Brew Tips: Brew Accurately
We all started out doing it. It’s what I like to call the Guess-timation Method – grab a tablespoon, open your grounds and shovel them into the French press until it looks about right. That’ll do the job, I used to think. Surely it can’t make that much difference?
Well yes. This method will do the job to a certain extent - no matter what happens, you will end up with something resembling a cup of coffee, but whether it will be consistently good is another matter altogether. One day, I would go a bit overboard on exactly how heaped my heaped scoop would be. The result – an unpalatable brew that was both too strong and far too bitter. The next day, I would try to ease back, but would instead be left with a weak, watery mess. While my brewing disasters could sometimes be improved by diluting with boiling water or a swig of milk, I couldn’t help but feel a little downhearted. I’ll never make a master barista, I would think!
I just obviously didn’t have the magic touch needed for that perfect cup of coffee.
Turns out what I actually didn’t have was a decent set of scales. Formally the preserve of only professional baristas and the most passionate coffee nerds, measuring coffee by weight rather than volume is starting to become the preferred method for anyone looking for consistently good coffee.
Why weigh coffee?
When you think about it, measuring beans or pre-ground coffee by weight makes an awful lot of sense. Coffee beans don’t come in one uniform size and don’t fit together neatly in a scoop. Grounds pose a similar problem – depending on grind size and density, the weight of one tablespoon can vary wildly. This may not seem like much of a problem, but even with just a few grams difference between each spoonful, it doesn’t take much to put your recipe out of whack and affect the flavour of your carefully brewed coffee.
So does this mean you have to purchase expensive equipment to satisfy your caffeine addiction? Not necessarily! For those starting out, often your own kitchen scale will do the trick. If your kitchen is not so well stocked, inexpensive coffee scales, such as the excellent Coffee Gear Dosing Scales, are a great choice for those just starting out. This is a good starter scale as it does offer decimal measurements, with a .1g accuracy. For those looking to take it to the next level, we offer a huge range of quality coffee scales. All of our coffee scales work to monitor weight, time and flow rate of coffee brews.
What about water?
It isn’t just the weight of your coffee grounds that needs to be taken into account. The most serious brewers are now also concentrating on the weight and temperature of their boiled water. It may seem a little extreme, but in terms of volume, the majority of every brew is water. When you take so much time and effort to get precisely perfect coffee grounds, why would you not be accurate with your water.
Ideally, the water you use whilst brewing should be as pure as possible, so as not to affect the taste of your coffee - pre-filtered water or simply cold tap water will do the trick. The next consideration is temperature; water for coffee should always be between 91 and 96 degrees Celsius. Any hotter and the coffee will burn. Any cooler and the flavour will not be properly extracted from the grounds. This is where smart kettles, such as Brewista’s smart digital display kettle, comes into its own. Need a more cost-effective solution? Try using a kitchen thermometer will also do the trick too.
However, the right temperature isn’t enough – the perfect brew also needs the perfect volume of water. Many people use a measuring cup, but this can have its problems; measure your water before boiling and you are failing to account for any water that may be lost through evaporation. Measure after, and you’re wasting heat and time. Meanwhile, weighing your water gets rid of all these issues. Simply place your brewing equipment on your scales with the ground coffee already prepared, press ‘tare’ to re-set the display to zero and pour away.
Accurate brewing may take a little more time and effort, but the results speak for themselves. I’m never just using a coffee scoop again.