Filter Coffee: How to get your home-brew on!

*Disclaimer: If you are a bona-fide coffee snob/geek you can stop reading now, I’m going to discuss a filter coffee technique that is not new to experienced home brewers and is readily available in many coffee shops all over the country. I would hate to waste your time, but if you’d like to read on please do!

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I was never into coffee before I started looking into creating Baltzersen’s and as a result I have to admit I haven’t had a lot of positive experiences with filter coffee.

I’ve never enjoyed it apart from a solitary venture to the ‘Opposite’ booth in Leeds’ Victoria Quarter. On that occasion the cup in question was brewed in an aeropress but I always regarded that experience as being shrouded in some kind of coffee magic – a one off. The flavours were something different; sour and fruity but also sweeter notes and the drink changed as it cooled so you could experience different taste profiles as you went back for more, I was baffled. In truth what was applied was a sprinkling of coffee science rather than magic, and it’s not even hard science (like Chemistry) so I started a little research.

I toyed with the idea of creating a video to take you with me on the journey to aeropress mastery, but I discovered that about 1000 people have already done a better job than I could do. Instead we recommend a really nice series of videos from Verve Coffee Roasters based out in the US. They cover the basics of all types of brewing systems as well as a whole lot more. I have embedded the aeropress episode below but go and check them out at http://vimeo.com/vervecoffee.

VCR Street Smarts #7: AeroPress from Verve Coffee Roasters on Vimeo.

What I felt we did need was some expert advice and fortunately we had some available to us in the shape of Dan Fellows – UK Barista Championship Finalist and Origin Coffee Roasters’ representative in the grimy north. Here he is now:

A barista brewing coffee in a hario V60

Our expert for the evening – Dan Fellowes from Origin Coffee Roasters (ignore the Hario V60 pour over funnel)

Everyone has a different take on the best method for using the aeropress and getting the most out of each coffee you use with it so don’t worry if some of the figures I am going to describe are different from the video. If you want to see what the experts are doing then check out the World Aeropress Championship website, which I found out this week is an actual event that happens.

Equipment Required

Inevitably you are going to require some equipment so the basics are here with a couple of links to recommended options:

Aeropress

Digital Scales (accurate to 0.01g)

Dualit 75015 Coffee Grinder

Other Equipment (Optional):

Digital Thermometer
Timer – we used the stopwatch function on our iPhone.
Bonavita 1.7l Gooseneck Kettle – strictly unnecessary toy for aeropress!

Brew Ratio

Dan recommends an 80% brew ratio, this is the ratio of coffee to water in the aeropress. How do you calculate this?

Capacity of the aeropress: 240ml

Brew Ratio: 80% or as a decimal 0.08

Weight of Coffee Required: 240 x 0.08 = 19.2g

This is Dan’s starting recipe and he tweaks the variables from here.

Brew Temperature

Dan uses a brew temperature of 92°c, the best way to measure this exactly and maintain consistency is with a digital thermometer. Other options would be to boil you kettle and leave it off the boil for a set time – you will at least be able to build in some consistency.

The Grind

This is probably the hardest variable to discuss because there are no absolute values for grind thickness when using home grinders. The video gives a visual idea of how course the grind should be, a second indicator is the aeropress itself. If the grind is too fine you will find pushing the plunger down takes quite a bit of effort, similarly if the grind is too course you will be able to push without any resistance. You want the plunge to take around 30 secs using a firm pressure.

Barista brewing coffee using aeropress and bonavita kettle

Olivia finishes brewing and prepares to execute the plunge.

Brew Time

Dan starts with a brew time of 90 seconds before plunging and then a further 30 seconds as you plunge. He uses brew time as the variable he likes to play around with the most to alter results in the cup. In simple terms if the coffee tastes too thin it is under-extracted and you can give it a longer brew time, or it if tastes bitter it is over-extracted and you can reduce the brew time. Dan likes to try and maintain all other variables at a consistent amount and focus on altering the brew time, but if this doesn’t have the desired effect he will then move on to other variables like the dose.

So what is the result of all this?

The literal results of this experimenting are shown below, cups of bright clear filter coffee.

Glasses filled with single origin filter coffee for tasting.

Our filter coffee ready for tasting – we did this a lot of times that evening.

For Baltzersen’s it means we are going to give aeropress a try, because the results are great and we think people deserve a better cup of coffee. Over the next few weeks we’ll be trying and tasting ourselves, but if you’d like to try some too (and if you’ve managed to make it to the bottom of this post then you probably deserve it) then just ask – we’ll brew some up and get your feedback. It’s your opportunity to try these fantastic single origin coffees for free.

4 bags of single origin coffee beans

4 different single origin varieties we tried on the night.

*Edit – I stumbled over this video too and thought it deserved a mention, if anything I like the style (and jazzy music) more than the Verve one!

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3 Responses to Filter Coffee: How to get your home-brew on!

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