Episode 88: Coffee with Chris Deferio, Host of the Keys to the Shop Podcast and Coffee Consultant

Monday, April 9, 2018
We have a great conversation with Chris Deferio, podcast host of the Keys to the Shop Podcast and coffee business consultant, all about the basics of coffee starting from the history of coffee, where it comes from and how it evolved over the years, onto what happens when you start roasting beans, how the grind of your coffee affects the flavor, and what factors, such as water temperature and minerality of water, can change your cup of Joe. We learned so much!

Let's taco 'bout it!

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Let's taco 'bout it!

  • The legend of how coffee was discovered talks about how a goatherder named Kaldi (or Khalid) discovered coffee in Ethiopia or Yemen, but then spread via the Dutch East Asian Company into Europe and the Americas eventually. You can delve more into the history of coffee in a book called Uncommon Grounds by Mark Pendergrast.
  • Coffee plants were smuggled throughout the world, therefore all coffee plants originated from these original plants from Ethiopia or Yemen.
  • If you want to learn more about coffee in general, you can go here or you can check out this extensive book by James Hoffmann.
  • There are two types of coffee plants that we can drink: Robusta (low-grade, more caffeine, more bitter) and Arabica (more drinkable, more nuanced).
  • Coffee needs to be picked when ripe.
  • Washed process (goes through a water mill that squeezes the seed out, which gives you a brighter, cleaner flavor) and natural process (dries the cherries out like a raisin, produces a fruitier flavor).

  • The roasting process involves applying heat either by convention (air roasting) or conductive (drum roasting) and bringing it through different stages, such as 1st crack (coffee expands in the roasting process, a lighter roast or "blonde" roast), then further to 2nd crack (darker, more "carbon" coffee, and found more in commercially-prepared roasts).
  • Chris shares the extensive process to become a master roaster. You need to learn how to taste coffee first. If you want to geek out, there are roasting curves on Google! By the way, roasting fires are not too uncommon. Yikes!
  • Note: If you see an oily coffee bean, then it's likely to be a longer roasted bean. You run the risk of the oil on the outside of the bean going rancid. Be weary!
  • Once you roast the coffee beans, Chris estimates that a bag of coffee beans will have about one month shelf life. It depends on the roast, of course. The lighter roast, such as an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, will have a little longer shelf life. The shelf life for ground coffee is variable and even shorter!
  • Illy Coffee uses nitrogen flushed packaging for both whole beans and ground coffee to help preserve flavors.

  • Chris' recommendation: Wait four days to a week after roasting to start using newly roasted beans.
  • Stay away from blade grinders or spice grinders--you need to use a burr coffee grinder since it will cut the coffee bean into a more uniform size, such as a basic one like this one by Black and Decker, or this one or this one or this one that Chris likes from Prima Coffee.
  • How to know you're grinding the right size: If your brew takes 3-4 minutes to complete, then you've got a good grind size. A smaller coffee grind will over-extract from the coffee. A coarse grind will taste watered-down or pithy.
  • French-press: Coarse grind, but longer time.
  • Expresso: Takes about 25 seconds because of the fine grind.
  • Drip versus pour-over coffee: There's something a little romantic about a pour-over set-up (such as a callida set-up), but drip coffee is consistent.

  • The ideal temperature: At least 198 degrees F, but 201 up to 210 degrees F are better. It needs to be hot enough to bring out the flavors. But you don't want it to be too hot (boiling), because it will pull out too many flavors and evaporate the flavor nuances.
  • Washed process coffee = more dense coffee bean = needs hotter water to give up the good flavor.
  • You can pick up a Total Dissolved Solids Meter and you can test your water in your home and your goal is to have minerals at 150 mg/L (or 4 grains of hardness/L) and a pH of 7. 
  • Third Wave Water helps you get a mineral mix that helps with you coffee. 
  • Chris was was drinking some coffee from Klatch Coffee Roasters: their Onyx Blend
  • What's a good supermarket buy: Go whole bean coffee. Check if it has a one-way CO2 valve. Check when it was roasted (at least a few weeks).
  • How should you be storing coffee: Cool airtight container at room temperature. Or perhaps in the freezer as Chris describes.
  • Subscribe to Chris' podcast here! He suggests three great episodes to start out: Episode 43 (Founder Friday with Kathy Turiano), Episode 37 (Chocolate + Coffee), and Episode 42 (Supplying and Selecting Equipment).
  • If you'd like to have Chris be a consultant for your business, jump on over to Clarity.fm and you can get a phone consultation by looking up Chris Deferio or Keys to the Shop.

Run Time: 60 minutes

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