Artisan Brewing: Coffee Your Way

by Laura on April 25, 2010

in Drink, Tools

The next time you slip in your local coffee café to grab a cup of coffee to go, stop for a moment and look around, you just might notice something a bit different. Around the country, coffee shops are taking their time, brewing coffee by the cup, slowing things down a bit. Cafes like Peregrine Espresso in Washington, DC, Ultimo Coffee in Philadelphia,Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea in LA, and Blue Bottle Coffee Co. and Ritual Coffee Roasters in San Francisco are embracing the time-honored pour-over method of brewing coffee—cup-by-cup. (FYI, Starbucks is also dabbling in this method as well).

This ‘pour over’ movement is a great way for coffee shop owners to highlight their truly special single origin coffees. It brings a bit of barista-romance to the preparation of coffee, and it slows us down a bit. It takes a few minutes to brew, and you’ll never get it in a to-go cup—you’ll be enjoying that freshly brewed single cup of coffee in a ceramic cup right there in the store.

For those times when you’re at home and you want to slow down a bit to enjoy a quiet cup of coffee, or when you’ve guests and want to add a bit more experience or ambiance to the meal, here are a few ways to do so.

Single Cup Pour Over:

You remember these– your grandmother may have used theMelitta manual drip coffee maker, considered one of the easiest way to brew drip coffee. This time-honored tradition continues to be the choice for many because there is a level of control or results when brewing.

The cone can help maximize the extraction of the flavors from the coffee. When pouring the water over the grinds, you can vary the taste of coffee by adjusting the flow of water. For lighter taste, pour more quickly, and for a depth of flavor – pour more slowly.

Proper brewing is described succinctly on Fantes.com as “To get the best taste, first add the grounds, then pour hot (almost boiling) water to just cover the grounds, to “bloom” the coffee. If the water boils, remove from the heat source and let sit for half a minute before pouring over the grounds. After the water first disappears in the grounds, slowly add more water, keeping the level just above the grounds.

Chemex (multiple cup pour-over):

The Chemex brewer was invented as a way to improve filter, or infusion, brewing. This one-piece glass brewer is shaped like an hourglass and is a simple and elegant way to brew coffee. Simply place a filter in the top and pour hot water slowly over the coffee. The delicious results are often attributed to the heavier Chemex brand filters that remove the undesirable sediment that comes with coffee infusion, but allows the taste aromatic compounds to pass through into the brewed coffee.

Many coffee aficionados like the Chemex because it brings out a coffee’s distinctive flavor, and because it is glass, making it easy to clean and remove any residue, which if left can eventually produce a bitter brew that is tainted with rancid coffee oils and other solids left behind in the brewing process.

The glass design is also a great way for users to interact with the process, and you can see it brewing right before your eyes. It just adds to the anticipation, and is an ideal showcase on the table when you’ve guests.

French Press:

A classic way to prepare coffee, but one that many people use once or twice, then relegate it to the back of the cupboard because they’re either not satisfied with the results, or they dislike clean-up. To ensure great results, not only is it important to use quality coffee, but it is important to take into account the grind. As noted on coffeegeek.com, “you want uniform large particles, instead of uniform tiny particles. Cheap grinders can’t give you either.” And, when using the proper grind, “You’ll get the best possible extraction from your coffee, and a fairly clean, though deep cup.” (Author Mark Prince also offers a great step-by-step approach on how to properly prepare coffee in a French press).

If you don’t like the mess of cleaning up a French press, I’ve discovered a new little gadget that makes it easier. TheTambaroo is a silicone sleeve that has four compartments for portioning out the right amount of coffee. Fill with coffee and then place it in the bottom of the press pot. Then fill with water and let it brew. Once the coffee is brewed, pull the plunger out and the Tambaroo sticks to the plunger (its magnetized) taking all the grinds with it. Clean-up is a snap.

Single Cup Brewers:

For those who still desire an electric machine to brew coffee properly, yet enjoy the idea of brewing cup by cup, machines such as Keurig® Single cup coffee maker or a Nespressolet you do just that. Using a pod (or capsule) of pre-portioned coffee, the machines brew one cup at a time. This is an ideal way to cut down on waste because you’re only brewing exactly what you need – or want. These single cup brewers are also perfect for the household where coffee drinkers enjoy different coffees, whether it is a different roast, origin, or even decaf. The Keurig also brews up a tea or hot chocolate, further expanding its use in the home. The single cup brewer is the ideal choice for brewing coffee whenever desired and is also proves to be a great way to brew your guests a cup just the way they like it.

 

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