K Bean B
Coffee Beans - Freshness and Storage
Coffee beans for Italian coffee machines need to be fresh. This doesn’t mean keeping them in bags. Fresh means fresh. Remember, coffee is a fruit and just like with any fruit, fresh is best. Here is a guide to when coffee beans are generally at their best after roasting:
- Light roast - 3 - 28 days
- Medium roast - 4 - 21 days
- Dark roast - 5 - 14 days
It's experience and the palate that tells the whole story but here's the theory to back up the results in the cup. Just as with any fruit exposed to oxygen there's quick degradation through oxidation. When beans are freshly roasted a nice amount of coffee oils are trapped inside the internal structure of the beans. As the beans age the internal structures breaks down and oils are released. These oils make their way to the bean surface and at the surface they oxidise to form a number of rancid compounds.
The oils get released slowly for light roast beans, but then quicker and quicker as beans are roasted darker. Have you been to a cafe and seen shiny oily beans in the hopper? Of course you have. My advice is not to go back.
As mentioned above, oxygen is the enemy. A bag with a one way gas valve can help keep beans a little longer as after roasting beans they off-gas and these off-gases push the damaging oxygen out of the bag.
Here's something that's a surprise to many. Once you open that bag with the one way gas valve there is no point at all in re-sealing it. It's a very common misconception that re-sealing beans will protect them but this isn't the case as when you re-seal the bag there is none of the original off-gassing to push out oxygen. This means that the beans are now sitting in a bag that's full of oxygen.
My advice is to keep bags sealed until you need the beans, then to tip the lot into your hopper. The beans will last just as long this way with the bonus of looking good in the hopper of your beautiful domestic coffee grinder.
If you have read this far down you must really love your coffee so do yourself a favour and move on to my About Coffee Beans Blog.
Coffee Beans for Italian Coffee Machines
When buying an Italian coffee machine don’t forget about the beans. Beans are at the heart of every coffee, so here’s a brief K Bean guide to coffee beans for Italian coffee machines.
There are two coffee species used in coffee bean production – Coffee Arabica and Coffee Robusta. Coffee Robusta is easy to grow at low altitudes and easy to harvest. This makes it the most common choice for instant coffees and cheap supermarket whole beans. Coffee Arabica is the “good stuff” and most coffee beans labelled "specialty" are 100% Coffee Arabica.
Coffee Arabica specialty beans are generally hand-picked, organic, and farmed on family or village lots. They are sold via co-ops, and farmers get rewarded with high prices for high quality. This means that specialty beans are not just the right beans for your coffee machine. They are also the ethical choice.
Just like with grapes there are a number of Coffee Arabica varietals. With grapes the varietals include Shiraz, Merlot and Pinot Noir. With Coffee Arabica the varietals include Bourbon, Typica and Caturra. The varietal has a significant effect on the beverage. Now you know about the varietals it’s time to go out and try them all. Go for it :)
Coffee Arabica beans tend to have traits typical of their origin (region). This is because there are common factors in regions such as coffee bean varietals, processing methods and growing altitudes. There are always exceptions but here’s a rough guide to the 3 key origins:
- Central & South American – Clean, sweet, simple, thin
- African – Fruity, spicy, complex
- Asian – Spicy, earthy, thick
The processing method has a significant effect upon the beans. The two main categories for processing are wet processed and natural / dry processed. Other categories include honey processed and wet hulled. Wet processed coffees tend to be brighter, cleaner and thinner. Dry processed coffees tend to be spicier, earthier, fruiter and thicker.
Coffee Growing Altitude
Altitude is another factor effecting your beans. As a rule of thumb, beans get sweeter, fruitier and more acidic as altitude increase. Does higher mean better? Well, that really depends on you and your taste buds.
Single Origin Coffee v Coffee Blends
For coffee purists (yes, that includes me) single origin is the way to go. Exploring single origins is an everyday adventure. However, if you are just looking for a great coffee to drink every day then blends generally have the edge. This is because in blends the beans are combined to “optimise” results in the cup. Here’s an example. A roaster could take a high altitude, wet processed, South American bean that produces a clean, sweet cup and add 20% of a high altitude, dry processed African bean to add a wack of fruitiness. Yum!
Roasting profiles are a mix of science and art and it takes a skilled roaster to really squeeze the very best out of a bean. When it comes to an espresso from an Italian coffee machine you can expect the following:
- Light roast - High acidity, sweet, simple, thin
- Medium roast – Medium acidity, fruity sweetness, complex
- Dark roast – Low acidity, bitter sweet, simple, thick
I hope you enjoyed my brief summary and I hope this changes the way you that you understand and value quality beans. Also, I hope you will always treat your Italian espresso machine to the very best beans you can find.
And good luck on your quest for the perfect coffee bean. It’s a futile quest. You will never find “perfect” but the quest is something that makes the home barista hobby so gripping.
I roast my own beans for Melbourne locals. If you can’t get to my showroom then take a look at beans from Red Star Roasters.
Now that you know a little about beans please take a look at my blog on coffee bean freshness and storage.
Bye for now, Paul
My Own Home Coffee Journey
Paul here. Like most of us, I started off with instant. Then in 2005 a coffee machine called the Phillips Senseo came along. This machine was similar to a modern day pod coffee machine but used coffee bags instead of pods. At the time, and after years of instant, the Senseo was great.
Next step was a big one - I decided to spend up big (cough) and grabbed a thermoblock Sunbeam coffee machine and a Sunbeam grinder. Again, at the time it was great. Another step forwards.
Next after months of research and numerous posts on the Melbourne Coffee Snobs forum I jumped forward again. This time it was to a single boiler Italian coffee machine - a Rancilio Slivia. I also upgraded to a commercial grinder. A huge step forward yet again but before long the poor thermal stability and temperature surfing was driving me mad, so I opened up the machine and installed a custom PID boiler temperature controller.
Things were progressing and it was now the lure of a manual Italian coffee machine with an e61 that won me over. I grabbed one of the original ECM Giotto coffee machines (the father of the Rocket Giotto coffee machine). Damn!!! Now this was getting good. Before this changes were steps. The move from the single boiler coffee machine to the e61 heat exchanger was just AMAZING!
From that point onward I was absolutely hooked by the coffee hobby. I designed and built my own coffee roaster, I created manual brewing gear from bits and bobs, including some very cool cold drip towers. I also played with dozens of off-the-shelf manual brewing toys including the V60 pourover, the Chemex, the Aeropress, cold drip towers, cold steep brewers, siphons and many more.
When it came to Italian coffee machines and grinders I was cycling through them at an alarming rate. I basically upgraded my machine and/or grinder almost annually. I guess I would call this is my coffee gear freak stage. There were no giant leaps here in terms of in the coffee quality in the cup, but I just loved the tech and the experience of driving the very best Italian coffee machines and grinders.
...and then K Bean was born and trying out new gear became part of my "job." Happy days :)
K Bean Coffee Machines on The Block
K Bean Coffee Machines on The Block - WOW!!! It started with a text from a guy called "Hans" saying he was on Channel 9's The Block and wanted a Profitec Pro 500 coffee machine for their kitchen for 2018 Season's "Challenge Week." And no, not just any Italian coffee machine. He really wanted a Profitec because he had seen one and knew that they are very, very GOOD looking. After a quick chat with Hans I knew it wasn't some prank and I was ready to join the challenge.
I had sold my last Profitec Pro 500, including my own demo unit, just a few days earlier. I had more units due the next week but that was too late as Challenge Week for The Block ended the very next day. After a few calls I tracked down a Profitec Pro 500 but it was on the other side of the city, so I set out for on a 3 hour round trip. I really was part of The Block's time challenge.
When I arrived at The Block (Gatwick Hotel, St Kilda) it was just madness. A hive of activity with tradies, contestants and TV people just everywhere. They miked me up and then I went about meeting Hans and the team, then walked the gear in and set it all up in a very dusty, almost complete kitchen.
An amazing day and a very proud day for me. What a cool thing it is to create a hobby business and see it grow, and to get a little gig on a top rating show like The Block - just amazing.
Thanks again to all of you guys who love my K Bean, and look out for me on Channel 9's The Block. 2018 Season, Gatwick Hotel, St Kilda. Airing in week 12 ...and good luck from me to the "Hans & Courtney" team !!!
Paul here again :)
...so what do I do when I go on holiday? Do I lug my 25kg Italian coffee machine and 10kg grinder along? No way!
I use the simplest, cheapest and probably one of the world's oldest brewing methods - The very humble but very capable Manual Brew pourover. The result is light, sweet fruity coffee with ease.
I take the manual brewer everywhere. Even hiking. Here's one of my hiking holiday happy pics:
Cold Drip Coffee
Cold drip coffee was one of the first products that K Bean stocked so I owe cold brew a few words of support.
I remember the first time that I tried cold drip coffee - WOW - a slurp of ripened fruit, milk chocolate and thick honey. It really surprised me at the time. Cold processed coffee is so very different to hot coffee that has been cooled.
After a little reading I learned that the chemistry of cold extraction is completely different to that of hot extraction. The most obvious difference is the low acidity of a cold brew due to the absence of tongue-tingling Quinic Acid.
I still use my cold drip tower. I drip slowly overnight at around 1 drip per second. In the morning I pack the cold concentrate in a flask. Then I take it just about anywhere and everywhere including to work, and on days on the town.
You really must try it one day.
Home Espresso Perfection
To me home espresso is all about the pursuit of perfection. And it's a pursuit that is never achieved.
Why not? Well, espressos (and other coffees made with Italian coffee machines) are always different. They are never the same. Even a competition barista will get some variations from day to day and even from espresso shot to espresso shot.
Is this a problem? Absolutely not. The challenge of the pursuit is gripping, and the daily variations and occasional god shot just keep the interest flowing.
So, pursue perfection but know that you will never get there.
Enjoy the journey and don't forget to smell the coffee beans along the way.
Gotta run now. It's espresso time. Paul :)
A Huge Thanks from Paul
It's Paul here with my very first Blog.
I'll start with a big THANKS to past and present customers of K Bean Coffee Machines as well as a preemptive THANKS for future customers.
Many of you are interstate, but Melbourne Coffee Machine buyers have been able to visit me for training. It's the people I meet that give me the biggest boost and make this journey such a joy.
Enjoy your toys :)
Paul (and the K Bean family crew)