What I’ve Been Brewing: El Salvador Finca Santa Rosa, Burundi Gaharo, and 17ft Ceiling

For an Aeropress, Chemex, or V60, I’ve been drinking a lot of an El Salavador Processed bean from the Finca Santa Rosa Coffee Farm roasted by Coffee Labs in Tarrytown, NY. Given the honey process (which has nothing to do with honey), this coffee has a distinct sweetness, slight acidity, and a syrupy body. The beans are gigantic (see the featured image at the top). I’ve had three pounds of this over the past month.

I just went back in to Coffee Labs today to get another pound of it, but they are unfortunately out of it. I usually turn to one of their Ethiopian or Colombian varieties, but I decided to go with something different this week: A Burundi from a co-op farm, washed at a station in Gaharo. From Coffee Labs:

This is our third year working with The Long Miles Coffee Project in Burundi. Burundi has an ideal climate for coffee growing, but in the past farmers in the area have been only been able to sell their coffee to be blended with other beans from around the country. The Long Miles Project works to change that by helping farmers increase the quality of their crop and the quality of their life. This particular coffee is a fully washed process medium bodied coffee grown by a co-op of 480 farmers. The Garharo washing station was the first station built by Long Miles.

These beans have a deep earthy flavor, hints of marshmallow and dark chocolate, and a bit of a bitter citrus finish. And a bit of something I can’t quite place… maybe coriander? This is pretty different from what I usually drink, but it is good to have something different now and again.

For espresso in my Rok, I’ve been drinking Blue Bottle’s 17ft Ceiling. It is a caramelly, nutty blend of beans from Brazil, Ethiopia, Guatemala, India. I buy it 6oz at a time because I’m the only one at home who drinks it. I don’t want to let it sit around too long before brewing. As long as it is fresh, it produces a nice crema.


Tampers for the ROK Espresso Maker

I had trouble finding this info when I first got the ROK Espresso Maker, so I’m posting this here for others to find.

The tamper size you want for the ROK Espresso Maker is 49mm.

Why not just use the little plastic one that came in the box?
The one that came with the ROK is significantly smaller than the portafilter, so it pushes grounds up the sides when you push down on it. It has no heft, so it is left up to you to push evenly. This leads to uneven pressure, which can lead to channeling. Plus, regular tampers are just plain cool. Unnecessary, sure, but cool.

Here are a few options for all price ranges and styles:

RSVP Stainless Steel Espresso Tamper 49mm

RSVP Stainless Steel Espresso Tamper, 49mm. $14.95 at time of writing.


Zoie + Chloe Stainless Steel Espresso, 49mm

Zoie + Chloe Stainless Steel Tamper, 49mm. $17.99 at time of writing. (This is the one I’m currently using. See photo above.)

49mm Stainless Steel Tamper

49mm Stainless Steel Tamper. $21.79 at time of writing.

Jimei Calibrated Coffee Tamper,49mm

Jimei Calibrated Coffee Tamper, 49mm. $37.00 at time of writing. Clicks when you reach 30lbs of force.


Espro Calibrated Convex Tamper, 49mm

Espro Calibrated Convex Tamper, 49mm. $113.67 at time of writing. This cool but expensive contraption clicks after you reach 30lbs of force.


Soylent Coffiest Review

Soylent (Rosa Labs) released a new product last week: Coffiest. I bought a case a few hours after the announcement and I made it my breakfast the past few mornings.

This is the fourth, and best, type of Soylent I’ve tried. Here are my notes on the other ones I’ve tried:

  • 1.4 (powder, no longer available) was thick, clumpy, and tasted like pancake batter. I added a lot of cocoa powder to it.
  • 1.5 (also powder, different formula, no longer available) was thinner and had a more neutral taste. Not bad, but I thought the carb-to-fat content was a little too high.
  • 2.0 (original pre-mixed version, still available) is pretty good. I really liked the convenience of not having to mix powder with water and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours before I drank it. My main use-case for Soylent is a quick breakfast or lunch when I have a lot going on and no time to make something. Drinking a bottle of 2.0 keeps me going until dinner time. It is thinner and even more neutrally flavored than 1.5. It has a slight cereal milk taste. I didn’t dislike the flavor, but I found it to be a whole lot better when I added in some of my iced coffee.

Coffiest is the latest addition to their line. It contains the nutrients of one meal and some caffeine to get you going. I’ll admit that I was a little nervous about what the flavor of Coffiest would be. I’m happy to say that Rosa Labs nailed it. Coffiest has a good balanced coffee flavor and just a little bit of the cereal milk base flavor peaking through. In fact, it tastes pretty close to what I mixed together myself with Soylent 2.0 and my iced coffee. Some people say there are chocolately overtones in there, but they don’t really come through for me. It isn’t too sweet and doesn’t leave a weird film in your mouth like coffee+milk. It tastes just like a balanced coffee drink should.

It is easy to forget that this is a meal replacement drink because it is so thin. Remember that this is packed with the nutrition of a full meal, so consume it wisely!

Be aware of the amount of caffeine you usually drink and how it compares to Coffiest. 150mg is roughly 1 large strong cup of coffee or 2 cups of weaker office coffee. I’m a caffeine addict, so Coffiest doesn’t replace my caffeine intake for the day. I usually follow it up 2-3 hours later with a cup of coffee or shot of espresso. If you arent a coffee drinker though, 150mg might be a lot for you.

You might feel a little different after drinking Coffiest. It has 150mg of caffeine and 75mg of l-theanine, an amino acid in green tea that has been found to smooth out the effects of caffeine. In short, it helps keep you from getting jittery. I’ve taken l-theanine before and gives me a somewhat dazed feeling, even when combined with caffeine. If you aren’t used to it, it can be a little strange.

I’ve had no problems so far consuming it on an empty stomach, unlike some of the early powdered versions. I’ve been taking it with me on my morning walks (see the photo at the top of this article), so by the time I get back home, I’ve had a walk, something to “eat”, and coffee. I’m pretty pleased with this version and I think it will become a regular breakfast item for me.

Coffee Beans I’ve Been Enjoying Recently

Just because I’m addicted to caffeine doesn’t mean I’m willing to settle for any old cup. I have standards.

Here is what I’ve been brewing recently:


Molten Standard Espresso from The North Star Coffee Company

This is a wet-processed bean from Illubabor, Ethiopia. It has notes of stone fruit, plum, floral citrus, hints of peach, and a touch of lemon complimented by baking spice, dark toffee, and chocolate roast tones. This has been the go-to bean for my mid-afternoon shot. I use 16g in the basket of my ROK, but I imagine that it will shine well in any espresso machine once you figure out the correct dosage.

Full disclosure: I know the owners of The North Star Coffee Company. They are great people, but that isn’t why I’m featuring their coffee here. It is delicious, stands on its own, and is a really good price. You won’t regret picking some up.


North Tanzania from The North Star Coffee Company

This is a wet processed bourbon varietal bean from Tarime, Tanzania. It features molasses, dried fruits and berry notes, and honey and caramel sweetness with hints of light brown sugar and cocoa. I’ve been enjoying it in my Aeropress (25g) and V60 (35g for ~500ml).


Guatemala Antigua Santos from Sagebrush Coffee

This is a wet-washed bean from the Antigua Valley in Guatemala with chocolate and hazelnut notes. It makes a delicious, nutty cup. I’ve been using this recently for iced coffee.


Ethiopia Drima Zede from Sagebrush Coffee

This is a dry processed bean from the Kochere region of Ethiopia. It is medium roasted and delightfully fruity with distinct berry notes. It shines most in the Aeropress (25g) and V60 (35g for ~500ml).


Decaf Costa Rica Bella Vista F.W. Tres Rios from Starbucks Reserve

I know what you are thinking. How in the world can I call myself a coffee connesour and recommend Starbucks? Well, if you are thinking that clearly haven’t tried these beans.

I visited the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room in Seattle back in March. It was so much cooler than the original Pike Place store. Workers were roasting a ton of different kinds of coffee and every employee I talked to was very knowledgeable about different beans and brewing methods. I decided to try three different types of espresso, then after getting my thoughts, the barista pulled another shot and wouldn’t tell me what it was until I sampled it. The baking spices and chocolate notes with a citrus finish was better than any of the other espressos I tried.

I was completely floored when I learned it was decaf. I’d never had a decaf coffee that tasted this good.

While this doesn’t specifically feed my caffeine addiction, I also drink coffee because I really like the taste of it. This is what I turn to in the evenings when I want to sip an espresso but need to go to bed at a reasonable hour.

Note: I was looking around for photos of coffee beans that didn’t look totally flat or stocky. I couldn’t find anything, so I pulled out my gear, dumped out the bag of Guatemala Antigua Santos, and shot some myself with help from Amanda. If you want to use them, you can find the full-sized images on my Flickr account. Amanda took this photo of me while we were at it:


The Best Way to Make Iced Coffee

Forget cold brew and forget pouring your coffee over ice. The best iced coffee is brewed hot and concentrated with an Aeropress, slowly cooled down, then served like a cocktail.

First, let me answer a few questions:

Why do you hate cold brew?
I don’t hate it, in fact I even drink it from time to time. It is just this method is better. Cold brew takes more beans, takes much longer to brew (12 hours!), and is messier to clean up. I always have to strain mine because I don’t like sludge. The taste is a bit off, too. Brewing coffee with hot water releases oils and compounds that you won’t get by brewing it at lower temperatures. This means that cold-brewed coffee is missing part of its essential flavor profile. Why would you settle for that when you can have better?

Why can’t I just pour my hot coffee over ice or brew my V60 over ice?
Well, you can. I won’t stop you. I probably won’t drink the result, either. Pouring hot liquids over ice melts the ice and dilutes the liquid. Unless you have exceptionally great ice, it will also change the favor even if you start out with a concentrate. Let ice melt in a glass and then drink it. It probably doesn’t taste nearly as good as the water you made the ice with. It picks up flavors in your freezer, and not the kind of flavors you want in your coffee.

So what can we do?
The answer is to make legitimately good, hot coffee and then cool it down without diluting it.

I was first introduced to this method on Marco Arment’s blog. He gets the credit for coming up with the idea.

If you don’t have an AeroPress yet, get one. It is only $30 and makes one of the best cups of coffee you can possibly make at home. Here is what the contraption looks like:



  1. Measure out 40g of coffee beans on your kitchen scale. (For reference, this is quite a bit. It will look comical. I use between 15 and 25g of coffee for a normal cup. The goal is to make it concentrated here.)

  3. Grind the beans like you normally would for an AeroPress (about as fine as table salt). Consult Google for the correct grind setting on whichever grinder you use.

  5. Put the grounds into the AeroPress and brew it as your normally would. Here are regular instructions and here are instructions for the inverted method that I use.

  7. Pop out the puck/clear out the grounds from the Aeropress, then repeat steps 1-3 until the your container is full. I use this 16oz glass jug that fits the AeroPress perfectly and will hold 3 full brews. That is 16oz of liquid from 120oz of beans. Quite the caffeine jolt!

  9. Cover and refrigerate this container until it is chilled. I like to make it before I go to bed and let it chill overnight.


While I prefer my hot coffee unadulterated by dairy and sugar, I almost always put dairy and sugar into my cold coffee. No matter how you brew it, coffee will always have some compounds that don’t taste very good when they are cold.

This coffee concentrate is very strong. It was made from 120g of ground coffee beans. For reference, for a pour over I use the same amount of liquid (~16oz) but only 30-35g of coffee beans. Go easy on this stuff. If you overdo it, you’ll be jittery (and you’ll be sorry.) I treat it like liquor.

I make this the same way I would a cocktail. In fact, I usually make it in a rocks glass. Bonus points if you use a gorgeous Mazama glass. Here is what I mix up:

With two coffee drinkers in the house (one a full-blown caffeine addict and one who enjoys coffee but doesn’t always need it), we go through a full batch approximately every three days.

I typically make a batch of this after dinner and put it in the fridge. It is fully chilled and ready to go in the morning.


  1. If you don’t plan ahead and need to cool it down quickly, you can get it down to ~40-45F in about 30 minutes with an ice bath:
  2. This is a great way to use up leftover beans. Taste still matters here, but it matters less than in a pour over because you are mixing sugar and dairy with it. So those beans you’ve had for two months but never used can make up a third of a batch.
  3. This stuff is great poured into Soylent 2.0.