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Tips kring Handbryggning - Vol 1

Tips on Hand-Brewing - Vol 1

Posted by Daniel Lars Jonas Carlsson on


Here we thought we would start writing about hand-brewing, give some tips and what equipment is required to succeed.

In comparison with a classic electric coffee maker, with hand brewing you will get many more variables to play with and thus get more flavours out of the coffee and the ones you really want. By adjusting the temperature and how you pour the water over the coffee, you can adjust and optimize your brewing according to your preferences and which beans you use.

However, it takes a bit of patience to succeed and some equipment needs to be purchased. But the rewards are great - we promise! Below we will describe how we do and give some tips. But first we start with what equipment can be good to have.


- Kettle with a "gooseneck", this will give you high precision when you pour your water over the coffee and make it easier to be consistent. It also works with a regular tea maker, however, it will feel very clumsy and a little difficult to be exactly in how and where you pour.

- Thermometer, so that can heat your water to the desired level. Some kettles have a built-in thermometer like the one in the picture, otherwise a grill thermometer works well.

- Dare, to measure water and coffee (works fine with a regular kitchen scale). But it is very convenient to have a timer built into the scale, which most coffee scales have. Plus these are generally fast and very accurate in their measurement.

- Timer, very good for measuring the time of the brewing phases and in a way being consistent when you brew. Works with the help of the mobile phone if you do not have a built-in timer in the scale.

- Coffee grinder, grinding your coffee just before brewing makes a very big difference in the result, the coffee loses about 60% of its aromas already after 15 minutes after it has been ground. A grinder also gives you a lot of leeway by being able to adjust the grinding, you can get more or less of certain flavors. However, there is a big difference between different grinders, for example, how evenly they grind. If you are going to invest in your first grinder, we recommend that you add a little extra so you do not (like us) buy a new one when you notice that the first ones did not measure up. Look for conical grinding burrs when you search and as a rule you get better grinding quality with a hand grinder vs an electric one for the same money, as it costs a lot more to produce an electric appliance than a manual one. However, it can be worth having an electric if you need to grind a lot of coffee at a time and find it seems inflexible to grind by hand.

Filter holder / Dripper, there is plenty of different variants and designs. What they all have in common is to help extract the coffee with the water you pour on and distribute it evenly through a filter.

However, the design is more important than you might think and you extract the coffee in different ways with a dripper that, for example, has a flat bottom versus one that is V-shaped. We experience that a flat bottom on, for example, a Kalita is more forgiving and makes it less dependent on one's technique and how constantly you pour the water over the ground coffee in comparison with a V-shaped brewer. Here you can instead focus on pulses. The result in comparison is usually a sweeter coffee with more body.

A V-shaped is not as forgiving but here we get a coffee with a more distinct character, cleaner and more easily defined flavours, even longer aftertaste can be experienced suitable for coffee with high quality.

If you instead want a bit of both, ie a hybrid, we can warmly recommend Origami where you can use both flat filters and V-shaped filters.

To add, there are also different materials to take into account, we mainly like ceramics and glass when we brew at home that has a material that retains heat well during brewing(if they are heated in advance) and feels a little luxurious. However, if we are going to take them on adventures, we prefer one in plastic or metal that is more durable.

Filter, select a filter that is adapted to the specific dripper you decide to use. When it comes to V-shaped filters, there is a lot to choose from for those who want to experiment. Then it is mainly which material it is made of and how it is built that makes a difference, this difference contributes to the water you pour on the coffee flowing through at different speeds depending on which filter you use. In other words, a faster filter gives you the freedom to use a finer grinding machine and thus extract the coffee more without extending the brewing time.

Pot, we use a glass jug with an opening that is adapted to the diameter of the dripper we use and which then makes it easy for us to pour over the freshly brewed coffee into a cup afterwards. If you only brew for yourself, you can of course brew directly in the cup.


Lots of talk & coffee, let's now start!

When we start brewing a new coffee, we use as a standard recipe: 1 part coffee to 16 parts water (this can of course be adjusted to one's own taste preferences, but it is a good start).

30 grams of coffee to 480 grams of water gives a fair amount to 2 people.

As a rule: if you want to brew, more coffee - grind coarser, less coffee - grind finer.

This recipe below is a mix of different brewing techniques, own theories and tests. This is not to say that this is the best method for you. So feel free to experiment and maybe you can find something we do that you can then adapt into your brewing ritual.

Do not focus so much on the brewing time, it is very different on what equipment is used, degree of grinding, your choice of coffee and filter. Instead, focus on your technique and how you pour, the important thing is to be consistent and try to improve one thing at a time in order to get the best tasting coffee as possible.

1, Start by measuring a fair amount of water so that it is enough for both brewing and rinsing the filter (for this recipe about 800 grams of water), then heat the water to the desired temperature, our basic rule is to test a new coffee with 94 ° c.

It is a fine balance with brewing temperature, the warmer the water, the more the coffee will be extracted, but there is a risk that the coffee will be overextracted at too high temperatures with bitter flavors as a result.

A more lightly roasted coffee has a higher density than a dark roasted coffee and therefore requires a higher temperature in order to be extracted optimally. Too low of water temperature water can then instead give an under-extracted coffee, ie flat and too acidic, but good when you brew a dark roasted coffee because it usually has a lower density and therefore a lower temperature is required for the water to bind with the coffee's soluble compounds.

Another variable to consider is which brewing method you use, some materials release heat faster than others, so it may be a good idea to measure the brewing temperature with a grill thermometer, for example, to adjust the temperature to these values. The step below (# 2) helps maintain a more stable temperature in your brew.

To summarise, staying within a range between 90 - 98 ° c gives you a good and reasonable margin depending on which beans you use. Also keep in mind that increased altitude meters at which the coffee grows usually increases the density of the beans, which in turn leads to a higher brewing temperature being needed and vice versa.

2, Then rinse the coffee filter thoroughly with close to boiling water, thus rinsing the filter from unwanted paper flavors. We usually pour at least 250 grams of water to ensure this. Feel free to test the water after it has flowed through the filter to get an understanding of how much taste it gives off. Then pour out the rest of the paper-tasting water and rinse your glass jug with clean water. The good thing here is that you also heat up your dripper and jug at the same time to help maintain the temperature during the actual brewing.

 

3, Measure 30 grams of your favourite beans and grind them medium fine (ie slightly coarser than a normal pre-ground brewed coffee you buy in the store). If you are going to make less coffee grind a little finer and if you brew more, a little coarser.



4, Pour your freshly ground coffee into the soaked filter. Shake the filter holder a little to even out the coffee bed. Remember to brew as soon as possible as already after 15 minutes after grinding, 60% of the coffee's aromas have already left.


5, Let the brewing begin, only first check that the temperature is still 94 ° C in your kettle.

For this recipe, we will divide the brewing into three phases. The first phase is called Bloom. When hot water hits the freshly ground coffee, CO2, also called carbon dioxide, is emitted, which creates air bubbles at the beginning of the brewing process. These air pockets contribute to a reduced water flow through the coffee and also make it difficult for the water to reach all coffee particles. Therefore, we give these air bubbles the chance to leave during these 30 seconds. A coffee contains the most carbon dioxide when it is completely freshly roasted, therefore it can taste best after 1-2 weeks after roasting when some of the carbon dioxide has left, which gives the water and the coffee particles a greater chance of meeting.

Phase 1: "Bloom" for 30 seconds, pour 90 grams of water in a circular pattern from the center out, we usually start by tripling the amount of water for coffee in the first phase. Then grab the dripper and give it a little spin to help so all the coffee comes in contact with the water from the start, this also evens out the coffee bed for the next phase.

Phase 2: After 30 seconds, pour  again 90 grams of water in a circular pattern from the middle and out at a fast pace, we usually aim to achieve 180 grams on the scales before the timer stands at 45 seconds. In this phase, we want to ensure that all water and coffee particles come in contact, finish by giving your dripper a little spin.


Phase 3: now pour on the remaining 300 grams of water in a circular motion with a calm and steady speed from the center and out and back in to the center again. Repeat this frequency until you reach 480 grams, which for us usually lands in about 1 minute. 

During this phase, we want as little movement / agitation as possible as most of the brewing itself has already taken place and this can only create unnecessary bitter flavors or clogging og the filter. So try to pour as close and gently on the surface as possible. We have not noticed that it affects the brewing if you happen to pour a little on the filter wall, we sometimes do it to take down some of the coffee that sometimes gets stuck there.

Finish by doing a small spin again with the dripper as soon as you have reached 480 grams to even out the coffee bed, so that the remaining water flows evenly through the coffee.

We aim for a brewing that takes a total of between 3 - 3.30 minutes.


The coffee bed should be flat as in the picture below when the brewing is finished, then you know that all the water you have poured on has flowed through the entire coffee bed and hopefully achieved an even extraction.

 

Our recipe in a more clear picture:
- Water temp: 94 ° c
- 30 grams of coffee to 480 grams of water (1/16 ratio)
Phase: 1 2 3
Start pouring at:
0 seconds 30 seconds 1 minute
Water amount: 90 g 90 g 300 g
- Total brewing time: 3 - 3.30 min.
      


The fun thing about this recipe is that you can play with acidity and sweetness by increasing and decreasing the amount of water in the first two phases. If you want a sweeter and rounder coffee, try reducing the amount of water in the first phase to 60 grams and increasing the second phase to 120 grams. If you instead want your coffee a little more acidic, increase the first phase to 120 grams and reduce the second phase to 60 grams. This sounds a bit like magic but it works. If you want to read more about this theory, we have got the idea from 2016 Brewers Cup champion Tetsu Kasuya recipe.

 

6, Now enjoy your coffee, but also take the opportunity to evaluate what you have in your cup.

The absolute fastest way to master this technique is to brew, taste, note and adjust one parameter at a time.

- If the coffee is too strong and bitter, try pouring a little water directly into your cup. Did it get better? Then brew next time with a little more water. Does it still taste bitter? Instead, try grinding a little coarser for the next time or try lowering the temperature.

- Does it not taste so much and is too sour? First try to grind a little finer until next time or reduce the coffee / water ratio. Another parameter is temperature, which you can also increase to extract more flavours.

An older coffee can sometimes feel a little flat and should be ground a little finer as it has lost a lot of carbon dioxide and thus flows through faster. While a freshly roasted coffee can also feel flat and should be expected to be drunk for a few days or a week as it contains too much carbon dioxide, which makes it difficult for the water to get to each individual coffee particle. If you, like us, have a hard time waiting, you can grind the beans that freshly roasted the and wait a few minutes before brewing for some of all the carbon dioxide to subside.

That said, do not forget that you should only change one parameter at a time when making a change to the next brew to know what it was that made the difference in the end result. We recommend that you always start by changing the degree of grinding.

- Pen and paper, as a fun thing, it can be good to write down how you brewed, ie what degree of grinding, water to coffee ratio, how the result was and what you felt for flavours and aromas. Something you missed? This makes it easier to change your parameters until the next time you brew while developing your brewing technique and improving your sense of taste.

As you can see, it is possible to be as technical as you like when it comes to coffee brewing, but it is of course just as well to make this much simpler than that. The most important thing in the end is to have fun and enjoy your coffee.

Happy brewing!