Welcome to the ANCR Blog! Casey and I (Matt) will be posting weekly with the topics that are important to us and matter to you. Our goal is to make you the best damn coffee drinker you can be.
For our maiden voyage, I’ll address a question I’ve had from many Anchor Coffee Roasters fans: what’s the best way to brew coffee? This is like asking the meaning of life. The answer is very personal. The key is to try as many as you can, and figure out what YOU like. We will continuously address coffee brewing in our blog, and make it a point to provide you with as many resources as possible. Today, I wanted to scratch the surface by talking about my favorite ways to brew.*
At home, I use a few different brewing methods depending on the quantity I want and the mood I’m in: pour over, french press, and a stovetop Moka Express coffee maker. They all make great but very different coffee. The pour over makes a nice bright cup of coffee; the french press is a meaty and full bodied cup; and the Moka Express produces a thick brew that resembles an espresso. The reason for the distinctions are the brewing time (i.e. the amount of time the water is exposed to the grounds), filter type, brewing pressure, and the type of grind.
The pour over, like the standard drip coffee maker, relies on gravity to carry the water through the grounds. The main distinction between a drip coffee maker and pour over is you control the water instead of the machine, giving you greater control over the brew. In both methods, a paper filter rids the coffee of oils that naturally exist in coffee - this is the reason for a bright, clean taste compared to the metal-filtered french press that leaves all that oily-goodness in the coffee. For the pour over or drip coffee maker, I use one heaping tablespoon of ground coffee per 6 oz of coffee (most coffee makers are graduated by 6 oz measurements instead of the standard 8 oz cup). If you want to get really geeky, you can use a kitchen scale to be more precise (22g or 26g per 6 oz), but we will leave that for another time. If you are grinding the coffee yourself, grind extra since coffee beans are hollow. Some coffee beans are denser than others, so you’ll need to figure out how much to grind. A medium size grind is best for pour over-- it extracts flavor but saves you from clogging the filter.
For the french press, grounds seep in hot water in a beaker before filtering through the metal mesh filter of the plunger, rather than the paper filter of a pour over or drip. You can control the coffee strength by deciding when to push the plunger down to separate the grounds from the water, thus stopping the brew. The french press makes a stronger cup of coffee that leaves the innate flavors of the coffee bean intact. Since you can extract more flavor, you can use less coffee, but one tablespoon per 8 oz cup is what I use, allowing about three to four minutes between hot water contact and pushing the plunger. For a french press, you want to use a coarser grind, since a finer grind will clog the filter and you will end up with sludge in the bottom of your cup.
The Moka Pot is a stovetop contraption that has a water reservoir in the bottom and a metal filter containing coffee in the middle. When the water boils, the high pressure steam comes up through the grounds and into another reservoir up top. It produces a lower volume of coffee, but since it’s brewed at a high pressure and temperature, the coffee is a lot stronger. Espresso machines take a similar approach, though the pressure at which espresso brews is much higher. After brewing, I add just a bit of water to dilute, and it makes for a great start to the day.
At Anchor Coffee Roasters, we now offer custom grinds for those of you who order ground so you can decide on the coarseness of coffee based on the brewing method. We recommend investing in a quality burr coffee grinder when you’re ready to make the transition, as whole coffee beans maintain freshness significantly longer than pre-ground coffee, but we are happy to grind it for you. If you have any questions, please reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Casey (email@example.com). I also found this “how to brew” article from the National Coffee Association interesting if you want some extra homework. Keep grinding!
*Many of you use a traditional drip coffee maker, and I think that is perfect. Drip coffee makers make solid coffee as long as you are using the good stuff. For those of you that use a single serve pod coffee maker I understand, but just know it doesn’t make me happy. Time and convenience are important, but at Anchor Coffee Roasters we believe in a delicious cup of coffee that you enjoy and not (just) one you guzzle solely for the caffeine jolt.