This is the second post on the coffee topic. The previous post is here.
My manual coffee grinder broke. Specifically, the plastic inside the upper portion of the grinder broke off and went into the burr grinding mechanism. So in addition to ground coffee, I also got ground plastic. Bummer.
Never thought this part would be the first to break and nobody sells that spare part. I needed a new grinder.
Looking around the internet, turned out good quality manual grinder cost almost as much as low-end electric grinder. Some electric grinder even costed less than good manual grinder.
Electric grinder is much more convenient, obviously, but I had some concerns. It is noisy, takes up counter space, a bit boring, and may lead to me drinking much more coffee. I will get back to these later in the post.
I found a few models that look interesting within the price range that I was willing to part with. But I have no experience with electric grinder (except for using an espresso coffee grinder once at a friend's place), so I looked for local store options to see first hand what I was buying.
The store that sells Baratza never picked up the phone in the few days I called. Their website did not say anything, but I wonder if it closed down. Another store sells Hario. I called and they ran out the small model that I liked, but the other model is in stock and the store is not too far. I found other stores, but they carry expensive stuffs in the price range that I am not ready to part with.
I enjoyed my Hario manual grinder and I still like the brand, so I went to the store. The Hario electric grinder looked alright and the staff explained how to maintain it to keep it running well. And then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the smeg electric grinder on the other side of the table. I inquired the staff about it in comparison with the Hario.
It's more expensive than the big Hario, but seems worth the extra cost.
I splurged for the smeg.
One week in, so far my concerns had been mitigated.
The noise is not so loud as I had feared and it has a pleasant pitch. (The smeg's housing is made of metal.) It looks nice, so I don't mind it taking some counter space in the corner. Obviously, pushing a button is not the same ritual as manual grinding, but the process is not so boring as I thought. Probably due smeg's good look and good user experience in operating the machine.
And to date, despite the convenience, I have not drunk more coffee than before.
Here's to a nice cup of coffee! By the way, I wrote this while enjoying a nice cup of early morning coffee. :–)
Check out the smeg website.
I found this professional guide to immersion brewing. No, I do not do it like him at home; too cumbersome, but this YouTube video confirms some of my assumptions / techniques.
I am thankful that I still can be thankful
The gale seems scary all the time and the waves are very tall at times but the boat is afloat and all hands are on board
For this I am thankful
The cloud is dark and foreboding but out in the horizon peeking a silver lining because the sun is still shining
For this I am thankful
Lately, my 10K time had been nowhere near my best times of 58:27 and 59:20 and my recovery period had been less than comfortable. The outsoles of both the Adidas PureBoost and Asics SortieMagic are wearing out, so maybe it's time to get new shoes.
Unfortunately, the Asics boutique did not have SortieMagic in stock anymore, so I had to find another model. I checked out a few stores and ended up with a pair of Brooks Ricochet.
Not as thin as I prefer, but really nice ride for slow runs. I like them.
I tried running fast with them and only got 59:59 and subsequent tries were slower. I retried harder and eventually I was able to get 58:50. Yeay! Unlike the fast-feeling SortieMagic, I had to consciously make the extra push to get a good pace from the Ricochet.
Recovery period was good.
Lesson learned: When recovery period is painful and long, it is probably time to get new shoes.
And the day before yesterday, I was hoping to do another sub-60 minute 10K. I felt great physically and the early morning weather was nice. I checked the stopwatch periodically and gave it a push in the last 2K. I did not intend to make a new best time, so I was very surprised to see the time.
So to-date, my best times are 57:50, 58:27, and 58:50. I think that is enough fast running for a while.
With computational photography, smartphone these days produces seemingly good looking photographs. Major phone brands try to convince you that their phone cameras can produce pictures that are as appealing as those coming out of cameras with professional specs.
Do we need a dedicated camera?
Given that the best camera is the one you have with you, I have been considering whether I will stick it out with just my smartphone camera (which I always have with me) or whether I should replace my dedicated camera.
I had not made up my mind completely yet, but my beloved Pentax K200D camera saw less and less action in recent years to the point that I even left it at home for recent holiday trips. So earlier this year I gave it away, along with the Sigma DC HSM 30mm/f1.4 lens that has always accompanied the K200D, to a friend who I know can make better use of them than me.
I saw pictures taken from the latest smartphone cameras and there were many cases where they were really good, but there were many other cases where they were not up to my standard. I still was not convinced I can survive with just smartphone camera.
About a couple of months ago I bought a new smartphone and last weekend I took some pictures at a dinner. I forgot about them until today as I browsed through the photographs and I thought: not bad, not bad at all.
Amongst the pictures that came out good, I knew it would be better if I work the crop factor a bit. Sure enough, after cropping, the image came out cool.
However, during the process I noticed something that people may miss, if they do not have experience shooting with dedicated camera + good optics.
The computational bokeh from the smartphone fails miserably during the transition from in-focus to out-of-focus area. Give a close attention to the boundary of the neck and the hand.
Interestingly, although not a complete surprise, the computational algorithm can fail to kick in when it got confused.
On the next picture, pay attention to the area between the hand and the neck and the small area between the thumb and the other fingers: the algorithm missed them and did not generate the bokeh effect.
I cannot compare the same scenario taken with a dedicated camera, but here is a flower taken with the Pentax+Sigma at f1.7.
Bokeh represents areas where physically, light enters the lens as out of focus, indiscriminate to the fact it is a small area or large area. And in the real world, out-of-focus is also dependent on physical distance, so the bokeh effect varies based on the location of the objects.
I am happy with my smartphone camera, but this post shows that for certain kind of images that I am accustomed to make, I should buy a camera.
“We don’t want a thousand features. That would be ugly.
Innovation is not about saying yes to everything. It’s about saying NO to all but the most crucial features.”
~ Steve Jobs
“[Innovation] comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”
~ Steve Jobs
I ran into an old photograph that I got from somewhere a long time ago.