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Brewing coffee is a complex chemical reaction that can be streamlined into a couple of basic principles. Use freshly ground coffee and clean water, the finer the grind the shorter the contact time with water, and the lower the water temperature the longer the coffee needs to sit on the water. Below are a few of our preferred preparations.
All hot water preparations should use water in the 195-205F range. Cold extraction methods assume room temperature water. All recipes will include weights. Roast level affects density so volumetric measurements will not be as accurate. We strongly encourage you to invest in a kitchen scale.
Methods involving hand pouring of water (Chemex, French Press, and BonMac) will be made easier by utilizing a goose neck kettle to control water flow and direction.
The most classically American style version of coffee. Most home machines will brew their best using a ratio in the range of 18-20:1 of water:coffee by weight. The most common descriptor of drip ground coffee is coarse beach sand. It should clump lightly if pinched but not hold its shape. Most home brewers have a v-shape bottom, but if yours is flat bottomed you'll need a slightly finer grind to keep the contact time from being too quick (thus resulting in a less than full flavored cup of coffee).
A more refined version of cowboy coffee, french press is the most forgiving preparation we will cover here. Because of this and the fact that the lack of a paper filter allows all of the coffee oils to pass through to the final cup make this a favorite of consumers who appreciate an especially rich cup of coffee.
Coffee needs to be ground coarse (like steel cut oats). 15:1 ratio of water to coffee. Stir the coffee as you add the water. After 1 minute has passed, stir the coffee again. After another 3 minutes (total of 4 minutes contact time), press down the filter with steady, even pressure.
This preparation results in a cup very similar to drip but allows some manual manipulation. Have fun experimenting with different pour times- faster additions will highlight acidity and brightness, slower additions will result in a bigger body. Here is a good starting point for a consistently balanced cup. 16:1 ratio of water to coffee. (We'll use 25g of coffee and 400g of water in this recipe to yield just over 12oz of brewed coffee.)
To start, place your filter in the top of the Chemex and wet it with some hot water. Swirl the water around the bowl of the glass and pour it out. Add your coffee and tap it slightly to settle it. Gently pour 75g of water to the grinds (just enough to soak them), being careful to not pour around the edges of the coffee bed. Now let the coffee sit for 30 seconds. (Notice the bubbles forming? This is gas being released from the coffee; this process is referred to as the "bloom") After 30 seconds, gently add another 100g of water. Wait another 30 seconds and another 100g of water. After another 30 second pause, gently add the final 125g of water. Now gently stir the soaked coffee bed 3 times in a clockwise direction and wait for the water to finish draining through. This whole process should take about 3.5 minutes.
Simliar to Chemex but resulting in a more focused cup, this method is especially good for washed process medium roast coffees. For this recipe, we will use an 18:1 ratio of water to coffee, beginning with 20g of coffee and adding 360g of water. Use a slightly finer grind for this preparation than for drip or Chemex.
To start, place a filter in your BonMac and set it on top of the vessel you will be brewing into (either a large mug or a carafe). Pour enough hot water through the filter to pre-soak it and heat your vessel. Swirl around and discard the water.
Add 20g of coffee and tap it slightly to settle it. Add 60g of water to adequately soak the grinds (being careful not to pour around the edge of the bed). Pause 30 seconds for the coffee bloom. Very slowly pour the remaining 300g of water over the bed in a steady stream, trying to stretch the addition over 60 seconds. Pour fast enough that the bed never gets dry but slow enough that the water never reaches the top of the filter. Let the water drain completely through- this whole process should take about 2.5 minutes.
This highly portable and convenient method of brewing uses a finer grind (even finer than BonMac) and some manually applied pressure to produce a cup that reminds some of an americano. An 18:1 ratio of water to coffee is a good place to start. For this cup, we'll use 180g of water and 10g of coffee.
To begin, place the paper filter in the black cap of the AeroPress. Rinse it with hot water (carefully and holding the cap by the elongated edge, so as not to scald yourself). Screw the cap onto the main chamber and add your coffee. Place the AeroPress op top of the cup you will be brewing into, with the cap positioned at the bottom. Slowly pour in the hot water and stir the slurry mixture to promote even extraction. After 90 seconds, give it one more stir and then insert the plunger. Press slowly and steadily to push the liquid down through the paper filter and into your cup.
At its simplest, cold brew coffee can be prepared similarly to a French Press- just with a significantly longer contact time. Grind your coffee coarse, add water, and let it steep for 18-24 hours then filter. If you use this method, start with a 10:1 ratio of water to coffee by weight and if it comes out too strong for your taste, just add more water to the finished product.
If you are looking for a dedicated cold brew device, though, we have two that we can solidly recommend.
1. Cold brew pitcher: Add 100g of coarsely ground coffee to the filter insert. Insert the filter into the pitcher and slowly pour 1300g cold, filtered water through the filter. Steep it in the refrigerator for 18 hours and then remove the coffee filter.
2. Cold brew travel bottle: Add 30g of drip ground coffee (sounds crazy but trust us) to the filter insert. Insert the filter into the bottle and slowly pour 500g of cold, filtered water through the filter. Screw the top on and shake the bottle gently to make sure that all of the grounds are wet. Steep it in the refrigerator for 18 hours and then remove the filter.
Prepared cold brew coffee will stay fresh for up to 14 days in the refrigerator.