Steve Grunwell

Open-source contributor, speaker, and electronics tinkerer

Category: Maker

Two coffees from Fire Department Coffee surrounding a coffee mug with a dripper

Reviewed: Spirit-Infused Coffees from Fire Department Coffee

A couple weeks ago, Madeline Hayes, the Community Manager for Rockford, IL-based Fire Department Coffee, reached out after stumbling upon my post on roasting bourbon-infused coffee.

As it turns out, Fire Department Coffee has a whole line of spirit-infused coffees, and she was gracious enough to send me a sample. Never one to say no to free coffee, I quickly replied and mere days later a package was on my doorstep containing two bags of Fire Department Coffee’s spirit-infused roasts.

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One row in a document archive, full of boxes and binders

Automatic, Whole-Home Time Machine Backups

Over the holidays, I decided to tackle a problem that’s been on the back-burner for a while: how can my wife and I automatically back up our Macs to a common Time Machine drive? We already have a router I’m happy with (the NETGEAR R6400, which is a couple years old now), so I didn’t want to replace a solid router with Apple’s Time Capsule, especially given that the line seems to have been discontinued. Is there a way to keep a common Time Machine drive on the network?

Up until this point, Kim and I have gotten by with our own Time Machine disks that live on our desks: when we’d remember, we’d plug in the disks and ensure a backup was made. I can’t speak for Kim, but I know my backup history was…spotty, to say the least.

When Kim started her own business in 2017, we upgraded her older MacBook Pro with a new SSD and kept the old drive housed where the rarely-used optical drive used to live. All told, she has just shy of a terabyte of storage on her machine, but was (just barely) backing up to a 500GB Time Machine disk. Wanting to ensure that client files and portfolio pieces alike were backed up securely, Kim asked if I could set something up to make the process easier; this is what I found.

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A pile of freshly-roasted coffee beans

Improvising a vacation coffee dripper

Last week, my wife, daughter, in-laws, and I took a week long vacation to the west coast of Michigan. Bookended by two weekends in Grand Rapids (the second of which was centered around WordCamp Grand Rapids), we rented a cottage in Spring Lake, just outside Grand Haven, MI.

The trip started off well enough (I should mention that my in-laws and I get along well, and my father-in-law joined me a couple of years ago on my walk across Columbus), but things got rough once we arrived at the cottage. No, it wasn’t family drama, nor was the toddler to blame (though her “terrible twos” aren’t helping) — the coffee pot in the cottage was on its last leg.

The first morning, the coffee was…okay. I had brought some beans from Upper Cup Coffee (one of my hometown favorites), but the coffee pot had obviously not been well-maintained. The coffee maker itself took about 30min to brew a 12 cup pot (which is way too damn long!), and when we tried to make a second pot the coffee maker decided it’d had enough: the heating element stopped working, and no heat means no hot coffee (and a severe lack of cognitive function on my part).

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Roland TD1-K(V) electric drumset

Stop the hi-hat from spinning on a Roland TD1-K(V)

Last year, I decided to put some money towards upgrading to a Roland TD1-KV electric drumset, the entry model to their “VDrum” line. I had outgrown my old Simmons SD Xpress II kit  (a Black Friday deal from a few years ago) and was excited to get something closer to “real” drums without the volume of an acoustic kit. I was also dealing with a cracked hi-hat on the old, discontinued kit, so I figured it was time.

The drums are fantastic, but after a few sessions, one thing kept bugging me: the hi-hat — a Roland CY-5 cymbal — kept spinning as I played. Nearly half the cymbal is covered in a rubberized pad, which helps mute the sound, provides a better response, and protects the plastic underneath. When I have to adjust the cymbal half-way through a song, that doesn’t make for the best playing experience.

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A glass of cold-brew coffee, served over ice, with a swirl of cream.

Brewing your own cold-brew coffee in a French Press

I’ve read plenty of tutorials on making your own cold-brew coffee in a French Press before (Home Grounds has a great guide), but it wasn’t until today that I realized just how easy (and tasty) it can be!

My good friend Matthew Haynes, Head Roaster at Inland Seas Coffee, has a beautiful glass cold-brew maker that serves double-duty as a brewer and an art piece, but there are also plenty of more economical choices for the home cold-brewer, like the popular Toddy system.

Did you know that you can easily make great tasting cold-brew coffee at home with items you likely already have lying around? I’ll show you a few ways you can be drinking great cold-brew coffee by tomorrow morning!

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A homemade pie with sparklers sticking out of the top

Share an Internet Connection with a Raspberry Pi Zero over USB

A few weeks ago, my friend and I were wandering through Micro Center when we found a stock of Raspberry Pi Zeros, the $5 computer that’s been difficult to acquire but has sparked a “no, seriously, how can I justify not buying a $5 computer?!” chorus of geeks across the globe.

Since picking up the Pi, it’s…well, sat on my desk. I’ve been looking for a fun project (and the time in which to do it), and finally decided to try the Raspberry Pi Zero out as an  OpenVPN server, as it turns out my NETGEAR router doesn’t support the necessary protocols for connecting from my iPhone. I even found this handy post detailing how to go about getting OpenVPN working, which is great.

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A Pacifying Plush Puppy

As you may have heard, my wife and I had our first child, Emily, one month ago today. The last month has been full of ups and downs, sleepless nights and unthinkable joy. The diapers and spit up are manageable, but the sleep has been the hardest.

Imagine this: you’re holding your newborn in your arms, gently patting her back until she drifts off to sleep. After ten or twenty minutes, she finally dozes off, and you slowly creep over to her crib to put her down. As soon as her head touches the mattress, she stirs, letting out a howl. Quickly, you reach for the pacifier to try to soothe this beast whom with cannot be reasoned, and the peaceful bliss of infant slumber resumes. You stumble back to the plush nursery armchair, hopeful to get at least a few minutes of peace before you head off to bed, when the gentle suckling of the pacifier stops; you brace yourself for what comes next: the blood-curdling scream of the child when she realizes the pacifier has fallen out of her mouth.

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Transformer terminals for a doorbell

Installing a Doorbell Switch

With our daughter due in less than a month, there’s a whole list of things we’ve been doing around the house to get ready for her arrival. I’ve had and idea kicking around in my head for the last few months, and this morning I finally implemented it: installing an on/off switch on our doorbell.

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The handsome, brown paper packaging with the Driftaway Coffee logo stamped on the front

Review: Driftaway Coffee

The other day I was contacted by Suyog Mody, co-founder of Brooklyn-based Driftaway Coffee, welcoming me to the world of home-roasting. As it turns out, he also started his home-roasting adventure on a popcorn popper before moving onto bigger and better roasters; a popcorn popper is great for starting out and for personal roasting, but wouldn’t be suitable for roasting at a distribution scale.

I did some digging, and found that Driftaway’s offerings were pretty cool: after determining each customer’s taste preferences, Driftaway roasts and ships fresh bags of coffee to your door every two weeks. For a suburb-dweller such as myself this is huge, as one of the main reasons I got into home roasting was to avoid making weekly trips downtown to buy fresh coffee (believe it or not, big-chain grocery stores don’t always have the freshest coffees). The beans will change over time, but Driftaway tracks the types of tasting notes that each customer likes (their “Coffee Profile”) and sends small-batch, hand-roasted coffee fortnightly to match.

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Adventures in Home Roasting: “Old Fashioned” Ethiopian Coffee

This weekend I was ready for another fresh batch of coffee; I picked out a bean (Ethiopia Kaffa from the Mitchiti Coop), opened my log book, and realized this was my tenth roast (I count double-batches as a single roast in my logs)!

To commemorate the occasion, I decided to make another alcohol-infused roast; you might remember the bourbon-infused coffee I wrote about a few weeks ago, and just last weekend I roasted up a batch of Rwandan coffee using OYO Honey Vanilla Bean Vodka from Middle West Spirits, my favorite local distillery. This time, I attempted to create a cocktail in my coffee, mixing the hot-out-of-the-roaster coffee beans with the ingredients for an Old Fashioned, my favorite classic cocktail.

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Be excellent to each other.