Engineering Report: People are sleepy. We must wake them up, not only with a kick of caffeine, but with the robust aromas of a well crafted cup of freshly brewed coffee. This is Dustin writing and I’ll be sharing a little about my ever growing excitement with drinking coffee and my interest in finding the best methods with which to tap into those flavor filled little beans. Today we’ll explore pour over coffee making.
I first started drinking coffee in high school, when I worked at St. Louis Bread Company, bussing tables and taking orders. The coffee was free, I knew when it was made – as that was one of my main jobs – and it was a good excuse to consume some of the honey that was available at the coffee condiments station. Those days it was a tall cup of honey-sweetened hazelnut flavored coffee that accompanied my weeknight shifts at the bread haven. Some 10 years later, I find myself still enjoying a hot cup of coffee every morning and even some early afternoons, but these days there is no honey or hazelnut to hide the flavors of the coffee. Coffee, along with many other aspects of my life, has taken on a quality over quantity focus. Emily and I find ourselves with the opportunity to delve into yet another adventure of exploration, as we are beginning to learn more about the origin and character of the coffees we drink as well as the methods in which we prepare this popular beverage.
Our daily coffee rituals have shifted over the last year as we have become more interested in finding out what exactly we like about the coffee we are drinking and what brewing method might yield the best results. What started years ago with a Mr. Coffee machine from the dollar store transitioned into a traditional drip coffee machine, then french press and most recently individual pour over cups of coffee. As with our cooking, choosing quality ingredients has become a main focus in our coffee making life as well. That is another reason that coffee is an exciting culinary ingredient to explore – because it is becoming more easy to find single origin coffees from all over the world. Comparing coffees of different varietals or from various countries is exciting. This brewing method (and others) allows you to really taste the bright acidity of some lighter roasted coffees or the chocolate, berry or even burnt caramel flavors of some of the darker roasts. Like with small batch bourbons here in Tennessee and our neighboring State, Kentucky, single origin coffees offer multiple layers of aroma and taste to explore in each newly brewed cup.
Coffee blends, which include beans from multiple farms or regions and potentially different varietals, are also an essential piece of the puzzle, especially for regular drinking. We tend to have a few rotating weekday coffee blends, while saving some of the single origin coffees to explore on weekend mornings when we have more time to savor. Coffee blends can be more balanced – and less expensive – than single origin coffees, but can still maintain the fruity/citrusy/chocolatey flavor profile of the various farms’ beans added to the mix. It is exciting exploring the different flavor profiles of each coffee varietal, the different regions where they are grown, and the different processes in which the fruit is harvested and then roasted. The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee has served as a great resource for our recent endeavor into precision coffee brewing and is likely one reason we’ve gotten so revved up about coffee exploration. Brewing coffee with the pour-over method has been a quick, direct way to tap those flavors of small farm and good quality beans, and one that we wanted to share for those out there that might like to delve a little deeper into their daily cup of joe.
Pour-Over CoffeeEquipment Pour-Over Ceramic Dripper #4 Coffee Filters Coffee Grinder Scale Ingredients
30-35 Grams Freshly Ground Coffee
300-350 ML Just Boiled Water
Add just boiled water to your coffee mug to bring it up to temperature. Grind your beans to a medium grit, somewhere between the coarse grind for french press and a very fine grind such as for espresso. Insert the dry #4 filter into the ceramic dripper and measure out about 30 grams of grinds. Depending on how strong you like your coffee and how large your java vessel is, you might add more or less grinds. As a starting place, add 1 gram of coffee for every 10 milliliters of water.
If you haven’t worked in metric in the kitchen, definitely try it out. I am always blown away by the system’s intuitive nature. How much does 1 milliliter of water weigh, you might ask? How about 1 gram! How many grams in a kilogram? 1,000! How many ounces in a cup or in a pound? 8, 16? Yeah, not so intuitive. Maybe someday we in America will embrace more of the metric side of life – but I digress. Add your coffee to your filter, letting it mound naturally. Do not pack the grinds, as we want the water to evenly infuse all of the ground little bits of beans. The next step is to add the recently boiled water, which should be approximately 185-205 degrees for optimum flavor extraction. Use a swan neck kettle if you have one, or alternatively you can try your hand with some vessel that will allow you to pour water very slowly and precisely. Slowly add water, you are aiming for an amount that is double the weight of the coffee grinds. Pour steadily but with control as you add this first bit of water, starting in the center of the mound and working your way to the edges in a circular pattern. With practice, you will be able to add double the weight of water to the grinds without letting any of the water drip through into your cup.
Now let the grinds bloom for about 45 seconds. Blooming is integral to the process as it allows the grinds time to become fully saturated with water. After blooming, slowly add more water, watching as the tan foamy cap rises just above the grinds. Continue to add water at approximately the rate at which it is dripping through, keeping an eye on the level of coffee in the cup as you go. Make sure that you have enough hot water on hand at the beginning, so that you don’t have to halt the process mid brew. Once you have finished your cup, take in the variety of flavors and aromas that you have unleashed from the beans and enjoy! As a side note, coffee grinds make great additions to a compost pile, so don’t throw them away!