge for it). I'll have cup of Columbian from our Keurig (*urp*) to wash it down (I keep French Vanilla creamer, too). Then when I get home, I'll usually fix a *good* cup to wash the Keurig out of my mouth. But, I digress...

So, anyway...I've got about a third of a pound of whole-bean dark to last the week, and being the tightwad that I am, was trying to save a few bucks until payday (vacation's coming up in two weeks). I remembered I had some Folger's filter packs (that I had bought during my last vacation) in the pantry, and thought, "Hey, I can use that crap for my morning cup and save the good stuff."

 I check the "Best Used By" date and figure I'm good...

So, I break out the Aeropress and brew as I normally would.

Cat-piss. Hopefully, it will be (a little) better coming out of the Braun. (I had read an article about using a French press to salvage crappy coffee, but the Folger's is ground a bit too fine for a press pot. But for now, I've got to get this crappy taste out of my mouth...)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The problem with Ebay is...

...a lot of the people selling stuff have *no idea* how to sell it. For instance...

...this is listed as a "Vintage Flameware PYREX Model 7826-B". Do a search on the Flameware 7826-B, and you'll find this...

...straight from Corelle's website. Flameware coffee pots used a *glass* basket, with aluminum top and bottom pieces, *not* an aluminum basket as in the listing. No mention that is complete (or even missing the top spreader), just that there is no damage.

Here's an example of someone not really sure of what they have, but they want *you* to buy it now! Right now before someone else gets it!

"Want it now? Why wait?? Buy it now!!!" But, it's incomplete. It may have the "strainer" (basket/filter), but the upper pot and lid are missing. "Now..if YOU have nay other information or data on this piece and would like to share it..." I do, and no, I'm not going to, because you should *know* what you're selling. Even though it *is* a Hall, and it's only $8.99 (plus $18.28 S&H), it's useless to me. And I'm not really concerned that someone else has their "arrow on the bid button".

Condition, next to completion, is what I look for next. Here's an "Art Deco Coffee Maker", with only the generic Ebay condition listed...

Pretty neat moka pot ("stove top espresso maker). The thing to remember about these is the condition of the *gasket*, as it brews under pressure; the gasket must be in good condition in order for it to brew. "My guess is you put it on a stove top to brew it." Yup, that's right. How's that gasket? It's easily obtainable (if you know who made it and what size it is). And although the upper section looks pretty good, the lower part looks kinda funky inside.

One more, and I'll stop...

The West Bend "Kwik Drip". There are a ton of these things on Ebay, ranging from about seven bucks to over $60 (yoiks!). "Vintage" may mean "old", but it doesn't mean it's necessarily *valuable*. This particular pot ($21.99, free shipping) has a very detailed description...but...neglected to add the spreader was missing.

So, word to the wise: spend a little time doing a little research before making a purchase. In many cases, there will be more than just one pot listed, so you can make comparisons (and be certain you're getting all the parts). You'll also find one either in better condition or for a better price (sometimes, *both*). There will be times, though, when you run across that one odd-ball piece; in that case, it takes a bit of digging on the interwebz to get the info you need. Worst case (and I've run across this), you won't find *anything*. Then you just roll the dice (depending on how badly you want it) and hope for the best.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Hario... dialed in. I pulled the inner burr to get a better consistency, and used two washers under the locknut so my socket could get a better grip. After fiddling around for another 15 minutes or so, here are the results:

2 notches off locked adjustment nut

4 notches

6  notches

8 notches

 10 notches

12 notches

Took  some doing, but I got the burrs pretty much centered (as I can get), with no drag one notch off the locked adjustment nut. I don't see the need to go stepless. I'll pull out my French press this weekend and see what kind of brew I can get with about a 9 setting. I did a 6 through my Braun (gold mesh filter) and very little sediment. Was it worth all the trouble?

Yeah, sure. I think so.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Now, to finish...

...what I started with the Hario. Just got the OE lower bearing kit.

I've already seen the video on its installation; there's not a lot to it.

Just take everything apart, which is really easy.

 Contrary to the video, I have to insert the shaft through the top of the tower before installing the bearing due to the nylon sleeve I used at the top.

 It's a snug fit between the screw posts, so it *snaps* when it's seated.

Set the outer burr and retaining ring in place, align the screw holes, and install the screws, but don't tighten just yet. I set OE's included washer over the shaft, leaving out the plastic washer that originally was installed...

...then set the inner burr in place, and tighten the retaining ring screws so the outer burr is centered. I used a second washer in place of the other plastic washer, and began the alignment process that was explained in the video. I does take a bit of fiddlin' with, but I got a pretty good alignment in about 25 minutes. By adjusting the inner burr so it's close to the outer burr, I was able to spin the shaft and listen for any dragging caused by misalignment.

I tightened the grind adjustment nut down, then backed off five notches as a starting point. It's said you lose some fine grind capability with the OE bearing, but with the way mine is set up, I'll be able to grind powder. There's still just a *tiny* bit of slop, but it takes out probably 95% of what it is from Hario.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Grind adjustment...

...with the Skerton made easy:

Easy Way to Set the Grind on a Hario Skerton

Actually, pretty good instructions. I set mine to 5 notches from (slightly) locked burrs for use in my Braun (brewing through a gold mesh filter). I got a good, consistent grind with less sediment than I was getting with the Zassenhaus, and made a good cup. The sun's up now, so I'm gonna strip it down, clean it up, and head to Home Depot to see what I can come up with in the way of a "bottom bearing". Stay tuned... 

Okay, so I picked up an 8mm lock nut, 8mm flat washer, and a 3/8 x .257 x 1" nylon spacer (I'd seen another mod that used the same spacer but with a .328 hole, but I opted to go smaller and drill it out to fit with less slop). The lock nut will convert the Skerton to stepless adjustment for finer tuning. Off to the garage! 

Since the spacer was slightly undersized for the grinder's shaft (and the closest drill bit I had was the same diameter as the spacer's hole), I had to enlarge it a bit with a small rat-tail file. Took a bit of doin', but it'll just slide over the burr end of the shaft and butt up to the adjustment threads.

The piece of rubber mat was used to roll the spacer as I filed, keeping it from slipping. Worked quite well, too. Once the spacer was filed out to where the shaft *just* turns easily, I scuffed the spacer's surface with some 100 grit sandpaper, replaced the burr, and coated the spacer with adhesive (Liquid Nails). I used the notched adjustment nut to snug up the shaft, and it's setting up to dry (24 hours for the adhesive to fully set).

So, for now, it's back to the Zassenhaus. I've only had one cup and *no* breakfast.

Day 2: The Liquid Nails was useless...didn't set, even after all night. So, I cleaned everything up, and found some quick-setting silicone adhesive. I should know how it's going to work in a few hours. 

Edit: Success! Zero slop at the top, but still some wobble at the bottom. Looks like I'll be ordering the Orphanespresso lower bearing kit after all. I'm looking for *no* slop, anywhere. At least with the spacer, I won't have to worry about the adjustment threads wallowing out the upper support hole as some folks have found out...

Monday, December 29, 2014

I've been doing a lot of reading...

...on the Hario Skerton grinder. My girlfriend gave me a gift card for William Sonoma for Christmas, so I figure I'll retire my faithful old Zassenhaus and try one of these new-fangled gadgets. I know I'll have to mod it (not for grinding coarse, but to prolong its life by keeping the shaft centered), but I like fiddlin' with stuff. I need to get my hands on it first to best figure out what needs to be done (delivery date is Jan 5).

I run across lots of...opinions...about what is needed to make a good cup of coffee. One fella says "You need a scale. Period." I've been using the scoop that came with my Bodum French press for the past 6 or 7 years, and I've done just fine. I thought about getting a scale, but not for what they're selling for. I've measured the temperature of my water, but more out of curiosity than need. When it comes to a boil, I turn off the heat, simple as that. Sometimes I let the grinds bloom, sometimes I don't (it does look kinda cool). The only real facts I've discovered when brewing is:

Use the right amount of hot water (11 ounces).
Use the right amount of good beans (two scoops).
Use clean stuff.
Combine all three for sufficient time (depending upon the method used).

After nine years, I've developed what works best for me. Your mileage may vary.

(Four days later...)

Let the modding begin.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Vintage it...

...a press pot or a pour-over?

Stainless steel Durobor flanked by the lower & upper aluminum model

  From what I've found online, this is supposed to be the correct method to brew using one of these things. I did experiment, after doing this video, with actually *pressing* after letting the grinds bloom. Nope, not the way to do it. Much better results by placing the press piece on top of the grounds, *then* pouring the water in. Acts the same as a spreader in a dripolator. Anyway, if you get one of these, play around with it and see what you can do.