Alejandro Cardenas

I am currently studying Civil Engineering with a focus on Water Resource Engineering. I was exposed to the coffee world when I started off as a part-time barista at Starbucks, but after gaining more knowledge about coffee and visiting different coffee shops, coffee started becoming a part of me. Now, not only do I study for Civil Engineering, I also study to strengthen my coffee background so that I can open up my own roastery, and later down the line, a coffee shop. It’s cool to think about. I have never really had a hobby, or anything on the side to invest my time into. Some of my friends work on starting their own clothing brand, others focus on understanding stocks as their past times. Now, I have a hobby – and most importantly, a coffee community that I am becoming a part of – that I constantly keep learning from.

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What does coffee mean to you?

Coffee has become a way to escape any, and all, negativity that is going on around me. It has been a way to connect with my friends and just talk about different coffee shops and how each shop has their own unique coffee. During this pandemic, coffee has granted me access to numerous opportunities to expand my knowledge, from online zoom conversations with baristas and world champions, to zoom parties provided by Not a Barista to meet new people that are also crazy about coffee. Coffee has brought me into a community I never knew about, that I am thankful to be a part of.

Alejandro Cardenas

What motivates him daily:

Right now, one of his motivations is knowing that no matter where life takes him, coffee is going to be his end go. Whether it be as a coffee shop owner, or coffee roaster. One of his key drivers in continuing to grow within the coffee industry is wanting to keep at the highest rank possible with world-ranked baristas and coffee lovers. It's a stretch, but keeping in mind that it's not impossible, makes the drive to continue growing that much stronger.

Special quotes:

Enjoy the coffee journey

Tips for this recipe:

This cafe de olla is a little journey through Mexico. Don't be shy about adding too much cinnamon sticks since that is what gives it the distinct taste! Also, if you are using molasses or brown sugar instead of unrefined Cane sugar (piloncillo as known in Mexico), it might take some trial error, but I would say start with less of the sugar as you can always add it to your coffee once you have served your cup!

Brewing tool

Frenchpress, FP pot

Dose of coffee

30 g


96 °C

Total brewing time


Coffee water ratio


Total water

480 ml

Detailed Guidance

A sweet addition to this recipe would be chocolate, and maybe brown sugar with some nutty notes


00:00 - 00:00

Preheat the French Press and dispose of water. Add 30g of coffee and 2 Cinnamon sticks broken into small pieces. Add 20g of Piloncillo/Panela/Raw Cane Sugar plus 480ml of water and start your timer.

00:00 – 00:30

Stir to ensure the sugar has dissolved into the water

00:30 - 05:00

Let it brew

05:00 - 05:30

Plunge down slowly

05:30 - 08:00

Let it finish brewing and serve


Enjoy your freshly brewed coffee and have a nice day.

What makes this recipe so special?

What makes this special is that I could extract the same flavor within 8 minutes with a French Press without having to go through the long process of boiling cinnamon sticks separately and was still able to enjoy it with my parents on weekend mornings.

How to grind coffee?

Grind setting 1 to 10

1. Extreme fine grinding

<200-200 µ – Extra Fine (I) (confectioners sugar)

it is so fine that is almost impossible to filter/separate, like a powder, usually the finest grading in your grinder. Used for Ibrik/Turkish method because it “dissolves”; in pour-over can clog the filters. The substances extraction is extreme and can lead to a more bitter taste.

2. Finest grinding

300 µ – Fine II (flour)

almost a powder, a little more boulder. Can be used in Ibrik/Turkish coffee, and for some coffee beans in Moka Pot and espresso. The substances extraction is very high but has less surface contact area than the previous one.

3. Fine grinding

400 µ – Fine III Dry (no lumps)
it is fine, but not a powder, you can see little boulder parts. Used mainly for espresso and Moka Pot, but some Aeropress recipes use this grinding in a short time extraction. The substances extraction is high, it has high surface area contact, and it is used in methods with pressure, less time, high temperature.

4. Medium-fine grinding

500-600 µ – Medium – Fine (beach sand)
it is finer than sand, but not as fine than the previous. It is perfect for tuned recipes with pour-over methods, V60, Kalita, et cetera and also for some Aeropress recipes. It can be tricky if you do not master the brewing techniques leading to clogging. The substances extraction is high; it has a high surface contact area, but less than the previous one.

5-6.Medium grinding

700-800 µ – Medium I (Table Salt)
it is the start point for a test with a new coffee, it is a little bit coarse than the medium-fine. Very similar, in consistence and size, to sand. Can be used in various methods like pour-over, siphon, Aeropress, infusion, et cetera. The water-substances interaction is medium here, as the surface contact area is starting to decrease. In this grind size, and beyond, other variables like temperature and time become to influence more and more. It is the grind size that doesn’t extract too much but don’t extract too little.

7. Medium-coarse grinding

900-1000 µ – Medium II Commercial
it has the aspect of sand with boulder particles. Methods like Chemex, Clever and Aeropress benefit a lot from this grinding size, also some pour-overs with a little adjust in the variables. The surface contact area is smaller, so the solubility of the substance in water become to decrease. In this case, extraction is medium and extraction time starting to get more attention.

8. Coarse grinding:

1100-1200 µ – Medium III (Silica Sand)
it is more rough than sand, almost a sea salt, you can see boulder particles. Methods like French Press and some percolators are the best ones applied here. It is also very used to coffee cupping/tasting. In this case, extraction becomes small to medium, there is even less surface contact area with water and extraction time become fundamental.

9. Coarsted grinding

1300-1400 µ – Coarse I (clay particle)
similar to peppercorns. Used mainly for cold brew due to small substances extraction rate because the surface contact area is little, the pores are not available for extraction.

10. Extreme coarse grinding

1500-1600 µ – Coarse II (coarse kosher salt)

also similar to peppercorns, also used for cold brew. The substances are even less extracted than the previous. The surface contact area is small.
1600µ – Extra Coarse (III) – (broken peppercorns)
The grind setting below is from our volunteer Carlos @chaosinrye and @fatima_quest. This is only a draft version.