Hacker Fuel came out of a project inspired by a man who wanted to make coffee with all the caffeine and none of the bitterness, that needed less sweetener, and that would deliver the kick of five espressos distilled into a fine beverage.
Therein lies the story.
Greg, Matt and I were at the space tonight taste-testing Black Ambrosia, Red Ambrosia, and a redux of Batch 11. We discussed setting up a Wiki page for the project and poof. Here we go. This page is for recording notes, recipes, and ideas for other things to try.
Greg D: Alrighty, here's the complete synopsis of the results so far. It's going to be a bit long, so you might want to get a cup of coffee (so to speak) The rig that I've been using has been working adequately. It mainly consists of a large funnel, glass tubing, and a distillation flask that serves as the vacuum chamber. Rubber stoppers seal them, and a chemist stand holds everything steady and supported. The coffee is put into a 2 liter soda bottle and allowed to steep. When it's ready, we've been putting 2 filters from a commercial iced tea machine (they're denser and larger than coffee filters) into the funnel and allowing it to drain into the lower flask. As it does, a vacuum is applied. I've been using a hand pump, but others have been using an electric pump. This sucks as much essences as possible from the grounds. Afterward, the grounds are almost dry to the touch.
The amount of coffee to water we've been using isn't really scientific. I put as much water as I could in the flask without it spilling over into the vacuum spout, then dumped it into the coffee pot. It came up to the '10 cups' mark, however much that is. It was at least easily replicated. The appropriate amount of coffee listed for this volume according the the coffee package was about 10 scoops, and I wound up using 14 level tablespoons. I kept using this as my baseline, and it makes about 40 ounces.
This was the first batch, and was left to steep for 2 days. This was the batch the others were judged by.
This was to see if time was a factor. Same volume, same coffee, but only left to steep for 1 day. It was declared to not be as good as #1.
This was an attempt to replicate #1, to see if the batches could be made at a consistent quality. It was lost due to a filter blowout.
Same as 3, only successful. It tasted like the first batch, and this was declared as our baseline. This was also the first batch to try to be Pasteurized and saved. We heated the coffee in the flask to a high enough temperature to kill any microorganisms, poured into suitably cleaned beer bottles and capped, then put in the fridge to cool.
This was another baseline batch. We put this head to head with the saved Batch #4. It was determined that Pasteurization did not affect the taste at all, and makes saving batches for more than a few days feasible. After this, all batches would be Pasteurized.
This was actually 2 batches. #6 was another baseline, #6+ was prepared with double the amount of coffee, with the same amount of water. It yielded a slightly different taste. Not stronger exactly, but a bit more acidic tasting. This wasn't necessarily a bad thing, as some more knowledgeable than myself pointed out that acids in coffee bring out different flavors. PH tests confirmed it was more acidic than the baselines, but the taste was more a matter of personal preference.
Well, that's where we stand so far. There's a couple more ideas that I'd like to try, including a large scale batch complete with labels, and I know other people are trying their own experiments. Stay tuned for further results!
Batch 9 was another baseline batch, although it was made with more coffee than usual due to the measuring spoons vanishing and me putting in more than usual. It came out pretty much like the previous baseline batches, with the exception of it being slightly stronger and a bit more acidic. This jibes with Batch 7, which was intentionally made with more coffee. So, more coffee = more acidic and slightly different flavor.
Batch 10 was an experiment in triple extraction. After the coffee was extracted, it was run through the grounds a second, then a third, time. In my opinion, it came out with a more pronounced and intense flavor. We still don't have the ability to measure the caffeine content yet, and any stimulating effect might be due to my adding coffee to my already high daily caffeine intake. That having been said, I have had almost this much of previous brews, and I realized by the time I got halfway back to Aurora that I was clenching my teeth the whole time. Never had that happen before.
Anyway, I've labeled one bottle from each batch 'save for testing', so we have a representative from each when we get more testing capability. Anything that's not labeled so in the fridge is fair game.
Greg D: The baseline batches of Hacker Fuel are 1500ml of water, with 140 grams of coffee. Feel free to recreate it at your leisure. Now please knock off the scientific data crap, huh?
Batches 12 and 13 were extracted tonight. These were proof of concept brews of Catherine's 'ambrosia' suggestion. They were made with slightly different concentrations of coffee and black tea. After extraction and pasteurization, the brew was mixed with an appropriate amount of hot chocolate mix. The reception was enthusiastic to say the least. The hot chocolate smoothed out the rough edges of both the coffee and tea, enough so that batch 12 vanished within minutes. Batch 13 was pretty much the same. The only difference of opinion was on the inclusion of the tea. People who enjoy tea were overwhelmingly in favor of tea's inclusion. Those who don't (well, me), weren't. There were also numerous suggestions that it would be improved further if chai tea was used as opposed to black tea. Well, I've taken it to heart. Thursday should be a highly caffeinated day. There are three ambrosia batches that will be done then. One with black chai, one with red chai, and one control batch that will be a tea free test. Also ready on that night will be the triple brewed Batch 11, which was strong enough to stain my fingers last night when I did a PH test. There's gonna be a lot of really fast talkin' people there on that night, I'll reckon...
Greg D: The latest experiments were extracted last night. The first was the much anticipated Batch 11, which was triple brewed. It was extracted, then put back with fresh grounds and allowed to steep again three times. It looked evil. It was so dark brown it was nearly black, and it had a strange way of clinging to the sides of the flask and cups, almost like an oil. The taste was equally unique. The best way I can describe it? Imagine taking a twenty pound bag of coffee beans, compressing them into a brick, and having someone hit you in the mouth with it. Even though it was so intense, it was still surprisingly smooth. Heated up with sugar, it was dangerously easy to drink. Rest assured, I will be making more...
I also completed three Ambrosia batches. Black Ambrosia (#15) was made with the addition of black chai tea and chocolate; very interesting. Red Ambrosia (#16) was made with red chai and chocolate. Of the two, I personally liked Red better, but my favorite was the Chocolate Ambrosia (#14). It was made without the addition of tea. Any of these flavors might make the cut for the inevitable large-batch brews, which will happen after another round of brews and the final caffeine assessment tests.
Oh, and in case you're wondering, 4:30am. Falling asleep with caffeine coursing through your blood does lead to some interesting dreams about coffee, let me tell you...