Chapter 3 of COVID-19 Coffee Survival Guide

The Great Coffee Adventure Begins

Ok.. you managed to escape the matrix and now that you have acquired the supplies needed to take on the coffee universe on your own, we are here to offer you some help!

4 Tools Needed to Brew Coffee At Home:

  1. Grinder
  2. Scale
  3. Brewing Device
  4. Kettle
  1. Grinder

Buy a grinder first. A proper grinder is a Burr Grinder that is sharp, because the irony is, your grinder should never grind, it should slice the coffee. The problem is Burr Grinders tend to be expensive. Most of us only have the Whirly Blade Grinder which is for spices, which is not great for coffee. The advantage of a Burr Grinder is you can set the size of the biggest particle that will pass through the burrs, and as such have some degree of uniformity in size. A Blade Grinder is like the game fruit ninja, which can lead to big ugly chunks of coffee and lots of little powdery particles too (called fines).
As previously mentioned the Burr Grinder can be on the pricier side ranging from $75-100 dollars for an entry level Burr Grinder. If you can afford it- it is definitely a bonus!
If you are seeking a budget friendly method- try the following with your Blade Grinder:
  1. Always measure out the amount of beans you are going to put into the blade grinder. How to do this? Ideally you have a kitchen scale that is accurate to within 0.1 of a gram, but if it only shows whole grams that is fine. If you don't have access to a scale, scoops are fine, but you have to realize that a scoop of one coffee might be 10 grams while a scoop of another coffee might be significantly more or less. So, use scales first, than scoops if there is no other alternative.

There is another choice which is to have your coffee shop grind it for you. I am reluctant to advise you to have the coffee shop grind your coffee, because in this option, coffee loses so much of its aroma, and subsequently flavour when it is pre-ground ahead of time. Coffee should be ground just minutes before you intend to brew it. You can easily prove this to yourself. Brew two pots, one, with freshly ground coffee and one with coffee you ground an hour earlier.

But if there is no other choice other than to have the store pre-grind, do it with the freshest coffee available, ie.. closer to the 3 day mark vs the 14 day mark from roast, and maybe you can lessen the effects of staling. Otherwise, the best option is to hint to your friends or family that you really could use a Burr Grinder for your birthday or christmas.

Hand grinders are a great option but they cost as much as entry level Burr Grinders... and I really don't want to work that hard to grind coffee for myself, and I definitely wouldn't hand grind to make coffee for a dinner party.. ( Grind your own damn coffee!). So, sorry fanatics, I'm not a hand grinder fan except for camping.

  1. Scale

Check the scale you own, does it have the capability of 0.1 gram resolution ideally, but not necessary. Use your scale and confirm the amount of coffee, say it is 60 grams for 1 litre of water (which should yield slightly below a litre of finished coffee or about 3 tall Starbucks drip coffees).

  1. Turn on your blade grinder, but count how many seconds you grind it for. The next set of instructions will vary greatly based on the brand of blade grinder you have, and the coffee you are using, but we can still learn general things from following this procedure.
  2. For example: for the Braun Grinder I am using, I will run 60 grams of coffee (nearly full) for about a 20 second count. Now here is the key. As I am counting I am also shaking the grinder back and forth, at the same pace as my count. In other words I'm shaking to a count, similar to one and two and three and four.. etc.. up to 20.
  3. Then I stop... open the lid and see how the coffee grounds look. A good benchmark would be to have a sample of a typical drip coffee grind to compare with. If your grind looks or feels too coarse, close it and grind it for another 5 count. If it looks too fine, then remember to only count up to 15 seconds for the next pot of coffee you make.
    1. The key is to try and make your grind size repeatable, and therefore consistent. Though, like I said before, it's hard to do well with a Blade Grinder vs a Burr Grinder. But it's not impossible and it's better than ‘using the force’ to figure things out. Unless you really are a Jedi.. " Strong like coffee this one is.. yes"

So now that we have our grinder sorted out, we need to complete the rest of our tool chest.

  1. Brewing Device

Again, don't go out and buy what you cannot afford, let's just figure out a way to make the equipment you have at home work better! If you have a drip brewer, just follow our ratio of 60 grams of ground coffee for 1 Litre of water as a start. There is a common sentiment among coffee snobs that home drip brewers suck. In reality, all you need to do is be careful with a drip brewer and test for temperature because they can at times be flawed and not reach a hot enough temperature.

Most wholesale coffee roasters calibrate their coffee roasts to be brewed at temperatures, close to 202-206 Fahrenheit. Domestic brewers rarely can reach these temperatures, though we can recommend some that do at the end of this episode. So if your brewer is a little cold, have no fear, you can still use it!

Drip Coffee Maker Recipe

  1. Put in your paper filter, or shiny gold metal filter, or earth saving unbleached brown paper filter.
  2. Add your freshly ground coffee.
  3. Pour the water on the top, hit start.
  4. And start your timer. Monitor the time from when you turn on the brewer to when the last drops of coffee end up in the carafe. It is not a written in stone rule, but we would like to see about 4-6 minutes in total time.
  5. Proceed to taste it and see if you can describe how it tastes using actual taste descriptions and not marketed coffee terms.
    1. Kettle

      Again, don't go out and buy what you cannot afford. Nothing fancy needed, no special gooseneck kettles, no special handles needed, it's just freaking hot water. You could literally use a pot!

      French Press Recipe

      You can do the same thing with a French Press.

      1. Put the coffee in,
      2. add hot water about 203F. Let the kettle boil, then turn it off, count to 30 and add it to the grounds, the temperature will be very close to 203F.
      3. Then, start your timer. Again, we are looking for somewhere between 4-6 minutes.
      4. Plunge your French Press and immediately pour into cups and serve immediately. The longer the coffee is in contact with the grounds, sitting in the French Press, the more extraction will happen, possibly spoiling the flavour of the pot. (More of this in a later series).

      So there you have it.

      Go make a pot.. or two or more! Now be sure to start with fresh beans, no more than 3-14 days old, control the amount of beans with a scale (hopefully), and time the grinding and brewing time. This should give you a much better cup of joe.

      ----------------------------

      MORE ON THE COVID SURVIVAL COFFEE GUIDE

      CHAPTERS:

      Introduction

      Chapter 1: If you’re ready to make a change and freshen up your coffee game, consider making your coffee at home. To produce quality coffee at home, like the ones you normally find in the coffee shops, follow these 3 simple rules... Read More >

      Chapter 2: Now that you understand freshness as it pertains to coffee beans (3-14 days from its BIRTH DATE or Roast date, and only buy enough to last a week) . This will give us a good starting point because we finally have some quality ingredients...Learn More >

      Chapter 3: Ok.. you managed to escape the matrix and now that you have acquired the supplies needed to take on the coffee universe on your own, we are here to offer you some help!

      4 Tools Needed to Brew Coffee At Home... Read More >

      Chapter 4: If you have Italian friends, and they offer you a "caffe" , chances are they pull out a stove top device that unscrews in four parts, (base, top pouring chamber or pitcher, basket and basket cover) called a Moka Pot...Learn More >

      Chapter 5: I have a personal problem with pour over people because they tend to hold the opinion that pour overs like Hario v60, Chemex, Kalita, are great, but that batch brew Drip Coffee Makers suck. The reality is...Read More >

      Chapter 6: Let's explore further why the proponents of Cold Brew coffee are so maniacal in their support of this process. 4 reasons: ... Learn More >

      Chapter 7: Frankly this viral hype surprises most of us in the industry but, in my opinion, it is a good thing that people are seeking innovation when it comes to coffee beverages. I just wish it didn’t involve instant coffee! ... Learn More >

      Chapter 8: Prior to the cold brew fad, the go-to method of making a cold coffee was to utilize the alien👽 technology known as ice.

      Apparently, when you add ice to things, they get colder...Learn More >

      Chapter 9: If you survive this chapter, you will have my respect, and moreover, you will have learned about the basic principles of extraction...Learn More >

      Chapter 10:We are revisiting a brewing device that was long ago dismissed as an alternative for espresso. Of course I'm talking about the Aeropress. Full admission. I was an anti Aeropress-er (not anymore). For those of you not familiar with the Aeropress way of making coffee it's a strange looking plastic device that looks like a giant syringe...Learn More >

      Chapter 11: I'm going to tread into dangerous waters here and talk about one of the most controversial taboo subjects in the realm of 3rd and 4th wave coffee (aka pretentious coffee). What am I talking about? Blended drinks.. , AKA frappuccinos...Learn More >

      Chapter 12:There is a false belief marketed that you need to spend a lot of money on specialized equipment in order to make good coffee and latte art. This insidious belief implies you need to...Learn More >

      Chapter 13:The easiest way to avoid cream and sugar in your coffee is to buy higher quality coffee, you will taste that it is naturally sweet as opposed to the dark burnt, bitter stuff from chain stores, so try out a local independent coffee shop...Learn More >

      Post Pandemic:Luckily, in the past the coffee industry has proven itself relatively recession-proof. Big question is, if it is pandemic proof ?...Learn More >



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