In case you hadn’t noticed, Baltzersen’s takes its coffee quite seriously. You can throw as many cinnamon buns, princess cakes and skolebrød at life as you like, they’ll do you no good without decent coffee. All the treats and comforts provided in the café would be lacking in a fundamental cornerstone, without our baristas making sure quality remains key.
Besides the full range of espresso-based drinks and black coffee (served with single cream as Paul’s Grandmother insisted), we also employ various coffee brewing techniques. The advantage of these techniques is an expansion in the flavour and texture experience of an individual roast, especially of those like the single origin roasts we employ exclusively for the aeropress.
Today we’re comparing the V60 pour-over method and the Aeropress method. We’ve brewed two different single origin roasts with each technique; A washed Ethiopian sidamo and a Brazil Lagoa, and the comparison will follow accordingly. Our head barista and co-author Ben Loebell will be taking good care of us; guiding us through the process and ensuring quality and integrity in flavour and applied journalism alike.
The Hario V60 pour-over is a very simple and exceptionally delicious filter brewing method, ideal for both the home and cafés as it allows a single brew of filtered coffee of excellent quality – but the Baltzersen’s Barista Approval has a few specific requirements.
The first step, as always, is to soak the filter to avoid any of the paper’s flavour contaminating the coffee. Ben has carefully measured a precise 16 grams of the ground Ethiopian sidamo, courtesy of White Label Coffee, Amsterdam. Next he slowly pours 50 grams of water heated to 85 C and lets it bloom in the filter, before it seeps through the grounds entirely. He repeats the process twice with another 100 grams – a total of 250.
After the water’s finished dripping, Ben’s work is done and bottled. It’s time for some flavour reflection. The V60 brings out a great quality and texture in the Ethiopian roast. There aren’t many lingering flavours, but a fresh lemon comes through strongly, and there’s an all-encompassing taste of China white tea. A clean, crisp and lucid brew comes through brilliantly with the pour-over method. Ben usually prefers an Aeropress brew personally, but has to admit that this really is the cat’s meow.
The V60 can bring out a lot of great qualities in a coffee, but it all depends on the bean. When prepared with a pour-over, we found the Brazil Lagoa to be delicious, yet lacking in the texture that often attracts coffee drinkers to Brazilian roasts in the first place. Undoubtedly a subtle and pleasant brew, but our work isn’t done quite yet – let’s see what the aeropress has to offer.
The Aeropress is a relatively young invention, patented in 2005. Consisting of two cylinders creating an airtight seal, it allows coffee to steep for a short period of time before forcing it through a filter, much like a French press. There are some crucial differences: an aeropress uses a paper filter for a cleaner coffee, air pressure to improve flavour extraction and overall demands less time than a French press.
Keeping a careful eye on the time and pressure, Ben serves up the Brazil Lagoa from the aeropress, and the results are immediately apparent.
Unlike the V60, the aeropress leaves room for some residue that greatly contributes to the texture and thickness of the coffee. The Brazil Lagoa has a strong hazelnut flavour and scent, with elements of chocolate. There’s a clear aftertaste of dairy milk, fruit and nut. We’re quite pleased with the results; this is indeed an excellent method for Brazilian beans.
The washed Ethiopian sidamo is given the aeropress treatment; a cloudier result, as it’s a clean flavour benefiting from a cleaner brewing process. Despite this, it goes down swimmingly; the additional texture adds a little adventurism to it, if anything.
Regardless of your chosen roast, pour-over and aeropress each offer their own unique advantages – it would be difficult to make a directly bad cup of coffee with any of these, provided one follows correct instruction. But different brewing methods can bring out different qualities and nuances, as each one leaves a unique chemical fingerprint balance of temperature, texture and flavour. All the more fun for everyone, as it’s people’s preferences that drives the interest and exploration of coffee. On that note; White Label Coffee is now being served in the café, we hope you’ll come around to give it a both a try and your opinion.
For more caffeinated insights, read our barista Paul Hopwood’s take on the independent coffee shop scene in London: A View From the Hoppers.
Rob was at his first tasting at Bergen Coffee Roastery, Norway – find his report in the West Coast Chronicles pt VII.
And don’t forget to pay a visit to those mentioned in our Local’s Guide to Harrogate’s independent coffee shops.