Coffee Break: Trying Out New Things

I can’t believe that it’s already 2018. Pretty much a year ago today, Marie and I set out to start this blog. We didn’t know where it would go, but we just wanted to discover and share new things with you.

2018 will be the year of trying out new things; starting with some new things we tried out in 2017. Let me put you in context: for a month, my best friend and I tried this challenge of cutting out sugars, alcohol, and a bunch of other things from our diet as a reset before the holiday feasts (if your curious, Google the Whole30 challenge). As part of that challenge, we cut out dairy products. At first I was totally cool with it since I told myself I could live 30 days without cheese (even though I LOVE cheese). But then I realized… NO MORE LATTES. Yup, my morning routine was out the window. I tried so hard to drink espresso shots black, but since we were testing out a bunch of different blends, it was hard to find one that was just right for a morning jolt of caffeine.

Now, I was tempted to go back to black drip coffee, but I’ve had bad experiences with it: I used to get the jitters and heart palpitations. So I’ve been staying away from it. But then, I tried a manual pour-over and I realized what was wrong. Yeah, there’s more caffeine in a 250ml cup of coffee compared to a 2 oz. shot of espresso, but it’s not that. It’s the way it’s made, and not the beans.

So I did my research and spoke to some people about it, and came to the conclusion it was time to try manual pour-over coffee, or slow coffee.

You’re probably thinking, fine, just get yourself a French press or a drip machine and you’re all set. Yes, but not really. There are so many variables to take into consideration when making non-espresso coffee that it’s somewhat overwhelming.

If you want that whole manual drip experience, you’re going to come across two teams: #teamchemex and #teamharioV60. There are a bunch of knock-offs and other companies that make similar and almost identical products, but if you’re going traditional, these are the two at the top of everyone’s list.

Oak-Chemex-Pour-Over-Stand

Quickly put, the Chemex is that super fancy glass carafe with wooden accents around its neck and the abnormally large filters. It is also featured in the MoMA in New York (hint hint at why it’s so pricey). The Hario V60 is the Japanese cone that pretty much every one has a knock-off version of (my mom has two) that you can stick over a mug and add your filter and you’re good to go. Both require paper filters and a coarse ground beans, and also require you having a kettle on hand. DISCLAIMER: this is the ultra short explanation of both of these brewing equipment, we will have follow-up articles on both!

For the sake of practicality and my budget, the Hario V60 seemed like the best choice out of the two: you can buy the V60 cone and you’re set, since you can sit it on your mug and pour directly into it, or get a fancier carafe for when you want to make big batches.

While doing my research, I came across a shop located in London (Ontario), which sells Hario brand products, as well as their own coffee beans. Curious about both, I reached out to Bru! and chatted with Tuan (owner and creator of Bru!) about my curiosity of pour-overs. Together, we picked out the perfect beginner set to pour-over coffee: a ceramic V60 cone and the V60 Range Server, a beautiful glass carafe that holds about 500 to 600ml of coffee (or tea!). I picked the ceramic cone due to the fact that it won’t stain as much as the plastic ones and won’t get warped over time due to the heat of the water. I can’t deny that there’s also an aesthetic aspect to the set, they look beautiful when displayed.

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Hario V60 ceramic cone and V60 Range Server (courtesy of Bru!)

If you’re just getting into manual drip, like us, Tuan suggested in investing in a weight scale (with timer included if you can afford it) over getting a new kettle. The idea behind the scale is that you should be aiming for a ratio of 1:14 to 1:16 (coffee:water) with a brewing time between 2 to 4 minutes. We’ve been playing around with this ratio for the past couple of weeks, and we’ve found it to be the best for a medium to dark roast bean. For two small cups, we have about 25 to 30g of coffee to 400 to 480ml of water. Having the scale helps control the amount of water going in, and it does make a pretty big difference when it comes to taste. Our brewing time runs around 5 to 7 minutes, but that’s for a big batch, so it would be around 2 to 4 for just one cup.

As for the kettle, you’ll often see baristas using a gooseneck kettle: since the spout is smaller, it allows for a better control over the the amount of water and where exactly you want it to hit. There’s a whole science that goes with this, but I’m keeping it for another article. Essentially, you don’t need it just yet, or at least not until you’ve figured out the right grind size and brewing technique.

Tuan also set us up with the Bru! medium roast, their “Anytime Addict” which he suggested a 1:15 ratio when brewing. It results in amazing caramel and chocolaty notes, with a surprising lightness, and no lasting bitterness. We have a grinder at home, albeit not the best one, that we used to grind our coffee to a fairly coarse grind (think coarse sea salt) since you don’t want it super fine like espresso. If you’re not sure, get your local coffee shop to grind it for you, since they have machines with the right setting. It definitely makes a HUGE difference in taste (less bitter), and in brewing time (doesn’t clog up the tip of the cone).

After trying the manual brew for about a week, then heading home for Christmas and drinking regular machine drip coffee, I can definitely see a HUGE difference in the quality and taste of my coffee. I’m also happy to say that it has become our daily mid-morning routine!

If you’re curious, and looking to get into manual drip coffee, I urge you to go check out Bru! on Instagram or via their website. Their customer service is excellent and very quick to reply, and they have an awesome, budget friendly selection of brewing equipment that will make you and your tastebuds super happy!

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