Coffee


The AeroPress is a relatively new (2005) innovation in coffee making.  I love it, with little effort and half a minute you can have a really smooth and rich tasting coffee.  Hot water and coffee grounds are mixed together for ten seconds.  Then gentle air pressure pushes the mix through a micro-filter in 20 seconds.  The clean-up is simple as well – push the used grounds into the compost box and rinse the aeropress under the tap.

The reviews seem to be unanimously positive.

“I’d say AeroPress is midway between filter and French press, … It has all the advantages of both, but none of the disadvantages. It extracts the coffee oils like a French press but removes the grit, and it captures the clean, bright flavours of a filter brewer. It’s fantastic!”  James Phillips

Here are two different ways of using the aeropress –

The standard method:

Or the cool method (inversion):

The Moka pot with its iconic design has become a symbol of 21st century style, even displayed in the Science museum, London.

I dusted mine off yesterday for some experimentation.  Moka pots are not supposed to be cleaned, i.e. don’t put them in the dishwater, as they are supposed to stay “seasoned”; however, mine looked quite scutty so after reading some advice (here and here) I tried to clean it up using vinegar and bicarbonate soda.

Now with a cleaner pot, I got to the coffee making:

Step 1: Add freshly boiled water to the lower section.  Using already heated water, rather than cold water, makes the process faster.

Step 2: Fill the filter with finely ground coffee and level.  You are looking for a finer grind than that which is used for drip and press coffee but not too fine – really fine espresso grounds lead to over extraction; and no need to compact coffee in filter.

Step 3: Screw on the top and place pot on the element over a low/moderate heat.  Using a lower heat allows for a steam head to build up without scorching the coffee grinds.

Step 4: Leave the lid up and you can see the coffee come out through the pipe, remove from heat at or before you hear the gargling noise and pour into cup immediately.

Here’s a video I found helpful.

So I’ve mentioned in previous posts (here, here, and here) the essential importance of the coffee grind.  It is important to have a consistently uniform distribution of coffee particles.  The cheap blade grinders aren’t able to provide this (they also generate a lot of heat causing deterioration of the coffee bean) this is why it is ideal to have a burr grinder.

I have a Baratza Maestro coffee grinder (pictured below) purchased at Expressotec, Richmond, BC, Canada.  From my research this seems to be the cheapest household grinder that is capable of grinding the full range from fine, needed for espresso, to coarse, needed for French Press.  I’ve had it for well over a year now and am entirely satisfied with all range of use.

The French press, also known as the bodum, cafetiere, coffee press/plunger, press pot etc.  This is perhaps the most cherished coffee brewing method, quite simply one of the best ways of making great coffee.

Again the grind is really important here, for this method you’re wanting larger uniform sized particles.  Because the grinds stay in contact with the water for longer (~4 minutes) and don’t go through a paper filter fine coffee sediment and oils add to the coffee flavour.  But leave it to steep too long  and the taste can become too bitter and hence you should pour soon after plunging.

Here is the geeks guide on how to make the perfect French press coffee.

If anyone feels like experimenting and trying out a non-traditional brewing method for the French press, check out this alternative “advanced technique” below:

Lying unused in our landlords shed was an old school Italian hand-pull expresso machine, a brass La Pavoni Professional, as pictured above.  I finally asked, actually I got Ann to ask!, whether it was working and whether I could try it out.  He got from his Dad who was a hoarder and he wasn’t sure whether it worked or not but said I was welcome to have it.  Well turns out it worked fine, later on I did have to readjust a seal that was leaking steam and as a Christmas present the seal was replaced and the machine serviced.

This is an amazing machine and the espresso is really good.  There is so much to play with, a real hands-on espresso machine.  The grind, the tap, the pressure level, and the pull … a lot to work on to get the perfect shot.  This video clip gives an insight into the routine, this guy seems particularly obsessive in his quest to obtain that ‘God shot’.

Tragically recently the heating element has blown and apparently they no longer make replacement parts.  I was told that the newer heating elements don’t fit onto these old machine.  I now hear from another source that newer replacement parts should be able to fit into this machine, but that the cost (parts and labour) might be prohibitively expensive.

So I thought I would start a new blog series – sharing some of my interest in coffee.  What better way than to start with the most basic way to brew coffee – drip.  Now drip coffee is usually pretty poor, but if the procedure is performed correctly it’s a great way to make good tasting coffee.  As with all types of coffee making freshly roasted and freshly ground (to the correct size) coffee beans are essential.  I use a single cup plastic filter holder with a paper filter, add two scoops of coffee, pour over your slightly under boiled water, give it a stir (an essential, but often missed step) and allow the coffee to drip straight into the mug.

For complete boffin instructions on how to use a pour over brewer follow this link at CoffeeGeek.