Home > coffee, oriole, reviews > Oriole Coffee & Technology Series – ExtractMojo

Oriole Coffee & Technology Series – ExtractMojo

By Colin Loh

Termed by some as being “one of the best coffee universities around,” Oriole Coffee is no stranger to technology. Oriole Coffee never ceases to be on the forefront when it comes to leading the pack with high tech toys. Just recently, Oriole Coffee became the proud owner of the first La Marzocco Strada EP in Asia. This blog post marks the first of a series devoted to examining how Oriole Coffee integrates technology to help bring more bang to the consumer’s buck.

2010. Enter Vince Fedele and the ExtractMojo.

Waiting for the espresso to cool before piping it into the ExtractMojo

The ExtractMojo is a small hand-held refractometer which measures the coffee’s refractive index and determines its concentration, which can then be compared against an Universal Coffee Brewing Control Chart. You can read more about this technology on Gizmodo. Naturally, Oriole Coffee’s Chief Geek Officer, Keith Loh had to have it.

Keith and John record the ExtractMojo readings

I spoke to Keith and he remarked excitedly, giddy as a schoolgirl that “now there was a tool to empirically assess the extraction levels of the way that I was pulling my shots and it probably allowed a consistent way to measure quantitatively instead of qualitatively what I was doing. I’ve attended many cupping classes and tasting classes and the one thing I realized is the diversity of opinions when it comes to taste and flavor. After understanding about brew strength and extraction yields, there was finally a tool that could actually produce these results on a repeatable and measurable basis easily through just one small device.”

Keith further elaborates that

“We’ve been using the Extract Mojo for almost 2 years and I feel it’s time to unveil that the Extract Mojo is the secret little weapon we have, or the secret little tool that has helped us to understand what we were doing. It comes full circle because we’re about to launch our VST baskets across all our outlets. In fact, we’ve actually been rolling out the VST baskets at all our outlets for almost a month now. And we’ve been backing up our results with the Extract Mojo as you can see here from our chart. The trickiest one and the one we left to the end was the Strada EP, of which we should be rolling out as we speak.

Keith adds “This is ultimately the means to an end, and not the means itself, the end being the entire product experience, and not just the coffee. When you sit down, how fast you get served, how it looks, how it’s presented, its price and how fast it’s being served to you – the product experience.”

Tight datapoints grouping of the Strada EP using VST baskets

This is the final grouping test we did for the Strada EP on the 22 gram basket. And as you can see, they’re so close that I don’t think we could’ve achieve such tight grouping with normal baskets. So, it’s nice to see that the Extract Mojo has proven that as we move along, we will continue to use technology to improve our consistency and let it work as a feedback loop to maintain our protocols, or to advance our protocols as we increase our volume.”

Last but not least, Oriole Coffee’s resident coffee roaster John Ting adds, “It changes how you looked at espresso extraction and makes you rethink all that you have learned, bringing you back to basics.”

ExtractMojo graph on the Lenovo laptop

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Categories: coffee, oriole, reviews
  1. September 1, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    Hi Colin,

    I am interested to find out more about the group testing that you mentioned in the post as I don’t really understand what you can conclude with one chart. Would you be able to elaborate more on the tests and findings, what are the parameters (ie. dosage, type of coffee, water, etc) or anything that were kept constant to simplify the tests and how do the VST baskets differ from the normal baskets. The conclusions from the latter might be very useful for other cafe/home owners whom I learnt to have switched to VST baskets primarily from word of mouth or web recommendations.

    thanks,
    dennis

    • us
      September 4, 2011 at 4:21 pm

      Dennis,

      This group testing was done to evaluate the effectiveness of the VST basket in it’s ability to consistently deliver the target extraction yield over a desired percentage of total dissolved solids. For example, we prefer a brewing ratio of 62% (or 1.6). So, for 22-gr dose we pull 36-gr beverage weight. We’re looking for an extraction yield of 19.5% +/- 1.5%, for the sweetest tasting espresso. That allows a range of ~11.0 – 13.0% TDS.

      Hence the chart has both TDS and Ext YLD variables, on one axis each. You will note the tight grouping of successive shots plotted on the chart, indicating the ease of repeating nearly identical results, shot-to-shot.

      There was another chart of a random non-vst basket that we did and not only was the grouping spread out, we could not achieve target 20% Yield. No matter what we did. Unfortunately we forgot to click save and hence only one chart. When compared side by side. The only major variable was the VST basket.

      Hence our conclusion: The VST basket’s are making our espresso taste better and more consistently too.

      During testing we made it a point to control most of the variables. Dosage= digital scale. Type of coffee= Yellowbird Seasonal espresso (same roast batch, same grinder setting, beans ground within 20minutes of each other), water= the SAME water was used (Everpure system 3 stage with sub-micron filter). Temp: LM Strada EP @93.5C at brew head(Calibrated with scace). Pressure: 9.2 bar with program profile infusion progressively for the first 5 seconds. We used the same head and same program profile for all shots pulled. Etcetera. We stopped short of commissioning Heath And Sciences Authority to do a scientific research paper. We thought that would just be a little overboard.

      But here’s another thought…wait for it…: even if there were inconsistent variables ( inconsistent dosage, type of coffee, water, etc) and the results were THIS tight. Doesn’t it speak more glaringly about the effective performance of the baskets?

      Furthermore, over the past few months we have deployed our VST baskets across multiple restaurants and cafes all with different parameters and setups and baristas and water, and coffee. But all of them have reported, through the sheer volume of shots pulled, about 1,000 a day or 30,000 a month that these baskets do produce a cleaner,more consistent brew than the baskets that they have replaced. I would say that this data has a sufficient sample size to conclude that the VST baskets do have a positive impact on our espresso quality. Even if it really is word of mouth.

      What’s more important is that our baristas are sold by the espresso’s coming out, and our customers are too.

      Oh yes, I’ve got a GS/3 at home paired to a ditting KE 640 Vario and a 22gm VST Basket. I make espresso every morning and I’ve also taught my mom to make a nice cuppa too. Sometimes I just go up and dump the grinds on, do a haphazard tamp and let her rip. And still the pour is 99% decent.

      The fact is that the VST basket to the barista is like what milk is to espresso. It can compensate for a fair bit of mishandling.

      Caveat: No technology can help brew good coffee from bad coffee. I.e.: VST can’t produce good espresso from bad coffee beans. You will only get the nice clean taste of bad coffee, consistently.

      Isn’t that the whole point of espresso making? To make things easier and more consistent. The future of coffee and espresso lies in simplifying the process and focusing the customer on the taste experience. But that’s another blog all together.

      Therefore for home users/ other cafe owners you have not switched in vain. I’ve just explained why. You can drop by our new coffeeab coming soon and we can talk in depth about our testing protocols and our real world results.

      Dennis feel free to offer your lab assistant services to us. Testing is laborious and time consuming. we need help!

      regards,

      Keith

  2. September 4, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    Keith,

    Thanks for the detailed writeup. Don’t get me wrong, I have heard only good things about the baskets, but I thought many others, including myself, who do not get a chance to actually try it, will be keen to hear more from peeps like yourself or John. I am sure others will find your much elaborated writeup very helpful, and potentially become VST converts themselves.

    as for lab assistant duties, I’ll leave that for another discussion… :)

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