Saturday, June 13, 2009

Instore Freebies, Jasper, Fitzroy

I've had dozens of free samples from the Jasper free sample table in the past, but today I figured that drinking two full cups in a row justified a blog entry.
Yirgacheffe (left): yes!
Blend #6 (right): no! (comparatively)
If you had to choose to live on a desert island with hundreds of kilos of either of the two coffees Jasper had open for tasting today, go with the Yirga.

Another thing you'll need on a desert island (aside from an inexhaustible supply of near-boiling water) is some sort of portable grinder. Once you're on the island, it won't need to be portable, but if it made it to the island in the first place it probably had to fit in your pocket or luggage. The possibility of either is exactly what led me into the doors of Jasper today.
"I was wondering if there is any such thing as a good, small, possibly battery-powered, grinder."
He said yes, yes, no, and yes, respectively. This surprised me a bit. I'm sure you all remember that pivotal scene in City Slickers when Billy Crystal accidentally spooks the entire herd of cattle by turning on his coffee grinder. I think the punchline is something like, "Er, coffee anyone?"
Terrible writing, but it got me thinking: that thing must have been battery-powered. They were in a tent in the middle of nowhere. That could come in handy when I go travelling (with an Aeropress or one of these or possibly one of these) for three weeks roughly two weeks from now.
But according to the guy at Jasper, they (or indeed anybody in the world) don't have any. The next best thing, I guess, would be a small mains-powered grinder.
The smallest one they had looked ideal, but it was only a blade grinder. Blade grinders are not cool, when it comes to coffee. They will just chop up whatever is in there until you turn it off. It's near impossible to control how fine your grind is going to be. I know a guy who used one of these to chop up ganja. I never drank his coffee.
So I was then pointed in the direction of hand-powered grinders. These ranged from expensive and looking like a squat pepper mill, to expensive and cubular with a drawer at the bottom where the grinds fall. A sense of nostalgia washed over me: my parents had one of those. It took me years to realise that it was only house-fillingly loud because it was always operated on a wooden table that acted like a giant amplifier. If you picked the grinder up, it was harder to use, but only as loud as coffee beans being rapidly crunched between two metal spinny grindy things.
So that $220 brass manual grinder looked like a beautiful, precisely-engineered, hand-cranked, manual-laborious, respectable way to grind coffee that I would be proud to own and never need to replace it. But it wasn't really portable enough, so it doesn't fit the brief. It's a great way to grind coffee, but so is the Rancilio Rocky that I already own.
The hunt continues. Hopefully soon I'll figure out who was lying about battery-powered grinders: the screenwriters of City Slickers, or the guy I just spoke to.

1 comment:

  1. I am moving to rural Africa and all I want is a battery powered grinder. If people ship me pre-ground, its gonna be no good (no place to freeze it either, obviously). We make battery powered everything else and people clearly see the need for non-plug ones, considering they make hand operated ones...why has Braun, starbucks, REI, whoever not created this yet? I honestly do not understand why it doesn't exist.