So like anyone in search of answers, the actor took to Twitter to crowdsource ideas on how to brew the best cup. She got many answers. More than 8,000 responses , some more serious and beneficial than others.
As with most subjects, Twitter is not the perfect platform to talk about coffee producing. A complex topic is naturally reduced to easy answers — your preferred technique is deemed wonderful, no further discussed essential! — without grasp that numerous factors play into your favorite cup, starting with your palate. What I prefer in coffee may not be what you like.
What’s true all down the line, however, is that you ought to start with fresh coffee. Unless of course you enjoy the wet cardboard tastes of beans that have sat on a shelf for months, and if you do, you can probably stop reading here and move straight to the comments, where you can explain that a can of Folgers and a percolator are all you need to start your morning. (To be honest, that’s where I started with coffee, too, so I learn where you are.)
To help Farrow — and, by extension, the majority of of us — I spent one morning testing five brewing devices, all using the same coffee: a natural Guatemalan from Vigilante Coffee, an wonderful roaster based in Maryland. You could argue that a natural coffee — in which beans are processed with the coffee cherries still intact, absorbing some of the sugars and fruit flavors — isn’t perfect for such a test as mine, but it was the freshest coffee I had in the house. It was just a week off the roast.
Aside from showing the pros and cons of each brewing technique, I wanted to offer a glimpse at how each leads to different tastes in the cup. This will always be the case, no issue what beans you have on hand. Brewing devices may work well with some beans, nevertheless less so with others. Rarely is one ideally suited for all. The objective is to find the tool that works perfect for you a lot of the time.
For each equipment, except for the pour-over, I relied on a procedure and technique that is publicly available, so that you can refer to it at home (although I’ll confess that one method wasn’t worth a hill of beans).
Pros: Small and portable, which is why numerous of us took it on the road, back when there was a road to travel. Speedy, too: You can have caffeine in your system in simply a couple of minutes, which is important on busy mornings.
Cons: Produces only espresso coffee (usually without crema unless you follow specific techniques) or a small cup of coffee. Because of its quick, pressurized method, you typically don’t extract the full range of tastes.
Method: The classic process on AeroPress’s site, plus about five ounces of water for an Americano.
Taste: A quite thin cup. The tropical fruit aromas of the Guatemalan natural were reduced to background notes, though there was a lovely hint of dark chocolate bitterness.
Cleanup: A breeze. Literally knock the used filter and grounds in the trash or compost and rinse the three small pieces of tool.
Stagg X pour-over dripper
Pros: Double-walled and insulated, so it can better maintain a constant temperature throughout brewing. Its compact chamber keeps the grounds tightly packed, giving you more control over brew time and extraction.
Cons: Produces only one cup, which will frequently be too hot to consume at first, a problem for those looking for a quick fix. You need custom paper filters.
Method: Basic 16:1 ratio of water to freshly ground coffee, utilizing 204-degree water. (Note: The water temperature will drop as soon as it hits the room-temperature grounds.)
Taste: Bright and full-bodied, though it took a number of minutes for the coffee to cool to the point where I could appreciate its flavors. Tart pineapple, ripe mango, a light cinnamon sweetness in the background. The tart fruit lingered on the palate like rock candy.
Cleanup: Humble. Dump the filter and wet grounds straight into the trash or compost. Only one small piece of equipment to clean.
Pros: The custom bonded filters. They produce a sweet and balanced cup with less bitterness and fewer oils than with other pour-over devices. You can brew a few cups at once. The brewer, designed 80 years ago by chemist Peter Schlumbohm, is a thing of beauty.
Cons: The custom bonded filters. They’re not cheap, and they can mute the more complex flavors found in single-origin beans. The glass brewer is fragile. I’ve broken one and live in fear of the next disaster.
Method: The method from Elemental Coffee, which uses a center-pour method.
Taste: Fruit forward, surprisingly bright. Bitter elements were AWOL, with an almost metallic flavor as the cup cooled.
Cleanup: Easy to dump the filter and grounds, however cleaning the hourglass-shaped brewer can be a pain, requiring a long-handled brush.
Pros: This cross between a Push pot and a pour-over dripper callsfor no water-pouring skills and little oversight. Gives you pinpoint control over brew time and has a convenient stopper that allows coffee to drip straight into your favorite mug.
Cons: Unless the beans are ground fairly coarsely, the coffee can be overextracted. The plastic tends to stain after repeated usage. It’s easy to forget about, leading to grounds that steep too long.
Method: The technique from Prima Coffee.
Taste: A cup with more floral aromas than the other devices. The fruit and acidity started to pop as the coffee cooled, though I noted a strange astringent aftertaste, like wine with the majority of tannins.
Cleanup: Nothing to it. Dump the filter and grounds in the trash or compost, and rinse the device. Note: It is not dishwasher safe.
Pros: Callsfor no filters, no water-pouring skills and little oversight. Gives you precise control over brew time. With no filter, oils remain, often producing for a full-bodied and flavorful cup.
Cons: Grounds can seep in. The French press coffee maker wastes the majority of water warming up the glass carafe before soaking. Depending on the size of your push, you may need more than one kettle’s worth of water. As with the Clever, it’s easy to forget about, leading to overextraction.
Method: I trusted Stumptown Coffee’s recipe for a Cafetière, which turned out to be a mistake. The ratio of coffee to water looked off from the start. When I punched the numbers into my calculator, it turned out to be 18 parts water to 1 part coffee. I decided to prepare it a second time with a similar, two-part pouring method, but with a 13:1 ratio.
Taste: The Stumptown method led to a thin and tealike cup. There was some nice, light acidity to the coffee, but I found it underwhelming. The second method produced a far better cup: acidic, fruity, sweet, superb on almost every count.
Cleanup: There’s no way around it: It’s messy. Used grounds collect at the bottom of the carafe, and it can be a pain to sweep those cleanly into the trash or compost. The problem is such that people have developed “hacks” to better clean it.
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