Canadian Brewers’ Cup 2017

This past Sunday I participated in the Canadian Brewers’ Cup in Calgary. There were some exceptional coffees being brewed, some fascinating brew methods, and a solid group of competitors. In the end I ended up placing third, which is incredibly exciting for me, especially as it was my first time competing.

Overall it was a great event. It was amazing to meet such passionate coffee professionals from around Canada.

I got to brew the Kieni from the Nyeri region in Kenya, roasted by The Coffee Collective in Copenhagen. I’m really proud of my routine and recipe, and especially proud to serve such a delicious and well-roasted coffee.

My presentation was about finding what makes specialty coffee special, but more specifically how to do this. My answer, as you may have guessed, was quality at origin, transparency in roasting, and evenness in brewing. But I approached brewing evenness in a slightly unconventional way, on top of the usual stuff.

I’d like to break this down a bit.

My routine was primarily inspired by recent analyses of coffee grinding from Matt Perger and Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood. They, with others, recently published a paper analyzing how the origin and temperature of a coffee bean affects the way it grinds. They learned some very interesting things in their research, primarily the effect of origin on grinding (negligible), but there were also implications about the effect of bean temperature on grind distribution and the amount of surface area created by fines. (Let’s define fines as being 0-80 microns in size, as per the paper and this separate post from Maxwell.)

In recent days there has been hype about freezing coffee beans (as there should be), which helps increase the evenness of a grind distribution. From the discussion I’ve seen on the Internet, it seems this has been the biggest practical takeaway from the paper. However, it seems as though the bit about the amount of surface area created by fines was eclipsed by freezing coffee beans. I think that these findings about surface area have big implications.

In short, after laser diffraction particle size analysis, they found that a large majority of the surface area in a grind distribution comes from fines. With their given grind setting on the EK43, fines made up approximately 70% of the total surface area.

Now, I imagine that this number would shift, depending on your grind setting and grinder, but it also makes a lot of sense that most grinders would produce a significant amount of surface area with fines. Actually, the fewer fines a grinder creates, the more of a problem it will be, so working with the EK43 results will be a near best-case approximation, as it has been proven to create lots of fines, and the principles we discuss will be even more important when applied to grinders that produce fewer fines and less even grind distributions.

Okay, so fines make up a lot of the surface area in a grind size distribution. What does this mean?

Well, if 70% of a grind distribution’s surface area is made of fines, then a huge portion of a coffee’s flavour comes from fines. Then another portion comes from the outsides of large grinds, then an even smaller portion comes from the insides of all of the grinds. The more large grinds we have, the less flavour we have access to. It makes a lot of sense, then, that the grinder known for producing the tastiest brews (i.e. the EK43) also produces a relatively high amount of fines, as well as its tight, unimodal grind distribution.

This drives home an important point: contrary to typical understanding, an overwhelming portion of the flavour in any brewed coffee comes from the finest grinds. As Perger states in his aforementioned analysis, “Fines are our friends!” He goes on to say:

“…it becomes increasingly obvious that fines aren’t the villain; otherwise every coffee ever made would be horribly over-extracted.”

Now, if 70% of the surface area in a grind distribution comes from fines, we’ve got 30% of the surface area made up of the outside of coarse grinds.

What about all the other solubles buried inside the large grinds? They make up 0% of the surface area, but contain some large percentage of the solubles. We have plenty of solubles hidden inside large grinds — potential surface area — not immediately accessible to water¹.

This means that we begin extracting the outsides of large grinds much sooner than the insides. The further inside the grind, the harder it is for water to extract, and the less even our extraction becomes. Every individual micro-extraction would become less even the larger a coffee grind becomes, as we hide more and more solubles, or potential surface area, deeper within the grind. Imagine how much more we hide in a grinder that produces even fewer fines and more large grinds than the EK43. More large grinds mean more hidden solubles, which means less even extraction.

Maybe it doesn’t seem like a lot on an individual scale, but when you think about the number of coarse grinds, and the amount of surface area that could be created by breaking them into the size of fines, it seems a little daunting. Or for a funnier contrast, imagine brewing 20g of unground beans vs. finely ground beans. The middle of the unground beans would be pretty dry and the resulting brew would certainly lack depth of flavour.

I am convinced that large grinds inherently cause unevenness, and conversely, grinding finer increases evenness.

And this is the idea I built my Brewers’ Cup routine on.

The way I applied this idea was pretty simple: grind finer. If you grind finer, you produce fewer large grinds, you decrease the size of the modal particle in your distribution, and you produce more fines.

However, when brewing finer grinds, there is another important thing to consider: over-extraction.

Perger sums this up perfectly:

“The upper limit of tasty extraction is decided by the most-extracted particle. This is always the smallest particle. So it’s up to you to make sure no portion of the grinds ever get over-extracted”

Now, fines don’t intrinsically cause over-extraction. But they do slow flow rate in drip brewing, and they do increase evenness. If grinding finer leads to over-extraction, then perhaps it’s actually brew time, or temperature² causing over-extraction to take place. Or perhaps the coffee was already being partially over-extracted, but increased evenness has amplified these flavours.

The best solution seemed to be shortening brew time without coarsening the grind. If the grind is fine and the brew time is too long, then we have a wonderfully even and obviously over-extracted brew. Flow rate control, then, is incredibly important. I had to figure out how to speed up my flow rate.

One thing we often overlook when thinking about drip brewing flow rate is flow rate from the kettle. It is common to “pulse” the brew. The more pulses we use, the longer a brew takes. The more time passes, the more we extract. If we shorten the time it takes us to pour water, then we shorten the time it takes to pass through the grinds. I shortened my pre-saturation by 15s and poured all my water by 45s, as opposed to a typical³ final pour at ~2+ minutes. This shaved ~2.5 minutes off of my brew time, which is the difference between a delicious 4-minute brew, and a flat 6.5-minute brew.

The other variable to play with was temperature. I knew that higher temperatures could speed up flow rate, so I decided to try 212F/100C instead of my typical 204F/95.6C. This shaved about a minute off of my brew time, and I actually ended up making my grind even finer to fix my brew time at 4 minutes.

Using hotter water and pouring quickly, I was able to grind significantly finer within my target brew time.

I also want to note that my brew water composition seemed to affect flow rate. My experience was that when bicarbonate outweighed magnesium (I didn’t use any calcium), my flow rate slowed drastically. I have not done any controlled experiments with this, so take this observation with a grain of salt, perhaps Epsom.

I also used stirring during the pre-saturation to wet all grinds as close together in time as I could. I find that with the Kalita and other drip brewers if you don’t do this, then a very large portion of grinds stay dry until the end of the pre-saturation, or even later, which is a huge blow to evenness. On top of this, I poured water along the sides of the filter (*gasp*) to knock high-and-drys down, stirred above the grinds and vertically tapped the Kalita to knock them into the brew, and then stirred the grinds and again above the grinds again followed by one more tap to create a flat bed and eliminate channeling. Yes, lots of agitation.

Grinding finer and stirring helped me to increase evenness, pouring quickly and hot water helped me gain control of my brew time, and within 4 minutes I had tasty extractions, as high as 22.33% with my Porlex. My recipe was 14g coffee to 210g water with a target beverage size of 172g in a 4 minute brew time. My water had 54ppm Mg to aid in extracting complex acidic compounds and 50ppm HCO3 to help with balance. My water temperature was 98C/208.4F because that was where my kettle’s temperature maxed out in Calgary, presumably due to the high elevation causing a lower boiling point than home. I actually ended up using my Porlex for the competition because in a fixed amount of time it was able to give me notably higher extraction yields compared to the other grinders I had access to, indicating evenness.

This is how I came to my recipe. I was very happy with how the Kieni tasted, and felt my brews were very transparent. The resulting cup was tasting incredibly complex and nuanced, and the finish was clean and lingering, which I usually take as an indication of a good recipe.

I really do believe that grinding finer (and freezing beans⁴) will lead to better filter coffee. We just have to figure out ways to accommodate this in our brewing. This was one of my first attempts to do so, and surely won’t be my last. I am already thinking about next year’s routine.

If only there were machines that would pump water through very finely ground coffee at high pressures with excellent temperature stability.

Thanks once again to the organizers and sponsors of the Canadian Brewers’ Cup, congratulations to Javaid and Ben on getting first and second place, and props to everyone who competed. It was really great to meet such creative coffee professionals from around the country. I am looking forward to the future of competitive coffee in Canada.

Thanks to The Coffee Collective for supplying me with such an incredible coffee.


¹Maybe the exact amount of potential surface area could be derived by comparing the size of the smallest grinds to that of a coarse grind. We could compare how much larger a coarse grind is than a fine to figure out how much of this coarse grind would be exposed in surface area if it were broken into grinds the same size as a fine. If we subtract actual surface area of the coarse grind, we would know how much potential surface area is being hidden inside the coarse grind. I might take a stab at the math myself, but if somebody out there beats me to it, or if I’m thinking about this all wrong, I’d love to hear about it.

²Or maybe flavours we associate with over-extraction are a problem created by undiagnosed roasting flaws — but let’s stay focused on brewing for now.

³Think of a typical 30s pre-saturation, followed by pouring 1/4 of the remaining brew water every 30s.

⁴Unfortunately, I did not end up freezing my coffee before grinding, simply due to the logistics involved, although it would have helped my take evenness to another level, and is something to consider for next year.

We Made A Coffee Fair

About six months ago my friend Josh and I met for a coffee. We got talking about the local coffee scene, as we often do, and the potential there is in Hamilton for interesting coffee-related endeavours. At some point in the conversation Josh mentioned how he had been thinking about doing some sort of coffee event. I had thought about this too, although not as something I would have time for in the near future.

Then Josh decided that he was just going to go for it and host a coffee event — some kind of coffee “expo”. Apprehensively, I offered to help, if I had the time. I think in his excitement Josh may have missed the hesitation in my offer. A week later he was sending out emails to potential venues and a bit over a month later he booked a venue. At this point it went from being “yeah, maybe I can help” to “oh my God, we’re actually doing this.”

Over the next few months we reached out to local coffee shops and potential sponsors, had a few meetings, and got a small planning team together.

Last month we held the first Hamilton Coffee Fair. And it went really well.

The purpose of the event was to introduce people to basic concepts of specialty coffee in an approachable and engaging way, and in the process create new customers for the local coffee shops. We also wanted to get people into the downtown area to see that there is a lot of cool stuff going on in Hamilton.

The turnout was spectacular. We had 1000 people come through the event. People got to try free coffee, learn about specialty coffee, try pouring latte art, compete in a latte art competition, discover local coffee shops, ask local professionals questions about coffee, watch (and taste the results of) brewing demos, snag giveaways, buy gear, and meet people.

We gave out a Hamilton Coffee Map designed to help people locate coffee shops throughout the city. We sold the Hamilton Coffee Pass with which customers can get discount drinks in local coffee shops.

In short, this was an amazing opportunity for us and the local coffee businesses to share our passion for coffee with the general public. It was really cool to introduce the concept of specialty coffee to people who may not have otherwise thought about such a thing. It was amazing to see the local coffee community work together on this.

We are very excited and encouraged to see such an amazing response and so thankful to everyone who participated in making this event as fun and worthwhile as it was. We want to thank everyone who came out to the event, especially those of you who braved the chilly weather in line to hang out with us!

We had a lot of fun and we hope you did too.

Just a quick shout out to Detour Coffee Roasters, Latte 911, Eight Ounce Coffee Supply, and Finch Cafes for helping us make this event happen. And a huge thank you to Josh and Darryl for personally funding this thing.

Revisiting Hamilton’s Tap Water (For Accuracy)

Recently I have been playing with mineralizing distilled water to different GH:KH ratios to see how it affects coffee flavour using the ideal brew water chart from Water for Coffee as a guide and one of Matt Perger’s water recipes (found in the comments here) as a starting point. While doing so, I came across more up-to-date information that makes it necessary to re-examine my two previous posts. The purpose of this post is to explain the changes and then perform this quick re-examination.

My experimentation led me to a lot of math, learning about moles, dilution calculations, and summarizing things in equations. After all of this I couldn’t seem to reconcile Perger’s water recipe with the ideal brew water chart, although this recipe typically produces pleasant coffee. Perger said this recipe should lead to 100 ppm Mg and 50 ppm KH. Whichever way I did the math it added up to 24.5 ppm Mg and 62.1 ppm KH.

Since I was confident in my math at this point, I concluded that maybe Perger wasn’t trying to hit the ideal realm of the brew chart, or that he mistakenly based his math on the chart as though it were presented in ppm with [ion] as [CaCO3], and it tasted good anyway. It turns out that the second conclusion was closer to the truth. But it wasn’t Perger’s mistake.

After a bit of research and reading through coffee’s deep web, I decided to go right to the source and ended up having a short Twitter exchange with Chris Hendon. As it turns out, the ideal brew water chart presented in WFC is presented in ppm with [ion] as [CaCO3] as opposed to [ion] as [ion], despite the book’s advocacy for the use of [ion] as [ion]¹ as the standard for ppm measurement.

This means that my previous two blog posts about Hamilton’s water as it relates to coffee brewing must be re-examined. The data from those posts are correct, however the analysis of the data assumes that the brew chart is presented with ppm as [ion], which is not what we want if we are working with the ideal brew water chart from WFC.

Thus, let’s re-examine.

Testing Hamilton’s Tap Water (For Coffee)
Here is the data presented with [ion] as [CaCO3]:

Mar 17, 2016 – Mg: 65.6 ppm, Ca: 87.5 ppm, KH: 91-93.4 ppm
Mar 18, 2016 – Mg: 32.8-49.2 ppm, Ca: 87.5-92.5 ppm, KH: 93.4 ppm
Mar 19, 2016 – Mg: 65.6 ppm, Ca: 87.5 ppm, KH: 88.5 ppm
Mar 20, 2016 – Mg: 82 ppm, Ca: 93.8 ppm, KH: 91 ppm
Mar 21, 2016 – Mg: 65.6 ppm, Ca: 87.5 ppm, KH: 93.4 ppm
Mar 22, 2016 – Mg: 65.6 ppm, Ca: 81.3 ppm, KH: 93.4 ppm
Mar 23, 2016 – Mg: 82 ppm, Ca: 93.8 ppm, KH: 93.4-98.4 ppm

Average – Mg: 63.6 ppm, Ca: 88.9 ppm, KH: 92.9 ppm

Within this sample set our Mg content fluctuates notably, while Ca and HCO3 (KH) remain fairly constant. If we look at our average reading, we get a GH of 152.5 ppm and KH of 92.9 ppm. In this sample set, our GH varies +/- 30.9 ppm and our KH varies +/- 5 ppm.

In short, our GH will generally be within the ideal range of the ideal brew water chart and the KH will still be pretty far from ideal. Thus, Hamilton tap water may leave our coffee flat and chalky, which is the same conclusion as before. Ideally our water filtration would bring KH levels down to somewhere between 32.5 ppm and 75 ppm while leaving our GH levels (Mg and Ca) relatively the same.

Filtering Hamilton’s Tap Water (For Home Brewing)
The data with [ion] as [CaCO3]:

Tap water – Mg: 49.2 ppm, Ca: 81.3 ppm, KH: 91 ppm
Brita filtered tap water – Mg: 49.2 ppm, Ca: 68.8 ppm, KH: 32 ppm

The tap water in this second test is similar to some of the data from the first test. The tap water had a GH of 130.5 ppm and KH of 91 ppm. After Brita filtration the GH was 118 ppm and the KH was 32 ppm. These results actually put us right on the border of ideal and acceptable water in the ideal brew water chart.

If you brew coffee in Hamilton, the Brita filter should take your tap water from poor for brewing to acceptable or ideal for brewing, depending on the tap water that day.

¹The difference is discussed in the corrigendum to the book posted here on 10-10-15.

Filtering Hamilton’s Tap Water (For Home Brewing)

[Having discovered new information, the data from this post has been revisited here.]

Today I tested my home brewing water with my titration kit. I also tested my tap water again for comparison. I wanted to post the results online in case anyone finds them helpful.

My home brewing water is simply tap water filtered through a Brita pitcher filter. The filter is currently about a month or two old. (Ew. Gross. Yeah. Whatever.) The pitcher has been flashing the “change soon” light for a couple of days, but has not yet flashed the “change” light. (See? It’s fine.)

I used the Red Sea Pro Test titration kit. I followed the same procedure as I did here, except this time I rinsed my sample vials and sample syringe with tap water before measuring the tap water, and with Brita filtered water before measuring the Brita filtered water.

Yellow rubber gloves were worn, and titration ensued.

Here are my results:

Tap water – Mg: 8-12 ppm, Ca: 32.5 ppm, KH: 111 ppm
Brita filtered tap water – Mg: 12 ppm, Ca: 27.5 ppm, KH: 39 ppm

There are a few things I would like to point out.

Firstly, the tap water was quite consistent with the samples from my first experiment. This is good to see. Consistency = more frequently good coffee.

Secondly, the GH. GH stands for general hardness, the “G” coming from “general”, and the “H” coming from “hardness”. Brilliant. General hardness is our calcium and magnesium content combined, in ppm. According to today’s measurements, our GH is in the 39.5 ppm to 44.5 ppm range for both waters. It’s a bit low. We know from Water For Coffee that we want our GH to be 50ppm or higher for ideal extraction capabilities.

It also looks like the Brita filter may have lowered the calcium content just a little bit. I don’t want to make any major conclusions about this. However, the Brita website says that it does reduce the concentration of calcium and magnesium. And it may have put us just a bit further off from the 50 ppm GH minimum.

Thirdly, the KH – carbonate or temporary hardness. This one I am willing to give a little more weight to. This is more in line with other results I’ve had measuring Brita filtered tap water. It is also a pretty drastic shift. And it is a step in the right direction.

As I mentioned in my last post (I’m just going to keep linking you to that), we also know from Water For Coffee that too much carbonate hardness can leave coffee tasting flat and chalky. 111 ppm is probably going to be too much. At least according to Colonna-Dashwood and Hendon, the authors of the book. And they know their stuff.

Luckily, the Brita filter brings Hamilton water down to 39 ppm, a much more reasonable KH level. Reasonable, but not ideal. As consistent as it is, the water composition will vary slightly day-to-day. Today the KH happened to be at a point where it would be ideal – if the water had a higher GH, in the 50 ppm to ~65 ppm range. It’s about balance. Even if we had 50 ppm in GH, our KH might fluctuate a little bit tomorrow and put us off of ideal water composition. At these low levels of GH and KH there isn’t a lot of leeway.

However, the Brita filter does take Hamilton water from less-than-acceptable to acceptable. It’s progress. And my coffee is tasting pretty good at home. Actually, quite good, more often than not. I guess it can only get better.

I will keep experimenting with ways to have better brewing water at home. For now, the Brita filter is doing pretty well and is a definite step in the right direction for Hamilton home brewers looking to take their brew game to the next level.

I’d love to hear what people are using for their brewing water. Let me know in the comments below.

[Edit: The KH measurements in this post were originally posted in [ion] as [CaCO3]. However, since we are more interested in bicarbonate, I have converted those measurements to display ppm as HCO3.]

Testing Hamilton’s Tap Water (For Coffee)

[Having discovered new information, the data from this post has been revisited here.]

I recently finished reading Water For Coffee by Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood and Christopher H. Hendon, an incredibly insightful book on the importance of water composition as it relates to coffee flavour and extraction. As the book was partly intended to spur discussion about water for coffee, I thought it would be fun to get in on the conversation.

The book focuses heavily on the roles of calcium and magnesium (general hardness, or GH), and bicarbonate (temporary/carbonate hardness, or KH) in determining the flavour in a cup of coffee. Naturally, after reading the book I decided I must buy a titration drop test kit to test my brew water composition. The book recommends titration as an affordable and accessible means of testing one’s water composition relatively accurately. And so I bought the Red Sea Reef Foundation Pro Test Kit, as seen on the Red Sea website and the feeds of every science-enjoying coffee enthusiast on Instagram.

After testing my own brew water I performed an experiment. I took and measured samples of water from my tap at home every day for a week to get a general idea of how the tap water in Hamilton is for coffee brewing so that I could post my results online for whoever may be interested, e.g. local coffee nerds and reefers (the latter apparently as nerdy as us coffee folk).

For those of you who do not know what a titration session consists of: in this case it is when you take vials of water, add specified amounts of specific chemicals, then add more drops of a different chemical until the water in the vial changes colour. The number of drops it takes to reach the end colour correlates to a certain ppm (parts per million) measurement of the measured ion. Very science.

There are three separate tests in the Pro Test kit: Mg, Ca, and KH. The Mg and Ca tests were pretty straightforward, however I had some trouble identifying whether I had reached my end colour with the KH kit, reaching a sort of pale salmon colour rather than the expected murky purple colour. Perhaps had I added more titrant I would have reached the final purple colour; although I did use quite a bit and the colour didn’t seem to change any further. For the sake of conservative estimation, we can interpret my KH measurements as meaning “at least” x ppm. The Mg and Ca tests were much more obvious.

[Edit: After watching Christopher Hendon’s recent video on titration, I have discovered that the pale salmon colour that I described above is, in fact, the correct end colour for the KH test.]

I used 10 ml water samples for all three tests despite the recommended 2 ml, 5 ml, and 10 ml for Mg, Ca, and KH respectively, which, provided I understood the book correctly, will increase the precision of the Mg and Ca measurements (Edition One, page 95). The Mg test measures in 20 ppm increments per 0.01 ml of titrant added to a 2 ml sample, so in a 10 ml sample each 0.01 ml of titrant should correlate to 4 ppm. The Ca test measures in 5 ppm increments per 0.01 ml of titrant added to a 5 ml sample, so in a 10 ml sample each 0.01 ml of titrant should correlate to 2.5 ppm. I believe this is allowable.

The KH test measures in meq/L, which is a unit of measurement that eludes me, so to obtain the measurement in ppm I used this neat little converter that I will just blindly assume is accurate until somebody with more understanding corrects me.

[Edit: The converter was very close to the math from Hendon’s titration video.]

I think it is also important that I mention that, according to the corrigendum posted on the Water For Coffee website on 10-10-15, the Red Sea kit “measures and reports individual ions rather than in [ion] as [CaCO3]” (Chapter 1, page 10). This essentially means that our measurements report ppm for each ion as though each ion were itself, and not CaCO3, which is, surprisingly, a distinction that must be made. As such, no conversions should be necessary for final ppm measurements, as would be necessary for ppm reported in [ion] as [CaCO3].

[Edit: According to Hendon’s titration video, the Red Sea kit reports in individual ions for the Ca and Mg measurements, but in [ion] as [CaCO3] for KH measurements. Since learning this, I have converted the following measurements to display ppm as HCO3 (bicarbonate), as they were originally posted in ppm as CaCO3.]

Anyway, here is the data:

Mar 17, 2016 – Mg: 16 ppm, Ca: 35 ppm, KH: 111-114 ppm as HCO3
Mar 18, 2016 – Mg: 8-12 ppm, Ca: 35-37 ppm, KH: 114 ppm as HCO3
Mar 19, 2016 – Mg: 16 ppm, Ca: 35 ppm, KH: 108 ppm as HCO3
Mar 20, 2016 – Mg: 20 ppm, Ca: 37.5 ppm, KH: 111 ppm as HCO3
Mar 21, 2016 – Mg: 16 ppm, Ca: 35 ppm, KH: 114 ppm as HCO3
Mar 22, 2016 – Mg: 16 ppm, Ca: 32.5 ppm, KH: 114 ppm as HCO3
Mar 23, 2016 – Mg: 20 ppm, Ca: 37.5 ppm, KH: 114-120 ppm as HCO3

Average – Mg: 16.29 ppm, Ca: 35.5 ppm, KH: 113.33 ppm as HCO3

Basically this means that my tap water (our generic Hamilton water sample) is not ideal for brewing coffee, according to the standard set by Colonna-Dashwood and Hendon, as it is too high in KH. The GH (combined Mg and Ca) is ideal for a very narrow set of circumstances, and at least acceptable for a much wider range of circumstances (i.e. if the KH were lower). To give you a good idea how far off our KH is, at this GH we would need our KH right around 37.5 ppm to find ourselves within ideal parameters (although with a higher GH, our KH could be as high as 75 ppm, depending on the GH).

Why does this matter? Well, KH functions as a buffer for the acidity in coffee – it balances out the high amounts of acidity. High enough amounts of KH can make the acidic compounds in a brew function as bases, leaving the coffee tasting flat and chalky.

Luckily my Brita filter seems to do the trick for home brewing, according to the quick, preliminary test I performed while learning to use my titration kit. That is, if the trick is to have acceptable brewing water. It’s still not ideal, but I will be experimenting further.

A few other details for those of you who might be interested:
-Where I accidentally pressed more than one drop of titrant into the test water vial, a range of ppm is given, correlating to the range of drops in which the colour change took place.
-It should be noted that tap water composition will vary from city to city, and will presumably even fluctuate between different parts of the city. This experiment is more to provide an example of the water at some “random” point in Hamilton to give a general idea of what the water may be like in any given part of the city.
-I followed the instructions provided with the kit almost exactly. Apart from my previously mentioned divergences, I did not flush the vials I used with distilled water, but with tap water before and after each test. For our purposes, I think this should be fine.
-I wore yellow rubber gloves for each titration session because some of the chemicals are corrosive and I was scared.
-Hamilton, as in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


My name is Wesley Griffin. I am a barista and coffee brewer from Hamilton, ON. I am constantly working to make better coffee. I placed third in the 2017 Canadian Brewers’ Cup and sometimes I roast coffee.

The BREW blog contains some of my thoughts about coffee, the coffee industry, and the culture surrounding both of these things.