June 19, 2017

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Filter Coffee Brewing 101: Small Investments for Big Improvements

Over the past few years, filter coffee’s prominence in the speciality coffee scene has exploded! As consumers, we’re now spoiled for choice. There is a range of different brew methods available, a huge number of coffee roasters to buy lovely filter coffee beans from, and a plethora of additional equipment to help you achieve the perfect cup of coffee.

The problem is, where do you begin? Simply choosing the right brew method can be a trying experience! Now you’re looking at a range of coffee gadgetry to improve your brewing, with prices ranging from very accessible, to not-so-affordable. But what kit is going to give you the biggest improvement in your brewing?

  1. Grinder

Every time a customer purchasing retail coffee asks us for their beans to be ground at our cafes, our collective coffee geek hearts sink just a little. Grinding your coffee fresh for each brew will make the biggest improvement to your coffee. But why? When you grind coffee, it starts to oxidise at a faster rate, leading to the loss of aromas of the coffee, which detrimentally impacts the taste of the coffee.

Additionally, grinding your coffee at home will allow you to properly control the grind size. If we grind your coffee, we need to grind it to a preset generalised grind setting based on what brew method you are using. However, all coffees need different brew recipes, requiring different grind sizes. Grinding at home will allow you to control your grind size, allowing you to tweak your brew until it is exactly how you like it.

So what kind of grinder should you use? This really depends on how you’re brewing and how far down the coffee rabbit hole you are. The grinder we most frequently recommend is probably the Knock Feldgrind, as it is simply amazing. Each time we restock these bad boys, they’re sold out before you can blink an eye. If a hand grinder seems like too much effort, the Wilfa Svart may be more your speed. It’s a little cheaper than the Feldgrind but still has a great grind profile for filter coffee, as well as being quite compact and easy on the eyes. 

  1. Scales

Being consistent and precise can make an enormous difference in the quality of your coffee. For a long time, coffee brewing was based on a lot of estimation, but with the increasing prominence of scales in coffee brewing, you can remove the guesswork.

To really get the best (and most consistent) results out of your filter coffee, follow a brew recipe. Precise amounts of coffee, water and extraction time are the three important variables. While a grinder allows you to control the extraction time (based on the grind size of the coffee), scales allow you to be precise with your amounts of water and coffee. This leads to a consistency with your brews, as well as the very valuable ability to adjust your brew recipe to optimise your brew. This fine tuning will lead to much tastier coffees.

While there are top-of-the-line scales, such as the Acaia Lunar or Ohaus Navigator scales that are incredibly accurate, a more budget friendly pair such as the On Balance Envy scales will work almost as nicely for at-home use.

  1. Timer

As mentioned above, one of the variables in a brew recipe is extraction time. Unless you’re really good at accurately counting in your head, a timer will allow you to be precise with your timing. Knowing your extraction time and the resulting taste of your coffee will allow you to adjust your grind size and/or dose to improve upon your brew recipe.

The best thing about a timer is it’s free! If you have a smartphone with a stopwatch app, that is. 

  1. Pour Over Kettle

For pour over filter coffee methods, such as Chemex, V60, or Kalita Wave, a pour over kettle can greatly improve your brewing. By restricting the pouring flow of water, pour over kettles allow you to have a more even distribution of water during your pour, as well as giving you greater control and accuracy of the volume of water being poured, making it much easier to follow your brew recipe with precision.

We stock a range of pour over kettles such as the Bonavita or Tiamo kettles, as well as the Electric Bonavita Kettle (which has the added bonus of temperature control).

 

If you have any questions about filter coffee brewing equipment or would like some advice on how to improve your coffee brewing at home, send us an email at info@machina-espresso.co.uk or drop by one of our cafes for a chat.


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