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We here at Espresso Unplugged are constantly searching for ways to improve our coffee experience, just as we know you are too! The ideal brewing device is one thing, and favored coffee beans are another. But what about the way coffee beans are roasted?
Many people love roasting their own coffee beans. They like being able to control how dark they’re roasted, they like knowing their beans are as fresh as possible, and they like that green beans are less expensive than roasted beans!
If you’re new to the concept of roasting your own beans, you may not realize green beans can be kept, depending on conditions, for 1 to 3 years. In addition, green coffee beans are anywhere from 30% to 50% cheaper than roasted beans! Not only can you buy in bulk at a lower rate with less worry about spoilage, you can roast just what you need and just when you need it!
The process of roasting green beans is fairly straightforward. The beans are evenly heated until they start to change color. A yellowish hue suggests they’re cooking properly, and at this stage, they’ve reached Cinnamon Roast. Soon after, the ‘first crack’ is heard. This is when the beans have expanded enough to split their shell just a bit, and this is called New England Roast. A bit darker, and you’re at American Roast followed by City Roast.
Quite quickly, this stage is followed by the ‘second crack.’ Now your beans are at Full City Roast, which is perfect for espresso. Depending on your taste, you can stop here or continue on through Vienna, French, Italian, or Spanish Roast. Toward the end, though, you’ll be drinking a flat, watery brew more reminiscent of tar and charcoal than anything else!
There are a lot of factors that combine to produce a good roast. Chief among them are the evenness of roasting. If some beans are left uncooked, they contribute a mealy, grassy component, whereas overcooking some beans lends a burnt flavor.
Another factor is the removal of chaff, which is the residue of the beans’ skin after it’s cooked off. Although chaff is tasteless, too much of it can clog your coffeemaker and reduce your flavor. Also, dealing with the smoke from roasting your beans has to be dealt with. Although you can run a vent fan or roast outdoors, if the beans are roasted in a confined container, you will taste the smoke in your coffee.
Finally, it’s a good idea to let your roasted beans off-gas for 1 to 3 days before sealing them for storage. You can grind the just roasted beans if you like, but flavors develop and mellow with the off-gassing process.
What about you? Do you have a favorite method of roasting your coffee beans? We’d particularly like to hear about Unplugged roasting! Tell us your story, and we’ll pick from our favorites to win a porlex grinder.
The Espresso Unplugged team has developed a technique for increasing the pressure with your ROK espresso maker. This allows you to get the best espresso possible from your machine! It also works on the Presso, but be forewarned: The plunger on the Presso is not as robust, and care should be taken not to break your plunger!
Begin with the normal procedure of preheating your cylinder and use your normal grind in the portafilter. Once you're ready to fill the cylinder for pulling your shot, the difference begins!
Fill the cylinder almost to the top with hot water. Now wiggle the handles up and down just enough to release the air under the plunger. Do this until all the bubbles have stopped and the water level doesn't go down any further. Now fill your cylinder the rest of the way up with more hot water and gently raise the arms to the top.
When you press down on the arms, the first thing you'll notice is how difficult they are to press! This is because water is essentially incompressible, whereas air is readily compressed. That means all your energy is pushing the water through the grounds instead of some of it being wasted compressing air trapped under the plunger!
Watch the espresso carefully as you extract it from the beans – with all this extra water in the cylinder, it's easy to draw too light a shot. But if you pay attention to the color, you will get a cup of the best espresso possible from your ROK!
Give this method a try and let us know what you think! Did it work for you? Did you run into problems? Let us know!
When you don't have a plug holding you back, the possibilities for a good cup of coffee are endless!
We are developing a competition to celebrate and reward the people who push their thirst for great coffee to the limits. Take a ROK on the Wild Side and Win!
Share your photos, videos, stories, and experiences, and we will find a way to reward your efforts. Although we know sharing is reward enough for most of us, it's still nice to know there may be a special something to acknowledge a job well done!
Spread your wings and share your experience of Taking a ROK on the Wild Side!
Produced by the makers of the Aerobie flying disks and rings (I know; unexpected, right?), the AeroPress has wowed critics and aficionados around the world with its exceptional tasting coffee! Employing a quasi-French Press method of brewing, the AeroPress combines a superfine filtration system with a unique plunger to produce grit-free coffee – right in your cup! Let's take a closer look.
Right off the bat, our experience demonstrated the instructions that came in the box were not the best way to make coffee. Instead, we inverted this clever gadget to retain all the good flavor that had previously leaked out during the initial stirring phase. As soon as the initial steeping was done, we screwed on the filter and cap while the AeroPress was still upsidedown. Turning it over onto a cup kept everything we love about coffee right where it should be and ready to drink!
Coffee lovers have long known that lower temperatures release less of the acids that make coffee bitter, so adhering to the recommended water temperatures is crucial. This is the secret of this fantastic machine, and the proof is in the result!
Traditional French Press brewers have suffered from producing a gritty finish, but that problem's solved with the AeroPress! Using the included paper filters keeps the grounds away from the cup so you can drink your coffee to the last drop. If you choose your beans for the flavor of their oils, you should try our Stainless Steel Coffee Filter Disk, created especially for the AeroPress. Reusable and easily cleaned, it allows your beans to give you everything they've got!
It's unfortunate to see the AeroPress marketed as an espresso maker – clearly, it's not – but don't let that stop you from experiencing the magnificent coffee it produces!
Having spent the last 6 weeks with both the ROK and the Presso, I’m now well equipped to review the two machines and share my interpretation on the coffee ‘experience.’ My perspective is well and truly a ‘beginners’ perspective. I enjoy coffee, but generally I’m on the receiving end of a local brew at the nearest café. I had never made a coffee before…not even the instant version! I generally order the latte or the cappuccino and sometimes the long macchiato.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PRESSO AND ROK
Firstly, I was interested in the differences between the ROK and the Presso.To the naked eye, the differences are subtle. They appear to be made from the same mould, with the noticeable differences really only being the logo and the fact that the Presso has water level indicators. I found this really useful for understanding the amount of water required for a double espresso or two singles.I also noted that the Presso squeaked a little when extracting slowly, but this may have just been the machine I had and not necessary reflective of the model.
USING THE MACHINE*
- Boil the jug.
- Fill portafilter with coffee and tamp to desired density. Insert and twist to lock in ROK.
- Pour boiling water in holder and lift ROK arms.
- Heat milk in microwave (60 seconds for a cup).
- Froth milk with manual frother.
- Place cup under portafilter.
- Pull arms down at ‘preferred speed.’
- Enjoy a ‘real’ coffee!
- Rinse machine with hot water and let drip dry.
Essentially, it’s a 7 step process, which is incredibly straight forward. The user determines the amount of milk and method of frothing. Apart from that, the level of water is generally fixed. Extraction techniques could vary, and as I became more familiar with the machine, I played around with different speeds at which I pulled the arms down. I found 10-20 seconds provided the best results for me.
*Process and results identical for both PRESSO and ROK
My preferred coffee was half a cup of milk in the microwave for 60 seconds frothed with a double espresso shot. I usually scooped a bit of frothed milk off the top for my boy, and these babychinos soon became a very popular way to enjoy a cuppa with the little guy. Alternatively, a short macchiato was also a great way to enjoy the real taste the freshly grounded beans had to offer.
Generally, I made the following observations:
- Coffees were reasonably consistent in appearance.
- Coffees were very consistent in taste!
- Difficult to consistently achieve the ‘crema.’
- Coffee did splatter at the very end of extraction as air was pushed through. This could be avoided by overfilling the water and only extracting the required amount. (Generally, the splatter didn’t concern me.)
- Results were best achieved with professionally ground beans.
- I tried various beans and concluded my preference was Jaspers Blend #6. Described as a ‘Deep, strong, and smooth, with a slight chocolate finish… for a Kick Start or a Fine Finale any day.’ I fell in love with this blend and will find it difficult to deviate away from it in the future.
Cleaning the ROK is simple. Just remove the portafilter by twisting it to the right and emptying the coffee cake into a bin. Rinse the portafilter and ROK with hot water and let drip-dry.
FINDING A PLACE IN THE KITCHEN
The ROK (and PRESSO) look great in any kitchen. Its raw and robust appearance blends in nicely alongside our other kitchen machinery. It’s a topic of conversation and soon found a permanent place on the bench top.
SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
If you are chasing the perfect coffee with precisely frothed milk, don’t buy this machine. Go visit your local café or spend $3,000+ on a barista machine. However, if you are like me and are chasing a dummy proof alternative that provides delicious coffee for less than $200, look no further.The ROK comes with a manual stainless steel frother that provides a basic and limited no-frills solution. You will need to invest in a decent grinder to provide the necessary espresso grind.
The machine relies on limited moving parts and no electricity. It is completely mobile and can be taken on picnics, fishing trips, or even holidays.I’m told the machine will face the test of time due to its advanced engine-grade alloy and handcrafted assembly. If this is true, then I have no doubt that the ROK will have a place in our kitchen for many years to come.
Less is more. Size matters. Everyone has their own unique way of looking at things. But when it comes to a manual grinder for great coffee, you can't look past the Porlex coffee grinders from Japan. These beautifully designed and manufactured grinders are made of stainless steel, and they have conical ceramic burr grinding disks. The stainless steel housings make them easy to clean. There is way less static compared to plastic models; ceramic burrs won’t rust, are super easy to clean, and they stay way sharper compared to steel burrs.
With both the Tall and the Mini, you can tweak your grind from Turkish to French Press. Below is an approximate guide to help you dial in for your favourite style of coffee.
Extra Fine (Turkish) = 1 - 2 clicks
Fine (Espresso) = 3 - 4
Medium-Fine (Fine-Medium?) = 5 - 6
Medium (Filter) = 7 - 8
Medium-Coarse = 9 - 10
Coarse (French Press) = 11 - 12
So what's the skinny on the Mini vs Tall? Which Porlex is perfect for you? It all comes down to what you require for your coffee rituals. The Mini will give you enough for a double shot (approx 25 grams). It gets the thumbs up if you are going to be doing a lot of travelling with your grinder.
The Tall will grind enough fresh roasted coffee to give you a couple of double shots (approx 30 grams). There is nothing to attach the handle to, but that can translate into one less thing to wear out.
Another thing both grinders have in common is that you might wear yourself out if you are trying to grind for more than two people. There are over 100 turns required. Slow Coffee at its best.
For more information and pricing view:
A big thanks to our friends at seesaw signs for making up these special stickers for our ROK resellers in Australia. The BIG tin (or as it has been nicknamed, the Coal Scuttle) looks great all stickered up, and I think some nice red ribbon will dress the ROK up for Christmas! If you have any ideas on how to festive up the ROK, please pass them on.
seesaw sign sticker mock up
Alison and I picked up the first ROK stock yesterday from Brisbane. We were so excited to get our hands on a few as quick as we could so we could get a jump on sending out our pre-orders. With the great new packaging (get ready for a big reusable tin), we could only get a few, but more are on their way today.
Thanks to all our patient customers. This week we will be getting all our orders out and start rolling the ROK out to our former Presso retailers.
Below is a picture of our Senior ROK Inspectors, John Davis and Bogart Cromwell, inspecting our first ROK espresso maker. One tip–when you go to open the tin, you will need to break the protective tape seal with something. Otherwise, the tin won’t let you in!
Bogart wants to have the tin for biscuits.
We are getting ready to ROK. Just got some great news from our mate David! He handled all the tricky logistics of pushing the Presso from Port to Port, and now he handles the ROK.
Sorry for being a month behind, and we are on track for getting ROK stock out to our pre-order customers by the end of November. Thanks for your patience. Here is the official news: