Filter coffee, espresso, sustainability and storage with Patrick Hunt
Omar Hi Patrick, I must say this chat has been one I've been most excited about because, we've spent time together and the kind of conversations we've had have been so multifaceted, to say the least. But for those who haven't had the pleasure of being able to spend the hours of pleasure that I have with you, could you just let people know who you are, who Rok Coffee is and what you do?
Patrick Hunt Hi Omar, whenever we converse we tend to just run off in to lovely, enjoyable tangents and always flows very nicely! So I'm Patrick Hunt, founder and CEO of the company Presso. We originally traded in Presso, but we changed our trading name to Rok probably about maybe six years ago, something like that. So really, I think the goal with Rok is to try to get people to very easily extract a great cup of coffee, the sort of coffee that you might have on the High Street that you drink and think, wow, that's amazing, but do it at home and do it very easily without lots of complex equipment, without lots of, you know, funny pouring kettles, gooseneck spout, without all these sort of barista style things and training. But to be able to just a great get a great cup of coffee at home pretty easily and without it costing thousands of pounds. So that has kind of been the journey that I've been on and we've been on as a company. The very first product was a manual espresso machine, which was a way of having instant coffee without being instant, instant in the sense it's quick and easy. You can get hot water delivered from your own electric kettle...
Omar Or a stove stop kettle if you really want to dial back on your electric consumption!
Patrick Hunt Exactly. Then simply applying the requisite pressure manually and that became quite successful. We were arguably too early into the market but I think the market has sort of caught up now. I think most people's coffee journey is once you get used to really extracting a great shot, your focus becomes more on the coffee grounds and we will discuss in more depth later but ground coffee does tend to oxidize pretty rapidly. It doesn't last very long and very quickly you’ll notice that you need your own grinder. You know, typically a roasted being will oxidize but it's something like ten thousand times less than ground coffee. When you're growing coffee, you have ten thousand times the amount of surface area is typically and it's going to oxidise super quick. So, yeah, grinding coffee beans at home is the next obvious thing. And then I designed my own coffee grinder, which is simple to use there is a horizontal handle in a kind of nice ergonomic way with very consistent particle size, which of course is important as you want to extract. If you grind it coarse for, say, a pour over, it's great and if you're grinding fine for espresso its equally lovely and consistent. So that's kind of the trajectory and I think interestingly, when I connected with some of the communities, like coffee roasters who are obviously really knowledgeable about coffee beans and equally, the guys that Monmouth Coffee, it's a London based coffee place...
Omar Oh i know of them! They're an extremely old and traditional coffee roaster, aren't they?
Patrick Hunt Precisely! But now they're roasting in London and really love actually, I really love their ethos they're really great guys and I interacted with them quite a bit in developing the grinder and we did some side-by-side comparisons. But in that process of interacting with them, I realized that they kind of drink of choice during the day would a longer back, pour over coffee, typically, you know, with a paper filter. We're all familiar with that because its a pretty old school way of doing it! And I was quite a bit struck a while. It's like an old-fashioned kind of way of making coffee but it really struck me that that was the consistent thing with a lot of roasters. And we did side by side comparisons of of our grinder with the really expensive, super fancy professional electric grinders and they know coffee so well they could pour the water on the coffee and that first instance, you know, it's called the bloom where CO2 is released and immediately they could say Well, I know this is going to taste great because I can see the particles that the grinder cuts are super clean and sharp so they're quite fluffy end it actually de-gases really nicely and ultimately it results in good taste. So, you know, when I did some side-by-side comparisons with these guys, I thought that this whole thing about cupping and tasting was quite nuanced and really for the professionals. But you can really taste the difference between two different types of ground coffee in a pour over because it brings out lots of interesting stuff. So, I had a Hario for some time, which is a typical V Section cone brewer, the paper cones are very inexpensive, they're very available and when I was playing around with the V 60, I found it really difficult to get a really good consistent extraction. A lot of the time it was actually really quite bitter. So, i thought, wow, that's really interesting how we improve it. And clearly, if you look at the physics of it, it's pretty obvious that with a cone shape, you're going to get a higher extraction at the bottom of the cone where it's quite compressed and less at the periphery or the circumference or the top of the cone. So, you know, I played around a few things and sort of chopped up some filters and played around and came up with sort of a W shape where you have to initially invert the cone of the paper. So it would become a W rather than a V, and hopefully that makes sense.
Rok W1 Taken on Nikon Z6
Omar So I'll put some pictures in the post just to kind of illustrate what you're talking about, but you're essentially talking about a cut cross section of the filter of the filter cone itself, correct?
Patrick Hunt Exactly. Exactly. So, in some respects, by using a W shape as opposed to the standard V shape I could say with a normal cone brewer the tolerance of everything being sweet is quite tight, whereas with a W1, the objective was to get the tolerance very, very wide. So you didn't need a pouring kettle, you don't need weigh scales, but, you know, with good coffee, you can then create an exquisite even extraction. We did some scientific kind of verification of that the results of that were great and subsequently some refractometer stuff.
Omar That would be to calculate the extraction percentages?
Patrick Hunt Exactly. The extraction yield, as it's called. And it's, you know, it's really great. But you don't really want to look at the tables, you look at the taste, because the human sensory apparatus is pretty perceptive, actually, and you're beginning to sense all the things you need to sense. That was a really interesting journey for us as a company, that we did something that was quite a different type of coffee maker but the overarching principles are the same. It's kind of democratizing, making good coffee for ordinary folk, not being a specific thing for the baristas with all the knowledge and all of the equipment but just allowing people to easily do it at home, you know, nicely.
Omar You know, I want to kind of just go back to something that you said before when you talking about a Monmouth. The thing that's really quite interesting for me is the differences in bean clarity in the cup compared to espresso and filter. Because the one thing for me that really brings out the transparency in coffee as opposed to espresso is espresso you have different variables of sensory and taste experience. you've got the crema, you've got the actual espresso itself, you've got the textural elements to it, you've got the flavor there. There’re so many different variables to to keep track of. The one thing I love about espresso is it tends to be a product more than the sum of its parts, which is which is quite interesting for me. So, you can have a bean that's a bit funky sometimes and actually end up with a fairly decent shot of espresso sometimes. However, with filter on the other hand, particularly if you're using a paper filter which really gets rid of most of the coffee oil so the textural element is pretty much gone.
Patrick Hunt There’s almost no mouthfeel at all, It's like drinking wine. But you do detect stuff with wine as well, there's a creaminess sometimes to wine, which is kind of a textural thing, but you're absolutely right, that mouthfeel is kind of gone.
Omar Precisely. And especially if you're using something like a Chemex, which I mean, if we're talking about flawed coffee brewer designs, we have to we have to mention the Chemex. Essentially, as far as I'm concerned, it's really only good as a decorative element in your kitchen. I really do believe that it really is a just a flawed design. The only great thing about Chemex is their filter paper. It's nice and thick and it really does catch all of the stuff.
Patrick Hunt I have always thought that the double fold in the Chemex filters was always a bit strange. It might encourage in a way, some kind of bypass. bypass is when the water goes through the paper and not through a coffee on one side compared to the other. But you kind of feel intuitive that you want something to be super even for even extraction you need symmetry.
Omar Yeah, exactly. Yeah, it's kind of common sense. And if anything, even worse than bypass, I think you're probably getting a completely uneven extraction, which is why I think people who are able to get a flatbed while they're finished, these guys need to be admitted into Hogwarts as far as I'm concerned, you know, they're conducting nothing short of black magic, of wizardry, because I don't understand how that's possible. Essentially, what you're getting with filtered coffee and I think what I've been so excited to talk to you about, with what you've managed to achieve with the W1 is with filter coffee. Like you said, there's very small tolerance for making a mistake while brewing the coffee and tiny, tiny mistakes during brewing, particularly with a Hario V60, are magnified in the end product. So, for example, if you're pouring pattern isn't consistent, you won't get a consistent extraction, which means even a tiny deviation in your pouring pattern can create a significant taste issue with the end cup. Which is why you have these problems with consistency. And to reiterate something I mentioned to you before, I have always been a huge fan of the Hario V60, but I've always based that on a couple of things. Number one, the plastic one is cheap as hell, which means it's very simple, It's pretty much indestructible, you could throw it at your window if you wanted to and continue with it.
Patrick Hunt And these are great things. Are important things. Yeah.
Omar Yeah. Which is which is really great. But unfortunately, the majority of the cups that I end up brewing with the Hario V60, I've got a fellow stagg electric kettle which is like a 250 pound kettle. And, you know, I use Acaia Pearl S Scales, which are 300 pound scales, and I still get the majority of my cups tasting a bit naff.
Patrick Hunt Yeah, you've got, you know, some amazing kit, so you have the ability to be able to do a great extraction, but ultimately there are some things that, you know, you want to get, right, like, not having the water too hot. When I buy really expensive coffee beans, I find myself reaching for the W1 rather than, say, my rok espresso machine, because it feels like you can really get the value out of very expensive beans. And there's a there's a roaster not far from where I live in Richmond, in the U.K. kiss the hippo that makes beautiful beans, they're quite expensive, but they're really super. And I was talking with those guys, they said, well, this is great but just try to even cool your water more than you normally words to get out some of the real fruity flavors of a light roast coffee, take it right down. You like 92, 93 rather than 95 degrees, which is the norm or even cooler. And that was a really good tip, because generally when you do a pour over without milk, I tend to do that because you just like you said, I love having a pour over into clear glass. I love just looking at it, the clarity, you can tell a lot so I don't want to put it in a mug. Anyway, aim with the W1 is that you can just slosh water in without the complex pouring, which I think the traditional V filters take. If you see a barista doing a 360, they'll be doing a very careful controlled pour. They're limiting the amount of water so so provide a suitable amount of agitation to the coffee bed because if you don't do that, it clogs the filter because it's constricted at the bottom. It's just kind of obvious.
Omar Precisely. And that is really unless you are really nailing everything all the way from your grind size, because, listen, it doesn't matter how expensive a grinder you have, whether you have, you know, a rok hand grinder or you have a Weber Workshops EG1 three and a half thousand pound home grinder, it doesn't matter. All grinders will produce a percentage of fine particles. Because of the the shape of the cone, it's going to clog, but could you could you explain what in the design allows the W1 to produce a more consistent brew, from my basic understanding, it's something to do with pressure points.
Patrick Hunt Yeah, that's right. So if you were to measure the pressure, let's say, of a regular cone from the base of the cone to the top of the cone there's a variation of pressures based on the depth. So that's quite a large variability, more pressure at the bottom, less at the top. So with a W1, we've halved that difference. So the pressure difference between the bottom of the W the top of it is half of that we get from a traditional cone like a V60. So, you know, ultimately from a physics point of view, you've just you've halved the pressure differential compared to a normal cone. So that makes the extraction much more even. With a V shape you've got essentially a single extraction point at the bottom of the cone is coming out at one place, passing through that body of coffee probably and consistently over extracting the particles at the base of the cone. Whereas the W if you look on the bottom of it, there's essentially a ring so you're not punishing a small amount of coffee with overextraction. It is just essentially much more even in its exit point. And I think the difference is that you can taste it because you can taste the difference is pretty straightforward.
Omar You absolutely can, and I kind of want to comment on that. It has been fairly interesting, like I said, I've always been a fan of the V60 and kind of with the podcast, I've been fairly fortunate in the sense that I get a lot of pour over brewers sent over. So I have a lot of points of reference, whether it's the W1, whether it's the Fellow Stagg or whatever it might be or the V 60. But before I kind of comment on that, one question I had is, have you conducted any tests against flat bottom brewers?
Patrick Hunt Yeah, actually, we haven't done some head-to-head comparisons with measuring equipment to the extraction field, but I have done taste tests. So definitely a flat bottom paper filter will give you a quite similar result to W1. But of course, what you've got there is then I mean, I haven't done a recent audit of the costs per pull of one of the more complex flat bottom papers, but their more expensive by less than a factor of three. So the great thing about the cone paper is it's a simple piece of paper folded with a single seam, it's very inexpensive and very available. Whereas you've got obviously there are some papers with convoluted walls and a flat bottom, some with a hockey stick shape seam, all of this help to counteract what I described about the overextraction of that little bit of coffee at the bottom of the cone. So, yes, they're definitely better then the traditional cone, but then you're spending more money on your disposable paper.
Omar How interesting! Actually, one of the flat bottom grinders that I used to enjoy using was the Kalita wave. But unfortunately, the Kalita weight filters are more expensive than the bloody brewer itself!
Patrick Hunt So its the printer and ink cartridge issue going on there.
Omar That's exactly what it is. But you know what, for the Japanese, it's normal for them because it's a it's a Japanese company. But outside of Japan, I think it may be because of distribution issues but the Kalita filter papers are very difficult to get hold of and extremely expensive.
Patrick Hunt So that's what I'm trying to do at Rok Is this democratization I talked about before. We've got interested in the continuous revenue stream and selling paper. We don't sell any, we don't make those papers, we encourage people to buy Hario ones, just buy the W1 unit and hopefully it's long lasting, it's designed to be long lasting. You know, we were using quite a lot of time actually finding some sustainable bamboo materials. Bamboo is pretty good at being a carbon sequestrator if at the end of life you actually do throw it away unfortunately, a lot of stuff we throw away for recycling ends up in landfill, probably in southern Turkey, unfortunately, at least with the W1 its biodegradable. It's made of materials that, you know, is suitable as I could design them, that we're not making money on the cost of buying a paper.
Omar One of the things that I have a tremendous amount of respect for with what you're doing at Rock is your sustainability ethos. Anything that you do is really directed to trying to be as net positive to your biosphere as you possibly can. But there's also a tremendous amount of innovation there as well, because I've been a very vocal supporter of using bamboo wherever or whenever you can. And bamboo is fantastic, both with thermal coefficients but also with its I don't know if you've heard about this, but bamboo is now being used, as shelving for high end Hi-Fi racks, bamboo is now being hailed as kind of the most amazing material ever for its vibration absorption capabilities.
Patrick Hunt I get that. I haven't seen it but do they put the fibers going down to the ground?
Omar I believe the fibers are running horizontally. But the way that is designed is because aluminum is also known very well for its vibration absorption capabilities. So what they do is they have bamboo shelves and aluminum rods running down the side and what that does is it feeds it down into the ground through aluminum spikes.
Patrick Hunt Yeah, yeah. But that's something we worked in the design consultancy which spawned Rok. We worked on some Hi-Fi racks with a UK company Naim Audio. We did a three legged stand, which obviously three legs never wobbles. It's super stable and all of the energy directed into the floor to keep it super dead. But you really hear the difference. Crikey, you hear the different. You really do.
Omar You really can hear a difference. And Naim Audio is one of the guys who introduced me to this to this rack company. And you are totally right, it makes a huge difference. But I think one thing that not a lot of people realize is bamboo is the weed of the world. Pretty much it grows anywhere and everywhere and is extraordinarily abundant.
Patrick Hunt Yeah, it absorbs a great amount of carbon which is great. You know that there are very few processes as elegant as photosynthesis in terms of, you know, sequestrating carbon and spitting out oxygen butt it does that and we need that more and more as the world goes.
Omar Agreed. And, you know, aside from the environmental benefits, bamboo in itself seems to be a perfect material to use for this, because when it comes to heat retention, the W1 is one of the best I've ever tested. Unfortunately, the more expensive Hario V60s and I'm talking about most brewers that are expensive are made of ceramic probably or some kind of China or something along those lines.
Patrick Hunt Yeah.
Omar And they get so hot that I can barely touch it from the outside, which means that it's just acting as a massive heat sink. It's just pulling heat away from the from the slurry, from the actual coffee grounds. And so I'm guessing that also helps with maximizing the extraction. Right. Retaining as much as of that heat as possible.
Patrick Hunt Of course. I mean, a lot of the time I'm looking at materials that are suitable to use the equipment, bamboo, i love it like you do. we're using a GC material, which is the base of the W1 which is a very strong glass composite, it is built to last, but it also has the same properties as bamboo so that's the same material we use in the espresso machine. It's a good insulator rather than wicking out the heat. There have been some people say, well, why don't you make it out of aluminum or steel? But, of course, you know, a basic physics level, it's exciting the particles and they just transiting all of that heat out and you don't want it.
Omar I totally agree. And, you know, there are certain designs that I've seen which are using, you know, very interesting designs for example, double walled design elements, which is great. But what you're doing is yours is you're coupling a double wall design with a material like steel that inherently wicks heat. So, it's a bit counterintuitive. So I, I like the fact that you guys have kept the design fairly traditional with regards to the to the actual brewer itself. And essentially what you've done is you've inverted the bottom, which makes a very even extraction point as opposed to one point.
Patrick Hunt You mentioned earlier about, you know, I guess word is sustainable but I think in previous conversations I just tried to step away from that word now because it's so overused. And I you know, when you asked me to describe Rok earlier, I didn't even talk about that. It's kind of intentional because hopefully it's already that people understand that that's something that we do. I'm quite passionate about building stuff that lasts that is long lasting because if you properly audit your carbon footprint of stuff, it's not just the everyday usage. And, you know, that can be significant but for most countries now, thankfully, their electricity generation is is less carbon than it used to be because we've got rid of our coal fired power stations potentially in China that is still happening and in other parts of the world. But actually, if you if you look at how long you keep a product, then you're just dividing its carbon footprint by the number of years served. I really like stuff coming on my life to with me, things I have for a long time. You know, I drive an old car that was made in the 60s, I try and keep my clothes going as long as I can and my shoes, of course they come on a life journey with me. I like to think it's fun and your form a relationship with stuff, It sounds a bit old in a way, but as a designer I'm really interested in the relationship between the objects we have and our lives. And to actually form a bond with an object is a really important thing, you're not going to just throw it away or think I'm bored of that let's get next week's model and get that on Amazon. I would encourage people to actually form relationships with the stuff they own and choose it carefully and kind of care for it polish it, repair it.
Omar It's absolutely fascinating. And, you know, while you're talking about that, one thing that I have to say about your espresso machine that you guys make is whenever I approach the espresso machine in the in the kitchen, it's got a very organic presence. It feels like a little person there, it's very much like the machine itself has got a personality to it. So you do end up forming these emotional bonds with essentially inanimate objects, which is which is really quite interesting because you want to look after it, you want to make it last as long as possible. And I think that's one thing that I've been very vocal about on the podcast is, you know, if you get the right stuff, if you invest in the right stuff, you want to look after it, you want to make it last as long as possible rather than feeling like you're obliged to do so. I think that's what's terribly interesting with what you're creating with Rok. I love handling the W1, you know, it's got these tremendously tactile elements of it, whether it's and gripping it from the glass composite base or whatever it might be. But the one thing that I that I must say with all this great equipment that I've got and all the tests that I've conducted, I still get dudd cups of coffee from the Hario V60. But on the other hand, and I said to you with the first thing I said to you on the call is I just got in some lovely coffee from a roaster, a beautiful Kenyan coffee with really prominent notes of of blackberry, and with the Hario V60, It was ended up being a bit bitter, to be honest. It wasn't great. It didn't extract very well, the bed had a big dip in the middle. Maybe it was my fault. But whatever, right after right after that, I dumped in the same dose and grind in to the W1 and I shit you not that was probably the nicest cup of coffee I've ever made. It was absolutely fantastic. In fact, I was being intentionally laid back about my brewing technique. I was being quite careless about my pouring I kind of stuck a spoon in there and I spooned it around the inverted cone bit on the inside and I spun it around a few times as well as it bloomed and the bed came out perfectly flat around the inverted cone and it was just lovely. It was within my three minute and 30 second window of brewing. It was just absolutely lovely. So, all of this research and development and science, understanding of pressure points and stuff like that, it sounds crazy that, hang on a second, this is just a it's just a cup of coffee. But it results in a result, which is clearly definable by the palate. Clearly definable. It's not for the nuanced coffee taste, in my opinion. And that's what i love about your democratization mission because anyone can taste the difference.
Rok Espresso Machine and Acaia Lunar
Patrick Hunt No, exactly. And what I found interesting going back to, you know, interacting with coffee roasters, they're not doing kind of the standard James Hoffman dosing, you know, the 60 grams of coffee to, you know, to a liter water, they're brewing way stronger, much more coffee to water ratios. But you know that’s kind of fun to play with as well to brew a stronger cup. Why stick to the prescriptive? I mean, why does that even exist? You know, the 60 grams of coffee to one liter of water is pretty arbitrary in the end isnt it? I actually like doing a lighter extraction, possibly along the lines of what is prescribed just because you're not using so much of your expensive coffee, which, you know, is important, and you can really have a longer journey of enjoying the coffee you've invested in.
Omar I completely agree with you, one of the things I have always disillusioned me about, we've discussed this on numerous occasions, James Hoffman is probably everyone's teacher. The way that I refer to him is he's like the Tiger Woods of coffee, you know, Tiger Woods was the guy that made everyone interested in golf. And I feel as though that Hoffman is really doing the same thing with coffee.
Patrick Hunt He has an engaging kind of way of communicating, he's great, I really like him.
Omar He's absolutely fantastic. And it just helps that he's probably got one of the most Asmr voices I've ever heard. You just hear his voice and everything just feel so much better in life. He's just got a very, very lovely personality in the way that he communicates, It's very welcoming. But I have to say, I think what people don't realize that the guy owns a roastery, which means that when he's doing these tests and he's using, you know, over the course of one video, he's using over a kilo of coffee to conduct his experiments with, people just don't have that much money to spend on coffee of that caliber. People don't have that much coffee around with them. Coffee is an expensive thing. It is, especially if you're buying specialty grade stuff, you know, kiss the hippo or Monmouth's or, you know, we're talking, you know, at least 10 or 11 pounds for a bag of 250 grams.
Patrick Hunt Exactly. And I think I said at the beginning, and I think I read something recently, it's that, you know, we are exposed to some of the highest quality coffee that humans have ever been exposed to. They're grown extremely well now because it's a great value to poorest communities around the equator of our earth. It's distributed incredibly well and it's roasted very sensitively on great bits of equipment and delivered to you very quickly. So, it's a bit like and this is what I heard recently, it's a bit like having a 1947 bottle of Construes Pomerol, you know, and the most expensive wine you could possibly have and it's readily available. We can all do it. And what's great about coffee as well is that when you and I I'm really interested in wine, for me, there's lots of parties with coffee. When you consume wine, you want just that. You just are a consumer all you can do is open it, maybe let it breathe but you're not participating in it where-as with coffee, you're the guy who's actually making it and that's like super exciting. So anything that makes it easier I think is better. And we actually enjoy that 1947 construes equivalent easily at home. It's just such a fantastic thing. And you really want to be present when you're drinking it as well it’s something to have as a treat and we all need that a bit as well don't we.
Omar I completely agree. And I and I think that's what is genuinely exciting for me is why I really got into pour over is because, yes, espresso is lovely and all that, but there's just too many variables to keep track of. And, you know, when I was spending more money on espresso coffee, it was very difficult for me to discern the differences between, you know, the bag that I paid eight pounds for and the bag that I paid 15 pounds for. And I really couldn't taste the difference. It was difficult. But when I move over to a filtered coffee, I can taste the difference between the same price coffee grown on the same farm. But, yeah, you know, maybe it's just a bit different the fact that someone with a fairly normal palate can taste the difference is extraordinary. And like you said, it's lovely to be able to drink it out of a glass, a glass cup or a or a double walled if you're if you're being a bit fancy, i have been a huge fan of Kruve glassware. It's because there's something about where you're missing the textural elements and the crema and stuff in espresso what you're doing is because you're so involved in the in the preparation of the drink with the filter, that the visual aspect of it all plays a part in the experience of trying a filter. But you get the element of transparency in both the flavor profile and the visual experience when you're having a great filter coffee. And that's I think the problem with the filter market right now is because there's so many variables to control in the extraction of filter coffee, it detracts a lot from the tasting experience. You look on the packet - and this is this was so debilitating for me - which is on the packet says the damn coffee should taste of strawberries and you should be getting some Biscoff in there as well and you know, all these lovely things, there should be stone fruit. And I try and, you know, I don't get those tasting notes. So I am like, oh, God, what have I done? And then I try it the next day and I never get there and that's not my fault. Maybe it's just the brewer maybe the brewers actually an inhibiting factor for me.
Rok Grinder Taken on Nikon Z6
Patrick Hunt i think it’s quite interesting detecting those flavors that you just mentioned, because I think that something that unlocked it for me is when I sort of started a wine course because the similarities are very same in describing in words what you're getting out of, say, a fermented growth is that they're all you know, it doesn't taste of, say, mushrooms or forest floor, but there's a hint of it and it doesn't taste of, say, cherries, but it's like a facsimile perhaps of cherries. And I think it’s the same with coffee, when you see something that says pineapple chunks or if you like blueberries, it isn’t pineapple chunks. But that sweetness and the acidity that you could have with, say, pineapple is the thing and it helped me to think about I'm trying to tap pineapple chance, but there's stuff that's similar. But that's sort of really interesting about those flavors is I think it helps to think of them being sort of like an echo of those stone fruit. Ultimately it is coffee, but the process is now and the process we talked about earlier, some of those traditional processes where you're getting some fermentation of the actual coffee cherry with the stone as it breaks down, that's producing some complex molecules. And it's amazing that we detect them. It is charming and we're all learning. I think that's the other thing I think it's important about what I'm trying to do at Rok is to not condescend people but to understand we're all on a journey. We're not going to be like absolute experts and baristas. We're all discovering stuff and to have the space that we cannot be condescended to about, you know, whether you detect this or that flavor. But we're all learning about coffee and no one's there was an expert so it's all a very personal experience. We've introduced recently a pressurized portafilter to our espresso machine. The geeks will dismiss it because it's sort of a little bit of a cheat but what it does do is it does democratize espresso. It makes it much easier to make a shot of espresso if you don't have the right grounds to hand and not everybody does, not everybody does have a great grinder. They might buy store bought pre ground coffee and it helps cope with that and gives you a really good shot. So, yes, it's it's super interesting.
Omar One thing that I really enjoyed talking with you about, the first time we met at the at your design studio was the lack of coffee snobbery. I think coffee snobbery is a real thing, you know, there are there are people out there who are who are who are really crazy about this kind of stuff. But, you know, it's almost like religion, the moment that you say to somebody that, oh, I had I had a coffee from Starbucks, it's like you stabbed them in the heart. But from my perspective, it's like Starbucks is probably the best thing that could have ever happened to the coffee industry ever.
Patrick Hunt I found it many a time when i am with people who ask for a coffee and i make them a coffee and they say this is fantastic. And then they will disclose I don't normally ask for coffee when I go visiting people because its not of a quality that I would find acceptable. I think it's a bit of a shame really. But it's almost like sometimes we're inhibited in our lives by this sort of filters that we put on our perception of the world and these filters are preconditions they're prepackaged things that are a result of all of our backgrounds. Then you make this snap judgment based on these filters, whereas whether it's wine or whiskey or coffee, it's nice just to be present in your taste buds and in the moment. But in the end, it might taste of paper or you might detect that it's oxidized too much but, it's a shame to detract from that experience by being so critical, by applying these filters so strongly that this is obviously not the best cup of coffee you've ever drunk. They're going to be lesser ones, but try and be kinder to your taste buds and just let it flow.
Omar I completely agree. I definitely believe that being far too critical about experiences is a huge detraction on your experiences, which is why, you know, people who can't appreciate that their Starbucks coffee and look, if I can, I won't have a Starbucks coffee. It's not something that I enjoy, but. If it's there, I'll have it. You can't be so staunch in your quality requirements that you refuse yourself experiences regardless of the quality. And I think that the most interesting thing about the W1 for me and this is probably - I don't know if you've heard this before, but the one thing that I used to enjoy about the V60 is I had to work for a really good result. It was difficult and I had to really work for it. And I felt as though that if I get a good result, I've done something that not a lot of people can do, and I'm really experiencing what it says on the coffee packet. But the thing that was difficult for me to get over initially with the one was how easy it was to get perfect results and initially it put me off!
Patrick Hunt I completely accept that it might well do for people who have got used to making a Hario V60 or they really are super geeky because when I first introduced the W1 as an idea to the guys at Monmouth and they tried it out and we tried different papers, I explained quite clearly that this is not you guys. This is for ordinary folk who don't have all the equipment or perhaps even the complex interest in coffee, but to get a great coffee. And then at the end they said, well, this is going to be really interesting because you'll be surprised there'll be the geeks will really love it and we'll take it on and will do their own thing to it. But your journey is very interesting what you just described there almost like it's too easy it might feel little less special?
Omar Yeah, what happened is that it was you know those seven steps of acceptance when you go through denial and shock and all that sort of stuff, like that's what happened. I had been training and practicing for over a year to master the Hario V60 and invested all this money into the best equipment you could possibly get and all of a sudden, I met you, you give me a brewer to take home and I try out and I've got the same results first time that I have after a year of trying out the Hario V60. This was very difficult for me to take; my ego was hit quite substantially. So I was like Oh, God, what's going on here now you're telling me that my skills are worth nothing and everyone can achieve what I've been bragging about to everyone that I'm so great at brewing pour over.
Patrick Hunt So ultimately what’s interesting is it puts the emphasis actually on the coffee itself. Then it comes to how do you store this stuff? Because, you know, when you said what are we going to talk about today and about the W1 but also exchange of gases and stuff, you probably thought, oh, that's a bit weird, but actually are some really interesting stuffs going on about the storage of coffee, about when you roast coffee, de-gasses and that’s an important part of it. And the gas that you described earlier, when you do a lovely espresso, that's obviously the inherent CO2 inside the bean has been released on the extraction and when the coffee blooms on a W1 again, that's the CO2 degassing. And it's you kind of want some CO2, but you don't want to be saturated with CO2. So when you roast, you need it to degas a couple of days some people say, you know, a week before the nuanced flavors come out. But storing your coffee becomes super interesting because you don't want it to Oxidize. I think this is an age-old comparison, with a with an apple. An apple is great with its waxy skin at resisting oxidization but as soon as you cut it. The oxygen wreaks havoc with it! Not many people have realized or even accepted oxygen, although it's a Life-Giving gas, It's like a paint stripper. It wants to strip electrons from everything it touches, it's damaging to us. We need to have antioxidants in us and you need to have a good antioxidant diet otherwise it would cause DNA damage. It's a damaging thing and it damages your coffee as soon as you chop it up even a bean has got obviously got ingress of oxygen in it. So you want to be quite careful how you store it if you want it to last. And that leads onto our next product and I mentioned to you were looking at launching it probably now in the autumn, which is called the Zero Jar. As it implies, it has zero oxygen inside. It has a very sort of intuitive way of using it. It's just a lid that you pull up and down but, in the pushing down of the lid, it pushes out all of the air inherent in the jar.
Omar So it's using an evacuation technique.
Patrick Hunt Yes, but not in the sense of like a vacuum. It's not a fixed chamber that you're trying to draw out the air, it's pushing it out with the plunger, almost like the plunger we have on our espresso machine. It's allowing through some clever venting to exhaust all the air out of the vessel and literally the bottom of the plunger presses right onto the top of the coffee, whether it's ground coffee, which works better actually, because, as I said, it's like 10000 times more surface area. It keeps your ground coffee fresh for a lot longer. Then, you know, then you can open a pack of 250 grams and just a couple of weeks rather than it lasting probably a few days. I guess it gets to a scientific level about gas exchange, about CO2, about oxygen. And then it's a larger story about us producing CO2 and oxygen. It's just like a very fascinating subject and yeah, its just trying to get your food to resist Oxidative stress is important for it to last. You don't want to spend 12 pounds on a pack of coffee and then throw it away because It's gone stale.
Omar Precisely. Storing coffee is perhaps one of the biggest annoyances I've had to encounter, because, like you said, you invest your money in essentially a minute-by-minute depreciating product. It's constantly degassing. You know that the coffee that you brew today will not be the same coffee that you will brew tomorrow and will definitely not be the same coffee you've brewed in a week's time. That fact doesn't motivate you in spending more money on your coffee. And across a lot of my coffee episodes that I've done one of the constant questions I've got is, hey, you're telling us to buy this great coffee from whether it's Ozone or Django Coffee Roasters or whoever it might be but the damn thing is not lasting any longer than a month and if I'm spending, you know, 15 pounds a bag in some circumstances, I want it to maintain a lot of its integrity, a lot of its taste integrity for longer. I think combining the storage technique that you guys are currently working on, which will be absolutely fascinating to look at as you guys are kind of bringing that to market. The point I was going to mention with W1 is once I got over that initial hurdle of taking that ego hit I realized that extracting coffee is actually quite easy and I've spent all that time for nothing. It then allowed me to concentrate on the type of coffee that I'm using and truly try and appreciate the coffees that I'm getting in. And what that did is it encouraged me to spend more money on my coffee to get better and better and better coffee, because I knew I was going to experience what the roaster wanted me to experience. And I think that's where the geek can then start to experience things rather than doing the same thing with this essentially flawed design brewer, which is the V 60 and other flat bottom brewers which are inherently flawed designs that are trying to make up for it through intricate designed filter paper. It's very, very unusual. And you know, it's now kind of taken that variable of the skill of the human out of it and it allows you to now concentrate on really experiencing great coffee. As you said, you know, and I think that's where the I think that's where the shift is going to be with products like your W1. But at the end of the day, if you're spending, you know, 20, 25 pounds on a bag of coffee, which ist not very difficult to do, that coupled with the W1 is a recipe for success right there, because you've got a brewing method which is allowing you to extract an even extraction of your coffee. You've got a perfect storage technique. And then let's add in the manual grinder. Which in my opinion, I think it's fantastic, I found it interesting what you mentioned about the fluffiness of the grounds because of the sharpness of the burrs and how clean the cuts are, when you combine those three elements together. I mean, that's what coffee should be about. It's about getting the coffee and getting the maximum amount of experience from it with as little work as possible.
Patrick Hunt Absolutely. And I think that is the perfect way of saying what we're trying to do at Rok is just unlock that experience of tasting the coffee that a lot of work has gone into in farming and the harvesting and the transportation and the roasting. You can just experience the flavors and doing everything we can to stop it degrading after it's been roasted is really important to me. It's interesting how as you go your coffee journey and you know, we released this version of the Espresso Machine, which we called the Explorer edition, I like that terminology that we're all explorers in this world of coffee, and the more you explore it, it leads you to the inevitable conclusions, such as trying to stop your coffee oxidizing. It's just inevitable. I think it's quite interesting to look at processes where you can take the vessel and basically make it anoxic, so no oxygen and to do that scientists would say less than one percent oxygen would be called anoxic. But to actually do that with a vacuum to try and pump out in some way the air in a jar it's quite difficult, It could easily crack the jar. I mean, obviously, if you have coffee in space where there's no oxygen and there's a pure vacuum, it won't oxidize. But to create that on earth is quite difficult. You could you could create a pure vacuum, but it's not that easy. So I didn't really want to chase that difficult problem to solve, whereas actually a falling plunger with a perfect seal using an O ring, which our Zero Jar does It works very intuitively you don’t even think about it, you really don't know what you're doing, just by using it you’re driving out the air.
Omar Just as a thought that's come into my head, because a coffee is fairly different to a lot of other food products where it's constantly emitting CO2, it's constantly degassing. And one thing that I've noticed is a problem with a lot of vacuums where you pump out the air is after a day or two the vacuum is gone because the coffee is constantly emitting this gas, which manages to equal out the interior pressure to the exterior. And then you have to pump it out again and you have to continue that kind of process. So with the plunger technique, I’m guessing to be able to side step that issue with the constant release of C02 have you got some kind of burping valve to maintain the air seal?
Patrick Hunt Yeah, there is a value, that's really interesting that you raise that because if for instance, you had foodstuff, let's say wine because there are systems to preserve wine and you could put a blanket to protect the wine above the surface to stop the oxidative stress. In wine bars they use nitrogen and actually CO2 does the same. CO2 is heavier than normal oxygenated. We have twenty one percent or so of oxygen, O2 in a normal air. But when it's purely CO2 its heavier. So, with Zero Jar, you press down the plunger it evacuates all the air any inherent CO2 in there and degassing can escape. Because there will be air gaps between the beans and less so between grains but that would be CO2 heavier then O2 and forming a pretty good oxygen barrier against oxidization. So yes that’s a great point you raise, there is a burping valve of sorts.
Omar Actually, because I have been playing around with a few different storage techniques. And, you know, one thing that isn't spoken about is the fact that the beans are constantly emitting their own CO2, which means that you have this extra thing to deal with. So, for example, when I use a vacuum, I think it only lasts for about a day or two. And then it loosens itself over time because the air, the CO2 inside is now equaling the atmospheric pressure outside, which is causing it to basically pop itself off.
Patrick Hunt Right. Right. Yeah, yeah. Well, you do want to retain that CO2. So that's again, the balance of gases you want it to complete to contain the CO2 so that when you do your pour over, you see the bloom and that's a good sign of coffee freshness when you pull your espresso shot you see the crema. It’s basically about making that sweet spot of the coffee last as long as possible.
Omar I think that's going to be super interesting because like I said, I've got thousands, thousands and thousands of messages and of people asking, hey, how do I store my coffee? You know, because this is this is madness. I'm guessing that your storage technique isn't going to be see through? Will it be opaque?
Patrick Hunt Actually it is. So ideally, it is for a reason so that you can clearly see what's inside. We've got an area where you can put a paper label if you got a few on the go that you can see what it is. But ideally you put it into a cupboard. So obviously light can degrade your coffee as well but we have chosen glass for the job, mainly for its legacy reasons and it is very easy to recycle its carbon footprint. It's quite low, but it's very thick wall glass.
Omar Sure, sure. Sure. Yeah, I think that actually raises a good point is I think I don't really know anyone that keeps their coffee next to a window. It's normally in a cupboard anyway so that wouldn't make too much of a difference. It's extremely exciting because I think that you're probably one of the only guys I've spoken to with regards to coffee storage that encourages people to store ground coffee in their in their solution.
Patrick Hunt Well, it's just that there will be people out there who buy ground coffee who don't have a grinder. I'm just being realistic about that they might eventually not do that. But everyone's on their journey and if you do buy ground coffee, this is a bloody great way to store it.
Omar Agreed. Agreed, agreed. And I think I think that kind of fits in very well, you know, with what I said earlier is that, you know, you're one of the first specialty coffee companies that are extremely helpful and mindful of beginners. In fact, it brought a smile to my face when I went on your Instagram and I saw an advert for your crema plus portafilter and I remember when I met you, you spoke about thinking about doing a pressurized portafilter. But yet there's other companies out there which will never do one because they're like, oh, no, you know, the very least our customers should be doing is getting fresh coffee and grinding their own coffee and all that. But the reality is, is that's a very small portion of people that are doing so.
Patrick Hunt If you have any espresso machine, but if you have a Rok espresso machine and you don't have any coffee and you go to your store or a local store or you buy a bag of coffee, it's very unlikely that the ground size is going to be perfect for a really good extraction. When you use the crema plus portafilter, it just takes all of that completely out of the equation. You've now got a lovely pressurized container which is going to create an even pressure over even the coarsest, to be honest and you're going to get way more out of those coarse grinds than you would with a normal or a naked portafilter. I mean, don’t get me wrong its lovely to get your expertise up to then graduate to a naked portafilter but you've got to get everything absolutely right, and that's kind of not where we're trying to go.
Omar To be honest, I mean, it's naked has been something that's really elevated my experience with coffee. Have you seen my espresso diary?
Patrick Hunt No, no, I haven't!
Omar You have to hang on before we finish. OK, this is my little notes page and this is all of the notes and pictures on every single shot that I've pulled with the Rok
Patrick Hunt That’s great! That's a great idea to do it that way. Photos and notes. So it goes on and on. Wow!
Omar So it keeps going until I finally found where it worked perfectly for me and that is my coffee journey documented in around 100 shots I’ve pulled on your machine.
Patrick Hunt What a fantastic idea Omar, I love seeing stuff like that and the naked portafilter extraction you achieved is impressive.
Omar It really has been an absolute pleasure Patrick, I was super excited to have this conversation with you and it did not disappoint. What I'll do as well is if anybody ends up purchasing a W1 or anything like that or already uses the W1, I definitely encourage you to go to the comments and just write down what your experience is. If it's similar to what I've experienced or whatever it might be. If you've got any more questions for Patrick, write them in the comments. And what I'll do is I'll forward them over to you if that works for you. Also if anyone wants to check out Rok please visit them here.
Patrick Hunt Its my pleasure! Thank you for having me on Omar and having the opportunity to discuss coffee with a like minded person! Of course, I am looking forward to hearing what your audience think and thank you again.