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Daniel Humphries
Professional coffee ninja, New York City.
Interests: extraction rates, micro-climates, gicleurs, the natural history of cupping tables, roast development curves, Grade 1 Sidamos
Recent Activity
Hi Venu! Theoretically you can use any quantity of water. As long as the ratio of coffee to water is correct, you can use any size cup you have on hand. That said, the two most popular sizes — and I use both — are 150 ml (about 5.5 ounces), and 250 ml (just over 8 ounces). I like the slightly larger sizes. That size is the typical white porcelain bowl you see in many cupping labs. The smaller ones are often transparent "rocks glasses," like you serve whiskey in. Either size can work. If you use smaller cups, the only concern is to make sure you have enough liquid for everyone to cup thoroughly. With just two or three cuppers, there's no issue, but in a large group cupping it pays off to use larger cups. For 150 ml cups, I use 8 - 8.5 grams of coffee. For 250 ml cups, I use about 12 grams of coffee. The more precise the better, obviously, but if you are within half a gram, you'll be fine.
Michael: First try increasing the water temperature. Then try using more finely-ground coffee. Using a double filter isn't really a good long-term solution as it doesn't address the root of the problem. If you have an automatic machine that doesn't let you control the water temperature, considering upgrading (for much less money!) and getting a hand pour-over system. If you are using pre-ground coffee, invest in a nice burr grinder. You won't regret it!
Toggle Commented Aug 14, 2012 on Why is My Coffee Soapy? at Daniel's World of Coffee
Anun: We controlled for ripeness in this study. So all the varietals are at the same level of ripeness. We ended up making a Google Earth map of all this data. Next year my plan is to take digital photos of every sample as it's collected, before processing, showing cherry color. Then when you hover over a farm location on Google Earth, a picture will pop up showing cherry ripeness. Could also do this for the green coffee and even the roasted coffee. It's pretty easy to do. But the ripeness is what I really want to be shown in detail.
Thanks Michael!
Hi Shawn, Thanks for the kind words. Yes, I was wondering how many people out there would comment on that, or even notice it. There's more data than just what I'm showing here, and we're not drawing strong conclusions from any of the stuff you see here, for precisely the reasons you point out. The variance is actually not as severe as it looks in these graphs, though it's still not very neat. The cupping scores are means of several different sessions/cuppers. There are a couple of problems, from a data-analysis point of view. One may be the cupping forms; though we didn't use the SCAA forms we used something similar in concept. I'm interested to hear what you think in terms of alternatives. But the other problem — the main problem in my opinion — is that there are so many possible factors that influence flavor, literally dozens of potential variables, each of which we attempted to control for... but seriously, if you want to control for that many variables you will need a ton of data points. But each one of these data points represents an actual person who collected the cherries on-site on a hillside in Puerto Rico. In order for him to get those cherries, he first had to call each farmer one-by-one, trying to catch them when they are available, explain to them why they should take time out from their busy schedules to participate in this project, find out when the cherries were going to be harvested, drive out there on the appropriate day, pick the cherries, get them back to the research station and make sure they get processed immediately, and according to the standards that we set. Frankly, I'm amazed that we got 63 samples. 30 seems ambitious when you think about it. But to get really strong data, we would need hundreds of coffees and dozens of cuppers, in my opinion. So our way around this is to basically look at as many categories as we can and try to see where trends are stronger than in other categories, and draw our conclusions based also on what we already know from experience. The data will all be available eventually, but I don't have a publish-friendly version right now. As for who we are working with, the funding and on-ground support comes through the USDA in Puerto Rico, and is based out of the agricultural research station in Jayuya. My goal, actually, with all the stuff you see here, is to show that this kind of analysis is possible, to get our feet wet, so to speak, and to go back in the coming year and collect a lot more samples and correct some other little problems we have had. I also plan to do about double the amount of cupping (both instances and cuppers). And having the information we already have from this year's crop (correlations weak or strong), we'll be better able to zoom in on what we suspect are the important distinguishing factors. Basically the way I see people doing things now is: they will cup many coffees from many regions of, say, Kenya. Then they will say, "Well coffee from region xyz in Kenya is consistently better because of it's citrus flavor [or whatever]. We believe it's because of the particular iron content in the soil there." Now those cuppers, if they are experienced, are probably right about this. But all they can do is point to their hunches. My expectation for this project (and it's basically done) is that we're going to end up with some "hunches-plus". That is, we won't be able to prove definitively our conclusions (besides some very trivial points we could make about mold or something that's obvious anyway), but we will be able to support or not-support (depending on the case) the way cuppers talk about the coffee already. I'd be very interested to do this again with a larger sample set, draw some instantaneous conclusions (day-of or day-after) and then set up the samples again the next day by categories that the cuppers claim are important and see if they really match up their expectations with ours. Based on your CV, I bet you could give me some more insight beyond this. Feel free to drop me an email, and thanks for the comment and kind words!
It's my way of avoiding commitment.
Thanks Brandon. It was fun making them.
Thanks Michael! It was great to meet you too. I'm so interested in the work you are doing. I pored over that literature you gave me on the plane home. I certainly hope we can connect again soon in CA !
Thanks for the kind words, David and Andrea. Andrea: I took a look at your website. Great stuff! I'm hoping to go back to Honduras in May, specifically to Copan. Any suggestions for people to meet, places to check out, etc?
Hi Stephen. You're absolutely right. It's well-established in coffee, too, that "terroir" greatly influences flavor profile. But whereas the wine industry has done a great job of documenting this with extensive scientific study, rigorous studies in the coffee industry are few and far between. There are coffee science experiments, there are cuppings, and there is "origin work," but rarely do you see all three go hand in hand.
You guys are both right about it being expensive, of course. And Chris you are right this is partially because of a high cost of production. And Rob, I didn't know that! Very interesting. However, it goes deeper than this. For example, there is a floor-price set by the gov't for PR coffees, but no such floor that I know of in Hawaii. Second, both the actual quality and the perception of quality are generally higher in the case of Hawaii. So it's not merely high cost of production or high price that does this. Chris, there are actually *more* government regulations on the coffee in PR, not fewer. They have their hands wrist-deep in every sector of the industry there. But this still doesn't answer our question about quality. Other expensive coffees do very well in the specialty industry...
Toggle Commented Dec 6, 2010 on Isla del Encanto at Daniel's World of Coffee
Toggle Commented Nov 19, 2010 on Isla del Encanto at Daniel's World of Coffee
Espresso... Swedish people.... family.... What could be better?
Come on out next time you're on the West Coast, Theo. You can always just stop by the lab to say hello.
Thank you. I agree.
Thanks Kate! I asked Jane-o before I posted this if it would be ok. But in the back of my mind I already knew she would say yes.
The only consolation I give myself is this: From over here in America, it's easy to think of Scandinavia as one single region. But Oslo is hundreds of miles from Stockholm... also, those are some of the most expensive countries in the world to just be bumming around in. In Central America, for example, it's a lot simpler to say, "Hey, I think I'll bounce down to Panama for a few days and visit some friends." Doing that in Northern Europe can be an expensive proposition! Nevertheless! This was my first trip to Scandinavia, and now that I have my bearings somewhat... I'm planning to go back in the future and make a much longer, grander stay of it. Those nations bred my ancestors many generations ago... they have to take me back, right?
I know I know! I'm terrible.... but next time I go, I will have more free time, and more advance notice.
I like that one too, Ryan! Laurent... fine control is hard to master. But I find with half my students what they really need to do is relax and stop trying so hard. Then they come out wonky sometimes, but wonky can be beautiful.
Toggle Commented Sep 18, 2010 on Hey, That's My Latte! at Daniel's World of Coffee
Thanks, Iris. I'm glad you like it. As for that coffee - drinking job, it may not be what you had in mind, but there's always being a barista! I learned so much that I use every day now from back in my days of making lattes all day.
You got it, Scott... Keep up the great work.
Toggle Commented Aug 1, 2010 on Clean Shaven at Daniel's World of Coffee
It's an IR-12, which is Diedrich secret code for Infrared burner, 12-kilo machine. The max drop-weight for a machine rated like that is theoretically about 30 pounds of green coffee, but most roaster-operators go with about 80% capacity, for better control of the roast. Roasts take about 12-14 minutes, plus a few minutes for cooling time, because this machine has a one-way impeller that can drive air through the drum or through the cooling tray, but not both at the same time. So that means that Jeremy can roast about 100 pounds of green coffee an hour at maximal operation... or about 83 pounds of roasted product. That's my guess, without directly asking him.
I feel so connected to your yirgacheffe trip I almost feel I was there! Jeremy is a great guy.
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Mar 15, 2010