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gcrest01
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Joined: 7 Dec 2012
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Posted Fri Dec 7, 2012, 3:51pm
Subject: Re: coffee refractometer
 

Removed.
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JonR10
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JonR10
Joined: 26 Apr 2004
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Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: E61 Legend, Livietta,...
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Posted Fri Dec 7, 2012, 7:13pm
Subject: Re: coffee refractometer
 

gcrest01 Said:

What do you think would be the closest to coffee.

Posted December 7, 2012 link

Coffee would be closest.  Seriously

The VST folks are very sensitive about using VST proprietary information (such as the contents of the patent document) for publicly posting theories or suggestions on ways to circumvent or copy the VST product and/or methods.  The patent is public, and still protected IP.  

Here's a recent conversation that references the sort of meter you're looking at.  CLICK for LINK  
It seems that the consensus is that VST is worth the extra pennies.

 
Jon Rosenthal
Houston, TX
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RandallSluder
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RandallSluder
Joined: 5 May 2012
Posts: 7
Location: Asheville, NC
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Posted Fri Dec 7, 2012, 10:37pm
Subject: Re: coffee refractometer
 

The VST folks are very sensitive about using VST proprietary information (such as the contents of the patent document) for publicly posting theories or suggestions on ways to circumvent or copy the VST product and/or methods.  The patent is public, and still protected IP.  

The folks at VST may be sensitive types, but information disclosed in a patent is not proprietary.  The word patent itself is from the Latin meaning open or accessible.  For information to be proprietary, it must be kept secret or confidential in some way.
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JonR10
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JonR10
Joined: 26 Apr 2004
Posts: 10,376
Location: Houston, Texas
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: E61 Legend, Livietta,...
Grinder: Robur, B-Vario-W
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Roaster: 1-lb US Roaster, Behmor 1600
Posted Sat Dec 8, 2012, 7:46am
Subject: Re: coffee refractometer
 

RandallSluder Said:

The folks at VST may be sensitive types, but information disclosed in a patent is not proprietary.

Posted December 7, 2012 link

I'm not going to debate patent law with you, except to say that you seem to be misinformed.  
Patented material is still protected, even after it is disclosed for us to read.

 
Jon Rosenthal
Houston, TX
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RandallSluder
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RandallSluder
Joined: 5 May 2012
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Location: Asheville, NC
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Posted Sat Dec 8, 2012, 10:26am
Subject: Re: coffee refractometer
 

I'm not going to debate patent law with you.

Me neither.

Patented material is still protected, even after it is disclosed for us to read.

While US law gives patent owners certain rights and remedies, my point is simply that the information disclosed in VST's patent, in any patent, can not be "proprietary information", another term for "trade secrets".

VST may in fact have some trade secrets but the equation and coefficients gcrest01 references are not among them. They are stated explicitly in VST's US Patent 8239144 (http://www.google.com/patents/US8239144), and as far as I know, you and gcrest01 and I are free to discuss their validity, applicability, verisimilitude, or anything else about them without prior restraint.

Randall
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gcrest01
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Joined: 7 Dec 2012
Posts: 2
Location: NY
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Nuova Era Cuadra
Grinder: Baratza Vario
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Roaster: stumptown, metropoliscoffee,...
Posted Sat Dec 8, 2012, 12:33pm
Subject: Re: coffee refractometer
 

I don't want to get anyone in trouble for any legal issues that I'm not qualified to judge especially in my first post on this forum.

I've just had a simple question can anyone estimate how much off will I be in the Refractive Index measurement if the Temp. Comp. Basis is: Sucrose where as the actual fluid is coffee.

I did ask the manufacturer (MISCO) if I can use the PA202 on the coffee and they said yes. I was told that I can use the PA202 to get the baseline on coffee.

All I really need to have is some kind of  number that I can refer to get the consistency in my coffee made in Chemex and my espresso. However I want this number to be precise and repeatable.

Once I get the taste that I like I can remember the refractive index and use it as a reference.
Also that way I can experiment with the brewing variables ( water temperature, grind, dose, basket selection, tamp...etc) to get various tastes and see how it relates to the refractive index. That way I can associate tastes with the refractive index. I like measurable output parameters.

I think sensitivity wise the PA202 model http://www.misco.com/products/PA202.html will be enough for be for regular coffee and espresso.
Obviously I need some kind of paper filter to filter the espresso before taking the measurement.

The reason for me is simple $425 fits my budget much easier than $599 for VST LAB Coffee II Coffee & Espresso refractometer.
Alternatively I can get the VST Standard Coffee/Espresso Refractometer for $399 but I'm afraid that it will not be sensitive enough for the regular coffee and repeatable( it only takes a single measurement ) instead of averaging a 30 measurements.

Please let me know your thoughts and if you see anything wrong with my idea.
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andys
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andys
Joined: 10 May 2003
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Posted Sat Dec 8, 2012, 7:19pm
Subject: Re: coffee refractometer
 

gcrest01 Said:

All I really need to have is some kind of  number that I can refer to get the consistency in my coffee made in Chemex and my espresso. However I want this number to be precise and repeatable.

Once I get the taste that I like I can remember the refractive index and use it as a reference.
Also that way I can experiment with the brewing variables ( water temperature, grind, dose, basket selection, tamp...etc) to get various tastes and see how it relates to the refractive index. That way I can associate tastes with the refractive index.

Posted December 8, 2012 link

The reality of coffee is way more complicated than this.

Coffee strength is correlated to refractive index and temperature.

Coffee taste is correlated with numerous factors, including strength, temperature, and (crucially) extraction yield, which is the fraction of the original dry grounds that are extracted into your cup.

Extraction yield is typically calculated after weighing the dose, weighing the brew water (or beverage amount), and accurately measuring the beverage strength. You cannot simply measure refractive index and expect it to correlate to taste, particularly as you experiment with the standard brewing variables.


gcrest01 Said:

I think sensitivity wise the PA202 model http://www.misco.com/products/PA202.html will be enough for be for regular coffee and espresso.
Obviously I need some kind of paper filter to filter the espresso before taking the measurement.

The reason for me is simple $425 fits my budget much easier than $599 for VST LAB Coffee II Coffee & Espresso refractometer.
Alternatively I can get the VST Standard Coffee/Espresso Refractometer for $399 but I'm afraid that it will not be sensitive enough for the regular coffee and repeatable( it only takes a single measurement ) instead of averaging a 30 measurements.

Posted December 8, 2012 link

Paper filters produce inconsistent results with espresso. The quantity is very small, the concentrated liquid passes through the filter slowly, and significant evaporation occurs. Unfortunately the recommended syringe filters are expensive, but they give accurate results.

IMO the $599 VST LAB II is a much better value for you than the $425 PA202. A huge amount of work and expense went into developing both the software and hardware.  It will likely be more accurate and repeatable than anything you can develop on your own. If money is tight the VST Standard works fine, but I've used both and the LAB is a big step up in usability and (presumably) accuracy.

 
-AndyS
picture page:  http://flickr.com/photos/andy_s/sets/
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RandallSluder
Senior Member
RandallSluder
Joined: 5 May 2012
Posts: 7
Location: Asheville, NC
Expertise: Pro Roaster

Posted Sat Dec 8, 2012, 9:30pm
Subject: Re: coffee refractometer
 

I would generally second what Andy says.  It's important to be able to measure coffee strength when you're dialling in a brewer or brewing system, but even if you get the strength and extraction "right" for the Golden Cup or one of the European standards, the beverage may still not taste "right".  If you can get up to Boston in the spring for the SCAA convention, take the brewing lab class.  One of the demonstrations they do (or at least used to do) is systematically changing the brew parameters one at a time: coffee-to-water ratio, contact time, brew water temp, fineness of the grind.  Or try it yourself.

A coffee strength meter is just a tool, like a thermometer or a scale.  Before spending hundreds on a refractometer, I would suggest getting a $30 TDS meter and some calibration solution, and experimenting with your Chemex.

A TDS meter won't work with espresso but then I'm old-fashioned and think that you can dial in espresso with only a scale to measure the shot and beverage weights, and simply tasting the shots.  I suspect the espresso aficionados will disagree, but I think setting up a commercial drip brewer is much more difficult than an espresso machine.

If you do spring for a refractometer, I would go with the VST product, but just the coffee-only LAB model and that will save you $100.

- Randall
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GlennV
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Joined: 27 Oct 2011
Posts: 29
Location: UK
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sun Dec 9, 2012, 5:13am
Subject: Re: coffee refractometer
 

gcrest01 Said:

Please let me know your thoughts and if you see anything wrong with my idea.

Posted December 8, 2012 link

I agree with the other posters that it really doesn't make sense to get anything other than a proper coffee refractometer. The instrument you reference is stated to have a resolution of 0.1Brix or 0.0001nD so, even if it were perfectly accurate and repeatable, and even if there were no added error due to the incorrect temperature compensation for sucrose instead of coffee being used, it can never possibly display coffee %TDS in better than 0.06% increments. Adding in the minimum practical errors in accuracy and repeatability of 0.06% TDS, you could easily be off the mark by 0.12%TDS even without the temperature correction issue. Both the standard and lab VST units give you roughly an extra decimal place, reading coffee %TDS to 0.01%, and this is not just noise. As I understand it, significant improvements were made to both the hardware and firmware which justify this. I've not used the standard refractometer, but can vouch for the fact that my Lab II Coffee & Espresso refractometer meets (and usually exceeds) its claimed typical precision of +/- 0.02%TDS coffee (this is equivalent to approximately  +/- 0.00003 nD). In fact, if successive readings on brewed coffee fluctuate  more than 0.01%TDS  then I take this as a signal that either the sample and refractometer have not yet reached thermal equilibrium or the sample has not been filtered well enough. The claimed real life typical precision of the standard VST refractometer (+/- 0.06%TDS coffee) is already equivalent to better than that 0.1Brix, and roughly equivalent to 0.0001nD. I think most people find that it does even better than this in practice. This has to be a better bet than the Brix unit you refer to, even without the issue of how to implement a coffee scale without infringing on the VST patent.

This is what 0.02g (approx) of granulated sugar looks like on a teaspoon. This, in 100ml of water, is about 0.02Brix. I compared this with another glass of 100ml water without the sugar, and it was easy to pick out the one with the sugar using the Lab II unit. I did it as a blind test, to keep me honest, but needn't have bothered - the difference was absolutely clear. It really is a remarkable instrument and (I know this sounds ridiculous, but) a delight to use.  I couldn't taste the difference between the two glasses. It's worth contacting Vince at VST to check what current offers they have and whether they have any reconditioned units for sale.

GlennV: Untitled 2.jpg
(Click for larger image)
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Netphilosopher
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Joined: 14 Jan 2011
Posts: 1,602
Location: USA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Mon Dec 10, 2012, 12:54pm
Subject: Re: coffee refractometer
 

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