A hat tip to various brew methods and how they affect the tasting notes
There are several different brewing methods and they all serve a purpose. But how do you know what coffee tastes best? Which method should you use? Does it really matter? The simple answer is yes, if it matters to you. We as roasters understand that everyone drinks coffee for different reasons. Which is why we offer suggested brew methods for our retail consumers as well as our wholesale accounts. There are some folks who just need the quick caffeine surge and opt for an espresso. There are others who enjoy the slow pace and atmosphere with their brew, so a pour over may be they’re preferred method.
The easiest way to determine the best brew method when you’ve chosen a coffee is to ask the roaster. They have the roast dialed in for a specific brew to define the tasting notes and often refer to this on the label, bag or in the description in an online shop. You could also ask the barista, they have spent countless hours perfecting the recipe for each method. But the easiest answer is, you brew you. Brew the coffee the way you like using your tools at home.
Keep in mind that certain coffees will taste better using specific methods. For example our Organic Sumatra is roasted with the intended brew method to be French Press. Using the French Press method allows full extraction of oils to result in a full body cup with low acidity. That same coffee using a Chemex with a thick paper filter will produce a wildly different coffee when lacking the oils and particles that make up a full body cup.
Achieving the desired tasting notes for your coffee is always the goal. Choosing the proper brew method will help you achieve that goal. Filter coffees such as drip and the pour over method, using various sized filters will remove oils and sediments that result in a lighter body and more tea like quality. Immersion coffee such as the French Press method allows the coffee to stay immersed in the water and uses a very small strainer to filter out only larger coffee particles. This results in a full body, oily and rich cup. Using an extraction method such as espresso allows a more concentrated and intense cup.
There are so many different brew methods, we will cover the most popular ones. All of these methods and equipment are available in our cafe. It all comes down to the amount of time you have and how many toys you want to buy. One of them literally is a toy, well, it was designed by a toy maker.
The Aero Press was created by Alan Adler in 2005 as a way to easily brew a filter coffee or an extraction brew using his unique plunger design. This versatile tool is small and compact and will brew a lovely cup using almost any coffee. It’s handy for those who travel or have limited space. Currently in our shop we offer an Aero press method with all of our coffees, but we really enjoy our Organic Mexico Chiapas, this method really lets the nutty flavor shine through.
Most of you have heard the term “pour over” but many of you are a little cloudy on the details. Let us shine some light on what this brew method means and how it affects your coffee. There are different tools used for this method such as a V60 or Chemex which is a conical shaped vessel that requires a paper or metal filter to remove various grades of oils and coffee particles. Using these filters and a slow pour of hot water over coffee grounds, creates a precise extraction and flow rate. This is to produce a lighter body, fruity and tea like quality for the coffee. This method is slightly more time consuming but allows the brewer to control the water temperature by using a kettle for flow rate and extraction by adjusting the grind size. By using this method in our shop on our PourSteady machine we are able to create precise and accurate tasting notes for our coffees. Particularly our Ethiopia Washed process. A pour over of this coffee results in tasting notes of black tea and lemon with a light body and we prefer to brew this at a cooler temperature. When this coffee is brewed on a drip machine with a similar paper filter it has more contact with the water and creates a medium body and subdued citrus flavor.
Full immersion brewing using a French Press is an easy way to achieve a full body cup of rich intense coffee. Using hardly any filter while being fully immersed in water for a longer period of time, this process allows the oils and sediments into the cup. This method is also used for cold brew and can be used in the same vessel for at home brewing with coarse ground coffee. For this method we like to choose something on the flavor wheel that will complement this full body brew such as a Colombia, Brazil or Sumatra. All of these coffees boast notes that really stand up front in the cup.
Espresso is finely ground coffee that is inserted into a portafilter, pressed and then hot water is forced through the grinds to create a coffee concentration. Certain coffees used as an espresso can be unpleasantly bitter. So it’s important to choose a coffee that will give you a pleasant and balanced extraction. African coffees are traditionally fruity and sweet but can be acidic and bitter when brewed as an espresso which some people enjoy. Others prefer a nutty, creamy and rich espresso shot, especially when adding milk. Acidic coffees tend to fight with the heavy fats found in dairy. For that reason we recommend our Brazil Cerrado natural process which offers a nice full body shot and pairs well with dairy and alt milks. This full flavor coffee tends to lose those notes when used in a filter coffee method such as a pour over.
Now that we have covered the basic brew methods it should be easier to choose how you brew. Start with a great, small batch, fresh roasted coffee and refer to the tasting notes and any browsing notes listed on the packaging. If you are able to grind the coffee fresh at home, that is always best. When ordering your coffee from the barista ask them what recipe they use for that method so you can try to mimic the steps in your home or office. Remember it’s to your tastes and specifications and adjust accordingly.