In celebration of #nationalcoffeeday on September 29, we've been sharing all our favourite coffee inspired treats like this dairy-free pumpkin spice latte (you can thank us later). We've also been brushing up on our coffee IQ and who better to learn coffee basics from than our favourite local coffee cafe, Quantum. And what better way to learn than to attend their Brew Class: Pourover vs French Press with the lovely and coffee genius, Max!
Make your coffee the way you want, drink what you like, and if you find a way that works for you, keep doing it. It's your mouth, your taste buds, your thing. - Max
At home, we use a french press, mainly because we lack space, but also because we really enjoy the zip and rich taste of freshly ground beans. For us, coffee is as complex as bottle of wine, a bar of dark chocolate or Phil's personal vice, a really smooth cigar - flavours changing from year to year and season to season. A fan of black coffee (thanks, Mom) I believe good coffee doesn't need sh*t like milk and sweetener, but that's me, and as Max says, it's your thing.
Now, let's learn about coffee and begin the brew. Here's what we learned:
Pourover coffee starts with freshly ground coffee, a filter, and a pourover dripper. This type of brew basically involves, pouring water over and through grounds to extract the coffee flavors into your cup or serving vessel.
Measurement: 1.5 g of coffee per oz of water for a light cup of coffee or 2 g/oz for a stronger cup of coffee.
Timing: 3 to 4 minutes
Method: Begin by pouring a tiny bit of water in a circular motion over the filter. Rinsing the filter, not only cleans it but also warms the filter and vessel to prevent as much heat extraction as possible. Every step in brewing coffee causes heat loss, so we want to minimize it. Discard the water. Next, add the coffee to the filter and shake to flatten the grinds. Pour a very light stream of water in a circular motion starting from the centre and working your way to the outside. Be careful not to pour the water right up to the edge of the dripper, as this will cause the water to go down the edges of the file, making for a very light cup of coffee. A goose neck kettle provides the best results, but any kettle will work with the right amount of finesse. Pour enough water to wet the grounds, and then allow the coffee to bloom for 20-30 seconds. Blooming is the process where the grounds release the gases left over from roasting. This will ensure a smooth batch of coffee. You will see the grounds bubbling and expanding as it blooms. After it has bloomed, continue to pour the water over the coffee. Keep doing this until you use the required amount of water.
Appearance and Taste: The pourover brew appears dark but very clear and almost thin looking. The taste is much like it looks, clean to the pallet, gentle but with a lot of flavour. It's easy to identify the different notes. We both loved the refined and delicate nature of the pourover brew and think we would enjoy it most when you are able to savour it, like on a coffee date or after dinner.
French Press Brew
French pressed coffee also starts with freshly ground coffee, and a Bodum (yes, this is the patented name for it). This type of brew involves pouring water over grounds to extract the flavours, and then plunging the grinds to reveal your coffee.
Measurement: 2 grams of ground coffee per ounce of water. (suggestion). For the 8 cup/34 oz version of a french press, you want 10-11 tbsp or 68 grams of coffee grinds.
Timing: 4 minutes plus an additional 30 seconds for blooming
Method: Begin by pouring a cup of boiling water in to the french press and plunge to warm the strainer and glass beaker to touch. Place your coffee grinds in the french press. Depending on the size of your Bodum, in a circular motion, pour the french pressed boiling water gently onto the grounds until full. Set a timer for 4 minutes letting your coffee bloom for 30 seconds. Then, carefully stir the coffee. Many coffee methods suggest stir 3 oft stirs. Once the timer goes off, cover your coffee plunge it slowly.
Appearance and Taste: Unlike the pourover, the french press brew offered a much more robust looking coffee. It was a touch lighter in colour but cloudy. You could tell there is going to be sediment. The taste of it is strong, but with very well rounded flavour. It is not a coffee that you are going to easily pick up the subtleties in flavour. This is the cup of coffee you want first thing in the morning to start your day on the right foot.
There wasn't a definite favourite. We both enjoyed the delicate flavour of the pour over vs the french press, but when you need a good cup of coffee to wake you up in the morning, we prefer the french press. It's the kick in the petunia you need to get the morning started on the right foot.
Did you know?
- Single origin vs Blend: single origin beans come from one location, either a country or region within a country whereas a blend is produced with beans from several different locations. A single origin coffee is going to have a very original flavour where you will taste where it came from, and enjoy it without adding anything. Much like wines taste different year to year, single origins do as well. When you find a single origin you like, you stock up on it. Most large coffee chains serve only blends as they are easy to produce and replicate with the changing years and seasons. This provides a consistent experience for their customers across all locations at any time.
- Fatty liquids: traditionally fatty liquids, such as cream or butter, are placed in coffee is not to change the flavour, but rather prevent the coffee from becoming bitter from oxygen exposure.
- Coffee Storage: oxygen is not a friend of coffee. When you purchase coffee, it will provide the best flavour if freshly ground. After a day or two, the oxygen will penetrate the ground coffee and make for a less robust, and slightly bitter cup of coffee. If you do not have access to a grinder, then you portion your coffee for the week and place in a freezer until ready to use. You don't want to freeze the coffee for anymore than a week or so.
- Ratios: Just for reference, there are recommended ratios and measurements for making an ideal cup of coffee. Firstly, there are two methods for measuring, by weight or volume. The preferred method is to use a scale, which will produce the most consistent results for coffee day in and day out. You want between 1.5-2 grams of ground coffee per ounce of water. If you are measuring, it would be about 2.5 tbsp of ground coffee per cup of water. A typical North American mug holds 10 oz of liquid, so you will be using 3 tbsp of ground coffee.
Now how about you? What is your favourite method of brewing coffee?