What’s with the Acme young Chemist beginner set?
Our regulars have noticed that there’s a new row of funky looking equipment at the front of our espresso bar ranging from the familiar (French Press) to something that looks like it belongs on the set of Breaking Bad (Siphon Brewer).
What we have here is specialty brewing equipment designed to get the most out of your coffee. Meander with me along a vague trail of thought won’t you?
Hands, Hands, Hands.
The coffee you drink goes on a global journey and along the way it is encountered with many different sets of hands. The farmer who hand picks the coffee, the people who hand dry the coffee on slabs of cement in the equatorial heat, the distributor who ships the coffee from the farm to the roaster, the roaster who takes the bean from a hard green pebble and turns it into the aromatic bean we know and love, and the last set of hands along the way is the barista.
Now, if we didn’t take any time or put any energy into making sure that every hand that touched our coffee was a master at their trade, then specialty brewing would be nothing more that a gimmick. But we DID take the time to find the roaster who would take the time to only get the best beans that have been grown and handled with care. And what we end up with is the rare coffee that still has the potential to be truly amazing when it reaches your cup.
Now this coffee is still quite incredible in the universally known drip brewing method (In fact, I’m drinking a cup of it now), but with a little extra attention and some specialized equipment we can take an incredible coffee bean and not make merely a great cup of coffee, but the incredible cup that still waits patiently inside the coffee beans.
But why these funny devices? I can make coffee just fine in my brewer at home!
Correct, you can also make coffee with an empty can of beans over a campfire, that doesn’t mean it’s going to taste any good (still better than no coffee). We can take this logic in the other direction and use say, a Chemex (just like our friend Joey) and closer monitor the water temperature and time of contact the coffee has with said water and make an even better cup than your drip brewer.
Getting great coffee comes down to one simple thing. There are tasty oils in the coffee bean and there are gross bitter parts to the bean as well.
By controlling the water temperature and the time of extraction (pulling those happy oils out) we can get all of the good stuff without any of the bad stuff.
Weak watery coffee? You didn’t get all the happy stuff.
Bitter “Burnt” tasting coffee? Congratulations! You got all of the good stuff out of the bean, and also metaphorically spit in it by also extracting some bitter nasties as well.
Watery bitter coffee? Whoa! you’ve managed the incredible feat of over extracting some of the grounds while simultaneously under extracting other grounds.
Coffee that’s too soupy? That’s not coffee, that is most likely stew. We’d recommend a starch like flour, or even adding potatoes or noodles will help thicken that bear up.
So don’t feel like you must abandon drip coffee (I’d chew instant coffee if it was between that and going without), but we do encourage you to give the specialty methods a try and see what you’re missing.