Sunday, March 13, 2016

Coffee Culture is King: How to Home Brew

When I move to Sacramento, Californians frequently wanted to know the reason I was moving to 'cow-town.' Besides my internship, I had heard rumors of the food revolution that had hit the Farm-to-Fork capital. Unbeknownst to me, part of this movement included coffee.

Turn any corner in Midtown, and you will be face with a myriad of choices from single origin espresso to cafe sourced beans. There are seven coffee roasters in Midtown and East Sacramento alone! That isn't including the many roasters in the greater Sacramento region. When ordering a cup of dark liquid caffeine, your barista will gracefully unfold the story of the bean you are consuming from its nationality, the distance from sea level  of the soil in which it was grown, the predicted tastes on your palate, and the body features you should anticipate depending on your chosen preparation.

Like many labels of identity I held dear to me before living in California, my coffee connoisseur title was indeed challenged. Thus, I wholeheartedly appreciated Insight Coffee Roasters free educational classes held on the weekends. The classes are held once a month at their S/8th location on Saturday afternoon. Topics range from home roasting to home brewing to sourcing. Unfortunately, I couldn't make it to the sourcing seminar last month, but I did attend their home brewing course.

Personally, I usually prepare my coffee by pour over and drink it black. For me, it's a comforting morning ritual. That being said, I was impressed at the selection highlighted in the course, as well as helpful hints such as grind size and grounds to water ratios. Plus, did you know that you needed to wet the filter first?

To home brew, it was recommended that you have a scale, a bean grinder that can ground different sizes, a gooseneck kettle, and the preparation method of your choice. Why so many things?! I was a little put off at first too, but in search for the perfect 'joe' in the morning, all play a necessary role. For instance, each  preparation method requires a different precise pour method (too fast and you will have a weak brew); hence the gooseneck kettle will give you more precision. Additionally, each method needs a different grind size. Each type of bean has a different weight (as well as you will want to weigh the the amount of water); therefore, you will need a scale.

Finally, why does one have so many choices when preparing coffee? Well, the different methods give feature different elements of the coffee such as the acidity or oils. Below are my notes for each method:

French Press: Grounds brew for a period of time with only a screen to filter; thus high levels of oils are present in the coffee
Bonavita: A mixture between a French press and a pour over, so you get the infusion of a French press and the extraction of a pour over
Chemex: The filter is the most important element of this method. Be sure to wet the filter and pour out the water in the carafe before blooming the coffee. Once the grounds are added, create a vortex and pour at an angle
Metal Cone: This doesn't have as much resistance as the chimex, and has an awkward balance of high levels of acid and high levels of oil.
Pour Over: The pour over requires the same preparation as the chemex, however, you want to create a cone of grounds within the filter.
Vacuum Press: This one is best for travel. This will give you a smooth brew lacking bitterness

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