Coffee time: every method has its flavour
There are many ways to make coffee. Espresso is the most popular these days, but there are other methods that coffee aficionados love to explore.
Roasts for espresso are blends of different beans, usually fairly darkly roasted to go with milk, Duncan Northover, of Strictly Coffee in Frederick St, says.
With espresso, you put water between 92degC and 96degC through a measured amount of coffee at about 135psi and at a measured speed, he said.
”If the water runs through too fast, it doesn’t melt out enough good flavours, and if it runs through too slowly, it overdoes it like a well-done steak.”
The coarseness or fineness of the grind and, hence, the speed of the brew also influences the flavour of the coffee.
It’s also imperative to have clean equipment, as coffee picks up flavours from other things, including off-flavours.
There is a trend at the upper end of the market to soft-brew, low-pressure methods of coffee making.
Espresso destroys some of the top-end flavours, but a low-pressure brew lets coffee have its own personality and you get completely different flavours.
They need a lighter roast, usually roasted to somewhere between first and second crack, he said.
”It’s fun and it’s quite a niche at the moment: early adopters, coffee nerds. You suddenly get flavours you haven’t had from coffee before and it’s quite spectacular but it’s also not what they are used to.”
Logan Mamanu, barista at Strictly Coffee, who has been working with Mario Fernandez, a Brazilian coffee expert completing his PhD at the University of Otago (see Taking the Plunge, ODT August 27, 2014 or here), demonstrated some different soft-brew methods.
He used lightly roasted Ethiopian Limu beans, freshly ground. Once coffee is ground it oxidises quickly and should be used within 15 minutes.
The most important factor other than the coffee itself is getting the water the perfect temperature of 92degC, he said, as he put a thermometer in a jug of water from the kettle.
He put the coffee in the top vessel, poured the hot water into the bottom, and then put the joined vessels over a spirit lamp.
The heat forces the water into the upper vessel through the grounds and you can see the rich crema, the beige-coloured foam and oils developing.
When all the water has been forced out of the lower vessel, the heat is removed to create a vacuum in the lower vessel and the brewed coffee flows through a small filter back into the bottom.
The siphon, with a longer brew time, produces a rounder coffee with more body and emphasises the darker flavours, he said.
The V60 is a small ceramic funnel that sits on a cup.
A filter paper is placed in it, dampened so it sticks to the sides which have curved ridges to channel the flow.
The coffee is placed in the filter and water at the right temperature poured slowly over the grounds so the coffee drips into the cup below.
The V60 brings out the brighter, exciting flavours in a coffee and is suited to a lighter roast.
The Aeropress is a newish gadget that Mamanu describes as something like a hybrid plunger coffee machine.
It has two tubes that fit together like a syringe.
The coffee is brewed in one and gently pressed through a disposable paper filter into a cup.
The flavour seemed somewhere between the V60 and the siphon.
But many people have a plunger that is simple to use, does not need disposable filter papers and can produce a lovely coffee with the right beans and technique.
They are underrated because people put too much coffee in, often coffee more suited to espresso, and brew it for too long so it’s acrid, but a well-made plunger coffee can be really nice, Northover says.
He recommends about a dessertspoon of ground coffee (about 14g) per person and another for the pot, pour in the water, let it brew for no more than three minutes, stir it briefly to break up any clumps, then plunge slowly and steadily, maintaining the integrity of the seal around the edge.
If you find it too strong, brew it for a shorter time, he said.
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