Coffee

THE CAFE AT LEISURETOWN IS OPEN

As of May 10th (i.e. today!!), Leisuretown features a cafe. Not only are we brimming with pride and joy at how insanely dope the space is, we are tickled pink to be adding this new dimension to the Leisuretown experience. Whether you swing by for a quick cup, or hang out a while, we think both your palates and eyeballs will be pleased.

This epicenter of coffee sorcery offers hot coffee, draft cold brew, cold brew lattes, and hot tea, as well as some non-coffee treats (like kombucha and Bubble Party). This includes seasonal specials, single-origins, masterfully balanced blends, and barrel-aged radness roasted by our world-class coffee team in our very own corner of the caffeinated universe down at Lomaland in San Diego.


OH, and it's a truly gorgeous space. The Burns house (adjacent to the greater tasting room) is a fully restored, impeccably decorated craftsman; a historic, multi-story marvel of design aesthetics that creates a perfect environment for hanging out. There's a ton of space, stylish and comfy furniture, strong wifi and ample outlets for working, studying, writing the next great work of internationally-acclaimed fiction, or creating John Wick slash fic.

 

 

In honor of the occasion, of coffee ninjas conjured forth Rwanda Kirorero Kamuzigura, an exceptionally tasty washed-process flavor bonanza from the COOPAC Cooperative, a Fair Trade Certified coop that serves over 2000 smallholder producers in the Boneza & Musasa areas of Rwanda. Post-roast, this coffee is a stunner, resulting in a cup bursting with juicy notes of pineapple and apricot alongside a delightful honey character. It's both utterly delicious and very limited, so plan your caffeination schedule accordingly.
 

HOURS:
MONDAY-FRIDAY
8AM-2PM
SATURDAY & SUNDAY
11AM-3PM

ADDRESS:
549 S Anaheim Blvd

Coffee Extraction Theory

At first glance, extraction may sound like some fancy piece of professional jargon that only baristas truly comprehend. FALSE. If coffee is your jam, whether you’re just getting started or you’ve been in the caffeination game for years, understanding the ins and outs of extraction is invaluable in achieving the ideal cup of coffee.

When we say extraction, we’re talking about the process of dissolving ground coffee in hot water. All that dissolved stuff creates the flavors that constitute the profile of your finished brew, and there are a whole bunch of contributing factors that can affect that profile. To learn how to harness the powers of extraction to produce a well-extracted cup, read on.

Extraction starts as soon as water makes that initial contact with the grounds. CO2 is released, which is a good thing; it produces an unpleasant sourness in your coffee (not to be confused with floral, fruity acidity). This degassing also pushes water away from the bean bits, temporarily disrupting extraction and ensuring you won’t get any inconsistent flavors.The oils and fats that make up the body of the coffee are the next compounds broken down, followed by the sugars, and finally the actual plant matter of your bean, which contributes a dry bitterness.

If you’re asking yourself why anyone would bother messing with any of this at all, beware over or under-extracted coffee. The over-extracted cup will be replete with an intense bitterness, accented by burnt notes, and a hollow body, On the other end of the spectrum, an under-extracted coffee will taste sour, overly acidic, and salty. Spending the time to learn the art of bean wrangling will guide you to that sweet spot--which varies from person to person--and you’ll be handsomely with a balanced, tasty cup of coffee.

extraction theory (over/under)
Illustrations by Courtney

 

Here’s where you can get in there and manipulate the flavor of your beverage to your liking. By understanding the brewing elements that affect extraction (incl. how to avoid over & under-extracting), you thereby become the master of the rate of extraction and garner yourself the golden opportunity to amp up or tone down certain aspects of your coffee. The factors that determine this magical rate (A.K.A brew time) include grind size, water temperature, agitation, and brew ratio. 

When contemplating grind size, one must consider surface area; more exposed area means more dissolved flavor stuff, and therefore a faster extraction. For example, for espresso, you’d want a finer grind, as the water passes through the grounds very quickly, while for cold brew, a coarser grind is ideal, as the grounds will be sitting in the water for an extended period of time. Let’s say your cup is tasting watery and overly acidic. You’re probably using too coarse a grind; those solids aren’t releasing enough flavor. On the other hand, an exceedingly bitter taste may indicate too fine a grind.

estaction theory grind

 

Water temperature directly impacts the rate of extraction; hotter water makes for faster extraction. The optimal range for brewing coffee is usually between 196℉ and 205℉; temperatures higher than than means a all that coffee stuff is getting dissolved too quickly, which leads to over-extraction (A.K.A untasty bitterness), and vice versa.

The ultimate goal is a nice, even extraction, so agitation between pours can help maintain a consistent extraction rate for all grounds. Water always takes the path of least resistance, which when it comes to brewing, means some grounds are left high and dry. Agitating or disturbing the bed of grounds ensures all the grounds get some love.

Brew ratio is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: the proportion of coffee to water. Most coffee preparations are made between 1:15 and 1:18 (A.K.A. the Golden Ratio), but a general rule of thumb to go by is 1 tablespoon of coffee for every 4oz of water. The idea is that you want enough water to allow all the grounds to have a chance to go through every stage of extraction, which is what will grant you that balanced cup you’re after.

extraction theory (factors)

 

The real name of the game here is experimentation. Play around with the aforementioned elements, increase or decrease your rate of extraction, and find what you like. As always, we’re here to answer any burning questions you may have, so feel free to give us a shout on instagram (@moderntimescoffee) or shoot us an email (coffee@moderntimesbeer.com).
 

Brew Exceptional Coffee at Home: 3-Cup Chemex Edition

REQUISITE EQUIPMENT

  • Chemex
  • Chemex Paper Filters 
  • Scale 
  • Timer 
  • Goose-Neck Kettle
  • Spoon (optional)
  • Coffee (Recommended Single-Origin Peru)

 

Brew at Home: 3-Cup Chemex
Illustrations by Courtney

BREW TIME

  • 4 to 5 minutes.

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Bloom; pour to 50g, wait 30 sec.
  • At 0:30, pour to 200g.
  • At 1:10, pour to 275g.
  • At 1:50, pour to 350g.
  • At 2:25, pour to 400g.
  • At 2:50, pour to 450g.
  • At 3:00, pour to 500g.

PERKS OF THE 3-CUP CHEMEX:

  • Great for a rich, full-bodied cup
  • Good size
  • Quick

A WORD FROM COURTNEY

What I like about the Chemex is that it makes a cup of coffee with a rich and full body. It’s similar to Drip coffee, but this method requires a bit more attention. Coffee should be ground more coarse than Drip but not as coarse as a french press. I will admit that this method intimidates me a little bit but once you get the hang of it and it’s design, it’s a pretty fun brewing method to share with others. I like our single-origin Peru with this method because I think it captures its creamy body and citrus notes well and accenting the right amount of acidity. 

Brew Exceptional Coffee at Home: Clever Dripper Edition

Little known fact: the clever dripper is one of the most magical of all brewing apparatuses, plus it's quick and makes a great cup of coffee. Our resident caffeine magi, Courtney, is going to show us how harness the powers of the Clever for this next installment (peep the full IGTV episode via @moderntimescoffee).

REQUISITE EQUIPMENT

  • Clever Dripper
  • Paper Filters (Malita size #4 or similar)
  • Cup
  • Scale 
  • Spoon
  • Kettle 
  • Timer
  • Coffee (recommended: Black House Blend)
  • 300g of hot water
brew at home: clever dripper
Illustrations by Courtney

 

BREW TIME

Between 2:30-3:00 min

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Rinse your filter to get rid of the paper taste. Discard rinse water. 
  • Grind your coffee. It should be a medium/fine grind (similar to what you’d do for a V60).
  • Set your ground coffee aside.
  • Pour the 300g of water into your Clever.
  • Add the ground coffee to the water and give it a little stir...Not too much!
  • Steep for 2 minutes.
  • At 2 minutes, break the crust--you want as much coffee as possible to fall to the bottom, creating a bed for the water to pass through, which allows an even extraction. Either stir it or shake it a little.
  • After 30 seconds of the coffee falling down to the bottom, it’s time to brew.
  • Place the Clever on top of your cup and let the extraction begin! 
  • The extraction time will be just around 1 minute, and you will be left with a flat bed of grounds in the filter.
  • Enjoy!

PERKS OF THE CLEVER DRIPPER:

  • Perfect blend of immersion and pour-over brewing techniques.
  • Paper filter helps create a clean cup.
  • Recipe is quick and the clean-up is easy.
  • End result is a cup with an amazing texture and sweetness. 
  • The Clever also lets you brew tea and iced coffee!

A WORD FROM COURTNEY

I feel like the specialty coffee world was hiding this method from me. I have no idea why, because this has now become one of my favorite methods. It’s so easy and doesn’t require a lot of focus--like so many other brewing methods--but still yields an amazing cup of coffee. All you really need to make a good cup is good coffee, good water, and the right grind. And, as always, have fun with it; every coffee is different, don’t be afraid to mess with the grind and go finer. You’ll know you’ve gone too fine when your coffee is bitter. I picked our Black House Blend for this because it is truly one of my favorite coffees. We get a lot of great ones, but I always go back to our Black House. It’s 90% natural Ethiopia, 10% Papua New Guinea; think berry explosion with a hint of milk chocolate. That’s really all I want in a coffee sometimes. I like this coffee for the Clever because it highlights its smooth, natural sweetness with a really kick-ass texture.
 

Catch the entire Brew at Home series on IGTV.

Brew Exceptional Coffee at Home: French Press Edition

Courtney returns to enlighten us on the French Press. Watch the full video via IGTV (@moderntimescoffee).

REQUISITE EQUIPMENT

  • French Press
  • Scale 
  • 2 spoons
  • Kettle 
  • Timer
  • Coffee (recommended: single-origin Honduras Los Amigos)
  • 500g of hot water

BREW TIME

  • Around 10 minutes
brew at home: french press
Illustrations by Courtney

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Place your French press on the scale and zero it out. 
  • Grind 30g of coffee (medium grind) and pour it into the French press.
  • Zero scale again, start a 4-minute timer, and pour your hot water until you reach the exact amount of coffee you want (in this case, 500g).
  • At the 4 min mark, break up the “crust” of grounds that has formed at the top of your coffee, then scoop out the foamy bits.
  • Let the coffee sit for an additional 5 min.
  • At 5 min, put the lid on and plunge, but DO NOT plunge it all the way down. By stopping before you reach the bottom, you ensure that no grounds will escape the plunger. You don’t want those in your coffee.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!

PERKS OF THE FRENCH PRESS

  • It’s cost effective.
  • Big, rich flavor from your coffee
  • You’re in control (water temp, grind, brew time, etc).
  • Good for experimenting

A WORD FROM COURTNEY


This was the first brew method that I tried after the regular drip method. Although, back then, I had no idea what I was doing or how to brew properly. The french press makes a rad, flavorful cup, with a thick body, and it can serve multiple people. This specific recipe I adopted from Coffee Wizard, James Hoffman. I like it because the result is a clean and smooth cup of coffee without the usual coffee sludge that accompanies the average cup of french pressed coffee. I chose to brew our single origin Honduras with this recipe because I think it captures the kick-ass flavor notes of chocolate, cherry, and marzipan well.  
 

Brew Exceptional Coffee at Home: V60 Edition

Our resident master of caffeination is back at it again, and for the next episode in this series of at-home deliciousness, she's giving us the rundown on brewing with a v60. You can scope the step-by-step recipe below, and keep your eyes peeled for the IGTV via @moderntimescoffee (no, your eyes do not deceive you; we finally got our handle back).

REQUISITE EQUIPMENT:

  • V60
  • Server or cup to brew into
  • Gram Scale
  • Timer
  • V60 Paper Filters
  • Coffee
Brew at Home: V60
Illustrations by Courtney

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Start with 27g of medium to finely ground coffee and 350g of hot water (around 200℉).
  2. Pre-rinse your paper filter (make sure to dump the rinse water before brewing coffee).
  3. Pour the ground coffee into your V60 and level it out, making sure the bed is flat (an even bed makes for even extraction).
  4. Bloom your coffee (50g) for 30 seconds. Give it a little swirl.
  5. At 0:30, pour in hot water until you’ve reached 150g. Get ready to pour some more.
  6. At 1:05, pour to 200g.
  7. At 1:30, pour to 250g.
  8. At 1:55, pour to 300g.
  9. At 2:20, pour to 350g.
  10. Give it a final swirl to ensure an even extraction, which will result in a nice, flat bed when you’re done. 
  11. When the stream of coffee turns into a drip, remove the V60 and pour your coffee.
  12. Enjoy!

PERKS OF A V60:

  • Yields a nice, clean cup of coffee.
  • Even extraction allows for the coffee’s flavors to come through.
  • The process is super relaxing and a great opportunity to find some zen in your day.

A WORD FROM COURTNEY:

I love this method because it helps me to slow down and put care into the cup that I’m  making; it’s become a nice morning routine before I start my day. The V60 is great because when you finally master it, you get a flavorful cup with a great body and a clean finish. I chose Heavy Weather to brew because this blend is a complex yet dope coffee that offers a lot of unique flavors such as cranberry, candied orange and red wine, and I think that this brew method captures those notes perfectly.
 

Brew Exceptional Coffee at Home: Aeropress Edition

ATTN: COMRADES IN CAFFEINATION!

We are supremely stoked to be rolling out the virtual red carpet for our rad new series of brew-at-home features. For those of you who have been sorely missing the cafe, we totally get it, which is why we decided to present this quarantine-friendly alternative to getting your daily dose of really, really tasty coffee.

To kick things off, Courtney (one of our resident coffee ninjas, former barista, current roaster, and all-around badass) will be breaking it down, Aeropress-style. You can follow along to our handy instructional video via our Instagram page, @moderntimescafe.

REQUISITE EQUIPMENT:

  • Aeropress
  • Ground coffee
  • Water kettle
  • Scale
  • Spoon or aeropress paddle
  • Timer
  • Aeropress filter
courtney aeropress illustration
Illustrations by Courtney

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Finely grind 18 grams of coffee (a little bit courser than espresso).
  2. Bring 300 grams of filtered water up to temp (between 190 & 200℉).
  3. Set-up your aeropress using the inverted method (see video).
  4. Place your aeropress on the scale.
  5. Pour the ground coffee into the aeropress chamber.
  6. Bloom that coffee! Start a timer & add 50 grams of hot water. Wait 30 seconds.
  7. At 0:30, add 100 grams of water and stir quickly for 10 seconds.
  8. At 1:30, put the cap with a pre-rinsed filter onto the aeropress, then flip it over onto your cup.
  9. Plunge down until you hear a delightful hissing noise.
  10. Place your cup back on scale and add 150 grams more hot water.
  11. ENJOY! You’ve put in the work, and deserve to savor this glorious experience.
     

PERKS OF THE AEROPRESS:

  • Budget-friendly (the average cost of one of these bad bois is around $30).
  • You can brew just about any type of coffee with it (ex. a classic brew, iced coffee, or espresso).
  • Highly portable; good for traveling & camping. Compact, durable, & kick-ass.
  • Easiest clean-up, like, ever.

A WORD FROM COURTNEY:

I love using the aeropress because once you have a recipe you like, it’s so easy to execute that perfect cafe cup of coffee. On days where I want to put minimal effort into my coffee but I still want it to taste good, I go with this method. It brews just around two minutes and takes seconds for clean-up! Any coffee would taste good, but I chose our single-origin Mexico La Canada because this is a flavorful coffee with notes of mango sorbet, white grape, and cantaloupe; and I think the Aeropress does a great job  brewing that quickly, making a rich and smooth cup with not too much acidity. 
 

CARTEL COFFEE LAB X MODERN TIMES: A COLLAB 2+ YEARS IN THE MAKING

...and totally worth the wait.

Approximately 400 years ago in 2018, two of our most prominent coffee ninjas, Jake & Bartleby, had a chance to visit Phoenix’s Cartel Coffee Lab, and an idea was born. The idea seemed simple at the time, but would end up weaving through a gauntlet of extenuating apocalyptic circumstances before it became the delicious reality it is today. Thoroughly impressed by both the incredible coffee being served at Cartel and the seriously excellent people that seemed to inhabit it, Jake and Bartleby set out to put together a collaboration with this AZ roasting powerhouse.

As it turned out, not only did Cartel share our love of exceptional coffee, but also our philosophy of open-source collaboration and the idea that a rising tide lifts all boats in the independent coffee universe. Shortly after we first chatted, we invited them to take part in our festival of beer & coffee, the 2020 Carnival of Caffeination, with more plans down the road for designing cold brew offerings to release at each of our respective roasteries.

Now, you may have noticed a “2020” in that last paragraph, and, existing in your current time period, you’re undoubtedly aware that those four arabic numerals in succession are a universal herald of impending doom. Needless to say, our subsequent visits to each other’s locations were canceled, and the project seemed in serious jeopardy. Our coffee program and their new BFFs, however, were not so easily dissuaded.

Moving to the digital arena, Cartel and Modern Times Coffee organized a series of online cuppings and planning meetings, deciding to use coffees from Cartel’s importer, Mercanta. Each coffee team received the same 8 samples from Mercanta, and blindly selected their four favorites. When we reconvened, both teams had selected three out of four of the same coffees! Bananas, right!? Knowing that this improbably alignment portended something special, the teams spent more time together over video calls, cupping and blending and discussing until, at last, a truly special blend was arrived upon. 

The blend is called Home Planet, and it’s 50% El Salvador El Carmen & 50% Colombia Familia Rivera. It’ll be roasted at each roastery with our own roast profiles, so each version will have its own distinctive spin, which is pretty rad.You’ll be able to snag our version beginning this Saturday, 12/5, in our online special release pre-sale, and any remaining bags will be in our online stores and physical locations after that. If you want more info on the special release pre-sale, we recommend joining our mailing list on the homepage.

You can also pre-order Cartel Coffee Lab’s version right this second, in the Cartel Coffee Lab Online Store.

This coffee was a serious journey, and we could not be more hyped on the results. We can’t wait for you to taste it.

 

Status Update: New Coffee Program Manager

Despite the utter insanity of 2020, it’s been a banner year for our coffee program, which has smashed existing records for previous years while simultaneously producing some of the most exceptionally tasty coffee we’ve ever roasted. One of the primary drivers of this wildly successful, caffeinated party-train has been Tessie Warnecke, who we’re thrilled to introduce as the new Program Manager for Modern Times Coffee. Tessie’s wealth of industry experience is matched by her passion for creating great coffees that are not only world class, but ethically sourced from seed to cup. She brings a tremendous skillset, a refreshing lack of pretense, and a focus on fostering both internal and external relationships to MT Coffee. TL;DR--We think she’s rad, and we’re excited about her new position. Let’s get to know her a bit, shall we?

Tessie (coffee program manager)

 

As we just mentioned, Tessie has been in the biz for a minute (over 10 years, actually), with her only absence from the coffee world being a brief stint as bartender for a Northern California brewery. She’s tried her hand at every role, from barista, to QC assistant for importers, to green coffee buying, and came aboard the MT mothership in 2016 as production assistant, bagging beans. Bear in mind, at this point the “coffee program” was roasting our OG house blend, Black House, for our similarly monikered core oatmeal coffee stout, the surplus of which (normally about 6 bags) was displayed on a single shelf behind the bar. From there, she wore an assortment of hats, including making her first forays into roasting and piloting the cold brew program (8 gallons per batch, at that point). Right before her current role, Tessie was instrumental in guiding the future trajectory of the program as Green Coffee Buyer.

You may recall that we mentioned she was a QC assistant for coffee importers—specifically Olam coffee importers, who Modern Times works with regularly. During some very formative years spent cupping 2-3 tables of 30 coffees each during busy-season, Tessie was struck by how vital it is to foster relationships with not just importers & traders, but producers as well. Flash forward to 2019, when Tessie represented MT on an exploration of a pretty traditional operation in Colombia, consisting of farms owned by the Maya family of Acresco Imports. Here, coffee was grown in rows, harvesting was methodical; exactly what you’d picture when you think “farm”. That same year, Tessie also traversed across Mexico from Oaxaca to Veracruz through the La Cañada region, this time seeing producers whose approach to coffee production was decidedly different than Maya farms. You couldn’t tell where the jungle ended and the farms began, many of which were owned by smallholders who contributed to a greater coalition. While there were stark differences in the way these chains operated, a common thread was some kind of cooperative system--whether that was all in the family, or within entire regional communities--and a painstaking care and pride for cultivating a top notch product and sharing it with people who care.

Tessie in Colombia 2019Tessie Colombia/Mexico

 

Caring is the name of our game. Whether Tessie is collaboratively curating coffee profiles for a decedent imperial stout, figuring out what barrels to age green beans in, dreaming up kegged lattes, or overseeing cold brewing, she (along with our cadre of highly skilled comrades in caffeination) is cupping, sample roasting, & adjusting until the exact right profile sings. Things may be different now, but they also offer unique opportunities for growth and collaboration; baristas, unable to sling coffee inside the tasting room, have transitioned into production roles, bumping our seasoned vets into management positions. This pattern of growth--fresh pairs of eyes and the ability to specialize within the department--is what Tessie digs, and hopes to perpetuate. Truly great coffee requires more than just excellent ingredients. It requires a chain of passionate and talented people that stretches from the soil to the cup, and we think the vast array of delicious and fearlessly innovative coffees we’ve released this year is a testament to the fact that we’ve got a pretty excellent chain—one in which Tessie continues to be an integral link. We can’t wait to see where she takes us next.
 

Behold! The Modern Times Coffee Roasting Robot

Ambex YM-2

Here’s a cool thing: as far as I can tell, we’ll be the second brewery in the country to roast our own coffee (the first appears to be Two Brothers in Chicago).

That little fire engine red machine is an Ambex YM-2, an introductory-level roaster than can handle a beastly 5 lbs of green coffee at a time. It’s far from the fanciest roaster you can buy, but I found it on Craigslist and the price was right.

The primary consumer of our house-roasted beans will be Black House, the oatmeal coffee stout that will be part of our year round line-up. At around 20 lbs of coffee per 30bbl batch, it’ll soak up a lot of grounds, but what I’m really excited about are the variations we’ll be able to make. Single origin versions of Black House, coffee versions of our other beers, blends and roasts dialed-in specifically for certain special releases, etc…

There’s also the possibility of selling bags of house-roasted beans, which would allow you to drink Black House coffee alongside Black House beer. Pretty nifty, no?

This whole thing is, of course, an experiment, and we’ll have to see how it goes. I’ve been fascinated by coffee for years now, and home roasting has become a pleasant diversion from the rigors of starting the brewery. But the key, as always, is quality, and the coffee will have to live up to the same unreasonably high standards I have for the beer.

Ambex YM-2