Saturday, February 20, 2010

Geeked-Out Boiler

I have a problem.
I love coffee too much, and since becoming a super-busy teacher I have now had to move my passion for coffee into the part of the brain reserved for thoughts of tropical beaches, mountain overlooks, and fresh pancakes. This part of the brain is deemed the "Happy place" by scientists.

In the Happy Place, coffee is given unrestrained access to 80% of the operating capacity of my brain for about 3/4 of the day. Above is the result.

What is it? Well, I have been tinkering with my Chemex coffee brewer for a few weeks, and have discovered that thermal stability is everything. In order to maintain the ideal 195-205 F for the duration of the brewer, either you need to insulate the kettle or find a way to manually reheat the water during the 3-4 minutes that it takes to brew.

Today, Kristin is at the Mall of America with her folks, so that means a free kitchen, car, and no voice of reason. So, I went to Home Depot and purchased a length of sink-hose and a valve and began tinkering with a way to siphon water out of the tank without pouring...I now have a burned mouth and upper lip!

2 hours of fiddling later, and now I have a fully functioning siphon (that doesn't burn your mouth). Instead of worrying about keeping the kettle within the target temperature range by trying to better insulate, now I can simply press the boil button whenever the temp (read by my probe thermometer) drops to about 198. A 3 second pulse brings it quickly up to 200.

Will it make better coffee? Who knows. If you know me, you know that I am often satisfied more with the pursuit than the result. Yes, I will use it to make coffee, but more importantly it was fun to build.

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