Server Problems

I’m not much of a sysadmin. At all really. Its great that I can even run basic Linux commands. So, in hindsight it may not have been the best idea to host this blog myself.

I self-host this blog on AWS using a t1.micro instance running 64 bit Linux. For the most part, it’s very easy and I’m very happy.

But every 2 months my blog unexpectedly crashes. No response from the server. No way to SSH into it. Nothing.

I have worked around this by making a new server every time it happens (3 times now) and loading the EBS, and restarting httpd and mysqld.

Blog back up and fixed in no time.

Yet it would be quite a bit nicer if this never happend.

If I can’t find a solution, I will probably have to change servers.

Very sorry about the blog being down!

– Jason

What it takes: Barista Cup

4:00 AM. The streets of Miami are dark. A loan beacon of light stands out of the twilight haze. I drive, sleepily, towards the light. Panther coffee is deserted save for Ryan Hall, Camilla Ramos (2012 South East Region Barista Finalist), and myself. I’m here to help Ryan train for the Barista Cup, a competition pitting the best Baristas in the industry against each other and coffee they’ve never tasted. 4AM is when the cafe is quiet, our measurements precise, and the experiments uninterrupted. This, my friends, is what it takes.

Ryan has a not-so-secret weapon up his sleeve; the use of Sieves to remove the fine particulates made from variations in grind. These particulates extract faster than the rest of the grinds and often escape from the filter, muddying the bottom of your fine pour over and adding unwanted flavors as they continue to seep. This was the method used by the 2012 Barista Champion Matt Perger. There is argument on both sides over how much of a difference the micro-particles make, ranging from none to award winning. I personally believe, and will eventually test, that they make a difference during brewing, but do not yield detectable flavor by continuing to seep in the cup; their removal is purely aesthetic, which is to say also very important. In this experiment, we used the cupping methodology to test the differences in flavor profile by sieve size and compared all of them with an un-sieved standard. Results: Excellent. The coffee flavor gained clarity, and was much cleaner in in the cup. But, as always, drawing conclusions from a single test, with only 3 tasters and one sample per sieve size is not generalizable; sensory science is a data heavy subject! Perhaps then, dear reader, you will allow me to generalize in saying coffee tastes better at 9AM than it does at 4AM.All the Best,


Dear All,

Last week was the first time since I started blogging regularly that there were more than 3 days between posts.


I have just returned to Penn State and getting settled in my apartment, meeting with the Institute, and scheduling courses has been time consuming. It didn’t leave me much space to post on the blog!

This past summer most of my posts were travel-heavy. As the semester starts, and the Institute and I settle back into our academic lives, the blog will reflect this change of pace, and there will be much more concentration on tea, sensory science / flavor analysis, and our research goals. There may even be a video series in the works.


I would like to think of this blog, and of you precious reader, as a member of a community.

A comnuity requiers communication; so If there is anything I can do to make it easier for you to post comments please let me know.

I want to hear from you.

All the Best,
Jason M. Cohen

Totally Satisfied: Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Those of you who read my non tea/coffee/tasting related posts will remember the little problem I had with Enterprise Rent-A-Car on Aug 5th.

And while they never got back to me about handing out car keys like Greek Bonds, I am happy to report that they have forever won my favor (though a different location) .

My mother stopped by the new location with a warning light on the dashboard about low tire pressure around 2pm. The manager looked and decided it was fine, but by 5:45 the tires were flat, and my mother was stranded at a gas station soon to be late for a city board meeting (which she sits on).

The manager sent an intrepid employee to come to the rescue with a new car, traded with my dear mother, and she made it to her meeting on time. Paperwork was filled out on the spot, and their was no charge.

Very good service. This was far over and above what was expected, and they have won our business for renting a car in the future.

– Jason