by Omer GevaJuly 15th, 2020
The defining moment during the process of your bean going from crop to cup is the brewing. Regardless of picking the best beans and the best grinder, you lose the potential taste if not brewing correctly.
It is rather easy to brew bad coffee. This is why we made this guide, for you to understand the basic principles that will lead to a better brewing experience.
Before talking about the different ways one can brew coffee, it is important to discuss the fundamentals of what happens during the brew.
You may wonder why is it that after you brew coffee you have so many spent grounds that you have to throw away, why doesn't it all dissolve in the water?
A majority of the composition of the coffee bean is cellulose, an organic compound that is found in wood as well. Cellulose is insoluble, meaning that this makes up the spent grounds thrown away after brewing. Generally speaking, everything else that makes up the bean is soluble in water, but not everything we can get from the coffee will always taste good.
This is where the balance of how much coffee we want to extract is important. If you end up with 'underextraction', not having taken enough from the grounds, then your coffee won't only be weak, but also it will have a sour taste. If you reach 'overextraction', having taken too much from the grounds, then the coffee will taste bitter, and ashy.
A misused term when it comes to coffee, strength is the percentage of the ground dissolved in the water. The term 'strength' is used the same way it as describing alcoholic drinks. If a beer has a 6% alcohol, it means 6% of what you are drinking is alcohol. This is exactly the same for coffee.
The most common way of controlling the strength of coffee is playing with the ratio of coffee to water used. The more coffee used while brewing, the stronger the results will be. If you want to be precise, you can use measurements to get exact results. The common approach is the ratio of 60g/1, as in for every 60 grams of coffee cup you want brewed, you use 1 gram of coffee.
The most underrated method of brewing coffee, the French press is cheap, easy, and repeatable. The French press is an infusion brewer. This differs from most other brewing methods that have water pass through the grounds, with the French press allowing the coffee and water to steep together, producing a more uniform extraction.
Another unique aspect of the French press is the the technique in which the grounds get filtered from the liquid, by use of a metal mesh. Large holes in the mesh results in non-soluble material getting into the cup. This produces coffee that has more coffee oil, and will brew a bigger, richer body and texture. The disadvantage of this is the main reason many people prefer other brewing techniques, the remaining sludge. At the bottom of the cup will be in-soluble material that if result in an unpleasant/sandy taste.
Recommended Ratio: 75g/l. For infusion brewing needs a higher ratio of coffee to water to produce a brew with a similar strength to a pour-over brewer.
Recommended Grind: Medium
Used to describe different brewing methods, the term 'pour-over' refers to brewing by percolation, meaning that water passes through a bed of coffee, extracting flavor along the way. The common approach is using filter paper but the use of cloth to fine metal mesh also exists.
Before, the only way to filter was using cloth, but that changed in 1908 when German entrepreneur, Melitta Bentz, invented the paper filter. The invention of paper filters encouraged people to move away from the electric percolater, a method that a terrible brew resulting in a very bitter cup.
Although there are a wide variety of brewers using this method, they are all based on the same principles and the technique is similiar for all methods.
Three variables come come to play when using pour-over brewing techniques, that are all dependant on each other. In order to get consisently good brews, these three variables always need to be consistent.
1.) The grind of the coffee - As the coffee becomes finer, there will be more extracted due to the water flowing slower. There is also more surface area for the water to extract from.
2.) The contact time - This is not only how quickly water flows through the grounds, but also how long we decided to add the water. Byadding the water in a slower manner then we increase the extraction of the coffee
3.) The amount of coffee - The more coffee present, the more time it will take for the water to flow through it.
Recommended Ratio: 60g/l.
Recommended grind: Medium. If you are brewing more than a single cup, than you can grind your beans more coarsely.