By Valorie King, Owner & Coffee Maven
A few weeks ago, on March 23rd, I wrote about weighing coffee so I can consistently brew amazing coffee. This got me thinking about all the variables in home coffee brewing and over what variables do I, as a home coffee brewer, have control. I must admit, I am starting with some basic presumptions:
Working forward from these basic presumptions, the four basic variables I work with to brew are: amount of coffee as weighed in grams, coarse-ness/fine-ness of grind, time and water quality. As mentioned above, I blogged my thoughts and reasons for always weighing my coffee a few weeks ago. You can read that in News section of our website, or click the following link to be taken to that blog: Weight a Minute! What am I Weighting For? For the next few weeks, I will explore my basic presumptions as well as the other three variables of grind, time and water. Today, I wanted to share some thoughts and Coffee Maven tips.
Presumption 1 - You are starting with quality fresh roasted coffee to brew an amazing cup or two or pot of coffee. If you start with quality fresh roasted coffee, my experience has been you will brew an amazing cup. If you don’t use quality fresh roasted coffee, I’m sorry! My recommendation would be to find some fresh roasted coffee and start over.
Presumption 2 – You are willing to do some experimenting to be able to both create and re-create an amazing cup of coffee. That old adage “Practice makes perfect” applies here. Using a coffee to water ratio like 1 part coffee:16-18 parts water is a good place to start in determining the amount of coffee. See my aforementioned post on weighing for details on this concept. If you are using a manual brewing method such as the Clever Coffee Dripper, Chemex or French Press, you can also experiment with time. In an automatic drip brewer, the manufacturer has predetermined the time of brewing and extraction for you. We do strongly recommend investing in an SCA certified home brewer. Which leads me to…
Presumption 3 – You are willing to invest in some reasonable home coffee brewing equipment. As with most purchases, you will get what you pay for. The art of brewing coffee is one of my passions and hobbies. I truly enjoy brewing coffee and am doing my part in brewing an amazing cup of coffee simply for the enjoyment of drinking it, not just to get my hit of caffeine. I am finding enjoyment and delight in returning dignity to drinking coffee. It’s not just to be gulped or tolerated on the commute to work. That’s another day’s blog post. Back to equipment. We are happy to make some recommendations depending on your budget. Be prepared to spend $110 and up on a quality home drip brewer. Remember, you can read about which home American drip coffee brewers are certified by SCA and what testing they went through to become certified by SCA here. “All SCA Certified Brewers have met these requirements, which are based on proper water temperature, brewing time, and ability to brew within the SCA Golden Cup recommendations.”
The grinder is actually as important as the brewer, and often times, more important than the brewer. A coffee grinder is much different that a spice or pepper mill. I know there are some decent blade grinders on the market. However, a blade grinder cannot product a consistent grind of coffee. Each particle of coffee is a different size. Find a burr grinder that meets your budget. For most of our friends and family, we have received great feedback and results from a basic Cuisinart burr grinder. You can find these at Costco from time to time or on Amazon.com. (View that grinder here at Amazon.com.) As you grow in your love of the art of brewing coffee, you will invest in a higher quality grinder. So far, my favorite grinders have been the Baratza Encore or Virtuoso. I like the increased control and selection for grind fineness or coarseness I am given by the Baratza Virtuoso. I also like the fact that I can change the burr sets versus replacing the whole grinder. I happily and confidently gift the Baratza Encore to newly married couples in our family. You can find these for sale at most specialty coffee home brewing stores like Seattle Coffee Gear or Clive Coffee as well as at Amazon.com and other on-line stores. (Note: We receive no financial gain from you purchasing this grinder from any of these store.)
One other Coffee Maven tip I will leave you with is rinse your paper coffee filters prior to putting ground coffee in the brew basket. I returned to using paper coffee filters primarily to increase my success in re-creating an amazing cup of coffee. The industry standard is to rinse paper filters with water, at least once, to eliminate paper dust. I find that I need to rinse my paper filters three times to also eliminate the paper taste. I put my filter in the brew basket, then rinse three separate times dumping the water down the drain after each rinse. Is that necessary? No, but since I am going after re-creatable and palate-enjoyable coffee, I find this increases both my success at brewing and my enjoyment factor of my amazing cup of coffee.
in the coming weeks, I will explore one or two of the variables I work with and consider when brewing coffee at home. For now, enjoy both your coffee and venture into coffee…and then be epic!