Archive for August, 2014

Coffee log #5

August 31, 2014

32g, 20oz, 1.6g/oz, 4min

Yesterday when I only made 25g/16oz it wasn’t enough and I ended up brewing chemex later. So today I went with the seemingly best numbers–but I’ve upped the steep time by a minute. I’m sure that’s not long enough to make it bitter, hopefully it is long enough to pull out some hidden flavors.



Honestly I can’t tell much difference from the three minute steep. It might be that these beans aren’t that good. It’s kind of got a blend of several mostly indistinguishable earthy flavors. Maybe cinnamon?

I’m almost out of Yukon. In a few days should I switch to Colombia NariƱo or Brezza? I’ve both before fairly recently, but haven’t made a study of it.

Coffee Log #4

August 30, 2014

Today I’m gonna try 16oz and 25.6g. I have a feeling this will simply not be enough caffeine. I’m kind of tempted to make chemex instead of french press today because yesterday’s was gritty but whatever. I tried grinding slightly more coarsely but there’s a certain point where it’s really tedious.



There’s actually three visible spirals in the floating oil in the cup. Probably can’t see it in the picture though.

Ahhh I think this is about as perfect as a cup of french press can taste, but we’ll have to wait for me to get to the bottom I guess.

Seems great. Should I experiment with time or more with ratio tomorrow? Or should I make Chemex?

Silly semi-generative music

August 29, 2014

I “wrote” a bit of music by writing eight bars of four/four (which are just half notes on chord tones with occasional quarters for passing tones) and then generating sixteen random numbers. The second time through the eight bars I wrote, the first random number tells me which half note to change to a quarter. So each time through the eight bars gets one beat shorter, until the sixteenth time through, when it’s now just eight bars of two/four and only lasts half as long.

At 128 BPM it’ll be three minutes long and make a nice youtube video, I hope. I wish I was better at animations so I could show the score shortening itself.

Coffee Log #3

August 29, 2014

32g, 18oz, 1.78g/oz

Increased ratio by keeping same amount of beans but decreasing water.

Still tastes good. Has a kind of dry aftertaste, might just be a tiny bit of grit seeping through.

This was starbucks yukon again with 200ish degree water and a suboptimal blade grinder.

Supposedly this is earthy and well-rounded according to the bag. It’s always been one of my go-to Starbucks blends because they don’t burn it. I like their African single-country coffees alright too. They usually have at least one easily identifiable note, even when sold by Starbucks.

I still don’t know if I taste any particular note in Yukon though. That’s to be expected from a blend, but I still like it because it’s reliable. Was hoping more flavors would come out by increasing the ratio, but maybe they won’t unless I increase the steep time too.

Coffee Log #2

August 28, 2014

Today I did 32g instead of 35g and 20oz instead of 22oz. That’s the same ratio. I did 3 min brew again.

I made a vine:

I guess before I increase brew time I should decrease the total amount I make until I feel like it isn’t enough.


Tastes good. I need to stick to this ratio or higher. The more I think about coffee the more I want a proper grinder and then an aeropress.

Projects and project statuses

August 27, 2014

Whale Boost production
Two chassis are tooled, labelled and finished. Circuit board design needs to be reviewed, then boards populated, then everything assembled. I’m estimating two hours for each step. I’m wanting to have both board designs reviewed by friday.

Son of Screamer variantDo not work on this until Whale Boost is done.

Arduino Synth ModuleDo not work on this until Whale Boost is done.

Baby Whale Amp
I want to implement a tone bypass, to replace the useless preamp plate starve. I also need to design and construct cabinetry for the amp. I’m looking at an hour of planning the bypass, then I need to source a DPDT switch. And install it. Planning this should take 30 minutes. Installing up to an hour. I hope I have a suitable switch laying around, otherwise sourcing will be annoying. I want to have the switch in hand by Saturday.

For cabinetry I need to make measurements, come up with a design, then build it and finish the wood. I’m looking at an hour of measurements, two hours of designing, and then god knows how long with the rest since I’m not a woodworker. I’m going to make those measurements by Sunday.

School Project
I’m on a team with three others on a project. We have to select a project by Monday.

Exciting post with multimedia for all of these things coming very soon.

Coffee Log #1

August 27, 2014

Bodum French press
Potato Hamilton Beach Blade Grinder
Ground as little as possible where no whole beans are left
Starbucks Yukon Blend
35g beans
22ish oz water
200-210 degrees
3 min steep
Stirred lightly pre-steep

This is my first time changing up my recipe. I usually do 44g beans and fill the press completely with water. Which is at least 30 oz but possibly 40.

I usually steep for 8-10 minutes because I don’t care. I usually just wander off do something else for a while. It’s mostly becoming obvious to me that I’m making too much coffee because I throw away about 1/4 or 1/3 of it every day.

Using this ratio, 1.6g/oz vs 1.46 to 1.1, is obviously better. The total caffeine content depends mostly on the total grams of beans and is barely affected by time, ratio, and temperature. Of course these things have some effect but science shows it’s less than most people think. [citation needed]

I think if I narrow down my brew time I’ll find the “sweet spot”. My idea is to increase it until it starts tasting bad. And then move on to experimenting with water volume. 20oz seems ideal for the amount I want to drink anyway, but I need to decide if it’s the correct amount of grams of caffeine I want too. And then of course ratio affects taste.

So yeah, actual important stats:
35g, 22oz, 1.6g/oz, 3min, as coarse as possible, light stir

It tastes better than usual, mostly smoother, but not much weaker.

On electronics recycling or reusing

August 12, 2014

I’ve accumulated four bad or otherwise worthless hard disk drives. Recently I made a Fedora 19 install on an old PC and about a month later started getting S.M.A.R.T. errors, so I yanked it out just now. I looked at it and it’s an 80GB parallel drive from Maxtor. I’m pretty sure Maxtor doesn’t exist anymore. I’m also pretty sure modern computers can’t use parallel drives. I’m also pretty sure hard disk drives no longer come in 80GB. The smallest I saw at Best Buy (whose hard drives were mysteriously low-priced) the other day was 500GB or maybe 320GB. Of course more expensive SSDs still come in smaller sizes.

I’m thinking about how and where I should dispose of these drives. When I googled “where to recycle e-waste” one the websites that came up suggested always trying to repair electronics rather than dispose of them, and this of course got my gears going, because I’m now trying to do a calculation in my head about what is actually more environmentally friendly.

If I get an old CRT monitor repaired, for example, instead of replacing it, then my carbon footprint is going to be (for argument’s sake) 5x as high as if I replace it with a more modern display. (LED and LCD displays are much more energy efficient). If I throw it in the trash, then I’m introducing mostly copper and fiberglass and plastic, but also small amounts of heavy metals, into the environment. What is worse? Producing 5x as much carbon as I would be for the next couple of years, or introducing a bit of heavy metals as a one time thing? Sometimes I wonder if whoever is writing the pro-reuse educational materials have actually made this calculation. Of course, if our electrical grid produced less carbon-per-kilowatt, then the point at which reusing is worse than buying a new one would shift.

I’d like to reexamine this problem with actual numbers, and also reexamine it with the criterion being actual monetary cost to the consumer rather than cost in damage to the environment.

Even if one were to make the calculation and decide that heavy metals are a worse problem, when taken in a vacuum, what if our global carbon-production problems are closer to reaching a tipping point than our global heavy metal pollution problems?

Anyway, this is what I’ve been thinking about. I haven’t made the calculation with real numbers, but to be honest my hypothesis is that we would be better off in the long run if everyone dumped every CRT television or monitor into the ocean immediately–for the environment’s sake. Of course, recycling them properly would be even better. ;)