A directory of my articles by topic

This is a collection of collections of stories. I have stories on espresso, work, school, myself, my family, LEGO’s, and Photography. I hope this page helps navigating my list of stories.

A Collection of Espresso Articles

A Collection of Work and School Stories

Personal Stories and Concerns

LEGO Story Splash Page

Photography Splash Page

Coffee Data Science

Using image processing to understand grinder performance Part 4

Previously, I have used a sifter and different imaging techniques to improve coffee grind distribution measurement, and now I’m going to apply an old technique of mine to better collect data in imaging. Often, the images have easy to find grounds, but some are not. Having a simple threshold doesn’t always work because of how light interacts with coffee, so I took a closer look.

The resulting change tripled the number of coffee particles I’m able to measure, and it is a straight forward adaptive filter which helps with lighting issues.

Quick Review

I take an image, determined the measurement ground truth…

Coffee Data Science

An SOP for those curious

The aim is to photograph the coffee grounds in the best environment. The aim is to reduce all variables to make the particle analysis easier.

Prepare the Environment

  1. Turn off most overhead light
  2. Close window blinds
  3. Place a 8.5 x 11 piece paper on a flat surface
  4. Get your camera ready, and turn the flash on
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Prepare the Coffee Grounds

1. Grind 3 or 4 beans

Ghosts from the Bronze Age of computer vision

Many moons ago, we used to dream about real time processing of images. I worked hard to make code to do this for lane line recognition for an autonomous robot. One of the most delightful filters I designed was named (by me) the Low Filter. I found this to be a good way to remove noise, and I will summarize it below.

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Image Preprocessing: Obstacle Removal

First, I noticed orange barrels look similar to white lines, so I got rid of them with some simple detection based on how I expect them to look. …

Coffee Data Science

Layering without a sifter

I recently upgraded after 5 years of using a ROK grinder to a Niche Zero. I mainly upgraded because of time. It took me 5 minutes to grind beans for four shots, and I didn’t like the experience especially planning when I was going to grind to be the least disruptive to my family. I felt certain of the quality, and I figured I could save some time upgrading.

It took me a little while to dial in the grind because of all the fancy things I do in my shot preparation. However, this lead to a great discovery: the…

How do you define success?

My wife and I were chatting after the kids went to bed, and the question came up:

Do you feel successful?

Growing up, I had only aimed to complete a Ph.D., and I hadn’t made a plan or a goal that I was trying to achieve beyond that.

I rushed through a bachelors and masters degree to get to my Ph.D., but I didn’t feel successful when I finished; I felt like a failure.

I compared myself to others and felt like an imposter. I felt like people must have had pity on me because I had not gotten more…


Using image processing to understand grinder performance Part 3

Previously, I explored how to use a few sieves combined with imaging to give decent looking particle distributions to help examine grinders. Now, I will dive back into the images to see what could be improved and cleaned. I noticed in some of the images a few issues, and one troubling issue was fines clumping together or sticking to larger particles.

Quick Review

I take an image, determined the measurement ground truth (pixels to mm²) using the piece of paper, then took a threshold to find the particles.

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Connected Components

After I convert an image of coffee grounds to a binary image, I then…

A more complex approach than typical

Espresso did not start as a ritual for me, but it developed into one overtime. Initially, it was just a cheap drink at a cafe. Then it was a break from work to socialize. Then the coffee break turned into how to make good espresso from a Mr. Coffee Espresso machine. I never would have imagined a coffee ritual that involved grinding, tamping, and pulling a few shots to turn into my latest incarnation of delayed gratification.

Disclaimer: my ritual is plain ridiculous, and I’m aware. So is my wife. Please ignore anything too ridiculous for your tastes. My inner…

Coffee Data Science

Using image processing to understand grinder performance Part 2

Previously, I looked at using image processing to measure grind particle distribution, and I found it challenging. Taking the image requires care, but that’s not all. It seems something is happening with the coffee because setting 15 and 30 on the Niche produced similar results according to the image processing technique. I suspect it is due to grounds sticking together, and to test this, I will use a sifter.

I have a Kruve sifter, and I have a few screens (250, 400, 500, 800), but I mainly use 400um and 500um. Considering I’m most concerned with making a staccato shot…

Robert McKeon Aloe

I’m in love with my Wife, my Kids, Espresso, Data Science, tomatoes, cooking, engineering, talking, family, Paris, and Italy, not necessarily in that order.

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