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You'll pourover these instructions, and be hard pressed for better ones!
August 5, 2014 3:39 PM   Subscribe

Coffee Science: How to Make the Best Pourover Coffee at Home
"Most of the roasted coffee bean, about two thirds of the bean's mass, is insoluble cellulose. The other third is dissolvable in water. Of that soluble third, most of it is the good stuff, particularly various organic acids and sugars. The rest are longer-chain molecules that we associate with astringent and bitter tastes. Where we find the happy balance is at the 19-20% point, that is, if you extract the first 19-20% of the mass of the coffee, we tend to find the best flavor balance. More than that and you'll find those astringent and bitter flavors start to dominate. Less than that and you'll find the resulting flavors thin and unbalanced, and with lighter roasted coffees, unusually sour. Timing really is what makes or breaks your coffee brew."

Coffee Science: How to Make the Best French Press Coffee at Home
"A French press is often treated like Jason Segal's character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. He's actually the one you want, but people tend to flock blindly to the flashy, temperamental types like coffee-siphon-somethings or Russell Brands. The French press is definitely a potential coffee happily-ever-after, but as with all things coffee, it ain't rocket science… but it is science! Let's delve a little deeper into how the French press works, and how you can make the best cup of coffee using this tool."
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (97 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hasn't this topic been run into the grounds yet? Water the chances that regular joes will ever follow this advice?
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:48 PM on August 5 [26 favorites]


Stop the puns!

…And have a nice cup of coffee instead. It being summer and all, I have been drinking cold-brew from my French Press, made in the fridge overnight. Now, off to RTFA!
posted by wenestvedt at 4:01 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


So is pour-over just for making one cup at a time, or is there a "pour-over pot" for making several servings simultaneously?
posted by wenestvedt at 4:06 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


I hear the French press people into service in the Foreign Legion for making coffee related puns.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:08 PM on August 5 [9 favorites]


... people tend to flock blindly to the flashy, temperamental types like coffee-siphon-somethings or Russell Brands.

To get the best results from Russell Brands you must get the genuine article--the Russell Brand from Essex. The Russell Brand from Winchester, Kentucky is OK, but just not the same. And don't even mention the Russell Brand from Boaz, Alabama.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:08 PM on August 5 [4 favorites]


This has been discussed a lot, but that article does have some specific tips that are hard to find in most pourover guides. For instance, that grind size should be like Sugar in the Raw... and that too little coffee grounds can be troublesome... and that your water temperature should be around 30 seconds off boil. All good to know.
posted by naju at 4:09 PM on August 5 [3 favorites]


I still want to know which is better: clockwise or counterclockwise?
posted by sammyo at 4:17 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


Can we invent even more dumb ways to prepare coffee? Between AeroPress on the low cost end and espresso makers on the high end, there are much better options that allow better repeatability and control over the process.
posted by indubitable at 4:21 PM on August 5 [2 favorites]


I just want some good coffee

I'm cool on not worrying about the details
posted by clockzero at 4:23 PM on August 5 [2 favorites]


So is pour-over just for making one cup at a time, or is there a "pour-over pot" for making several servings simultaneously?

I assume Chemex and the like would be considered "pour-over" pots...someone correct me if I'm wrong.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:24 PM on August 5 [3 favorites]


I love the ritual about how high to pour from and similar that gets worked into these processes. I've ended up with something that's functionally similar:
  • Light roast because who'd burn off all that flavor?
  • Wait for the kettle to whistle, turn it off, mash the grinder "go" button, so, yeah, that's about 30 seconds off boil
  • Pour grind & water into pitcher (pre-wetting)
  • Set a timer for 3 minutes
  • Pour into filter+holder, drip finishes in about 4 minutes
a process that's evolved from more careful measurements, but...

The substituting manual pouring and trying to hit a target brew time for using a large enough filter/holder to hold the whole brew, andwashing the Pyrex measuring pitcher amuses me.

And, really, the 3 minutes of brew time is about the time it takes me to get the eggs going, so the timer is almost superfluous.

Now roasting? That's where we get all ritual...
posted by straw at 4:25 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


I don't think I've ever watched a coffee shop do more than one or two pour-over coffees at a time, due to the timing of the grind, water, and how long it's been since it's been off the boil.

Time to bring back the vacuum pot! (Video demonstration)
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 4:27 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


See, I was excited because I thought this was going to answer some of the questions I've had about pourover instructions. Unfortunately, it doesn't really go into detail on the "why" of why to do the various things. For example:
Wait for the coffee bed to stop the initial swelling (about 30 seconds) before adding more water.
Yes, but why? Here's the answer they give:
The problem is that if carbon dioxide gas is going out, water isn't able to get in. I like to picture shoppers on Black Friday. If you opened the store for business at the same moment there was a panicky fire drill, you could have a mess on your hands. That is, unless everyone wanting in waited until everyone wanting out got out.
That's not really an answer. I understand that CO2 needs to get out. But is putting more water really going to prevent it from getting out? I don't think so. So why must I wait after the bloom?
posted by brenton at 4:31 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


Every day I'm Aeropressin'.
posted by A dead Quaker at 4:32 PM on August 5 [8 favorites]


Time to bring back the vacuum pot!

I have a all-stainless-steel vacuum pot that works great for camping...when I remember not to grind the coffee so fine that it clogs the filter and won't let the water drain back down... :-/
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:33 PM on August 5


So why must I wait after the bloom?

I've always assumed that it's because if you add more water than is needed for blooming, it'll drip right past the grounds and into the cup without doing much extracting along the way, thus watering down the final result.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:35 PM on August 5 [5 favorites]


> I've always assumed that it's because if you add more water than is needed for blooming, it'll drip right past the grounds and into the cup without doing much extracting along the way, thus watering down the final result.

Well that actually makes sense. I don't understand why nobody has ever printed this before.
posted by brenton at 4:36 PM on August 5


Should you stand while you are pouring, or sit?
posted by Pudhoho at 4:38 PM on August 5 [2 favorites]


Is it preferable to face to the south or to the north while doing this?
posted by indubitable at 4:42 PM on August 5 [2 favorites]


Should I be wearing pants? Have I been doing it all wrong?
posted by tofu_crouton at 4:45 PM on August 5 [3 favorites]


Should I be wearing pants?

Depends on how good an aim you are with that scalding hot water first thing in the morning.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:47 PM on August 5 [8 favorites]


This time of year I'm all about the cold brew, though I don't feel like I've perfected it yet. His French press sounds close to what I do for hot coffee, and it's reliably good.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:49 PM on August 5


My coffeemaker is just an automated version of a Melitta pourover, and it's as good as the coffee I pre-load it with. Knowing that the coffee will be waiting for me is all that gets me out of bed some days. It was hot & humid today, and I was running errands, so I treated myself to a Dunkin Donuts Coffee Coolatta, which is a sweet, milky, coffee slushie. In the recent beer thread, I noted that the abundance of small brewers is a sign of advanced civilization, and I believe the same about the abundance of coffee shops, fresh coffee, fairtrade beans, nicely roasted, etc. good times.
posted by theora55 at 4:53 PM on August 5


The one big question I have with my Chemex is the *ratio* of grounds to coffee. I'm not a coffee afficionado, I've fine using Melitta pre-ground stuff, but I can never quite work out how much coffee, how much water. I got so used to Keurig...
posted by Andrhia at 4:53 PM on August 5


I rarely drink coffee, but my favorite right now is medium roast Ethiopian decaf from Olympia Coffee Roasters - made as Turkish coffee. STFU about heresy, it's what tastes good to me. Add a lump of jaggery sugar and I'm awake for hours.
posted by Dreidl at 5:15 PM on August 5


Just pop a wake-up pill. All the caffeine, none of the hassle, a tenth of the price.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:15 PM on August 5


Diffusion is about taking that dissolved stuff and transporting it out of the coffee grounds via that term you might not have heard since school: osmosis. The cell wall structures of our coffee grounds are semi-permeable membranes, so the osmosis pressure drives the brew out of the highly concentrated chambers of the coffee grounds out to the more watery surrounding environment.

I think it is like this: the highly-concentrated brew within the coffee cells pulls water in by osmotic pressure, causing the cells to expand and eventually explode! In fact if you listen closely while you brew you can actually hear the tiny explosions as you pour! I bet you did not know this!

(I can do half-assed pseudo-science as well as next guy)
posted by superelastic at 5:22 PM on August 5 [4 favorites]


Just pop a wake-up pill. All the caffeine, none of the hassle, a tenth of the price.

For a quick pick me up, I recommend a short session with a good, sturdy scourge. It's bracing and it's all natural.
posted by wotsac at 5:39 PM on August 5 [8 favorites]


Hi do you like delicious feelings in your stomach-tummy and sensations of alertness in the early-day? Thank you try COFFEE, it's an amazing!


this was a little thing I composed the other day as I was waiting for the first cup of joe to kick in.
posted by Divine_Wino at 5:40 PM on August 5 [6 favorites]


Just pop a wake-up pill. All the caffeine, none of the hassle, a tenth of the price.



Philistine.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:40 PM on August 5 [3 favorites]


There's all this precise stuff about getting the grind right, getting the water at the exact time after the boil, doing the pour correctly. How are you supposed to do all that when you haven't even had your first cup of coffee?
posted by graymouser at 5:45 PM on August 5 [8 favorites]


How to grind your coffee? One word: Zassenhaus.
posted by spock at 5:46 PM on August 5


I recently started doing pourovers with one of those best-of-breed ceramic thingos and stainless-steel longneck kettles from Hario (which, in a refreshing change of pace, are actually cheaper here in Korea than they seem to be in North America), and even with the not-great coffee we use, it's miles better tasting than using our machine. Though I'm not overly fussy about doing it 'right', I quite enjoy the meditative, taking-care, being-in-the-moment aspect of doing it. It's a mode of doing everyday things -- even stuff like washing the dishes -- that I'm enjoying more and more as I get older.

I still use the machine in the morning, though, because: mornings.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:47 PM on August 5 [5 favorites]


Read the article. Read it at a time when you're tired. We're going to read it when you're cynical enough to doubt - but you're open enough to state you'll give it a go in the morning.

Sleep. It's important that you sleep for 8 hours. Have a dream about a man with a hat who introduces you to a peanut salesman called Hillary.

After waking, wait 20 minutes. Some people say you must only wait 10 minutes between waking and coffee. 20 minutes is better.

Make yourself the coffee. Follow the instructions. It's coffee. Savour the flavour. If you're a super-taster, you'll immediately notice higher notes and sharper mouth feel with much less bitterness. If you can't tell the difference, don't worry. You're just a lesser human. But you can still enjoy coffee!! Just not as much as us.
posted by zoo at 5:47 PM on August 5 [7 favorites]


For a quick pick me up, I recommend a short session with a good, sturdy scourge. It's bracing and it's all natural.

Should I get knotted rope, or leather? If leather, raw or tanned? How long should it be? What sort of wrap gives the best grip for the handle? Counterweighted or non-? What's the difference between a scourge, a cat o' nine tails, and a flail? How many lashes should I give myself?
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:51 PM on August 5 [5 favorites]


The coffee shop where I pay rent these days has a formula if you're in to those sort of things. It involves taring your pourover device on a scale.

First, put in 27g of excellent-ass coffee. I've got an Ethiopian called Wote this month.

Then, pour water to 60g for the bloom and wait until it tops out. The older your coffee is, the less likely it is to bloom. Watching fresh coffee bloom is very satisfying.

Then go wild and pour up to 415g over the course of 1.5 minutes. Preferably in graceful little circles I guess. I aim for the middle.

I use a Hario V60 myself, it's a bit more forgiving and the filter is thinner than the Chemex, which often makes for a heavier cup of coffee.

Oh also! If you don't feel like buying a gooseneck kettle, you can get the same sort of pouring precision with a much cheaper glass (or plastic) gravy separator. You are welcome.
posted by sibboleth at 5:52 PM on August 5 [3 favorites]


Savour the flavour.

I prefer to savor the flavor, but that's probably because I use locally-sourced artisanal filters.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:56 PM on August 5 [3 favorites]


I use a Chemex and a burr grinder, thanks to helpful tips from AskMe last year. It's wonderful coffee, and Mrs A (who heretofore was not a coffee drinker) now craves a morning cup. I love the process of it and for a cup of beans, it doesn't require much over thinking.

I'm also making cold brew for homemade iced coffee and it is the Best. Thing. Ever.
posted by arcticseal at 6:02 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


First, put in 27g of excellent-ass coffee. I've got an Ethiopian called Wote this month.



That's all well and good, but how does Wote feel about this whole situation?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:10 PM on August 5 [16 favorites]


Boil coffee grounds in a cast iron kettle of well water over the fire pit while you smoke a cigarette, then crack two eggs into the kettle to settle the grounds.

BOOM, BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 6:16 PM on August 5 [5 favorites]


This article is really good. One thing that helps that they don't really touch on, is if you want to get into pourover or other manual brew methods is a really good high resolution grinder: a grinder with a lot of steps between coarse and fine…the more the better (stepless is the best, but beyond most home coffee setups budget).

This way you can control how fast the water goes through the coffee, with the size of the coffee itself. It's really nice to be able to brew up a pot, and if it is too fast or two slow, fine or coarsen your grind to compensate.

Again, only if you want to get into it. If not, thats cool too.
posted by furnace.heart at 6:32 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


All this talk of the science of the perfect cup of coffee without mentioning the Aeropress makes me as cranky as a person without his daily Aeropress coffee.

No Aeropress no life!
posted by zardoz at 6:33 PM on August 5 [4 favorites]


Stove top moka pot process:
*In stupefied early morning daze find coffee.
*Empty pot of yesterday's grounds.
*Rinse the basket where the grounds were and the underside of the top bit with the seal. Do not otherwise wash.
*Put water in the bottom
*Put basket in and put coffee in it
*Screw on top
*Put on stove
*Continue to stand around in stupefied daze
*Wake up when you hear it bubbling
*Pour

*Drink fine, fine coffee.
posted by deadwax at 6:33 PM on August 5 [6 favorites]


zardoz wrote:

All this talk of the science of the perfect cup of coffee without mentioning the Aeropress makes me as cranky as a person without his daily Aeropress coffee.

No Aeropress no life!

*whispers* Actuallly I find the Aeropress to be too smooth and lacking robustness.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 6:41 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


I like my coffee like I like my people:

bitter!
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 6:41 PM on August 5 [5 favorites]


@wenestvedt, chemex makes a pot which will hold more than one serving. they also sell a wire grid so you can set what's left in the pot on the burner on low and not boil the coffee before you're ready for the second cup.
posted by iiniisfree at 6:42 PM on August 5 [2 favorites]


4. Continue your brew. Try to pour quickly, gently, and evenly across the surface of the coffee, pausing between pours to pace your brew to your target brew time (see below). The distance that your brew water drops can affect brew temperatures, as well as increase or decrease the amount of agitation that the falling water creates wherever it falls in the coffee bed. In general, the lower you pour from, the better, if for no other reason than it's the easiest to create and maintain consistency.

OH GOD YES YES
posted by petebest at 6:45 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


All this talk of the science of the perfect cup of coffee without mentioning the Aeropress makes me as cranky as a person without his daily Aeropress coffee.

It's been, shall we say...touched on previously.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:57 PM on August 5


I find Aeropress coffee to be much too contrived.
posted by indubitable at 7:10 PM on August 5


As the person who (ahem) introduced the Aeropress to the blue, I'd like to point out that the OP article is about how make a proper cup of drip coffee. This is a different beast than making espresso or even French Press. The Aeropress is sort of a hybrid device whose product more closely resembles espresso than drip coffee. Aeropress = much finer grind and much shorter extraction times, with the aid of pressure. The hybrid part is the short blooming/stirring period and the addition of a small filter disk.

My only other comment on the drip instructions is that many at coffeegeek.com advocate for lower water temps than "30 sec. off boiling". But that is another area that one can experiment with, using a digital thermometer. The sheer amount of beans ground should be repeated, once one has found their desired strength of brew.
posted by spock at 7:24 PM on August 5


I wish this was an AskMeFi thread because I would mark shibboleth's post as the best answer. It's nice to see someone else take making a simple cup of coffee as seriously as I do.

A few things to add - if you're making one cup and it takes you longer that 2 1/2 - 3 min's you're not going to get as good a cup. Buy yourself a digital scale like this and measure not only your grounds but the amount of water you're pouring in. Pour in a 80-100 grams of water at a time and always pour the water in the center of the filter.

It's taken me years of playing with espresso machines, aeropresses, nespressos and vacuum brewers to finally work my way around to a simple $18 Hario V60 and I now make better coffee than 99% of baristas out there.
posted by photoslob at 7:55 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


Does this mean I should not be enjoying Folgers as much as I do?
posted by Postroad at 7:58 PM on August 5


I find that letting the water cool for a minute or two, is helpful…too-hot water is great way to make bad coffee out of good beans.
posted by littlejohnnyjewel at 8:02 PM on August 5


It's taken me years of playing with espresso machines, aeropresses, nespressos and vacuum brewers to finally work my way around to a simple $18 Hario V60 and I now make better coffee than 99% of baristas out there.

I'm sure you make great coffee, but that's a silly claim. I use an aeropress and for my taste I haven't had better. But that's *my* taste. Coffee is personal. To make such a concrete, universal claim just doesn't hold water.

I know people that love waffle house coffee (so weak it's almost like brown water). For them, their coffee IS better.
posted by justgary at 8:15 PM on August 5 [2 favorites]


Ok, maybe not 99% but definitely 95%.
posted by photoslob at 8:43 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


• Pour into filter+holder, drip finishes in about 4 minutes

• Sip barely lukewarm coffee that's been going cold in the cup for up to 4 minutes, on top of having had heat extracted by the grounds and from falling through the air - wonder why the hell I bothered

• Blame people with beards, suspenders and rolled up jeans for everything
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:48 PM on August 5 [5 favorites]


In our house, we have six different ways of making coffee: pour-over, aeropress, Nespresso, french press, moka pot and my kids' stash of instant coffee. Mostly my husband makes coffee, fiddling with different beans and methods.

I am the only person in the house who can tell the difference, which is ironic as I am happy to drink Starbucks all day. We did blind taste tests a couple of times, and I could tell different bean blends, different milk prep, and the different methods reliably, which is how I realised that I actually have supersensitive taste buds compared to most people, explaining lots of weird eating habits.

A french press tastes full and earthy, slightly rough like linen fabric, an aeropress is fine-grained and thick, almost plush like velvet, a moka is smooth and even, not a flat even but more like a silk ribbon - what a nespresso wants to be but isn't quite - and a pour-over is thin and smooth and full of flavour like brightly printed chintz. If you have a single-origin bean, a pour-over is the best way to taste it.

A big difference is how thick the liquid is, and that's got to be quantifiable in some sense. It's not just how much you use, because you can use two tablespoons in a french press and two tablespoons in a pour over, and the liquid still has a different density, even strained.

And you can get pour over jugs - my husband's birthday present this year.
posted by viggorlijah at 8:49 PM on August 5 [13 favorites]


Also, I microwave my coffee. It tastes different after that, but not a bad different, just sort of flatter.
posted by viggorlijah at 8:50 PM on August 5


A french press tastes full and earthy, slightly rough like linen fabric

Yum! and if you're lucky, there will be some crunchy bits at the bottom.
posted by jb at 9:00 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


I like cowboy coffee best, or I did until my girlfriend threw out my cowboy kettle.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:06 PM on August 5


Y'all are complicated. Café du monde, Vietnamese stainless steel contraption on the cup, condensed milk in the cup. Aldi Fair Trade, Melitta cone, gold foil filter, condensed milk in the cup. Condensed milk is magic.
posted by sonascope at 9:07 PM on August 5 [3 favorites]


Black & Decker programmable with Costco-sourced beans because I want the coffee already made when I get out of bed, and I am cheap. Not, like, Yuban cheap or anything, I have standards, but first thing in the morning, as long as it is hot, caffeinated, and not utter swill I am happy.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:25 PM on August 5 [2 favorites]


I still want to know which is better: clockwise or counterclockwise?

Don't be ridiculous, everyone knows you don't pour widdershins.

Anyway, that article on pour-over was actually kind of good. But nothing is a substitute for practice. I've been doing pourover for 2 or 3 years, I have refined it pretty well, and I don't use any fancy equipment at all, just a Melita cone, a pan to boil water, and a little ladle.

I'll show you a video I made of my pourover, the video isn't quite finished but it was a pretty good pour although slightly slow at 4min30sec. I swear I can do this in 3:30 when I get a better grind.

BTW I had to do this video over from scratch because I inadvertently poured widdershins once. I would not want to set a bad example.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:31 PM on August 5


A french press tastes full and earthy, slightly rough like linen fabric

Woah. I've always been "whatever" about comparisons of tastes to colors. But tastes to fabrics? OMG this is like a direct connection to my brain.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:54 PM on August 5 [5 favorites]


People laugh at me when I tell them that I can get crema from a French press*, but that's because they don't know. Best of all, I can have the same quality of coffee when I'm camping as when I'm at home.

*and without the crazy shake
posted by furtive at 9:56 PM on August 5 [2 favorites]


>Savour the flavour.
I prefer to savor the flavor


Philistine.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:36 PM on August 5


So about beans: are they a product of unethical business? What does it take/cost to get beans that I can feel puts a living wage in the farmer's/labourer's pocket? I had a good espresso habit, but ethical concerns helped drive me away.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:46 PM on August 5


We did blind taste tests a couple of times, and I could tell different bean blends, different milk prep, and the different methods reliably,
...
A french press tastes full and earthy, slightly rough like linen fabric, an aeropress is fine-grained and thick, almost plush like velvet, a moka is smooth and even, not a flat even but more like a silk ribbon - what a nespresso wants to be but isn't quite - and a pour-over is thin and smooth and full of flavour like brightly printed chintz. If you have a single-origin bean, a pour-over is the best way to taste it.


My goodness, viggorlijah-- I think you must be a synaesthete; "blind taste tests" hardly seem fair when one competitor has florid and flavor-dependent visions when she merely takes a sip (not to mention that "blind" is a complete misnomer!).

I use a Cory DN "gasketless" vacuum pot to make my coffee every morning; its advantages are that I can measure the brewing temperature by cupping my hands around the upper bowl and taking it off the heat when it reaches the temperature I know from previous experience happens to make that particular varietal and roast taste best to me; it actually comes out hotter than the brewing temp because the vacuum sucks the brewed coffee out of the upper bowl, away from the grounds and down into the boiling water which remains in the lower bowl; none of the coffee oils are lost to a paper filters because the coffee touches only glass; the grounds remaining in the coffee are about two orders of magnitude less than a French press would leave and you can make the grind as fine as you'd like; and cleanup is simple, with no grounds going down the sink.

But they're fragile. Twenty years ago I had four complete pots, and now I'm down to only one.
posted by jamjam at 12:38 AM on August 6


Five Fresh Fish: I imagine that the beans I'd get at my local roaster for about ¥500/100g are in the ballpark of what coffee should cost in a non-exploitative world.
posted by DoctorFedora at 12:39 AM on August 6


It's pretty easy to get decent beans from a reasonable source that pays farmers fairly. If you have a freezer, you can order in bulk and stockpile them, or you can find a local coffeeshop that will supply them at a better price thana supermarket. Basically work backwards: where do you want your coffee to come from, then find a coffee producer who does a decent job there, then a US or online distributor who will ship them to you. For Cambodian beans for example, you could go through threecorner who I don't know personally but have drunk their coffee at places that buy them and have heard they're decent. Fair trade certification can be pricey and not mean as much individually, so your best bet is to email the company and ask them what they do to treat their farmers fairly. There's a whole bunch more distributors who would probably ship to Canada here.
posted by viggorlijah at 12:42 AM on August 6


My current iced coffee technique is to fill the base of my Chemex with a layer of ice 2 cubes deep and then proceed as usual, although with a slightly stronger brew to counteract dilution. I haven't actually bothered to try cold brewing techniques yet since this produces excellent coffee. I don't know why it took me so long with the Chemex to think to do this.
posted by feloniousmonk at 1:00 AM on August 6


If you're a super-taster, you'll immediately notice higher notes and sharper mouth feel with much less bitterness. If you can't tell the difference, don't worry. You're just a lesser human. But you can still enjoy coffee!! Just not as much as us.
Actually, most so-called supertasters (having an increased sensitivity to tastes—as opposed to flavours—especially bitterness) have problems enjoying coffee at all. Or grapefruit. Or hops. Or anything even remotely bitter.

I posit that regular tasters would, on a general basis, be able to enjoy coffee more.

This said as someone with a preponderance of fungiform papillae dotting his tongue.
posted by flippant at 1:20 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]


I like cowboy coffee best, or I did until my girlfriend threw out my cowboy kettle.



Best cup I ever had. Black Hills. 4 wheel drive for hours over logs and rivers until we arrive at a mountain top that hadn't seen a human since my driver had been there 3 years prior. Campfire. Throw a handful of Folgers in the kettle and place directly on coals. Sunset view. Hand rolled cigarette.

I've been trying to replicate this for years but it's really hard in the morning getting to work and with two kids to get out the door for school. I settle for French Press, grinder set for coarse, always Trader Joes French Roast (I'm sure it's harvested by Guatemalan slaves, but it's 1/2 the cost of anything else that's as good), kitchen boiling water dispenser set to about 195. I'm never more than 4 minutes away from a cup that's better than Seattle's best barista.

This pour over thing is what we did in college. You can get a perfectly good cup, but it's messy and labor intensive. See kids to get out the door above.

I don't understand this light roast thing going on in coffee these days. My brother in law signed me up for a some high end coffee of the month club and that's all they ever send and the bags just pile up in the pantry next to my trusty 2 pound Trader Joes French Roast canister which gets replaced every two weeks.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:56 AM on August 6 [2 favorites]


The word "dissolution" looks a lot like the word "dissolve," and that's just what it's about.
Few people realize the word "obvious" shares the same latin root as the word "obvious." (Or is the original quote some sort of meta-humor that's above my head?)
. . .that term you might not have heard since school: osmosis. The cell wall structures of our coffee grounds are semi-permeable membranes, so the osmosis pressure drives the brew out of the highly concentrated chambers of the coffee grounds out to the more watery surrounding environment.
I'm not sure exactly what the author is trying to describe here, but it sure isn't osmosis. As stated, it's more or less the exact opposite of osmosis, and almost certainly untrue. I suspect the actual descriptoon is "soluble coffee-stuff diffuses into the surrounding water," and all the bits about semi-permiable membranes are there to convince us the author was too cool to pay attention in highschool chemistry.

Of course, making a good cup of coffee is a very different skill set than either English or chemistry. I'm happy to believe the recipe works, even if the science is wonky.
posted by eotvos at 5:38 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]


A french press tastes full and earthy, slightly rough like linen fabric, an aeropress is fine-grained and thick, almost plush like velvet, a moka is smooth and even, not a flat even but more like a silk ribbon - what a nespresso wants to be but isn't quite - and a pour-over is thin and smooth and full of flavour like brightly printed chintz. If you have a single-origin bean, a pour-over is the best way to taste it.

These are fantastic descriptions. Succinctly captures why an aeropress produces a better, more interesting cup for my tastes than a pourover (which indeed is "thin and smooth" as I make it). That's how I'm going to describe an aeropress cup from now on - almost plush like velvet. Mmm. Incidentally that's what I'm drinking right now.
posted by naju at 6:02 AM on August 6


I don't understand this light roast thing going on in coffee these days.

For my cold brew coffee I have been experimenting with darker roasted african beans, but for hot coffee I prefer a lighter/medium roast of single varietals because there are so many more flavors going on. The darker roasts tend to more taste of dark roast with all the subtlety of box wine, while the lighter roasts have way more individualization to my tastebuds.

But I've definitely had some that was more sour than tasty -- like anything that goes in fashions, people take things too far in either direction at times.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:16 AM on August 6


If the coffee made from Folger's and hot-ish tap water was good enough for my psychotic roommate, then it's good enough for me. Bonus points for combining it with shoplifted Virginia Slims.
posted by nerdler at 6:43 AM on August 6


I've actually had to "reset" my coffee mouth. I've got aeropress, moka pot, and french press, and I got really into trying to perfect my brew but somehow got kerfluffled and felt that everything I was making was gross and bitter and not very fun to drink.

So I'm drinking tea right now. I still have coffee from the bunn at work, if I gotta. But I'm looking forward to in a few months when i can brew a cuppa and really enjoy it again.
posted by rebent at 6:51 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]


Café du monde, Vietnamese stainless steel contraption on the cup, condensed milk in the cup. Aldi Fair Trade, Melitta cone, gold foil filter, condensed milk in the cup. Condensed milk is magic.


Sorry Jean-Pierre, but not all of us wish to be reminded of Tourane when we drink our morning coffee. It brings back painful memories for some.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:55 AM on August 6


Method:
1. There's still coffee in the workmug from yesterday. Dump in tiny red enamel iron pot and turn burner on low so it will simmer. Say, "Remember not to let that boil! There's only like 2 ccs of coffee in there!" (Rule: No amount of coffee is too small to re-heat.)
2. Fill workmug from tap. Dump in kettle. Put kettle on burner and crank. (Rule: no more water than needed may be introduced to the kettle.)
3. There are wet coffee grounds in the swankass Japanese melitta-esque filterholder thing purchased for an insane amount of money from the snobby independent coffee store because the plastic melitta things have the deadly BPA. Dump grounds in compost. Rinse filter (which is half a cotton bar towel from a garage sale. Somebody had a whole pile of these beautiful thick white towels from some kind of hotel supply co for like $2 so I bought them and washed them and cut them in half to use as coffee filters).
4. Grind beans. Grind them and grind them and grind them. "Coarse ground" = weak coffee = anathema. Dump coffee into filter.
5. Yesterday's coffee dregs are boiling away merrily in their little iron pot. Say, "God damn it!" Remove from heat. Pour miniscule amount of leatherhard boiled coffee into buffalo china diner cup (with raised buffalo on the bottom. Has to have the raised buffalo or cup not good.)
6. Kettle is making uneasy noises like it's about to boil. Remove from heat. Pour water over grounds in scientific spiral recommended by expensive Japanese filterholder insert, soaking first the grounds in the middle, then in everwidening whorls until water threatens to breach the filter holder and spill all over the counter. Put the kettle down. Take a sip of yesterday's reheated coffee. It tastes kindof like an old can, but it's hot and it has caffeine in it. It therefore meets requirements.
7. Pour the rest of the water in the kettle over the coffee in the filter. Do it right away and all at once or the god damn coffee will sit there and get cold because you had to make sure each and every molecule of pulverized roasted coffee bean got introduced to the water because you like to think you can tell the difference. You can't. You sure can tell the difference between hot coffee and cold coffee, though. (Rule: only hot coffee is good. Cold caffeine doesn't work.)
8. Guard the operation until it is complete because if your dear friend who knows how to do everything perfectly sees, he will grab the whole rig away from you and pour the water and roll the grounds around in such a way as to form a mudpack that no water can penetrate in under seven minutes, thereby ensuring that the coffee is A. cold and B. not ready RIGHT NOW.
posted by Don Pepino at 8:40 AM on August 6 [3 favorites]


five fresh fish: In terms of ethical sourcing, coffee is at it's root a global food commodity so it's going to be exploitive of one thing or another, but it's also one of the more developed commodities in terms of less-exploitive options available to consumers, as opposed to say wheat/soy/sugarcane/chocolate which can all be wildly exploitive of people and/or the environment and have less consumer choice.

Look to buy beans/drink coffee from reputable independent(ish) roasters in your area, and generally higher-quality stuff. Fair trade certified coffee is largely a waste: it's a certification that makes the commodity grade coffee you'd find in big brands/cheap at the supermarket slightly less exploitive, but it's a bandaid, not a solution.
posted by MetropolisOfMentalLife at 9:03 AM on August 6


I like that the comments there are a mirror of these Metafilter comments. The full range of emotions on display, the chiming in with personal recommendations, the scornful dismissal of the preciousness of it all.
posted by feste at 9:37 AM on August 6


I don't scorn, it's just that I have a cloth tongue, so the elaborate ballet is wasted on me. I can tell if the coffee is burnt, I can tell if the coffee is stale preground stuff, and I can tell if it's weak, and that's about it. I want: easy, fast, hot, and strong. So I don't like cofeemaker coffee because it takes forever and it's never hot enough plus you have to dick around with a pot AND a cup. And you have to remember to buy filters and I can't. I hate French presses because cleanup is a nightmare (and in my world cleanup precedes coffee-making) and the coffee goes cold really fast and you have grounds in the cup every time and you have to wait to push down the plunger. I can't wait to push down the plunger. I can't stand there and look at the coffee not done and the stupid plunger just sitting there on top of it. At some enraging angle usually. I have so much hate for those things I can't express it in words but if you imagine a gibbon in a zoo on a fake, leafless tree, just flipping out, all brachiating and shrieking and making full use of its prehensile tail, that is my attitude toward the French press.
posted by Don Pepino at 10:11 AM on August 6 [7 favorites]


I despaired for most of my adult life about making good drip coffee at home. I don't like espresso for daily consumption -- I mean, I like it, but in the morning I want a cup of joe, you know what I mean? I just couldn't get good coffee from any of the increasingly expensive machines I tried. They might start okay, but they'd inevitably start to taste funky, and no amount of cleaning solutions would fix it.

I gave up and starting doing pour-over before I knew to call it that: I had a red thing that held a filter, and I'd put it over a cup, and do a cup at a time. This was tedious, but it was also trivial to clean thoroughly, so I was mostly happy.

My wife then found and gave me the now-discontinued Bodum electric vacuum pot, which was AWESOME and AMAZING and which I LOVED for about 18 months until it cracked and leaked all over our counter. I was very sad. I was sadder still when I realized that, apparently, my 18 months with that product was wildly atypical: most failed quickly, and the product had been discontinued. :(

I tried a glass stovetop vac pot as a replacement, but it was just too fiddly. Then I remembered seeing an old girlfriend's dad's Chemex, and sought one out a few years ago as the logical continuation of my one-cup-a-time approach, and I've never been happier. I'm sad it's gotten a hipster, precious reputation, because it really is just a very simple, very easy to clean, very easy to control drip method.

I use good coffee, freshly ground, and water out of the copper kettle that seems to have been standard issue for anyone who got married in the early 21st century. I've got my coffee:water ratio dialed in, but it appears to make some people twitch that I keep track of it as 20 ounces of water to 30 grams of beans. Hey, it makes the ratio easy to remember.

I don't obsess over timing, but I am careful to let the grounds bloom a bit at first. It doesn't take long. Cleanup is trivial. I miss it very much when I'm traveling.

I tried Aeropress a time or two, most recently when we visited my wife's sister and her family in July. Her husband's dad is an Aeropress fan, and had bought them a setup that goes unused unless he's visiting. I got it out to use, because their drip machine is heinous and there are no good coffeeshops near their house.

It was better than their awful machine, but nowhere nearly as sublime as what I can make at home. Given that a Chemex is super cheap, and that when we visit them we often stay a week, I may just give them one with the clear understanding it'll sit on the top pantry shelf next to Marty's Aeropress unless we're visiting.
posted by uberchet at 4:14 PM on August 6 [3 favorites]


Pourover=tepid cup
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:04 PM on August 6


Pourover=tepid cup

That's why you have to do it quickly, and use a preheated mug and filter cone. This makes a significant difference. If your pourover results in tepid coffee, you're doing it wrong. I usually reheat my water during the pour, to keep the temp from dropping. My pourover turns out nice and hot. And I like my coffee scalding hot.

Pourover coffee is all about thermodynamics. Even boiling the water is an art. You have to bring it up to 200F without going to a full boil, to prevent the dissolved air from being driven out of the water, and making the water taste flatter. From the moment you take the water off the burner, it is losing heat to the air and everything else it touches that is cooler than the water. That's the Second Law of Thermodynamics, heat energy flows from hot to cold.

That's the part in my video that is unfinished, I was going to add some sequences of scalding my mug and cone. I immerse them in hot tap water (I have my water heater set to max, it will burn your fingers) and leave them immersed until just before the pour. Then I dry the mug and filter cone completely, quickly, since evaporating water will cool them. Then I reheat the filter cone by rinsing the filter in hot water. This makes sure that the hot water is not cooled when it passes through the cone and into the cup. Some people say the coffee is "bruised" if it hits a cold cup. I don't know what they are talking about, it just gets cold and cold coffee tastes bad.

I am thinking of redoing that video from scratch (again) to get the time down to 3:30, which means one less minute of cooling before I drink it. Also I was too busy working the video to notice the water temp dropped to 180F before I put it back on the burner, I would normally keep it above 190. You may notice I use a thermometer in my water pan, I bought a cheap candy thermometer for $1 and it's accurate enough. I am thinking of upgrading to a digital thermocouple sensor but I think that money would be better spent on a good electric kettle with good temperature control. Anyway, I think I will take your "tepid" assertion as a challenge, I will redo the video and show the final temp.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:39 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


Cds, can't wait to see the final video.
posted by arcticseal at 9:06 PM on August 6


Pourover=tepid cup

Only if you do it wrong. My coffee is hot hot hot!
posted by uberchet at 6:52 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


Turns out that it's nearly impossible to do an Aeropress wrong. My coffee is hot hot hot, but I guess I miss out on the pleasure of pontificating on proper methodology on the internets. Your gain, huh.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:12 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


so I tried the 10 minute french press yesterday. Blech, I'll stick to 4 minutes, thanks.

Interesting info on "blooming" tho!
posted by rebent at 9:14 AM on August 9


I'm still waiting for that video. I could almost have made a pourover by now.

(I kid.)

(But post the video already)
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:30 AM on August 12


What, my video? I already posted a link to the preliminary version, it's on my Dropbox which apparently is mutilating my 720p video and it looks like crap (you can download it for a better look).

Unfortunately I am housesitting for a few weeks and can't get to my video editing stuff for a while. I was thinking of remaking the video from scratch anyway, I can get a better pour than that. But I'm sure my video will be ready for the inevitable next coffee FPP.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:31 AM on August 12


The one where you'll measure the temp at the end! I already got the other one.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:51 PM on August 12


Yeah, I have been experimenting with that lately, but I am severely hampered by being in a foreign kitchen. Probably the most important variable in a pour is the total duration, if it takes too long, you get overextracted, and it has more time to cool off. But I think I figured out how I have been getting faster pours with the same conditions. I'm using a Melita #2 cone just to show you don't need fancy equipment. I rinse the filter with hot water first, but I discovered that if you lift the filter out after rinsing and set it back in the cone, it drains faster. I think the paper filter has less area stuck to the sides of the cone and it drains through more area of the paper.
Well I suppose I should work on this and maybe put it up as a MeFi Projects, since I talk about it so much. But really I should be working on a different project that will actually make me some money.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:16 AM on August 13


This was an interesting solution to the filter sticking to the cone. There was a comment about it affecting the extraction though.
posted by arcticseal at 8:21 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that is sort of like the open cone in the first pic in the FPP article. That's what got me thinking about it, the grooves in the Melita cone aren't very deep and don't keep the air space between the cone and the filter. But I can see obvious problems with the open cone, the filter is exposed to the open air where it can cool through evaporation. A regular cone can be preheated and the coffee loses less heat.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:48 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


Well now you have made me obsessed with output temperature. I just did a 4:50 pour (way too long) and while I carefully controlled the input water temp at 195-200F, the resultant cup was 165F. This is too low, especially if you don't gulp it down immediately and you let it cool. You should not make more pourover coffee than you can drink before it gets cold, so it definitely shouldn't start out too cold.
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:58 PM on August 16 [1 favorite]


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