Three brew methods explored: Aeropress, pour over, and immersion.
When I first got into coffee as a hobby (yes coffee can be a verb ;)) I didn’t think I’d get much into the nerdy coffee brewing side of it. I just wanted to enjoy my craft cappuccino in a cozy café and let someone else figure out the math – I’d seen the pictures on Instagram of people weighing out their coffee and measuring the temperature of their water and it wasn’t for me.
Then, while working up in Maryland I started listening to podcasts during my commute. The one that really caught my attention was “I Brew my Own Coffee,” hosted by two coffee enthusiasts who usually have a guest on their show and cover a multitude of coffee topics. Curiosity got the best of me because I dug out my old French Press and blade grinder that I used for spices and started playing around with whole bean coffee that was gifted to me the Christmas before.
It was awful.
The beans were old, they were unevenly ground, the coffee was too dense for me. But I started changing some variables.. I got a $15 hand grinder – hilarious the first time I cranked that thing for a few tablespoons of coffee. Within a few iterations it got easier though :). I started employing a food scale I already had. And of course I purchased fresh coffee. A while later I made the plunge (pun intended) for my first Aeropress. Already a steal, I scored at Compass Coffee with a great military discount. Home brewing hasn’t been the same for me since.
When it became clear that my enjoyment of coffee was turning into some serious enthusiasm we upgraded our home brewing station with some nicer gadgets (my birthday and mother’s day fall within days of each other- for the win!)
Here are three common types of home brewing methods that you’ll often find the coffee enthusiast using: Aeropress, Pour over method (like Chemex or V60), and Immersion (Aeropress is immersion but here I refer to one that just uses gravity, like the Clever Dripper or Yama Silverton). All the ‘recipes’ I use have a 1/16 ratio of coffee to water (so 1g of coffee needs 16g of water. 15g of coffee (for a small cup) uses 240g of water). I also pre-wet the filters.
Our first blog post was about Aeropress – it sort of has a cult following for its unique innovation and ease of use. It’s plastic and easy to travel with, and doesn’t take much extra equipment to make a good cup. You simply put in your freshly ground coffee, add water, stir, and plunge the water through the base. The Aeropress comes with a set of filters and standard recipe.
I did mention the cult following because people have come up with countless unique recipes (double filter, inversion method, espresso, etc.), and obviously started competing with Aeropress (on a National level even). It’s my go-to when I’m at the office because it perfectly brews a single cup – even if I do look like a mad scientist.
Most cafes in the area sell them but the only ones we can think of that serves them are Zeke’s and Vigilante.
My go-to recipe: The one that it came with!
- Coffee: 15g, finely ground (about 2 tablespoons)
- Water: 175 degrees F (bring water to a boil, wait a minute or two. I also just microwave water at work). 240 g (or to just above the “4” mark on the Aero).
- Stir for 10 seconds.
- Plunge for 20 seconds.
The most popular/common pour over methods you might hear about are Chemex, Hario V60 and Kalita. Many cafes around town use the Kalita, like the Wydown and Maketto. Dolcezza and Compass Coffee use a Chemex. Peregrine uses the Beehive dripper. They are all pretty nerdy and require a scale, a timer/calculator, and they fare best with a gooseneck kettle for a controlled pour.
My first cup of specialty coffee was served as a pour over and the Barista kept one hand behind his back as he expertly swirled the water over my grounds in timed intervals. It’s an artistic method of brewing coffee and though it can be intimidating, can make a great cup.
My go-to recipe: the 10/30 method. It’s 10% of the allotted water for the bloom, then three increments of 30% of water for the rest.
- Coffee: 21g, medium ground
- Water: 204 degrees F (just shy of boiling), 336g
- Pour 33 g of water for the bloom, to release the gases. Wait 20-30 seconds.
- Add 101g of water in a slow, circular motion to cover all the grounds.
- Wait until most of the water has dripped through, then repeat, twice.
This method is pretty fool proof and with the Clever Dripper being so affordable, a great place to start home-brewing. The ground coffee and water are combined, left to steep for short period, then all the water is released at once. This is actually how La Colombe serves their ‘pour overs’ (using a Yama Silverton). Killer E.S.P. in Alexandria uses the Clever Dripper.
My go-to recipe:
- Coffee: 20g, medium ground
- Water: 198 degrees F, 320g
- Pour 30g of water for the bloom, to release the gases. Wait 30 seconds.
- Pour 290g of water over the coffee.
- At the 3:00 minute mark, release the coffee. It should all be poured out by about 3:45 minutes. If it goes too fast, grind your coffee finer; if it goes too slow, grind your coffee coarser.
I’ve completely become that nerdy home brewer I used to mock! Ha, I’m constantly asking my baristas questions about water temperature and grind size (I’m told to start with the coarseness of Kosher salt and work up and down from there – Matt from the Coffee Bar once sent me home with a tablespoon of coffee, ground to their coarseness they use, so I could compare to mine.) Water can make a big impact and I’ve brewed with spring water to see if my water pipes are affecting my brew. I donate all the coffee over 14 days past roast date to my husband’s office who have just started noticing the difference between good coffee and Folger’s (I also donated my blade grinder to them, which makes them feel like coffee connoisseurs!) Yep, I’m my own worst enemy.
Well we all have to have hobbies and this is mine. I have a harder time drinking ‘bad’ coffee now than I did before but as Ethan from La Colombe once told us, there is still something to be said about drinking the indistinguishable coffee from the drip brewer at your mom’s house. It probably has a timer so that it’s brewed by the time you wake up in the morning. Plus, it’s time shared, memories made, and a cup to warm your soul.
How do you drink coffee at home? We love to hear from you!