Doing Pour-Overs (like a boss!)

We’ve been talking about pour-overs a lot lately, and right here we’re going to do it some more. How do you know the right quantity of beans to a cup, steeping time and all that other stuff?

#1  You don’t need expensive equipment.

We’ve seen some beautiful pour-over cones in a variety of materials from porcelain (about $18 each) to stainless steel (about $85). And while they can make a nice presentation, I would only buy them if I had a restaurant or café where that is important. The most basic plastic cone (about $7 for a #4) makes equally incredible coffee and is virtually indestructible.

One recommendation we do make is to get the larger #4 cone because with it you can either make one or two cups. With the smaller #2 you can only make one.

#2 You don’t need a lot of time

We’re going to say six minutes, tops. And about 3.5 minutes of that is heating your water in the microwave.  Of course, if you prefer a teapot or something like that, it’s totally cool, but the microwave is really fast.

#3 Pour-overs don’t need constant supervision

Go do something else while your water is heating to a boil (about 3 ½ minutes for a 12 oz cup). And if you don’t get back to the microwave the second it dings, no problem. Our studies show that your water will hold a very acceptable brewing temperature for up to about five minutes.

#4 Super precise measurement is not the secret of a great pour-over, as some would have you believe.  

Yes, of course, within reason, but when I see people weighing out precise amounts on a digital scale I just have to sigh. Here’s what we do. Grab a handful of beans, throw them in the grinder and make your coffee. This advice has many (many) cups of coffee behind it, and ultimately points to a good starting point of between .32 and .40 ounces of coffee per liquid (8oz) cup. The point is, just get started with whatever is a medium handful for you, and if your cup wasn’t strong enough, then go for a bigger handful next time. After a very short period, you will know about how big a handful you need for your preference, and you can just cut that weighing stuff right out. And it looks badass when you do it too.

#5 By the numbers

Get two cups. Fill one with water and put it in the micro until boiling – about 3.5 minutes for 12oz.

While the micro is going, grab a handful of beans and grind them (standard drip grind, or finer). Put your cone, filter, and coffee on your other cup. Go do something else.

When your micro dings you’re ready to pour. Standard disclaimer – its hot water. Pour about 1/3 of your hot water into the cone, always trying to hit any dry spots of grounds around the edges or anywhere. The key is to try to get total involvement of the water with the grounds, but you don’t have to do this drip by drip. Just pour in gently. You’ll get the “bloom” and then the water level in the cone will go down pretty fast, so you can pour in the second third of your water after just a few seconds. After about another 30 seconds or so, pour in the last part. These times aren’t particularly crucial, so feel free to do other stuff in between pours.

Total elapsed time is about 5 to 6 minutes, and most of that is the water heating.

And if you’re using a #4 cone, you can have two wonderful cups of coffee for the same amount of time as one – just double the coffee and water.

You’re going to have a beautiful cup of coffee. It will taste more robust, with more flavor and character than anything a home or commercial brewer can make. If your first cups taste too strong, you can always cut the brew in your cup with a little hot water, and that will balance it right out.

Tastes Vary

This is the real point. Learn to adjust coffee for your tastes. Experiment with quantities until you are getting what you want, and then incorporate that into your routine. You’ll never go back to boring coffee (and your friends will be amazed by your coffee powers)!

If you have any comments or questions, we’ll try to answer them in the comments section.

Happy experimenting!

Peace.

John

Roastmaster

Dark Hollow Micro Roasters LLC

https://darkhollowmicroroasters.wordpress.com/

john@darkhollowcoffee.com

@roasterjohn

Pour over

Decaffeinated coffee – How the heck does that work?

Today’s question: Decaffeination : How does that work?

Here are a few caffeine facts to get started on.

Caffeine is a complex organic compound found naturally in many plants.

Typical decaf is 97% to 99% caffeine free.

A regular drip-brewed cup (8oz) of premium coffee (arabica) contains about 200 milligrams of caffeine.

Totally unbiased opinion here, of course, but in bang (literally) for the buck, not to mention the wonderful enhancement of your day, a cup of fresh premium coffee beats, hands down, any so called “energy drink” that you see someone slamming down with a grimace, and then smiling as the caffeine kicks in. Seriously people, life is too short not to enjoy the consumption of a wonderful fresh coffee beverage. Then you’ll get the smile of the enjoyment during and after the experience. Makes me crazy when I see those “energy drink” commercials. Not to mention that, if made at home, a great cup of fresh premium coffee costs about 25 cents per cup. Completely unbiased I am, of course.

My personal love of caffeine appears to be coming through a little bit here, and we did start out with a decaf theme, so, continuing on, how do you get rid of caffeine if you don’t want it?

You basically have two choices. You can decaffeinate using solvents or pure water. Hmmmm, tough choice. Pure water or paint thinner, which to choose? Seriously, on the “chemical extraction” side, the common solvents that are used to combine with caffeine include, dichloromethane, ethyl acetate, and (omg!) benzene. Although it is claimed that no traces of these lovely compounds remain on decaffeinated beans after the process, I personally can’t stand the thought that they ever touched my beautiful beans!
One of the main reasons that these chemical processes are so popular is that they allow the reclamation and repackaging of the caffeine for use in other products from Red Bull to Excedrin.
In general, in the chemical process, unroasted coffee beans are steamed, the solvent is applied, and the caffeine chemically attaches to the solvent, which is later treated with additional chemicals to make the caffeine drop out for reuse.
But, back at the beans, soaking in their little solvent bath, this process is repeated, until the desired 97% to 99% caffeine-free level is reached. Water is added and the beans are steamed for several hours “until the last of the solvent is removed”. At least that’s what they say.

On the pure water process side, no chemicals whatsoever are used, but due to nature of the process, the caffeine itself cannot be reclaimed for reuse, therefore, the process itself is more expensive. In a nutshell, water has the capacity to absorb caffeine on it’s own, along with soluble “flavor solids” present in the raw bean. In the pure water process, the unroasted beans are soaked in water, extracting a percentage of caffeine and also some of the flavor solids. The resulting caffeinated and flavored water solution is then passed through carbon filters which filter out the caffeine, but not the dissolved flavor components. Then, the beans from this original bath are thrown away. Yes, chucked out. Their mission in life was to produce a flavor solids rich, but caffeine poor water solution, which will be used in the next step of the decaf process.

The real secret in the pure water extraction process is in water’s ability to absorb only a given amount of dissolved flavor components. In the example above, the beans are exposed to repeated baths of water, but only the caffeine is removed by the carbon filters. At some point, the caffeine is fully extracted from the solution, but the dissolved flavor components remain, reaching equilibrium with the soluble flavor components in the bean, with the result that no more flavor components can be extracted. This is key when a fresh batch of beans is presented to the flavor rich, caffeine poor bath. Flavor components present in the new beans are not extracted because they are already in equilibrium with the flavor components in the solution, while caffeine continues to be extracted by the caffeine poor bath. Only the original beans (the thrown away ones) are used to create the flavor extract bath. The subsequent beans lose only caffeine to the bath. I find this idea of balance and equilibrium very appealing.

The most recognized pure-water process is known as the Swiss Water Process, or SWP for short. If you see “SWP Certified” on a bag of coffee, then you can be sure it was decaffeinated using a pure water process and no chemicals whatsoever. If it doesn’t say SWP it probably was chemically treated, since with that method the caffeine can be harvested (the profit motive is a strong one).

We have used SWP and only SWP processed decaf since the beginning, and wouldn’t consider using anything else (in case you couldn’t tell from the above).

So there you go. We love the power of informed choice!

John

Roastmaster

Dark Hollow Micro Roasters LLC
john@darkhollowcoffee.com

“Good Chemistry is more than a representation of a wonderful molecule.
It is the relationship we strive for with all of our customers.”