Category Archives: Brewer’s Log

Brewer’s Log: Tonx and Buena Vista Mill’s “Bangin’” Bolivia

Bangin' Bolivia!

Friends! … Who love coffee! … Who send me coffee!

Love it.

This edition of Brewer’s Log goes out to @jo for her generous, completely unsolicited, and quite timely gift of a bag of beans — Tonx Coffee‘s “Bangin’ Bolivia”.

The Skinny

I’ve mostly pulled away from the daily-update style of posting these Brewer’s Log pieces but I have to say that this morning’s batch, while not destined to be the best, I predict, was certainly noteworthy. It turned out to be quite the concentrated brew…

Brew method: V60 • Brew ratio: 13:1

450g:37g • Grind: 1st “fine” on the Capresso Infiniti • Temp: (…not really sure, 1:30 off the boil) • Time: 3:19 (includes 1:00 preinfuse)

Notwithstanding any possible goofs on my part (I did just come back from a Vegas bachelor party weekend — recovery time required1) my inaugural with this coffee was brewed at my usual starting point ratio of 13:1 (water to coffee).

Good lord. It was thick.

Too thick. Delicious — sweet and clean at its core — but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that its intensity was overshadowing some subtleties that I want to taste.

This would be the first time that a 13:1 ratio extracted this much flavor out of a coffee. Scale-back time. 14:1? 15:1?

Onward…

Brew method: V60 • Brew ratio: 15:1 • 450g H2O • 1st “Fine” on the Capresso

15:1. Fifteen…to one. It’s never worked before.

A 15:1 ratio usually means a weak, dilute, wretched brew. Under-extracted grounds. Brown water, really. Not pretty and not tasty. Maybe I’d do it to make a point. Never would I have gone that high a water to coffee ratio for personal enjoyment. Until now.

Maybe this is what “Bangin'” means. An adjective denoting strength and heightened extractability. If so, there has never been a more bangin’ bag of coffee to roll through the (extremely technically advanced) DofA Labs™. I’ll know for next time.

Flavors that my wife and I enjoyed: citrus, burnt sugar, wood. A very forthright and concentrated coffee. Sweet and highly articulated flavors just like the Tonx boys like it.


  1. The question does present itself: should I even be writing this? 

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Brewer’s Log: Sightglass’s Colombia El Meridiano Tolima

Sightglass's Colombia El Meridiano Tolima

Mmmmmmm…yum. Yes, you can quote me.

I’m liking the Central American coffees I’m picking up — tangy and sweet and big on “mouth-feel”. Textural almost.

I bought this bag in Downtown LA, at Spring for Coffee.

Brew method: V60 • Brew ratio: 12:1

444g:37g • Grind: 1st fine on the Capresso Infiniti • Temp: 95°C • Time: 2:56 (includes 1:00 preinfuse)

tamarind, fruit loops, lime, citrus, roasted vegetable, dry as a desert (that’s good).

Coava & Reinelio Lopez’s Colombia El Jardin

Coava & Reinelio Lopez's Colombia El Jardin

The best

Brew method: AeroPress (inverted method) • Brew ratio: 13:1

247g:18g • Grind: btw. “Medium” and “Fine” on the Capresso Infiniti • Temp: 95°C • Time: 3:36

Even though there is still that signature AeroPress muddiness — similar to in the press pot, it can kill a lot of the high end.1 — there is still more depth in this than the majority of my AeroPress brews. Dark chocolate. Black pepper.

Brew method: V60 • Brew ratio: 13:1

444:32 • Grind: 1st fine on the Capresso Infiniti • Temp: 95°C • Time: 2:56 (includes 1:00 preinfuse)

A sweet-spot has been reached in the V60. Finally. The bag is almost empty.

Tangy. Spicy (cinnamon and clove). Dark cocoa. All of it muted and cohesive with not a single aspect ruling over another: “smooth” in its own way.


  1. …seems like that’s the way it goes roughly ninety percent of the time in the AeroPress — it takes a coffee with an extraordinarily defined and exemplary structured flavor profile to shine in the AeroPress. And you don’t come across those every day. 

Brewers log: Primo Passo’s (née Stumptown’s) Coeur d’Afrique

*Primo Passo's* (née *Stumptown's*) "Couer d'Afrique"

Now playing in my mug, the Couer d’Afrique from Primo Passo née Stumptown.

Primo Passo is a beautiful new coffee bar in Santa Monica, serving Stumptown coffee under its own brand1.

The place is gorgeous, almost ethereal. It’s white everywhere — the walls, the ceiling, even the floors (I don’t know how they keep that). The coffee bar — all dark wood and details against the rest of the space’s austere whiteness — appears to almost float in the literal middle of both the horizontal as well as the vertical dimensions of the space.

But all of that is for another piece. “Brewer’s log” is all about the coffee.

The Couer d’Afrique is a blend made up of coffees from both Burundi and Rwanda. “The Heart of Africa” is the translation. A fairly apt description, at least from a geographical standpoint.

Coffees from Rwanda and Burundi seem to be everywhere right now. I recently had one from Intelligentsia that was quite nice. They can be a challenge. They’re a concentrated bunch. In the cup, the fruit is of the dried variety — raisins, etc. — but the desirable dimensions of those dried fruit notes can easily translate to their undesirable bitter, almost burnt dimensions and it doesn’t take much — a degree here, a gram there — to bring out the badness. I find that, with coffees from these areas, many times I spend a lot of effort coaxing the delicate and the vibrant out from behind the more oppressive, overly-concentrated forms of those fruit notes. This coffee is no exception.

The best

…so far…

Brew method: Hario V60 • Brew ratio: 13:1 = 444:34

Grind: first fine on the Capresso Infiniti • Temp 95° C • Time: 3:14

This was a surprise. My first V60 was nothing to write home about — a wall of overpowering concentration getting in the way of anything else. It was a smaller 355g batch. It looks like, that if I have the coffee, I need to recalibrate my numbers for that batch size in the V60, because out of nowhere, using my default measurements for the larger 444g batch I got…

A full lactic sugar body that reminded me of milk chocolate, savoriness, soy sauce, and a pleasant dryness in the finish.

Muuuuch better. The best so far.


  1. I don’t know how I feel about the re-branded coffee thing. There is a certain lack of transparency to it. I know that it’s Stumptown coffee because … well … c’mon, I write a friggin’ coffee blog (the info is out there), but would the bulk of the shop’s customers know — it’s not explicitly stated anywhere that I was able to see and the coffee’s roasting source is nowhere to be seen on the bag itself. Does it even matter? Questions, questions. 

Brewer’s log: Sightglass’s Colombia El Altico, Robuan Cuellar–Trujillo

The bag of El Altico, straight from the register

A blast from my recent past — a reminder our life in the San Francisco Bay Area — and of how much I’ve written here, about Sightglass. Courtesy of Downtown LA’s Coffee Bar LA.

The grounds

Anise. And something sweet, savory, and roasted.

The best

This was a nearly indestructible coffee. There was only one place it seemed to die — the Chemex. I couldn’t get a good cup out of it in that brewer. Maybe with two pounds…

Surprisingly, the AeroPress produced some of the best cups of the El Altico. I say surprising, because, historically the AeroPress has never produced the best cup go any coffee I’ve made.

It’s a beautiful coffee. One of my favorites of this year.

Brew method: AeroPress • Brew ratio: 13:1 = 355:27

Grind: between fine and medium on the Capresso Infiniti • Temp 96° C • Time: 2:45

Creamy orange peel on toast with roasted green veggies (I dunnow, let’s say chard).

I know I risk alienating some people with these green veggie claims. But they’re not a negative. You’ll know when they’re a negative.

One of the best cups made from this bag. And I did it twice. Just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. Beautiful cup.

Brew method: V60 • Brew ratio: 13:1 = 355:27

Grind: the notch on the Capresso Infiniti between extra fine and fine • Temp: 96°C • Time: 3:16 (includes 1:00 preinfuse)

Green. Vegetal. Cinnamon. It’s sweet and sour. Not like a movie-theatre-bin-sour-candy, more like a tamarind sweet.

Brewer’s log: Intelligentsia’s Ikirezi, Burundi: Rugerero

20120401-073452.jpg

Adieu, Scout’s Honor. We had a good run.

Going under the microscope next, at DofA Labs’™ secret international headquarters, is Intelligentsia’s Ikirezi, Burundi: Rugerero.

Wrap-up…

The two best were in the V60 and I got my best results using the upper-range of brew temps — 96°C / 205° F.

The best…

V60 (#4) 621g

Brew method: V60 • Grind: between fine & medium • Brew ratio: 13:1 = 627:48 • Temp: 96°C • Time: 3:18 (includes 1:00 preinfuse)

With this coffee, temperature and body seem to hand-in-hand — the higher the temp, the silkier the body (TWSS). That’s my hypothesis so far. Beautiful concentrated sugars in this one. None of the bitter off-flavors of any of the former V60 brews.

Now if can reproduce this in a smaller batch…

…and I did…

V60 (#5) 444g

Brew method: V60 • Grind: first fine • Brew ratio: 13:1 = 444:34 • Temp: 96°C • Time: 3:12 (includes 1:00 preinfuse)

It’s the heat! This coffee luuuvs the heat. It’s best qualities — silky, silky body and concentrated, raisin-like sugar — are brought to the front, while its worst — namely, bitter, BBQ’d apricots — are eliminated.

The rest…

Continue reading Brewer’s log: Intelligentsia’s Ikirezi, Burundi: Rugerero