Wake Up & Smell The Coffee
We demystify all the coffee brewing techniques for you.
There’s a storm brewing in the coffee cup. If you’re still drinking instant coffee (shudder!) or using that French press, we have news for you. All the cool kids have graduated to cold brews, pour-overs, and nitro coffee. There’s also something called ‘deconstructed coffee’ popular in the hipster circles, but that’s just coffee, milk, and water served in separate tiny beakers served on a paddleboard (of course). And Melbourne is serving rainbow lattes (where food dyes are used in the latte art), and blue lattes (infused with edible algae) – how’s that for peak hipster?
However, coffee connoisseurs who put more emphasis on the actual brewing process (rather than on the visual histrionics) have been espousing some cool brewing trends. We decode some of them for you.
Chemex / Pour-over
The Chemex is a glass coffeemaker shaped like an hourglass with a funnel-like neck. It uses the drip method of making coffee where the coffee decoction percolates through a filter. Unlike standard drip coffeemakers, Chemex uses a thick, bonded paper as a filter. The filter is placed in the neck of the flask, and the coffee grounds are measured and placed in the filter. Hot water is then poured over them. The water then drips slowly through the filter. The thick filter gives a smoother, purer coffee flavour compared to other drip methods. The water must be maintained at a constant temperature of 82-93°C, else it will alter the taste of the brew.
This method has become very popular over the last couple of years. Don’t confuse it with iced coffee, though! It’s an extraction method of making coffee, where the coffee grounds are steeped for a long time to make the brew. It’s a fairly easy way of making coffee – coarsely ground coffee is placed in a container. Slowly add water (coffee to water in 1:4 ratio), stirring to make sure that all the coffee grounds are moistened. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 12 hours. Pour the coffee through a fine sieve or cheesecloth. Discard the grounds and the liquid is your cold brewed coffee. This type of brewing produces a coffee with lower acidity level and it’s less bitter as well. It also gives a higher caffeine buzz considering the ratio of grounds to water; add milk or cream to taste. You can store the brew for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Siphon / Vacuum Coffee
A flashy but fiddly way to brew coffee, the siphon is not a new invention. It’s been around since the mid-19th century, but has acquired a retro-cool cred in recent years. The elaborate glass coffeemaker has two stacked vessels connected with a siphon. Water is placed in the lower chamber and coffee in the top. Heat creates vapour pressure and vacuum, which pushes the water up the siphon into the coffee grounds. Once brewing is complete and heat removed, the brew filters into the lower chamber. This technique brings out the intense fruity flavours of coffee and gives a clean cup of brew.
Nitrogen became a regular ‘ingredient’ in fine dine restaurants with the advent of molecular gastronomy a few years ago. It’s no wonder that it should find its way into our coffee cups too! The coffee brew is filtered and infused with nitrogen gas. This is then released through a pressurised valve, giving you nitro coffee, which is smooth, slightly frothy (almost beer-like) coffee, and has a smooth aftertaste. You can have it ‘neat’ or over ice.
Which coffee do you prefer?