Think Outside the Cup

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Boost Your Mornings with These Traditional and Trendy Coffee Brews

So there you are, standing in the kitchen area of the office wondering if you should make a cup of coffee. You inevitably play Russian roulette with the Keurig cups because you’re busy and can’t afford to give your coffee a second thought.

Sure there are times when you need to grab something and go and that’s fine! BUT, if you have time and want to put some thought into your coffee, go ahead and give these brewing methods a shot.

Alternatively, you could try something new that you don’t have to make yourself.

That said, let’s jump into a few ways you can spice up your morning coffee routine.

French Press

What’s nice about the French Press is that it’s a simple process that even the most novice of coffee makers can master.

It’s inexpensive, efficient, and gives you a quality brew in minutes. This makes it the perfect go-to method for home brewers and expert connoisseurs alike.

All you need is the French press mechanism itself, some coffee grinds, and a minimal amount of effort.

How it’s done

Before we explore how to make French pressed coffee, let’s go over the anatomy of the actual French press.

Its basic components include the beaker style carafe, a plunger and the filter that will push the coffee grinds to the bottom when finished.

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We’ll break down how to use a French press into 4 easy steps:

1. Heat water

Easy enough right? Almost. Notice how we said ‘heat’ as opposed to ‘boil’. This is because we want to keep the water just under boiling and at a steady 205-210 degrees Fahrenheit.

A good tip to keep in mind is to preheat your carafe to keep the brew up to temperature. You can do this by adding boiling water to the carafe and letting it sit while you grind your coffee beans.

2. Grind your beans

Coffee grinds are an important step here. The extent of the grind will become a big factor in the resulting flavor as well as the time left to steep in water.

In this case, it’s better to have a coarse grind since it will result in the most optimal flavor profile. If you use the pre-ground stuff you get from the store then you’ll find that your coffee is more bitter than you intended.

Optimally you want to use a medium to dark roasted bean if you want to get the most flavor. This is because these roasts have oils that, when brewed, will give your coffee a unique flavor.

A good rule of thumb is to use about 2 tablespoons of coffee per 6oz of water.

3. Pour in the water

Timing is everything!

Here you want to pour out the water you left sitting in the carafe and pour in your grinds.

Add enough hot water to cover the coffee grinds, stir, and let sit for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds add in the remaining hot water and let sit for another 3 minutes.

4. Press and pour

This is the easy part. All that’s left to do is press the grinds to the bottom using the plunger and pour yourself a cup of freshly brewed coffee.

Resulting product

What you’ll end up with is a unique brew with a rich flavor profile. Of course, this will depend on the beans you use and whether you listen to the timer in your head or in your hand.

Pros/Cons

  • Con: some patience and work is required
  • Con: you can only make so much at a time in a small French press
  • Pro: very simple process
  • Pro: no filters
  • Pro: can use it to make a cold brew

Additional Resources

This is a great tutorial if your starting to learn how to use your own French Press: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIKr2EMkm48

Nitro Coffee

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Nitro cold brew has been one of the newest trends in coffee and adds variety to your everyday typical cold brew.

While this one isn’t the easiest to make at home, it’s usually available on tap. Big players in the field like Starbucks have even adopted the concept and offer coffee on nitro in their locations.

Let’s go through some of the science behind coffee on nitro and why it’s become so popular.

How it’s done

Nitro coffee is cold brewed coffee infused with nitrogen.

Not following?

If you’re still scratching your heads wondering what the big deal is, think of nitro cold brew as the Guinness of the coffee world. Like other dark beers, it’s richer, creamier and even has a frothy topping to it.

Pause here and take a look into the beer industry. Often times a beer is infused with carbon dioxide bubbles to give it a bitter fizz. When breweries want something sweeter and smoother, then they infuse darker stouts and ales with nitrogen as opposed to carbon dioxide.

What gives these beers a creamy taste and smoother texture is the small nitrogen bubbles.

Fear not, we’re not going to get too deep into the chemistry. All you need to know is that nitrogen gas doesn’t dissolve well in water. That’s why nitro coffee tastes smoother and thicker.

Mathew Hartings, a professor of food and chemistry at American University, theorizes that nitrogen slows down the oxidation process of coffee compounds. This results in a less bitter tasting brew.

Resulting Product

Now of course nitrogen isn’t going to resolve the taste of every cold brew there is. Coffee beans are going to influence taste as well as the chosen brewing method.

All nitrogen does is affect the body and mouthfeel. What you end up with is a richer, smoother, and creamier coffee in your cup.

Pros/Cons

  • Pros: Unique taste and feel
  • Pros: Gets you the caffeine you need
  • Cons: Not easy to make

Additional resources

Here’s a great video by Eater that gives you an overview of what Nitro cold brew is:

Is Nitro Coffee the Coffee of the Future?

Aeropress

It’s like the French press in that it’s efficient, simple, and there’s even a plunger involved.

It’s very difficult for anyone to screw this up which makes it a top contender on every coffee snob’s list of must-haves for their kitchen.

How it’s done

With this method, it’s pressure that will get you your next cup of excellent coffee.

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As far as basic instructions go, here’s another 4 step process for you folks who like to keep it simple:

1. Boil Water

Boil water and let it sit while you grind out your coffee beans. Water should be around 175-195 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Grind your beans

As with most coffee brewing methods you want to figure out what kind of grind you want. For this fun gadget, it’s optimal to get a medium-fine grind comparable to table salt.

Measure out 2 scoops of coffee beans (this scoop comes with the Aeropress) and get grinding.

3. Add coffee and water

Assemble the Aeropress with the filter and the cap intact. Wet the filter, pour in your ground coffee and pour in just enough hot water to cover the grinds.

Wait 30 seconds to let the coffee bloom and then add in the desired amount of hot water.

4. Stir and press

It’s as easy as it sounds: stir for 10 seconds and use the plunger to press the brew through the grounds.

Resulting product

What you’ll get is a strong and crisp tasting cup of coffee with minimal bitterness.

Feel free to play around with the water levels to get something that tastes more like an Americano or a latte. The fun thing about an Aeropress is that you have a lot of control with what you make.

Pros/cons

  • Pro: super simple
  • Pro: easy to travel with
  • Pro: difficult to break unless you’re breaking it on purpose
  • Con: can only make the one really good cup
  • Con: requires filters

Additional resources

If you’re looking for other quick ways to get your caffeine fix, try looking at Home Grounds’ list of their top five fastest coffee makers:

The 5 Fast Coffee Makers In The World (When you can’t stomach instant coffee)

If you’re looking to get creative with the methodology of your Aeropress, this is a good article for you:

https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-aeropress-coffee-two-ways-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-210815

 

Pour over methods to brewing coffee

Can you guess what you do with pour over brewers? It’s not rocket science, all you’re doing is pouring water over grinds to extract a hot cup of well-brewed coffee.

Now, not everyone is born to be a barista but this is one method that even experts agree is a simple one. All you need is a bit of effort and patience.

There are plenty of awesome pour over brewers you can get on Amazon or in store. For now, we’ll give you a general overview on pour over methods and how to make the most of this simple brewing technique.

How it’s done

Think about this for a moment: what do you need to brew a good coffee?

There are 4 key things to keep in mind when making coffee in the pour over fashion and that’s the coffee grinds, water, filter, and time. Sure there are some subtle variables but these are the foundation of a well-brewed coffee.

Like we mentioned earlier, you want to get the most out of your coffee grinds but to do that you have to grind them according to your desired flavor profile.

If you want something bitter and chalky then go ahead and grind your coffee beans down to nothing. If you’re looking for something sour and bland then go ahead and skip the grinding altogether. (ok we don’t really mean that you DEFINITELY want to grind your coffee beans somehow)

Now when it comes to water, you want to make sure you heat it up to the proper temperature.

Water temperature should be around 195 – 205 degrees Fahrenheit but let’s be real, none of us carry thermometers in our pockets. Boiling water and letting it sit for 30 seconds works just fine as well.

The hotter the water, the quicker the extraction of flavors.

As a general rule, you want to keep your coffee to water ratio from 1:15 to 1:17 meaning 1 gram of coffee for every 17 grams of water. OR for those of you without a scale that roughly equates to 1 tablespoon of coffee for every 4 ounces of water.

Next, you want to make sure you rinse your filter with hot water. This does two things: it gets rid of the woodsy paper taste that a filter might get you and it warms up the brewer for you.

Finally, add in your coffee grinds and time every move right. Drizzle in enough hot water to saturate the grinds and let them bloom for 30 seconds before adding in the remaining hot water.

Resulting product

What you end up with…depends on a variety of factors. It depends on water temperature, grinds, and brewing time amongst other things.

Pour over brewers can either give you a really good or really bad brew and the final result will depend on your technique.

Pros/Cons

  • Pro: total control over the taste
  • Pro: inexpensive
  • Con: takes a while to perfect technique
  • Con: requires filters

Additional Resources

If you need some help getting your grinds the way you want them, here’s a handy guide brought to you by Stumptown:

https://www.stumptowncoffee.com/blog/grind-101

If you need more help with pour over brewers, here’s an equally awesome guide:

The Beginner’s Guide to Pour Over Coffee


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