ESSENTIALS OF BREWING COFFEE
Why do people wake up earlier than usual, leave the comforts of home and spend a few extra dollars on a cup of joe? Great coffee, prepared with proper care and attention, of course! This handbook, prepared by Dilworth Coffee, reviews the essentials of creating great-tasting coffee. 1
Coffee brewing is a delicate science. Understanding and controlling the variables that affect its flavor will ultimately define your coffee shop!
The Essentials of Brewing methodology is based on Ted Lingleâ€™s The Coffee Brewing Handbook and the Golden Cup Standard, both published by the Specialty Coffee Association.
The entire brewing process starts with the ratio of coffee to water. Coffee and water must be measured precisely, so we recommend using a scale. For proper brew strength, the SCA Golden Cup Standard recommends a coffee-to-water ratio of 50-60 grams (1.7-2.1 oz) of coffee per 1 liter (34 oz) of water. We suggest 3.75 ounces (107 grams) of coffee per 64 fluid ounces (1815 grams) of water, a 1:17 ratio. The ratio between coffee and water alone will not produce a great cup of coffee, but it is a critical and necessary foundation for the other brewing essentials.
TIP: This ratio works for brews of all sizes. To brew larger or smaller batches, just divide the amount of water youâ€™ll use by 17 to find the right amount of coffee.
The purpose of grinding coffee is to make the flavors trapped within the bean more accessible to water. Coffee grinding creates surface area, which means more opportunities for water to interact with coffee. The proper grind setting will produce particles which are the right size for the brew method being used. The smaller a particle, the faster extraction occurs. This means finer grind settings are appropriate for faster brew methods such as espresso, Aeropress and manual drip brewers. Conversely, the larger the particle, the longer it takes for full extraction to happen. This makes coarser grind settings great for slower brew methods including commercial drip, Chemex, and French press.
TIP: Grind adjustments are one of the easiest ways to fine tune your brewing process. Recommended grind settings are a great starting point, but taste rules. If your drip brews taste bitter and brewing takes longer than recommended, try using a slightly coarser grind. If they taste thin and sour and the time is too fast, try using a slightly finer grind.
The amount of time water is in contact with the coffee determines the amount and quality of coffee flavoring material extracted. Ideal brewing times vary depending on brew method, so check the recommendations for your brew device. For drip brew methods, total brewing time includes the time water is being added to the coffee PLUS the time it takes for the water to drain from the coffee grounds. The numbers can always be adjusted to suit individual preferences but we recommend using a stopwatch for the best and most consistent results.
TIP: Brewing time is easy to control in an immersion brew method such as French press. With other brew methods, it will be determined by another essential element, like grind. Water drains more quickly through coarser ground coffee and more slowly through finer ground â€“ yet another reason to use grind setting to fine tune your brew.
The temperature of your brewing water will also affect brewed coffee flavor. The Golden Cup Standard recommends a water temperature of 195-205Â°F when it contacts the coffee. We suggest setting brewer and kettle temperatures to 200-205Â°F to achieve that.
Proper turbulence improves your brew by keeping all the grounds in contact with the brew water. To create turbulence when using a manual drip brewer, we recommend adding the water gently in a spiraling pattern, pouring, pausing and pouring again. This mimics the uniform saturation that most commercial drip brewers do automatically. A gentle stir is a way to create turbulence in a French press or steep-andrelease brewer.
TIP: Monitor your commercial drip brewerâ€™s time, temperature and turbulence performance. Use a stopwatch to confirm 5-6 minute total brew time. Inspect the grounds after brewing to make sure there are no dry grounds or deep pitting. CAREFULLY check the water temperature at the bottom of the empty brew funnel with an accurate thermometer, and consult your techician if your commercial brewer requires adjustments.
While the purpose of a coffee filter is to separate brewed coffee from the coffee grounds, the filterâ€™s characteristics can affect the finished cup in several different ways. Perforated metal plate or woven metal filters are usually found on French presses. They allow coffeeâ€™s natural oils into the finished cup, as well as some very fine sediment and suspended solids. This creates a full flavor and body, which may or may not be desirable. This type of filter provides little resistance to the flow of water when used in drip brew methods, so will produce shorter total brewing times. Paper filters are usually used with manual, home and commercial drip brewers. They trap most of the fine sediment and suspended solids and may allow some oils into the cup. This produces a clean and balanced cup. This filter does provide some resistance to the flow of water, which results in slightly longer brewing times. We recommend rinsing paper filters if practical or if they contribute negative tastes to the cup.
TIP: We suggest following the manufacturerâ€™s recommendations when selecting a filter for your brew device. This ensures compatibility and should help you produce a great brew.
Since a cup of coffee is made of 98-99% water, your coffee’s quality greatly depends on your water quality. Use clean, clear, fresh water which is free of unwanted tastes or odors, has a neutral pH, and contains the proper balance of dissolved minerals. Untreated tap water usually contains minerals and additives that will affect the flavor of the coffee. Treating your water is especially important in areas where hardness is an issue. Excessive mineral content will also create scale buildup, which will affect your equipment’s performance and shorten its useful life.
TIP: Appropriate water treatment is always recommended when brewing with tap water. All systems require regular maintenance – follow manufacturer’s recommendations carefully for proper system performance.
Dilworth Coffee is Charlotte’s original specialty coffee brand. We believe great coffee shouldn’t be complicated. So we are doing things to make great coffee experiences accessible to everyone. It comes down to three things really: a great bean brewed right and served with a smile. That’s where Dilworth Coffee shines.
Member Since 1994
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This booklet simplifies the Specialty Coffee Association brewing guidelines for coffee lovers.