Posts Tagged coffee

What happens if you walk backward while carrying a cup of coffee?

One would assume that walking backward with coffee, especially when it’s piping hot, would be nearly as dangerous as running with scissors. Not so, according to the 2017 Ig Nobel Prize winning study for Fluid Dynamics. According to Korean physicist Jiwon Han, you will likely spill less walking backward than forward. However, your chances of tripping, or crashing into a colleague (also walking backward with coffee, ha ha) “drastically increase”.*

“Rarely do we manage to carry coffee around without spilling it once. In fact, due to the very commonness of the phenomenon, we tend to dismiss questioning it beyond simply exclaiming: ‘Jenkins! You have too much coffee in your cup!’”

– Jiwon Han

As reported in this “SmartNews” post by Smithsonian Magazine, Han advises a claw-like grip on top of your cup, rather than using the handle. Other tips from University of California researchers, reported here by LiveScience, are to gradually accelerate to a very slow walk, thus avoiding disruptive oscillations, and keep your eyes on the cup, not the ground.

My secret to stop spillage is to use a very large cup and fill it only two-thirds of the way, e.g., 12 ounces of hot coffee in a 16-ounce Styrofoam cup.  The ultimate solution is to use a spill-proof, lidded container. However, I prefer drinking from a cup, if possible.

*(Source: Chemical and Engineering News, 9/18/17, Newscripts—“Curating quirky science since 1943.”)

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Making coffee to the most by taking on the roast

The “Everyday Cheapskate,” Mary Hunt, advised this week that the more you learn about coffee the less, you’ll spend. I went high-tech some years ago with Cuisinart’s Automatic Grind & Brew Thermal ™. It makes great coffee and preserves it well by percolating directly into a stainless steel carafe. I get up early for a fresh-made cup and set the remainder at bed-side for my wife to enjoy as an eye-opener. She was the one who pointed out Hunt’s article to me, which suggested that roasting your own beans makes the brew “infinitely better tasting” at half the price. That is good, because after reading this, I immediately bought a $400 Swissmar Bravi and fired it up this weekend — the distinctive, but not unpleasant, smell of roasted coffee fills my home as I write. (My daughter thought I’d been boiling down maple syrup.)

The Bravi manufacturer leaves nothing to chance. For example, in the coffee roaster’s product guide they begin by saying “Keep the instructions (sic) manual.” The Swissmar engineers then specify that their customers “always use exactly one-half pound (225 g)…no more, no less.”** The machine offers a variety of roasting levels to a maximum of “Espresso,” which “comes very close to the edge of ruin.” Taking no chances, I went far lower than that extreme roast my first time around!

The moment of truth will come tomorrow morning when I make coffee with my home-roasted beans (Sumatra Mandheling). It had better be good, because I figure that, given the $6 per pound savings in beans and assuming a production rate of 40 cups of coffee per pound, the payback period will be two years. If the brew gets a “boo,” that will seem like an eternity to a ‘caffiend’ like me.

*Coffee trees produce a red “cherry” that peels back to the core green-bean

**At Ubersite, which “capitalizes on random, chaotic, unpredictable, flexible, bizarre human behavior,” I found these humorous comments (censored) on whether one ought to bother weighing:

I’m too lazy to actually measure the coffee out, so I just dump some in and try to visually judge how much I’ll need to brew a pot. Each day I stare while it’s brewing, tingling with anticipation… “today it’s going to be perfect.” No matter what, I either get really strong goo, or light brown water. Wouldn’t I be so much happier if I just measured?

The righteous way, and the path to true enlightenment, is to judge for yourself. As you hone your senses and your appreciation of the subtleties of coffee concentration increases, you will journey on a remarkable voyage of self discovery. You will see things that are invisible to the unenlightened eye. This will lead to a greater understanding of being. However, if you are fluctuating between brown water and syrupy goo, then I suggest you measure. You are a dingbat.

No. You will never achieve Zen-like coffee by measuring. The only way is trial and error. I know, I have achieved UberCoffee.


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