What’s In A Brew? 3 Methods To Get That Perfect Cup Of Coffee
One of the best things about coffee is how the maker—that’s you—gets to play a significant role in the quality of the final drink. It’s not rocket science. Coffee making is simply the extraction of flavor and aroma from coffee beans via very hot water, which acts as a solvent to dissolve the flavor compounds in the beans. The process may be simple, but a lot of factors can come into play, which is why the coffee you make at home will probably taste a lot different from the cup pulled by your favorite barista.
Let us show you three methods of brewing coffee, as demonstrated by three expert baristas from our favorite cafés.
Watch the video here:
Each method produces brews of different character and flavor, but they do share some common ground rules: Use quality beans, grind them to the correct size, invest in quality tools, and finally, focus on the technique. Good coffee is the result of precision and consistency.
The French Press
By Zo Lim of SGD Coffee
45 Maalalahanin Street, Teachers Village, Diliman, Quezon City, (0917) 826-9537
With its classic lines and well-engineered design, the French press hasn’t changed at all since its invention in 1929. It’s one of the easiest methods for making coffee, producing a rich, heavy-bodied drink that has its own elegance.
1. Warm up the French press by rinsing it in very hot water, a necessary step to ensure that coffee extraction occurs at an even setting. Then discard the hot water.
2. Measure 1 to 1 1/2 heaping tablespoons of ground coffee into the French press.
3. Pour 250 ml of hot water slowly over the coffee. As you pour, begin the timer set to 4 minutes. Go for a 1:12 coffee-to-water ratio.
4. After 40 seconds, break the crust—this is the top layer that forms over the hot liquid. Breaking the crust will release the gases trapped within and make for a better extraction. Do not use a metal spoon as this might cause your French press to crack. Instead, use a coffee paddle, a wooden spoon, or even a chopstick. Give your coffee a good stir then cover.
5. After exactly 4 minutes (refer to your timer; do not guess!), gently but firmly push the press all the way to the bottom.
6. Immediately pour the coffee into a cup or carafe and serve. Do not let it sit in the French press, or else it will continue brewing and over-extract, resulting in a bitter or chalky brew. Enjoy while hot.
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The Pour Over
By Ron Uy of Brew Atelier Coffee Studio
Rock Plaza Building, Mindanao Avenue, Tandang Sora, Quezon City, (02) 257-5752
There is something meditative, almost Zen-like, in this method of brewing coffee. The principle is to produce coffee by filtration. As you pour, focus on the sensory details—the bloom of the coffee, the fine traces of steam, how the spiral of your pour affects the final cup. These simple observations will help you become attuned to the coffee and help you understand just how much control you have over the final cup. The result should be coffee with delicate yet complex flavors. In this method, we use a Harlo V60 dripper and pour in the pulse method, which is easier for beginners.
1. Heat water to 93°C, making sure you have enough for rinsing and brewing. You will need about 100 ml for rinsing, and 270 ml for brewing.
2. Grind your coffee to medium.
3. Fold a paper filter along the seam to shape it into a cone. Place the V60 dripper on top of a decanter and put the filter cone inside the dripper (making sure that the decanter is sitting on a scale).
4. Rinse the filter by pouring hot water through it—this removes any paper taste and preheats the dripper and the decanter. Pour out the hot water.
5. Place the ground coffee into the filter. Gently tap or shake the filter to flatten the bed of coffee.
6. Start the timer and within 10 seconds, gently pour 50 grams of water, starting from the center of the dripper and spiraling outwards to cover all the coffee, making it “bloom” or degass.
7. After 30 seconds, pour in 100 g of water, again starting from the center then in concentric circles. Make sure the water only hits the coffee bed and not the sides of the paper filter.
8. When the water is close to the surface of the coffee bed, start pouring again from the center in concentric circles until the scale reads “270 g”.
9. Let it drip until it’s done. Brew time should be within 2:30 to 3 minutes. If it’s taking longer than expected, make a note to coarsen the grind next time. If your brewing time is running short, go finer with the grind.
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By David Ong of OTO
5880 Enriquez Street, Poblacion, Makati City, (02) 728-2433
A masterpiece in aerodynamics, the AeroPress combines gentle air pressure with a micro-filter to achieve coffee at a faster extraction using more moderate temperatures. It’s been called a cross between the French press and the pour over, and produces a smooth, consistent brew with low acidity. The shorter filter time lessens the bitter notes in the coffee.
1. Heat water to between 95° to 105°C.
2. Weigh 15 to 18 grams coffee, depending on preferred strength, and grind to medium-fine. Aim for a 1:15 coffee to water ratio.
3. Insert paper filter into the detachable plastic cap of the AeroPress. Rinse both the filter and cap with hot water. This will help the filter adhere to the cap, and preheat the brewing vessel.
4. Assemble the AeroPress, then place it on a scale with the flared end up.
5. Add the ground coffee, making sure not to spill any onto the ring-shaped gutter near the lid.
6. Starting the timer, pour 40 grams of hot water onto the grounds, making sure that the coffee is saturated evenly—you can tamp slightly with a paddle. Let it sit for 30 seconds.
7. Pour in the remaining water to fill chamber. Aim for a total 225 ml.
8. After a minute, stir the grounds to agitate and release trapped gases.
9. Lock the cap into place, flip the AeroPress over, position it over your cup or carafe, and begin applying downward pressure until all the liquid is pushed through. Serve.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao from Unsplash
If you’d rather not brew your own coffee, read about these homegrown cafés that do coffee right:
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