brewing methods

THIS IS HOW WE BREW IT

how to brew AN EXCELLENT cup of coffee

Through technological advances and information expansion, the ways, means and sharing of the plethora of coffee brewing methods is expansive. Some like it just a certain way, others, just hot. At Alpen Sierra we believe that creating the tasty cup through whatever means you have time for is the best way to go. By following some simple and consistent guidelines, that tasty cup is within your reach and enjoyment. As we like to, we will keep it simple and offer three of our favorite methods of brewing, which most of you coffee peeps practice daily at home. Should you desire to go deeper into technology and complexity with your daily brewing, there are many more credible and quality coffee brewing resources available online.

Following are simple to understand and navigate guidelines to assist you in making your daily cuppa a fulfilling and enriching one. The main ingredient, water, should receive primary consideration, as it composes, in most cases, 98% of your cup of coffee. Cold, filtered water, whether it be out of the tap or bottle, is the best option. Beware of off-flavors, such as chlorine, in tap water, which can kill the rich, sweetness and nuanced flavors of your brew. Keep in mind coffee brewing ratios, water : coffee, which can easily be followed without having to own a labratory’s worth of equipment. If possible, be in possession of a good burr grinder for fresh grinding of your beans, as well as a kitchen scale, or at least a standard coffee measure (SCM scoop).

POUR-OVER BREWING: chemex

Pour-over brewing is a traditional, popular and quailty-yielding brewing method, in which parameters can be tweaked to effect a variety of finishes in the cup. That is to say, with adjustment of the grind degree, brand of filter basket, e.g Mellita, Hario, Kalita, which have difffering flow rates, shapes and extraction results, the flavor profiles can be customized to be cleaner and brighter, heavier and richer, or a myriad of results depending on the desires of you, the brewer. One of our favorites for a clean, sweet and smooth cup, is the Chemex glass pour-over. It’s basically an all-in-one. Following the specialty coffee industry standard ratio of 1gr coffee : 17gr water is fairly fool-proof in obataining excellent results. Materials needed include a gram scale, timer, and your favorite pour-over filtration device.

STEP–BY–STEP CHEMEX

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Chemex - Step 1

The Chemex standard we use at Alpen Sierra is 50 grams of your favorite coffee, brewed with a total of 850gr water. 

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Chemex - Step 2

Insert Chemex filter and position fold so that it faces the front of the Chemex.

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Chemex - Step 3

Wet filter with hot water. This pre-charges the filter, allowing more of the coffee oils and flavor to end up in the brew, as well as warms the Chemex carafe.

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Chemex - Step 4

Use a medium degree of grind, or choose our bespoke Chemex ground option when ordering your coffee.

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Chemex - Step 5

Press the center of the grounds bed to form a dimple. This creates a central point for the water to penetrate the coffee bed and affect a proper bloom.

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Chemex - Step 6

With water heated to 195–202 degrees Fahrenheit, slowly pour approximately 65gr into the pocket you created in the coffee bed. Allow the coffee to bloom for about 30 seconds. 

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Chemex - Step 7

Once the bloom has peaked, begin pouring water into the filter, starting in the middle of the coffee bed and working circularly to the outside until the coffee fully saturates and rises. Following a short pause, 10 – 20 seconds, in which the coffee bed will recede and the brew is flowing into the carafe, begin pouring again in the same circular manner.

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Chemex - Step 8

 Continue with this “pulse” brewing until the target weight or volume is achieved. In order to determine that the degree of grind used was the proper one for the chosen brewing method, the finished brew for our referenced standard, 50gr Coffee : 850gr Water, should have been completed in approximatly 4:30. 

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Chemex - Step 9

We will use coffee volumes in our pour-over applications, Hario V2, Kalita Wave, Chemex, that run 36gr, 50gr and 65gr. The minimum brew time for the 36gr would be 3:30, adding roughly one minute for each increased weight batch. Enjoy!

BREWING: auto drip

Hands down, auto-drip brewing is the most popular and widely used method for brewing our favorite coffees. It’s quite simple with good results. But, not all drip brewers are created equal. That is to say, results will vary, and the old adage, “you get what you pay for,” applies. The most imprtant feature to seek out when purchasing an auto-drip brewer is a brew temperature stable listing and certification, which would be in the range of 195F – 202F.
Flat bottom or V-Cone? Each provides a different extraction rate and brew finish. This is totally your call, although the flat bottom auto-drip brewers are most often cheaper in price and lesser in the said quality, especially with brew temp assurances.  There is a wealth of technical information available on the World Wide Web explaining the benefits of each style, which we will not delve into here. Whether it’s a V-Cone or Flat Bottom brew basket, you have the option of using a semi-permanent filter, metal or nylon, which guarantees you always can brew and will not suddenly run out of paper filters. If you go with paper, there are two types, white paper and brown paper filters. The white paper are now oxygen bleached, meaning no chlorine used, and are 100% chemi-free. The brown paper, with the intention of being more “natural” for those coffee brewers concerned about chemicals, are coarser and tend to allow less flavor into the brew by retaining more oils, which carry the flavor notes. Glass or thermal carafe? The thermal carafes included in a brewer purchase can be of good quality, but this will be determined upon use when you ascertain how long the brew stays hot in the carafe. The glass carafe brewers will always provide lasting, hot coffee, but will also “cook” the brew, resulting in over-acidic coffee as time exceeds 20 minutes exposure to air and external heat. One guaranteed hot coffee alternative would be to purchase a glass carafe model, as well as a top-quality double-wall stainless steel insulated thermal carafe, which to pour your brew in as soon as it is finished brewing. Let’s get started. We will keep this very simple and outline the process using a Standard Coffee Measure (SCM), which is equal to 2T, or 10gr coffee. The recommended brewing ratio is one level SCM, or two level tablespoons, to each 6oz water.

  1. Begin with fresh, cold, and preferably filtered water. Off flavors, such as chlorine, will be present in the brew and tend to spoil sweetness and flavor nuance that fine roasted specialty coffees will offer. Fill the 10 Cup brewer water reservoir to the 8 Cup mark.
  2. Pre-wet the filter in the filter basket with hot water. This pre-charges the filter, which allows the liquor to flow smoother and fuller into the carafe, as well as pre-heats the filter basket for better brew temperature maintenance and flavor extraction.
  3. Portion six (6) level SCM scoops of medium ground coffee into the filter. This is just about maximum on the coffee volume that most all  auto-drip filter baskets will accommodate without overflowing, especially during the initial bloom cycle.
  4. Place the pre-heated glass or thermal carafe into the brewer, under the filter basket, initiate the brew cycle and get on with your day. A well-balanced and clean cup of your favorite coffee will be awaiting you. Good day!

BREWING: FRENCH PRESS

One of the classic brewing methods, French Press always delivers rich and tasty brew. The nice thing here is that you do not need any electrical appliances to brew a uniquely delicious cup. There are a few tips, which we will share with you here, that will ensure your brew is the best it can be.

brewing coffee with a french press
Items Needed: Excellent coffee, press pot, water and a Standard Coffee Measure (SCM) = 2T (approximately 10gr) coffee.

 

  1. Pre-heat the carafe with hot water, incuding the plunger with filter disc. Using an “8 Cup” size, which is approximately 30oz in liquid volume, portion six level SCM scoops of coarse-medium ground coffee into the empty, pre-heated carafe. If you are using a scale, portion 54gr of coarse-medium ground coffee.
  2. Pour the properly heated water, 195F – 202F, into the coffee within the carafe until the blooming grounds reach the bottom of the top external frame band on the pot, or 2/3 full.
  3. Using a non-conductive material spoon or paddle, plastic is best, wood is second, slowly stir the coffee in the carafe for approximately 15 – 20 seconds, until the blooming coffee recedes. 
  4. Top-up the water in the carafe with additional hot water until the level of the liquor, which can be seen through the glass, reaches the bottom of the band. If a solid, stainless steel  or other material carafe is being used, bring the coffee grounds level up to within 1/2in of the top inside the carafe.
  5. Gently insert the plunger disc so that it rests upon the top of the wet coffee grounds surface, sliding the lid into place. This will keep the heat in the brew. Allow the coffee to extract 3:30min. Begin a slow plunge of the filter disc until it reaches bottom.
  6. The entire process should be completed within 4min. Immediately pour off the brew into waiting pre-heated cups, or a thermal carafe for service. *Allowing the brew to remain in the press pot will incur further extraction, which will over-extract the desirable flavor components, muddying the cup and increasing potential bitterness as time moves on.
** For those of you who have a cholesterol concern, yet love the unique flavor a French Press produces, the additional filtering of the completed brew through a paper filter into the cup will mitigate cholesterol levels.