Roasting: 21st Century Style!

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ManhattanRoasts is Back?

I know I know, the absence has been shameful.  Well, we’re back!  Kind of…

We’re going to be trying a couple new things in the land of ManhattanRoasts over the next little while.  The first is a new roaster!  Now that we have moved and no longer have a balcony, stovetop roasting is a little more difficult as there is nowhere to cool the coffee and get rid of the chaff (a balcony on a high floor is AMAZING for both).  So, we had to find an alternative method of roasting.

We’ve used the i-Roast before (the latest model, not the old one, which was apparently crap) and really liked it (even though it was little more than a glorified popcorn maker with heat profiles), but alas they are out of stock and have no plans to produce / release more in the near future.  Bummer.

So that brings me here.  Soon we will . . . → Read More: ManhattanRoasts is Back?

The Grind Really Does Make the Coffee

One basic tenet of coffee or espresso brewing is that the grind makes the coffee.  It is not difficult to understand that if you put a fine espresso grind into a french press the coffee will come out sludgy and over-extracted.  Likewise, if you try to use a coarse press grind for espresso the water will rush through, barely extracting the coffee’s delicious flavors.  Until recently I did not understand the subtleties in grind, however.

A few weeks ago I became the proud owner of a Rancilio Silvia with a PID (temperature control).  I immediately set up the machine and went to pull my first triple with the Rancilio’s flat-bottomed portafilter (unlike traditional portafilters, this one has no “ears” on the bottom, and instead is perforated.  As the espresso pulls through the portafilter it coalesces into a single stream in the middle… at least in theory).  I turned on the machine, let it warm up, ground my coffee to my usual espresso grind, and pressed the pull button… espresso spurted everywhere.

I tried a finer grind, I tried a coarser grind, I tried a traditional portafilter, I tamped with all my might, but still every time I tried to pull a shot my kitchen ended up covered in espresso.  Even on the finest grind my burr grinder could manage, this high-pressured machine blasted water through the portafilter like I had forgotten to pack the espresso.

Continue reading The Grind Really Does Make the Coffee

Topless Follow-Up

Remember the new topless coffee shop we discused back at the beginning of March?

Apparently it was burnt to the ground this week.  Police and the owner, Donald Crabtreet, both  suspect arson.

Crabtree, whose whole family lived in rooms attached to the Grand View Topless Coffee Shop, said he had no insurance on the shop, but will try to open again soon, even if it is based out of a trailer.  He always claimed the shop was just an innocent place putting smiles on peoples’ faces, but apparently not . . . → Read More: Topless Follow-Up

Robusta Coffee Prices Fall… Who Cares

According to Bloomberg this morning robusta coffee prices have fallen since the anticipated shortage in Brazilian robusta supply is not as deep as originally intended.

I have seen articles about this shortage for weeks, but the real question is “who cares?”  Most coffee we drink is Arabica.  Occassionally people use some amount of robusta as filler or instant coffee, but there really is no international scope to the story.  Even Bloomberg acknowledges at the end of the article “Most of Brazil’s robusta is used within the country.”

Unfortunate for Brazilians, but even there the effect will not be drastic.

Bloomberg, please include more than a footnote on the skyrocketing . . . → Read More: Robusta Coffee Prices Fall… Who Cares

Back in June!

We apologize for a May absense on the site.  Real life caught up with ManhattanRoasts a little, but we are back in June and excited to bring you discussing of iced coffee and coffee ice cream throughout the summer!

Just as a short update on the Roaster’s life, there is a new lady in his life – the Rancilio Silvia with built in PID (temperature control)!  This just arrived recently, so we will let you know how the machine unfolds.

As for the old Starbucks machine, well, she is still in our life, but has moved locations.  As of this morning she has been snuck to a place where we can enjoy fresh espresso all . . . → Read More: Back in June!

Mypressi Twist

We just found this really neat gadget, which apparently has won all sorts of honors and awards.  The device, called the Mypressi Twist is a handheld, portable espresso “machine” that apparently provides perfect extraction pressure anywhere in the world.  All you need is the device, espresso grounds (or pods), hot water, and a CO2 cartridge!

Check it out at

I would love to hear from anyone who knows more about this or has even . . . → Read More: Mypressi Twist

The Familiar Taste of… Jute?

I have a particular coworker who shares my love of coffee.  She often acts as my co-adventurer in tasting activities, but even further than that, we tend to exchange beans we find particularly good or interesting.  I was not terribly surprised when I got an email yesterday saying “I have some beans for you.”  The beans were an Indian Monsoon Malabar from Porto Rico Importing Company in the East Village of Manhattan.  I immediately tried a bean and thought “Hmm, this has a slightly strange, but familiar, aftertaste.”

This morning I tossed some in my French Press and brewed it for my morning coffee.  Again, I did not think the coffee tasted amazing, but it had this strange aftertaste that I thought I had tasted before.  At first I thought it was similar to a Sumatra’s peetiness, but it was not quite as full, and was a little muddier.

Then it came to me… JUTE.

Continue reading The Familiar Taste of… Jute?

Just Another Flying Rhino Day

Those of you who know me know that if I am making coffee at home, I can be picky about it.  As a matter of fact, it is the rare day that I brew coffee I did not roast myself.  I like my coffee just so, and I know how to make it that way from roast to brew.  When things are a little slow on the roasting front, however, I will give other coffees a shot.

Recently a friend from Ohio called me to say she was just leaving her favorite farmer’s market and had picked up some coffee from her favorite roaster, Flying Rhino.  In fact, she mentioned ManhattanRoasts to the owner, who insisted she take another bag of coffee to send to me.  A few days later I had a fresh batch of Flying Rhino’s “Rockin’ Rhino Blend” and another of their “Jungle Jive Espresso.”

The first thing I noticed when I opened the Rockin’ Rhino was how dark it was.  I have been so oversaturated with dark, burnt beans in my life, which have lost all their sugar and instead are just a bitter mess, that I am very biased towards a medium to lighter roast.   Furthermore, I am always a little suspect of blends (Rockin’ Rhino is a blend from three different regions), usually preferring a single origin for a much more straightforward taste.   Still though, I ground my usually amount, tossed it in the french press and brewed up a batch.  What I found was surprisingly delightful.

Continue reading Just Another Flying Rhino Day

ManhattanRoasts Goes to Boston

Apologies for the time between posts.  Lots in the works.  We expect to have reviews of at least one, if not more, Boston coffee shops over the next few days, so . . . → Read More: ManhattanRoasts Goes to Boston