How do you do?
Coffee post comin’ up!
In my last post on coffee – I introduced some alternative brewing methods that are served at most specialty coffee shops in Johannesburg, South Africa. I’m no guru or nuthin’ (yet 😀 ) but I’m super into this stuff so I’ll share my geeky love with ya’ll. On your next coffee shop visit, I dare those who haven’t, to ask for a cup of coffee brewed with one/some of the methods below!
BUT FIRST, what makes a brewing method ‘alternative’? Well, in the pursuit of the perfect cup, be it in-house or on-the-go, with cultures and traditions from across the world also in play, methods other than the Espresso have been developed and are now readily available at specialty coffee shops. With some learning and trial-and-error, majority of these methods are actually friendly for home-use compared to the espresso machine, and so if you can’t always grab a cup at the coffee shop, you’ll especially want to have a look at this list.
A common trait among all alternative methods is the duration of time it takes to brew. It’s longer than the popular espresso – it averages 4min to get a good cuppa prepared from these methods versus the ±25sec espresso. To me, they’re worth the wait, well, most are.
The list below is not exhaustive but covers the most sought after methods – in my opinion anyway.
So, here are the top alternative brewing methods – in no particular order;
- Chemex (pour-over)
- Hario V60 (pour-over)
- French Press
POUR-OVERS: Chemex & Hario V60
Both the Chemex and the Hario V60 are popular pour over methods. With pour-overs, coffee is filtered through paper filters with water. V60’s use a single paper filter while a Chemex filter has 3 layers which means a finer product is achieved. Both methods produce a coffee that is very ‘clean’ and tea-like (flavor full though). What this also means is that you are able to taste the coffee-profile better with these methods (more so for V60, when done right). They’re great for single-origin coffees – that is coffee from one region i.e. Ethiopia or Kenya, instead of those with mixed regions – called ‘blends’. With the right coffee grind size and pouring method, anyone can and will succeed. Both these methods take about 4 minutes of brewing. P.S. Pour-overs are served black.
This brewing method is really gaining popularity. It’s known to be easy to use and super convenient, not only for the home but for the traveler. What about the actual coffee it makes? Well, the Aeropress uses pressure and heat and so yields a more bodied coffee. Another benefit, compared to a french press (see below), is that it yields a cleaner coffee as the coffee (what you’ll be drinking) is separated from the coffee grind after being plunged/pressed. This way, you won’t end up with a bitter or acidic coffee. Oh and an interesting fact – you can make an espresso using an aeropress! Who woulda thunk it! 😀
The fancy guy on the list, one that takes us back to science class. The siphon/syphon brewing method feels like an experiment, using a vacuum of sorts to brew the coffee. The basic explanation is that water being heated in the lower compartment will create a vapor that will condense and then brew the coffee, which is filtered by the vacuum that’s created. Yeah, I know, who knew coffee was this deep. Well, it is. The more you research coffee, the more you understand why some of the best in the field, especially roasters, are smart-ass chemistry majors, buuut, I digress. So coffee brewed from a Siphon, well, it’s pretty darn delicious, full of body but crisp, and aromatic. Check out this video – it’s fascinating! Another interesting fact – most think the Siphon is from Japan but it actually originates from Germany! HA!
AND last but not least, this guy I’m sure is familiar to many of you. Sometimes referred to as a ‘plunger’, why? Well, because you manually plunge the filter down against the coffee in order to filter the coffee grounds. It’s a simple method (not my favorite though lol), but it gets the job done. The secret in getting a good coffee here is in the grind size which tends to be on the coarse side. Too fine a grind makes the coffee muddy while too coarse a grind may clog the filter. Timing is also important, the coffee must be emptied into a cup at the end of the brew time (about 4 minutes), leaving it in for too long makes the coffee acidic and bitter. Other than that, this method will give you a rich, earthy cup.
aaand that’s all for now folks! My next post on coffee will be a quick interview with a cool local barista – it will also be on alternative brewing methods. Keep an eye out!
I’d LOooOOVE to know which of the above methods you’ve tried or would like to try! Hit me up in the comments! Or tell me about a method you love that I did not mention! I know there’s plenty others 😀 🙂
Peace and Hair Grease!