Home Who We Are Coffee 101 Blog Contact Store
Three Canyons Roasters

Coffee Brewing

Aeropress It's hard to believe that the guys who brought you the Frisbee could bring you great coffee with minimal effort (and that includes clean-up effort), but they did.  Aeropress coffee has been winning barista competitions for several years, regularly receives rave reviews, and allows exceptional control over the brew. An Aeropress, and the brewing technique, are elegantly simple, although there are myriad brewing tweaks demonstrated on YouTube, including inverted brewing, and numerous brewers who insist on using a kettle with a thermostat (a good investment for anyone using an Aeropress regularly, we've found) and a scale to ensure the perfect ratio of coffee grounds to water.  Basically, you place ground coffee into the brewing chamber, add hot water (between 202 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit), stir with the included giant-swizzle-stick, and then express the resulting brew into your waiting, pre-warmed mug.  Add additional hot water as desired (this is where the kettle really comes in handy) and your choice of coffee-condiments. The Aeropress allows some acidic flavors (the ones you want-malic acid, phosphoric acid, etc.) to shine through, and effectively extracts the essential oils that flavor the coffee into your cup.  We highly recommend one of the microscreen re-usable filters for the Aeropress, or thoroughly rinsing the paper filters. The only negative aspect of the Aeropress is that it requires more coffee-per-cup than some of the other brewing methods (it requires the use of their measuring scoop-each of which is about a tablespoon).  Contrary to some claims, the Aeropress also does not make espresso.  The Aeropress makes coffee--and good coffee--but it is not espresso. Cold-Brew There are several methods of cold-brewing coffee, but the bottom line is that it produces a coffee with minimal acidity and maximum caffeine.  Coffees with spicy or chocolaty characteristics and fruity natural-process coffees tend to do especially well in the cold- brewers.  Cold brewing techniques include toddy brewing and Hario pota.  (It's huge in Japan.)  Cold brewing is an ideal way to do iced coffee, and to brew once, and store for several days at a time.  To make hot coffee from cold-brewed concentrate is simple-just add hot (but not boiling) water to dilute the cold-brew to your desired strength.  For those of us who appreciate the complexity added by the various acids contributing to the flavor of our coffee, this is not an ideal brewing method.  That said, we own a cold toddy brewer.  For a measly $7.99, we had to try it out to see whether it delivered a "Cold-coffee concentrate! Ideal for iced coffee!"  It did not, regardless of steeping time.  (We tried it at 6, 12, 18, 24 and even 30 hours) Also, America's Test Kitchen has fool-proof instructions for making cold-brewed coffee.   http://www.americastestkitchenfeed.com/do-it-yourself/2011/08/how-to-make-cold-brew- coffee/ Cowboy Coffee Cowboy Coffee, AKA Camp Coffee, can be great coffee.  No, really.  True cowboy coffee is rich and draws out all the flavor of the coffee.  Bad cowboy coffee (boiled coffee…) isn't something we'd wish on the Evil Mermaid or any of her sisters. Cowboy coffee doesn't require any special equipment beyond a heat source and a non- reactive saucepan or old-fashioned coffee pot.  Salt is the secret ingredient, although some people swear by eggshells.  Try throwing in a crushed eggshell in place of the salt, and see which you prefer. The basic recipe is simply 1 tablespoon of coffee per 1 cup of water.  Fill your pot with water, add a pinch of salt, and put on high heat.  Once the water is hot-if you're using an open pot, you should see bubbles forming on the bottom and sides-add in a tablespoon of coffee per cup of water.  Stir.  As soon as the coffee-mixture begins to make a move toward boiling-when the bubbles begin to come off the bottom and sides of the pot fast-remove it from the heat and stir the grounds down.  Turn the burner down to low, and return the coffee mixture to the heat for 3-5 minutes and watch to ensure that it doesn't reach a boil.  Remove the pot from the heat and pour a gentle trickle of cold water over the layer of grounds on the surface.  Cover the pot and let sit a few minutes to steep and allow the grounds to settle to the bottom.  Pour off the finished coffee (if you're feeling like a weenie or a trail-pansy, you can pour it through a fine strainer to remove the grounds…) and enjoy.  Do not share with the rattlesnakes.  Caffeine makes them cranky. Drip Coffee Drip Coffee is usually made by Mr. Coffee or one of his automated associates.  Next to a percolator, this can be one of the best way to achieve mediocre coffee, especially when it's left to sit on the hot-plate for a couple of hours.  Drip coffee relies on hot water being dribbled onto coffee beans held in a paper filter, which then trickles through a small opening and into a waiting pot sitting on a hot-plate.  At worst, this brewing method effectively allows the essential oils that give coffee their flavor to remain in the grounds and/or stick to the paper filter (which may contribute its own papery flavors.)  Drip coffee can be good if the brewer puts out hot enough water, and it isn't left to sit on the hot-plate, and it's consumed fairly quickly.  Water that's too cool will result in flat, weak coffee. Typically, 1-2 tablespoons of ground coffee are used for every six ounces of water.  You can avoid "papery" tasting coffee by rinsing your filters before use, or using a permanent filter made of nylon mesh, stainless steel or gold.  Unless you're a fan of cubicle coffee (sour, tired and bitter) make sure you clean your brewer and the pot carefully between uses.  Good quality water will also help you to make the most of your drip-brewer, do not use distilled or softened water unless the alternative is no coffee. Espresso Espresso is a concentrated coffee brewed by forcing near-boiling water through a compressed container of finely ground coffee.  Espresso properly refers to either the brewing technique or the brewed beverage, and not to a particular roast, bean, or blend.  Espresso has a distinctive texture that results from its higher concentration of suspended solids, and the flavors in espresso are typically highly concentrated because the coffee must be ground finer, and it is brewed under pressure.  In Southern Italy, espresso tends to be made with darker roasts, whereas in Northern Italy, it is typically made with lighter roasts, but any roast can be used to make espresso.  Crema is an important component of espresso-emulsified coffee oils that show up as a fine reddish-brown foam in properly extracted espresso. Espresso forms the foundation of many other coffee-based drinks, including the latte, cappuccino and Americano. Espresso may be made in stove-top brewers, or in a variety of automated, electrical espresso machines.  Many of the electrical espresso machines have the ability to steam/foam milk as well.  French Press The French Press is a cylindrical beaker, with a lid and a plunger with an attached filter. Typically coarsely ground coffee and hot water (202-205 degrees Fahrenheit) are mixed together, and the grounds separated from the coffee by pressing the filter (and the grounds) to the bottom of the cylinder.  Ideally, the coffee is then poured off the grounds to avoid developing bitter flavors.  French presses can also be used with cold water in a cold-brewing method that requires several hours. Properly-prepared French press coffee typically produces a full-bodied cup with minimal bitterness and low-to-moderate acidity.  Drawbacks to the French press method include bitterness from the grounds being left in contact with the brewed coffee for too long, and an undesirable amount of sediment. Single-Serve Coffee Makers Sigh… A win for making coffee super-convenient.  It's mostly a loss where it comes to brewing coffee, particularly when using the pre-packed pods and most of the reusable filters. On the bright side, it does get the water hot enough to brew good coffee, and forces it through to do a decent extraction.  Unfortunately, it just can't compare to an Aeropress or a classic pour-over brewer for flavor. That said, we have two Keurigs, one at home and one at work, and they both get regular use.  To get them to work properly means using the right kind of reusable filter products, and there aren't too many we haven't tried, and only two that we would endorse.  We caution people against using the metal mesh filters, since they seem to put undue strain on the pump, which, to the best of our knowledge, can't be replaced.  We killed two brewers in the space of 18 months.  Our current pair have lasted nearly three years.  We like the K- Caps (a metal cap that fits onto the original single-serve cups) with reservations-they tend to be messy, and require that the cups be washed out between uses.  The only reusable cup that we can wholeheartedly endorse would be the Java-Jig and accompanying Melitta filters.  The plastic jigs are fairly easy to clean (we use a paper-towel to wipe them out between uses), and the filters slide right out.  Using good coffee, of course, turns out a far- superior cup than anything that comes in the pre-packaged filters. Percolator An excellent way to ruin good coffee.  Older percolators recirculate already-brewed coffee through the grounds until it reaches the desired strength, and typically an acidic, cooked- tasting cup.  Percolator enthusiasts appreciate the percolator's ability to produce a hotter cup than most drip brewers, and claim that the coffee is more "robust."  We have yet to have a positive percolator experience. Pour-Over Chemex brewers are some of the most widely-appreciated pour-over brewers on the market.  The filters are slightly thicker than standard drip-filters, and the pour-over method-also known as infusion, and the longer period that the coffee grounds spend in contact with the water-results in a rich, full-flavored, clean cup of coffee. The required equipment is simple-A Chemex brewer (filter holder on top, glass vessel on the bottom) or other pour-over brewer (a filter holder on the top, and something to catch the brewed coffee below.)  Typical pour-over brewing requires 1 rounded tablespoon of drip-grind coffee per 5 oz cup.  If the coffee that results is too weak for your tastes, you may wish to try grinding it slightly finer, or adding more coffee grounds.  Brewing is accomplished with at least two pours.  The first is just enough water to saturate the grounds and allow them to bloom.  The coffee grounds swell, foam, and appear creamy.  The coffee should be allowed to sit for 30-40 seconds before the second pour.  Don't over-fill the filter, make sure you've got at least an inch of space from the top.  Stop pouring when you have as much brewed coffee as you want. Pour-over brewing gives greater control than most of the automated methods, and the clean-up required is minimal. Turkish Coffee Traditionally made in a cezve (AKA ibrik or a džezva, a little 1-2 serving pot with a long handle), Turkish coffee requires the finest grind of coffee you can get. Turkish coffee is brewed with sugar, typically 1 teaspoon per serving of coffee, but more or less sugar can be added to taste.  A traditional serving of Turkish coffee is typically about 4 oz. First the requisite amount of sugar is added to the cezve, then it is filled with water just to the point (and not beyond) where the "neck" begins.  Add 2 heaping teaspoons of coffee for a small (4 oz.) cezve, 3 for an 8 oz, and 6 for a 12 oz, and adjust to taste.  The coffee grounds will float on the top.  DON'T STIR! Place the cezve on a low burner, and heat it very slowly.  Don't let it boil!  If it boils, you haven't added enough coffee, and if it boils, throw it away.  The coffee should start to foam after a couple of minutes on the heat (foam is good, boiling is bad).  Once the foam nearly reaches the mouth of the cezve, take it off the burner and stir carefully.  Once the foam has subsided, put the cezve back on the burner and allow it to foam up again.  Remove, stir, repeat (give it a total of three foam-ups.  Or give it four, if that's how you roll.)  Do not stir the foam down the last time.  Scoop out the foam with a spoon, and do with it as you wish.  Let the cezve sit for about half a minute to allow the grounds to settle to the bottom, and then pour.  Avoid pouring out the last of the pot, no matter what a certain-commercial- coffee claims.  Turkish coffee is NOT good to the last drop.  Warn your guests as Turkish coffee has a certain amount of sediment that remains in the bottom of each cup.  Be especially careful to let your spouse know what to expect-otherwise, those might be grounds for divorce. Vacuum Brewing Vacuum brewed coffee is delicious-clean and crisp with excellent body and no sediment.  This method is excellent for more delicate coffees, including the African and some of the Central American coffees.  The drawbacks to the method are the equipment's fragility, and the cleaning required.  And the occasional issue of the glass bowl imploding if the drainer gets clogged.  If the drainer in one of these aesthetically pleasing, but high-maintenance, brewers clogs, wiggle it to release the pressure and avoid imploding bowls. Vacuum brewing is a wonderful way to make coffee for company, as the process has lots of opportunity for showmanship and produces a light, clean cup.
© Three Canyons Roasters, LLC 2013
Micro-Roasted Artisan Coffees