Home brewing: What to know

Home brewing is all about you: YOU make YOUR own coffee at YOUR home. By saying “brew”, I mean both espresso and other manual brewing methods. Many people find it the best and cheapest way to satisfy their taste or just caffeine addiction. As a coffee lover, I’m totally keen on this idea. However, before you make the very first step into this hobby, here are a few things you may want to know.

Good coffee takes time

By saying “Good”, I mean the good-looking and tasty drink that you’re appetizing, which doesn’t just obviously happen. I’m sure that if you are such serious with your taste that you start brewing home, a just-a-coffee cup is not an expected result. You don’t want to ruin your whole day with a distasteful cup of coffee, do you?

Take time. Once finding out your favorite cup, ask the baristi at local coffee shop for more brewing techniques. Apply it and see which point you can reach. It will take a few days at least. Be patient because it’s worth your wait.

A hobby is always an investment

Just my personal point of view. When I start any new hobby, it’s always an investment. I have to invest time to understand it and practice to do it right. Playing musical instruments, running or writing. Then I invest money to buy books or modern tools to improve it, such as shoes for running. Just feel comfortable with this kind of investment because what you finally get is your joy.

Coffee could be the same.

If you like something bold, thick and creamy like espresso-based drinks, you’ll have to care about espresso machine and grinder. The total cost could be up to thousand dollars. There is no such thing called, “high quality with low price”. If there is, it depends on how you define “high quality”. While a good grinder ensures a uniform grind size, espresso machine help you fully extract all flavors to your cup. And you may want to know how to steam the milk properly. Believe me, baristi usually spend the first few months just to practice steaming milk and do latte art.

A brief instruction

Now that you’re confident of this new hobby, here are a few tips and a short instruction for home brewing:

TIPS

  1. Buy whole beans instead of ground one. Coffee beans are like a box of all the beautiful flavors, once you break it, they all come out within 24-48 hours and never come back. Just grind it before you brew.
  2. Check the roast day. Coffee is always best used within 1-2 weeks after being roasted.
  3. Keep the coffee airtight, dry and in the dark place.
  4. Ask the roaster/barista at where you buy the coffee beans for further information. Their advice will save your money and time!

BASIC KNOWLEDGE

Espresso-based and hand-drip coffee are different in almost everything. Here is a summary for your reference:

espresso vs hand drip

If the above table is too much for you, let’s start with the followings:

  • The hotter water is, the more extraction happens. If the temperature exceed the limits (above 96 Celsius), the bitterness of coffee may dilute all other flavors.
  • The finer coffee is, the easier and faster extraction happens. However, it also increases possibility of dilution (mentioned above).
  • The longer brewing time is, the stronger coffee taste. Still, dilution happens often.

There are many more factors that can significantly impact on your coffee, but like I said, “Good coffee takes time”. The more you understand it, the more flavorful cup you make!

INSTRUCTION

Since hand-drip coffee is much more convenient and affordable for us than espresso, it’s better to kick-off your hobby with hand-drip instruction. This is just my routine for your reference only.

  1. Boil water. After the water is boiled, let it cool down to your favorite temperature. This step takes time so let’s do it first.
  2. Use the boiled/hot water to heat-up your server/mug/cup and rinse the paper filter. This step is to remove all paper-like taste from your filter.
  3. Season the grinder machine with a bit of coffee (1-2 grams). This step help prevent your new coffee from being affected by the old one.
  4. Grind coffee. 15-18 grams/ cup. 20-25 grams for 2. It depends on you.
  5. Put the coffee into the filter and start brewing. Don’t forget to tare the scale.
  6. Coffee : water ratio is usually from 1:15 to 1:17. Meaning that, if you use 20 grams of coffee, pour 300 – 340 grams of hot water into it.
  7. If you use 20 grams of coffee, pour the first 40 grams of water within 30 seconds to pre-wet the coffee and don’t mind use a spoon to mix it. This step is to make sure water covers coffee surface evenly.
  8. After the first 30 seconds, pour the rest amount of water slowly and carefully in a circle during the next 2 minutes. My optimized brewing time is 2m30s.
  9. If it’s now 2m30s and there is still much water on the coffee surface, the reason could be fines migration and you should remove cup from dripping filter. Let’s cut the water line right then and taste to see how it taste.
  10. Please keep everything clean for the next brewing 🙂

I hope this article will help you understand more about home brewing and especially the coffee itself. Please feel free to email to me if you have any inquiry or feedback.

 

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