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08 March 2009

Coffee to go.

The label "nerd" is relative like most anything in this world. There's relative nerdiness within fields, but also some fields of interest are more likely to induce the label "nerd" than others. Instances: I would easily call Sheldon Cooper a nerd, while others would call me a nerd for the same reasons. Also, you're much more likely to be called a nerd if you spend 40 hours a week on Age of Conan (I would have written World of Warcraft, but I'm using the opportunity to do some advertising) than if you watch reruns of "The Bold and the Beautiful" for the same amount of time.

Coffee is a field were nerds (or, of course "geeks") abound. I'll allow myself to be a little nerdy on coffee right here. I'm into this to be able to make a good cup of coffee, within the limits and time of someone who has a day job. Some will find this kind of activity insanely nerdy, and some not at all…

I visited Tim Wendelboe today, or rather, some of his followers at the Tim Wendelboe coffee nerd hive. Tim is now selling the Solis 166, which is sold under various names. I bought a Bodum Antigua coffee grinder in Copenhagen at the Bodum store together with jrc* this Christmas, and it's been serving me well so far, but it's nice to see that Tim is selling grinders too, considering that they are much harder to come across for sale in Oslo than most common illegal substances. Since I showed some interest in the grinder, they asked me if I needed any help and I started talking about the Antigua, and how it has a ton of grind settings, but that the indicated targets for espresso, filter and French press seem to be way off. So they (IK, CK) gave me a sample of what they think is the right filter grind, so I could compare that with the result from the Bodum Antigua.

So allow me a moment of nerddom.

I bought this Kenyan Mununga, and I got a sample of espresso roasted someting or other, ground for filter for comparison.
Tim Wendelboe's Kenyan Mununga

Filter grind from Tim Wendelboe

The Antigua has quite a lot of settings, and the filter setting is a little more coarse than I'd like, so I tried comparing 1 and 2 steps finer than filter (Filter -1 and Filter -2).

My filter -1 looks like this (see the album for close-ups):
Fra Kaffe

And filter -2 is like this:
Fra Kaffe

Even though there is unevenness in the ground TW coffee, the most striking part is how much more variation there is in the Antigua grind. That is of course to be expected by an entry-level burr grinder. However, it seems to me, that despite the wider bell curve of sizes on the Antigua vs. whatever they have at TW, the grind setting Filter -1 is a closer match than Filter -2. Filter -2 produces quite a lot more small particles, so that it seems like the median is shifted more than you'd expect towards smaller particles and dust.

I think filter -1 (that is one step closer to espresso grind) is more resemblant to the TW coffee than filter -2. This is based only on looks, and not on taste, since I changed other parameters. Also I have not tried any more since I made two rather large cups, and I didn't want to get a caffeine induced heart attack.

However, I did devise a better method for adding a more correct amount of water. jrc* of course shuns me for not adhering to the weighing of water, but I think that method has two disadvantages. Basically it goes like this: weighing the beans, putting them in the filter; putting the cup with filter and coffee on the reset scale, and pouring water over until the weight-equals-desired-volume (given water weight to volume is SI 1 to 1). First, I don't have a scale with any reasonable accuracy, and second, I like to have a premeasured amount of water to put in, since I can't think about two things at the same time.

I've been looking for a glass volume container (since I'd rather have glass than plastic) that doesn't have too much heat capacity. I have a Pyrex 1L one, but if I pour 3 dL into that, the temperature quickly dropped to around 80 degrees before I could do anything about it.

So I decided to put a 3 dL mark on the French press container (since that's what I often use if I wanna make a large morning cup of coffee, giving a little more than 2.5 dL of brewed coffee), thinking it wouldn't cool down the coffee as fast as the big and heavy Pyrex (which is also unhandy, because it's so big). But as it turns out, the temperature drops pretty quickly too (88.5 degrees when I get a steady metering), if the French press glass is unheated.

Fra Kaffe

But with slight preheating of the French press glass, I can make coffee with a pre-measured 3 dL volume for 1 cup of Kenyan Mununga, and grind setting "filter -1".

Good morning.

05 July 2007

No more hotel

No more hotel for now. No more automatically clean towels and breakfast buffés, no more restaurants-every-day, no more living at St. Olav's Square, no more vouchers...

On the other hand, no more living in a suitcase and needing stuff you have on the other side of the country, no more tiny fridge filled with overprices tiny bottles, no more hotel beds, and hotel dudes turning on the wrong lights, and no more checking out Friday morning and taking a suitcase to work.

I have moved to Oslo. And I still haven't been grocery shopping. I have nothing to eat except a half-dry bread and some stolen bananas. And I still don't have my stuff, it's still in Bergen, and I'm picking it up this weekend. So this week I've missed my hotel, even though it's nice feeling that my life is returning to normalcy -- figuring out the commute to work for instance. It's not so bad. I have nice redundancy on my way to work. I can take the subway, and choose another line that takes a shortcut and catches up with my preferred line if I'm 2 minutes late, and I can take a bus that goes really close to my house, and I can even bike if I feel brave and gutsy enough.

Oslo is nice.

16 June 2007

I don't live here anymore

I'm at "home" in Bergen. I like to say "an era is coming to an end". I'm in Bergen for perhaps the last time before I move for good. But an era is not really coming to an end. Bergen has not really been an era, not even from my micro-perspective eyes. I have lived here for seven months, but only really been here for two. Life is unstable. Last week I couldn't even find a hotel to stay in, and lived at Earl Intender's place for a week. Good service. No complaints (probably the best hotel in town, including a cheese table at Frognerparken — beats breakfast at Edderkoppen). But it's going to be nice to move to Oslo and have a place to stay.

Weekend perks:

1. My camera has arrived! Sadly not here, but it has arrived.
2. I have a place to live in Oslo!
3. I'm going to Italy tomorrow.

01 June 2007

A neat idea.

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

— Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Digital Watches

Yes, I think they are a neat idea. And I really do like this 80s-looking watch. Lots of people are all "Whoa, have you had that watch since you were born or something?" They don't realize that this timeless timepiece is as neat of an idea as it was in 1983. And now it's broken. And it sucks.

Actually it's just the glass that is broken. But since this is Norway 2007 it costs more to have it fixed than what I paid for this would-be heirloom, in 2000.

30 May 2007


A new coffee maker is in town, the brand new machine from Clover, which supposedly makes coffee by some kind of vacuum principle (instead of pressure or just plain old gravity, I suppose, I haven't really gotten into it, as I don't expect to own one anytime soon).

This new baby costs somewhere in the vicinity of 11 000 USD and/so not that many own them yet. But thanks to my primary coffee (information) source -- coffee aficionado John, I happen to know that there are two such machines located in Norway, and not surprisingly they are both in Oslo.

So at Stockfleth's I tried one of this cups of some kind of Rwandan blend. And though the experience might have been a little tainted by the fact that I had never tried the coffee made by some other technique, and that 300 police-cars passed the window, I must say I wasn't blown away. I wasn't all "meh!" and I didn't feel ripped off paying 25 NOKs for the cup, but I would have felt a little un-mesmerized if I'd paid 11 000 dollars for the hunk of steel. Or to sum up like John did: "it's good. it's not $11000 good."

28 May 2007

No suits in my suit case

My location is unstable, but what I need to pack is more or less the same.

11 pairs of socks.
11 boxer shorts.
11 t-shirts.
Put select clothing on top.


Then it's just to get tickets and get up early.

30 April 2007

Jag fick ett brev

I got a letter. A real letter, and although without stamps, it contains plenty of real-life impact. It was from Lånekassen, informing me that my life in freedom was over. Years of carefree student life of regularly getting "paid" is over, and the past is back to haunt me for the next decades with quarterly brain mortgages.

Does this mean I'm finally grown-up? I drink coffee. I even bought orange marmalade. And I'm paying down my debt to society whilst paying tax. Am I not overly conforming of our community's set standards?