First experience with my Handground coffee grinder

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Last year I backed a Kickstarter project for a hand coffee grinder. I have written a few posts about them since as I have had the opportunity to provide feedback on the project and coffee making in general. The people behind Handground have done a great job to get the backers of the project involved and I am proud to have helped out in a small way. Just the other day my Handground grinder arrived in the mail. I pulled it out of the box and immediately looked at everything. It is a beautiful coffee grinder and looks great with all of my other coffee making implements.

This morning I took it for my first experience with grinding coffee by hand. In all of my coffee brewing adventures I have used my electric grinder, which has been great in cases where I am making bigger batches of coffee. And I still think I will use my electric grinder for bigger batches, but the hand grinder will be great for single cup pour overs. There is something about the mechanical process and using human power that is really interesting to me. Plus, it is super quiet compared to my electric grinder which is a big plus.

In the box there is a yellow piece of paper with some helpful info, like to not spin the grinder without coffee in it because the coffee oils help lubricate the burr. I am glad I read this first because as I was unboxing it I really wanted to grab the handle and spin it a few times to hear it go. But, I controlled my enthusiasm. When using my electric grinder I do like to let it go for a couple extra seconds once I hear all of the coffee go through and I even spin it a couple of times with the button to make sure all of the grounds got through. On my first grind I felt it when all of the coffee was done and spun it a couple of extra times for the same reason. I hope this isn’t harming anything because I just want to make sure all of my coffee grounds get through to keep my ratio as accurate as possible.

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Overall, I am really happy with the grinder. I did about 10 grams of coffee on the number 2 setting as it is suggested to break it in a little before use. This was easy to get going in the grinder. My biggest concern with a hand grinder would be getting it started and grinding away. But, the Handground easily gets going and keeps grinding the coffee. I’m not the strongest person, so a grinder that I can lean on to hold steady really helps. The bottom has a grippy pad that sticks to the kitchen counter well. The grinding motion worked really smoothly and only got caught up on bigger, tougher beans a couple of times. Even then I was able to push through and grind them down.

The grind consistency was awesome. I got an even grind across 20 grams of coffee for my pour over without any random sized chunks from what I could see. Based on that alone I am super happy with the grinder. This thing could have a hundred other features, but if the grind wasn’t as consistent I wouldn’t care. The grind looked beautiful. I ground my coffee on the number 4 setting and this worked really nicely. I should be able to dial in a nice grind for any coffee with Handground.

There are a couple of things that will take me some getting used to with the grinder. Firstly, the top screws and unscrews backwards, if you ask me. This was something that was an issue in manufacturing that requires the top to be unscrewed by being turned clockwise, to the right, and screwed on by turning counter clockwise, to the left. This was weird as most everything I have dealt with in my life is tightened by turning to the right and loosened by turning to the left(righty tighty, lefty loosey). I remember this being brought up in a backer survey and it was explained to us that due to how the grinder is assembled it has to be this way since the main post in the center can be loosened by the top being screwed the other direction. There was a much more convincing and technical reasoning in the survey , but that was the basics. Secondly, the opening at the top is a little small for pouring beans in. I was only doing 20 grams worth, but I could see trying to pour more beans being an issue causing some to fall away unless you have a small spout to pour them through. It’s nothing a small funnel couldn’t solve though.

In the end the Handground grinder is awesome and I’m glad to have been a part of the project. If you want to learn more about the grinder and see it in action you can check out their website here.

Learning a lesson on grind size the hard way

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Yesterday morning I made some coffee as my usual and preferred Saturday morning activity. Cassidy was up and getting ready to head out on a run with some friends. I got my things together and began with getting my water heating up and grinding my beans. Lately, I’ve been working on dialing in my single cup pour over process during the week, so my grinder was set finer than I would like for brewing in my Chemex. Unfortunately, I totally spaced on this and got my coffee grinding. I didn’t realize it until the coffee was totally ground. I was pretty frustrated with myself for not paying enough attention to what I was doing.

So, I decided to try an experiment and still do my normal Chemex process with the coffee ground too fine. I took a guess at what it would do and how the coffee would taste. I thought this would be a good reminder of how altering one part of coffee brewing can have a huge impact on the final outcome. Looking at how fine the coffee was compared to what I normally would have it ground it wasn’t too difficult to see it would be overly extracted. My guess was that it would be bitter and vegetal tasting.

I went ahead with my usual Chemex process. It was crazy to see how the grind size elongated my brew time significantly. Normally I try to hit around 3:30 minutes and this went all the way to 5:30 minutes. Afterwards, my grounds looked like a big mud pile. I tasted it and sadly was right about the flavor. Overall it was over extracted and there was this grassy mask over all of the flavor notes I know this coffee has.

This was a good lesson on home coffee brewing and a good reminder that I kinda know what I’m doing. I am by no means a coffee professional, but I’ve put a lot of time and energy into coffee to understand the nuances of the brewing process.

If you’re looking for some good tips on pour over brewing I found this video from Seattle Coffee Gear on their YouTube channel with some good stuff.

First attempt at Japanese Iced Coffee

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First pour of my Japanese Iced Coffee

I recently did some research on the process of making Japanese Iced Coffee. It was something I have seen mentioned from time to time while reading about coffee making processes and I thought it was time to give it a shot. I am a big fan of cold brew and as a coffee hobbyist I am always interested in trying out new methods of making coffee. In my searching I found this article on why people should switch from cold brewing to icing their coffee. It makes some good points. I have been learning more about the extraction process and what is happening chemically to the coffee. Having a good scientific understanding of the coffee brewing process sounds like it will lead to better brewing and will also be super fun. In that article it points out some things that happen only when the coffee is brewed hot that doesn’t happen with cold water.

This was noticed by coffee brewers in Japan and there this method of icing while brewing was developed. If you’re not familiar with it the process is basically brewing coffee hot as you would normally, but replacing some of the water with ice that is placed at the bottom of your brew vessel. Then you brew the coffee as you normally would with hot water. The hot water pours down onto the ice and melts it. The water from the ice becomes part of the coffee and finishes off the coffee:water ratio while also cooling it down. In my research on this method I found this video demo from Counter Culture Coffee that does a good job of demoing how it’s done.

I took that process and adapted its method into a recipe I got from Victrola Coffee recently on their Instagram feed. Looking at the Counter Culture recipe I saw they were using 1/3 of the weight of their water in ice and then boiled the rest. I took that to use 264 grams of ice and then used 536 grams of boiling water to make the 800 grams of water the Victrola recipe calls for. Other than that I didn’t change the Victrola recipe. If you’re going to attempt this I would suggest using crushed ice or at least very small cubes as it should make accurate weighing much easier, I had to get creative with finding some small pieces in the back of my ice machine. It will also make it easier to get ice down through the neck and into the bottom of your Chemex or other brewing vessel. Once I had the ice weighed out I put it back into the freezer to keep it frozen while I got everything else going. Everything else was my usual process for making coffee in my Chemex. After rinsing the filter I poured out the water and removed the filter to place the ice.

I was skeptical that the ice would melt, but as I hit the 4:30 mark the cubes were all gone for the most part. Giving the coffee a swirl as I normally do finished them off completely. This is another part where smaller bits of ice would do better. I had one cube that was particularly larger and I was worried it wouldn’t melt all the way, but thankfully it did.

Once I had it done I poured some glasses to try it out. I noticed that the Chemex was pretty cold, but wasn’t totally chilled everywhere. If I wasn’t going to be drinking it right away I would definitely chill it in the fridge to get it completely cold. Since I was trying it right off I poured it over ice to finish off chilling it and I must say that it was super tasty. The aromas of a hot brewed coffee were totally there, which isn’t always apparent from a cold brew. I do wonder how much of that will stick around. I stored some of this coffee in our fridge in the Chemex and had it the next day. It was still good, but the aromas weren’t really there any longer. This is more likely due to the fact that I stored it in the open Chemex as a container. The flavor notes of the coffee were very present. The coffee I made was a Colombia from Bows & Arrows that has a really nice apricot flavor that really came forward. I am interested in trying this out with other really fruit forward coffees.

I am definitely a fan of this method after my first try and I will be trying it out again. It wasn’t too difficult to adapt my coffee making process to make it work. I am considering using a bowl of ice next time to place the Chemex in and still use my normal amount of water. This should still chill the coffee as it falls down into the bottom of the vessel, but then I don’t have to worry about adjusting my coffee:water ratio to account for the ice I use.

Have you ever had Japanese Iced coffee? Have you ever made it yourself? If not, I would definitely recommend it. If you have I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on it and what your approach to it was.