Brewing

Coffee Questions: Brewing That Works by Caleb Savage

NOT JUST HERE FOR THE CAFFEINE

“What’s the best way to make coffee at home?”

Coffee making can be pretty frustrating. We want good coffee. We want to make it in a way that’s both fun and relatively easy. We don’t want it to break the bank. Why? Because we want coffee to be both utilitarian and pleasurable. We want it’s caffeine, but we want also want it to be sweet, well-balanced, and enjoyable. We want it to help us wake up in the morning so we don’t want a setup that requires us to be alert to be able to do it well.

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So how do we balance making great coffee without having to have the best equipment or follow a complex set of rules to get your first sip of caffeine?

The best cup of coffee is a coffee you like to make and drink.

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The Balancing Act

We can divide home brewing into a couple areas to determine the best setup for anyone: Interest, Time, and Cost.

Interest

Do you enjoy learning about where coffees are from? Do you follow recipes when you make coffee? If you want good coffee, but don’t have a lot of interest in the details, there are some great automated brewers that make Specialty quality coffee at home!

Time

Are you looking for a coffee setup that allows you to start a cup and be out the door five minutes later? A stovetop kettle might not be the best choice. Also, avoid hand grinders. If you have the time and interest, you can sip slowly and think critically about the coffees you make and make slight adjustments to your recipe until you’ve found the program that works best for you.

Cost

Sometimes we have a lot of interest and time to make great coffee but are missing the budget to have the “perfect” setup. Don’t sweat. Sometimes small improvements to things like water, coffee quality, or temperature can have dramatic results on the finished product!

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THINGS WE LOVE

“What equipment should I get?

The equipment we sell comes from companies we believe in. We use and sell Acaia scales, XF brewers and kettles, Chemexes, and Baratza grinders. If you are considering a new kettle or brewer, ask us about why we love the gear we use.

We also love helping you make the best coffee you want to make. Our team loves finding the gear or solution you need the balances your interest, time, and budget. Stop by the shop and chat with your baristas about the best set up for you.

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Acaia by Caleb Savage

Good news! We just received a fresh restock on our favorite scale: the acaia pearl!

Who is acaia?

Creator Aaron Takao Fujiki launched his Kickstarter for acaia (pronounced ah-kigh-ah) in October 2013 after nearly a year of research and development. His goal was to marry the needs of the specialty coffee brewer to a device that was sleek, precise, and could be integrated into the growing apps and systems for measuring and tracking coffee brewing. Four years later, acaia is the industry leader in beautiful scales that lead to quality brews.

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We use the acaia pearl in the shop for pourovers, syrup-making, and drink-building, and before switching to the Victoria Arduino Black Eagle, we used the acaia lunar on bar to weigh all of our shots.

Basic Functions

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All scales weigh. Many weigh well. Few do things outside of being an accurate scale. We like acaia because they do everything we need them to in a way that makes sense. The acaia pearl works in two modes, having a scale option that measures up to 2000 grams in either grams or ounces in increments as small as .1g, or a second mode optimized for brewing with a stopwatch and whole gram scale visible on the display. This allows us to use the scales interchangeably for making a pourover with our Chemex brewers and then measuring ingredients for a syrup or drink.  

Connected Brewing

For the home brewer obsessed with making the perfect cup, acaia’s scales are all bluetooth-enabled to allow for tracking and comparing the quality of each pour, measuring yield and flow-rate to enable the user to better understand what’s going on in each cup and how to improve their brew.  

We love our scales because they do exactly what we need them to while being simple to use, flexible enough to be used for almost all of our measurement needs, and look great while they do it. If you’re in the market for a scale that can help make you a better home-brewer, acaia is absolutely your best option.

Coffee Questions: What is Coffee? by Caleb Savage

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Let’s talk about coffee. Not coffee the plant, nor coffee the seed; coffee the drink. When we talk about “just a cup of coffee,” what are we referring to? Is espresso a coffee? Is a Chemex a coffee? Confused? So are the professionals. Today, we’ll explore coffee the drink in the context of the shop.

Brewing Culture

Coffee’s desirability as a stimulant as well as its widespread cultivation and consumption by way of the age of exploration and colonialism has produced a variety of cultural styles of coffee brewing. Various methods of brewing have been designed and refined over the years to match the demands in price, style, and culture of the people who demand it. Old methods like Turkish coffee remain culturally popular; Italian espresso revolutionized coffee consumption; English consumption led to a long string of improvements in home coffee brewing.

Strength, Body, & Brewing

What makes a strong cup of coffee?

For some, it’s a dark and robust drink that is both bitter and sweet like a dark wine. For others, it’s about being able to feel your heartbeat after the first sip. If we’re talking about caffeine, our pourovers have generally the same amount of caffeine as standard brewing recommendations for home coffee pots. Two “scoops” or tablespoons is around twenty grams; our dose for a single pourover on the Stagg XF Dripper.

When we talk about the taste or body of the coffee, factors like origin, roast, brew method, extraction come into play. Just like apples grown in different regions or different varieties, coffee can vary in flavor depending on country of origin, coffee cherry variety, or processing method.

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Just like a specific coffee on pourover might taste a little different than what it tastes like on espresso, there can also be a difference in flavor between your usual brewing method at home or work versus a cup from the shop.

A lighter bodied cup doesn’t necessarily mean less caffeine or a weaker cup. Further, home brewing options like a French Press, Aeropress, or Moka Pot, might give you the style of coffee you’re looking for at home!

Coffee, extracted

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As a drink in any form, coffee is a solution in which certain soluble particles are dissolved from the roasted coffee bean by water. Extraction, the process of pulling out those water-soluble coffee particles from the ground coffee bean, is the chemical process of making coffee. The goal of coffee-making, whether espresso, coffee pot, or pourover, is to extract as much of the good tasting coffee particles while also not extracting as little of the not so good tasting coffee particles as possible. We use variables like water temperature, grind size, and time to manage the extraction process.

While there are a variety of different brewing methods and desires for flavor in coffee; coffee made well or evenly extracted, should also be the goal. In our desire to serve really good coffee, we make each coffee by the cup to ensure freshness, quality, and consistency. Our friends over at Modbar & Fellow help us provide these standards.

Third Wave Water by Caleb Savage

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Have you ever been disappointed by a coffee at home that tasted phenomenal at the shop, even if you nailed the recipe? Don’t fret! It could just be your water! With a desire to bring the same standards of specialty coffee in a cafe setting to your home, Taylor Minor and Charles Nick launched Third Wave Water.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign and receiving a $100,000 investment on Shark Tank, Third Wave Water has made finding quality, consistent, coffee-brewing water easy to use and easy to find!

The Problem

Coffee is 98% water. Coffee is a solution that uses variables like time and temperature, as well as the mineral composition of the water to extract all of the acids and sugars from the coffee bean and into your cup. Water’s mineral composition varies dramatically based on location, filtration process, and piping. This means that in many cases, your morning cup of coffee is entirely dependent on the quality of your water. Even filtered water contains variable amounts of minerals and cannot provide a consistent product. Should home brewers invest in expensive, coffee-focused water filtration systems or turn into a chemist and create their own water recipe?

The Solution

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Using distilled water and a packet of minerals from Third Wave Water, you can have cafe quality water to make cafe quality coffee at home. Each packet contains Magnesium Sulfate, Calcium Citrate, and Sodium Chloride to provide your water with a precise and consistent ratio of minerals to bicarbonate which allows the acids and sugars in the coffee bond with the water and preserve the clean, bright flavor specialty coffee aims for.

Why We Recommend Third Wave Water

If you brew coffee at home, we want to provide you with everything you need to make the best cup of coffee you want to make as simply and as replicable as possible. With a gallon of distilled water (which can be found at virtually every grocery store), and a packet of Third Wave Water, you can elevate the clarity of your cup and move on with the rest of your day. It’s simple and effective.

We sell both Third Wave Water’s Classic recipe and their Espresso recipe in the shop. If you’re interested in what it could do for your home brewing routine, ask one of the baristas next time you stop by!