Recipe: Cold Brew Old Fashioned

Friday, 23 August, 2019

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons of orange syrup.

4 dashes of bitters (bonus if you use orange bitters)

180ml of cold brew concentrate

1 maraschino cherry (garnish)

Orange peel (garnish)

Ice.

A naughty optional - 30-50ml of high end bourbon whiskey

It’s hard to stay stylish when you’re sweating through your fancy evening outfit during the holiday season. One of the most difficult choices of summer is trying to decide if dressing up is worth the discomfort. Try mixing up a cold drip old fashioned to keep your summer evenings classy

Combine your orange syrup and bitters in a glass, then throw in your cold drip concentrate. Stir well, and garnish with orange and cherry. Slowly place your ice cube in, and if you're feeling naughty, add a lashing of your favourite bourbon whiskey.

You now have a drink to replenish your dried up energy reserves and keep you cool, all while maintaining a James Bond level of class.

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Recipe: Cold Brew at Home

Thursday, 22 August, 2019

3 Steps to Better Cold Brew at Home

Get the grind right. 

Cold brew requires a specific grind. A larger grind — something closer to the coarseness of raw sugar — keeps the brew from getting bitter overnight. If you've got a small home grinder, it's best to grind the beans in batches.

Use a higher ratio of coffee to water. 

This recipe uses a ratio of 225g of ground coffee to 8 cups of water. You’re generally looking to achieve a 1:4 or 1:5 brew ratio, a bit higher than hot filter methods.

Strain slowly. 

The Toddy System relies on gravity to gently remove the cold brew from the grounds. To replicate that at home, you'll need to strain the cold brew gently through cheesecloth and a strainer, we’ve also used Chemex filter papers successfully. Avoid pressing or squeezing the coffee grounds, as that extracts bitter flavours. Work in batches to strain as gently as possible. It is a slow straining process and if you’re doing a big quantity you may need to use more than one filter so as to avoid any unwanted tearing which creates more of a mess than anyone should have to deal with before coffee.

This cold brew concentrate keeps in the fridge for up to two weeks (one of the perks of investing so much time!), so you can pour a cup anytime you want that sweet, smooth flavour.

What You Need

225g whole coffee beans

2 litres of water, preferably filtered

Coffee grinder

2 jars or pitchers with lids

Cheesecloth + Rubber band/ Strong Filter Papers (Chemex filters work pretty well! But you will still probably need to use a couple)

Instructions

Grind the coffee beans in a coffee grinder until they are coarsely ground. The goal is a coarse grind about the size of, dare we say it, instant coffee granules!

Combine the ground coffee and water in a 3 litre jar or pitcher. Gently stir the coffee with the water until well-blended. The coffee will float to the top as it sits, but don’t stress about that — just make sure all of the coffee gets wet.

Cover and steep the coffee overnight in the fridge for at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours.

Now for the straining! Line a small fine-mesh strainer with cheesecloth and set it over a large measuring cup. Slowly pour the coffee concentrate through the strainer. Depending on the size of your strainer, you may need to strain the coffee in batches. Fight the temptation to squeeze or press the coffee grounds in the cheesecloth. Or go with the Chemex filters in batches.

Transfer the cold brew to a clean jar for longer-term storage. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

To serve, fill a glass with some ice cubes. Pour 1/2 cup the cold brew over the ice, add 1/2 cup cold water, and stir to combine. Add milk if desired and enjoy.

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Hot Days, Cold Brew

Wednesday, 21 August, 2019

Although cold brew has been floating around cafés for a number of years now, the caffeine kick has officially hit the mainstream consciousness as it moves beyond cafes and on to supermarket shelves. 

And the options to get your fix are endless. You can buy it at your local coffee shop, you can find it stocked in many supermarkets (and still more to come in the near future!) or you can brew it at home. And actually, all the options are pretty easy to accomplish. There are of course expert cold brewers at your favourite coffee peddler who have the technique down pat, but you need not be intimidated to try this at home.

As long as you start with good quality beans, use a good ratio of coffee to water (we’ve got a recipe option for you!) and come prepared with a dollop of patience, you’re unlikely to have trouble getting a great cold brew coffee as a result. 

The extended extraction time required to brew this style of coffee means you’re essentially making a coffee concentrate. During the cold-brew process, time replaces heat. Todd Simpson, a chemical engineering graduate of Cornell, who developed the Toddy® Cold Brew System, discovered that high temperature facilitates the release of certain flavour elements. The temperature means that the acidity and bitterness normally associated with coffee are not given the opportunity to appear and sweetness and smooth mouthfeel are enhanced.

The main difference between Cold Brew and Iced Coffee is in the process (which also accounts for the differences in taste). Cold Brew coffee is steeped in cool water at room temperature for at least 12 hours (usually more), before the coarse grounds are filtered out. Without the heat, it takes a long time to extract maximum flavour. Cold Brew coffee tends to be much less bitter than regular coffee because heat is what releases the acidity of the coffee bean oils. The result is a much smoother coffee concentrate that can be mixed with milk or water. 

Iced Coffee is brewed like regular coffee (usually extra strong) and then cooled by pouring over ice. Simple really! At some establishments, you might run the risk of being served this morning’s stale coffee over ice, but the way it’s supposed to be served is immediately over ice after brewing. It’s typically sweetened and may be served with a pinch of cream or milk, and the result is a light, refreshing drink with all the natural aromas of your regular hot coffee.

Because the brewing process for both beverages is so different, the flavours are as well. The brewing temperature impacts the extraction of acids, sugars and oils from the bean, and ultimately, the final cup. Cold Brew is much smoother and milder in flavour than regular coffee – it tastes sweeter and less acidic. This is because less flavour is extracted at a lower temperature.

If mild and sweet are not what you want from your coffee, Iced Coffee preserves all the natural aromas of regular coffee, with a crisp acidity and rich flavour profile. When done right, Iced Coffee retains the intense flavours and complexity of the bean, delivering all the goodness of your regular cup of coffee – just chilled.

A roasted coffee bean contains many compounds that are extracted during the brewing process. Some of those compounds, including certain oils and fatty acids, are soluble only at a high temperature. During the cold brew process, coffee beans are never exposed to high temperature (this only occurs after a rich liquid coffee concentrate has been produced).

Deceptively simple, cold water brewing extracts the delicious flavour compounds (and some of the caffeine) from coffee beans, but leaves behind myriad bitter oils and biting fatty acids, including undesirable elements such as ketones, esters and amides. These are the same bitter acids and fatty oils that surface to the top of your hot cup of coffee, and give hot-brewed coffee that familiar 'bite' (thus the reason that some 8 out of 10 people attempt to soften the acidic taste by adding milk or milk to their coffee).

There are a number of nifty gadgets on the market that make the messiest part of the brewing business, the filtering, much easier. In fact, the Toddy Cold Brewer has been on the market for over 50 years and they’ve got a no-fail filtering system, plus it comes with an awesome airtight carafe for storage. The Hario cold brew bottle is a simple immersive device, you pour the water through the coffee in the filter and that keeps the coffee separate from the water, but still in the water so you don’t even need to worry about filtering at the end, pretty ingenious.

Sales of cold brew coffee at both cafe and in the retail sector have absolutely skyrocketed in the United States over the last couple of years. Allen Leibowitz, a partner in Momentum Coffee in the US, puts it eloquently when he states why its moment has arrived: "I think cold brew finally clicked for a number of reasons. One is the broad spread of specialty coffee. Quality coffee has gone mass market. Take a look at any of the mass market retailers and grocers. It (specialty coffee) is also part of every day conversation, so a 'new' type of coffee cold brew may be more accepted now as people look to broaden their coffee palate."

And South Africa is sure to follow suit soon. The SA summer has been waiting too long for delicious cold brew coffees available everywhere and not just at the best coffee spots.

Now, the real skill comes in during mass production. The Ready To Drink (RTD) market is just waiting to be tapped and the front runners in South Africa are up to the challenge. So who do you need to look out for on the shelves? Some of the cool cats leading the charge are Sea Dog Coffee and Potion Coffee. 

In the next few weeks we'll be exploring both the RTD market and the fun ways you can use cold brew over the coming summer months. 

First up, try our recipe to make your own Cold Brew at Home!
 

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Random and very handy alternate uses for Coffee Filter papers

Wednesday, 14 August, 2019

Who doesn’t love a creative alternative use for an everyday household item? I didn’t even know coffee filters could be this useful until I looked into it. Did you know they’re not just for coffee? It turns out these filters I’ve been taking for granted all these years are actually super handy to have around…

1. Clean screens and polish glass

Did you know that coffee filters are lint-free? That means they’re ideal for cleaning screens – anything from laptops, to TVs, mobile phones and tablets. No more dried streaks across your screens, or any lint left behind. For the same reason, coffee filters are ideal for cleaning glass – and your glasses. The filters absorb the cleaning liquid, and don’t leave behind any residue. Move aside newspaper: this is a job for coffee filters.

2. Strain your wine

We’ve all had corks accidentally break and come apart when opening a bottle of wine, but never fear … Rather than trying to fish out the floating cork pieces, just strain the wine through the coffee filter into a decanter or carafe. The filter catches all the pieces of cork, and you’re spared the experience of a slightly chewy wine. The coffee filter also works just as well for wine with a heavy sediment.

3. Keep shoes smelling fresh

Fill a coffee filter with baking soda and a few drops of your favourite essential oil, twist it closed, and secure with a cable tie or elastic band to make a small sachet. The baking soda absorbs and neutralises unpleasant odours, and the essential oil leaves a lingering scent other than stinky feet. Pop the sachets into recently worn shoes, and even cupboards if you want a general air freshener.

4. Prevent soil from escaping plant pots

To prevent losing soil from potted plants, place a coffee filter at the bottom of your pot before you fill it with soil. The filter allows water to drain away, but keeps the soil in place.


5. Ease those tired eyes

Cut a coffee filter in half, and soak both pieces in some brewed tea – chamomile or rooibos will do the trick. Chill the tea and filters in the fridge for a bit and voilà, a cold compress for your eyes! Just fold the pieces in half and let the coffee filter work its magic.

6. Keep greens fresh

It’s not just shoes that coffee filters keep fresh – you can also prevent your green veggies from wilting. Keep your greens crisp by wrapping them in a coffee filter, which will absorb excess moisture and give you a few more days of grace to eat your greens before they go off. You can also put the filter in the bag with the greens to keep them in good condition.

7. Soften

Coffee filters make great homemade dryer sheets because they’re so absorbent. Dampen a filter with a few drops of white vinegar and your favourite essential oil (lemongrass is my go-to for laundry). Chuck the filter into the tumble dryer with your wet clothes, and they’ll come out smelling fresh and feeling super soft.

Do you have any other tips for alternative coffee filter uses? We’d love to hear them!

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Hot Tip: Choosing the portable coffee maker that best suits you

Tuesday, 23 July, 2019

Portable Coffee Makers – What to look out for when choosing your brewing method

Nothing can ruin your day just as much as a poor cup of coffee can. And besides leaving a terrible taste in your mouth, a horrible brew can leave you feeling like the whole world is against you. Finding a great cup of coffee or the perfect espresso shot while traveling can be a struggle. However, there are plenty of hassle-free ways to make your own brew on the go just the way you like it. Worry not, choosing between the “portable coffee makers” is no herculean task but rather a matter of weighing up the features. Below I will outline these key features and what to look out for. 

Space

How much space I you have? This is a great place to start and good question to ask yourself in your pursuit. 

For example, if you’re setting off on a hike and only have a small backpack to carry your accessories a smaller unit that not only fits in your pack but is lightweight and leaves enough space for your coffee itself will be the best option. 

However, if you find yourself on a weekend away in the bush and your car is your “home” for a couple of days a larger coffee maker with less concern for weight and more for convenience should be considered. 

Electronic or Manual

Where you’re planning on using the maker is a just an important factor to consider. Someone who enjoys the natural energies of the wild with limited cellphone reception and electricity. Then its best you consider a manual portable coffee maker that uses a plunger to build pressure in the chamber. 

Some coffee makers require power from an inbuilt battery source or external like a power bank. Better yet a compact solar cell will do the changing job perfectly. 

So, think about where you will unit the coffee maker. 

Your favorite coffee

Well if you’re honest no two of us are the same and we all have different tastes and likes. For me to impress my turn-to on you would be the wrong this to do. 

Instead find a coffee maker that compliments your coffee by ways of the correct pressure, temperature and run time. 

Type of coffee

Some of us perfect capsule while other grounds. Luckily these coffee makers can do either and some coffee makers can do both. With the aid of an attachment to the machine one could change from coffee grounds to capsule coffee in a matter of seconds. This is a great feature to look for when making your choice. 

Now, I know some of you may be thinking… Well what about my coffee beans? A simple compact coffee grounder is a great on the go solution that can solve your problems wherever you might be.

Water boiling

While some portable coffee machines are capable of boiling water within the unit. These machines are very uncommon. This is due to the huge power demand this task involves. Instead look for a coffee machine that boils the water on the go or simply carry a flask on your travels. 

Price

Perhaps the most important factor is price. Some of these units can seemingly cost an arm and a leg however we all know there’s no substitute for quality. However, in saying this it all depends on the buyer’s budget and there are many great units that are very reasonably priced and extremely well made. 

Ease of Purchase

I find purchasing these units and finding the best one for you to be easiest online because of the range and delivery options these sites offer. If you’re someone who prefers visiting a physical store, then your best option would be a major outdoor store in your area. 

While the machine and its features are undoubtedly important, just as important is the setting and company your surround yourself in. So, when you find yourself weighing up the option remember a great cup of coffee is what you make of it. 

About the author

Cameron Mc Millan

Coffee enthusiast and contributor at www.bysacw.com 

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Tamp That!

Thursday, 16 May, 2019

The History & Importance of Tamping and Distribution

Words by Michelle Johnson


When we walk into our favourite neighbourhood coffee shop, we usually notice a lot of movement going on behind the bar. We may see a barista leaned over a Chemex concentrating on the steadiness of the flow from a kettle and another fully engaged with a customer helping them choose some beans to take home. Then there’s the barista behind the espresso machine, confident and fully in control of the flow of drinks coming in and out. 

A peek into their domain and you see even more movement. The barista fills the portafilter with finely ground coffee before levelling, tamping, and finally locking it into the machine to produce espresso. Of all those steps, the importance of levelling and tamping the coffee isn’t fully understood by new baristas and home coffee brewers, alike. But it’s arguably one of the most essential parts of the process — it can make or break the tastiness of your coffee! 

A Brief History

In the late 90s and early 00s, tampers started to gain in popularity as baristas all over began to understand their importance in producing well-extracted coffee. Reg Barber was a pioneer in creating tampers with a wood handle and stainless steel base that fit larger espresso baskets (usually 58mm) perfectly so no coffee grind was left behind when pressing into them. Nowadays, tampers are fully customizable and come in a variety of types depending on your basket size, and even come handleless. No matter what, tampers are a staple tool on every single coffee bar across the globe, at home and in the cafe.

The Basics

What exactly is tamping and why is it so important? Tamping is just another name for compressing coffee grounds into into a “cake”, or puck, in the portafilter. But this seemingly small step carries a lot of weight. 

Compressing the coffee allows the grinds to fill every space inside the portafilter so when water is finally introduced, it doesn’t flow too quickly through the puck, resulting in under-extracted espresso. But if the puck isn’t compressed enough, water flows too freely and you end up with a very watery drink. Also with the addition of pressure from the espresso machine, there needs to be some resistance from the coffee. The more resistance, the longer it takes for the water to soak through the puck, and the more extracted your beverage will be in the end. Pressure is a variable not present when brewing filter coffee [the Aeropress is arguable], but is a major factor in why the total brew time for espresso sits around 30 seconds. Most baristas equipped with only a tamper get by just fine (I did!), but a newer coffee tool has emerged in recent years—the distribution tool.

Distribution is incredibly important in espresso brewing. Have you ever seen a barista swinging their arm and fingers around a portafilter, moving the coffee about? That’s distribution (and more specifically, this method is called ‘Stockfleth’). Prior to tamping, you don’t want there to be more coffee in any one part of the portafilter. The goal is to have a flat bed so the water can do its thing at an even pace for every grind. Tamping alone achieves this to some degree, but manual distribution absolutely ensures even extraction and better tasting coffee. 

Distribution tools usually look like large metal pucks with an adjustable piece at the bottom that levels the coffee without compressing it, creating a flat canvas for even tamping. These tools also aid in consistency—something manual distribution can’t always account for. For this reason, they’re an awesome training tool for new baristas, and even those who are more skilled use distribution tools everyday. At national and world level barista competitions, you’ll almost never see a competing barista without one because consistent distribution and an even tamp scores high technical points!

The ONA Distribution tool. Pic by ONA

Within the barista community, there is a lot of debate whether or not these tools actually distribute coffee evenly throughout the portafilter. Folks also ask if they do so any better than other methods like the Stockfleth or palm-tapping, lightly tapping the side of the portafilter to settle the coffee grinds.

Our team at Barista Hustle conducted some experimentation to answer these questions. We found that distribution tools didn’t perform any better than other methods, but that doesn’t mean they’re not useful. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and your budget.

Which Will Work Better For Me?

Between tampers and distribution tools, there are a range of options on the market to choose from for home coffee bars. Out of the two, tampers are a non-negotiable for brewing espresso. Most new home espresso machines will come with a simple, dumbell-shaped tamper. It’ll get the job done, but it never hurts to upgrade so that you can get the most out of your coffee! 

First, you have to know the size of your espresso basket and purchase a tamp who’s base will fit. Any space left between the tamper and the walls of the basket will result in loose grinds. Those will have a negative effect on the taste of your coffee. Once that’s figured out, determine your price point. Wood, steel, and customizable tampers are usually priced between $50-$100 USD, depending on the customization. The PUSH Tamp, a handless tamper that helps relieve stress on the wrist (especially for baristas who work in high volume cafes), is priced at just under $200 USD. Another popular option is the Barista Hustle tamper, a minimal, black aluminium tamper ($55 USD) with a replaceable stainless steel base should it dent when dropped ($15 USD). 

Some coffee shops remove manual tamping altogether and will buy a machine tamp—the Puqpress is the most well-known option. This has been really helpful for maintaining physical wellness for baristas in protecting their wrists. If you find this is important, consider investing in one!

The Puqpress, automatic tamping tool. Pic by Puqpress Official

As far as distribution tools go, it’s completely up to you. It’s a great practice to implement into home espresso brewing. More often than not, you’ll find your espresso tasting better and more consistent. Distribution tools are usually expensive, though. The OCD is priced just under $200 USD and most others are in that range. It’s possible to achieve consistency with manual methods of distribution, but with the one thing all coffee brewing requires—practice! 

There are so many things that go into making the perfect cup of coffee. On top of remembering all the steps of the process, the tools needed all have their own intentional uses that are important. Now when you walk into the nearest shop, you’ll have a better understanding of what’s going into brewing that tasty espresso that keeps you coming back. Hopefully, you’ll also realize this is attainable and achievable at home, too, and you can enjoy great coffee anywhere.

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Basics: Getting started with a Grinder

Wednesday, 10 April, 2019

Can you really call yourself a connoisseur if you don’t own a coffee grinder to grind your own beans? Maybe, maybe not… Either way, here’s what you need to know to find the right grinder for a fresher and more flavourful cup…

Blades vs. Burr

A blade grinder has blades similar to those in a food blender. It grinds coffee beans very swiftly, which is an advantage, but the grounds produced are often different in size, meaning the resultant cup of coffee won’t be the best quality. On the plus side, you’ll find blade grinders have price on their side. That age-old struggle: price versus better tasting coffee.

A burr grinder produces very consistent grounds, so it’s the superior option if taste is your ultimate deciding factor. A burr grinder is a type of mill – coffee beans pass through a small gap between a stationary surface and a revolving surface, both of which are coarse. The two surfaces belong to two cylinders or a cylinder and a flat surface, and these are the burrs. The user can usually set the distance between the two burrs, allowing you to choose between larger or smaller grounds. This is definitely the first choice if your morning routine calls for a serious cup of coffee.

Manual vs. Electric

Electric grinders make grinding easy work. You pour beans into the funnel, press the button, and hey presto, freshly ground beans. However, if you’re choosing to grind your own beans over buying pre-ground ones, perhaps you’re not all about modern convenience. Also, given our national loadshedding situation, perhaps manual grinders are the way forward. 

A manual grinder, albeit burr or blade, involves effort on your part. The manual burr grinder is, of course, the ultimate in personal control – you decide the size of the grounds based on where you set the burrs, and you control the speed of the grinding process, as you’re in charge of the swivel arm. The finer the ground you want to produce, the more elbow grease required. Those who make coffee from grounds they produced themselves using a manual burr grinder must feel all sorts of achievement unknown to the rest of us plebs, but we don’t recommend this option unless you know you’re willing to put in the extra time and effort. 

Manual burr grinders are great for on-the-go coffee consumers and a hit amongst the craft coffee crowd, but an electric grinder (burr or blade) is probably best for those who want an easy operation that gives you a quality cup of coffee every time.

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Let your morning coffee ritual start your day off right

Tuesday, 12 March, 2019

Some people are morning people … and for the rest of us, there’s coffee. And if there’s one thing we non-morning people love – it's that first cup that kick starts the day. Your first coffee in the morning is usually the quietest and most content moment of the entire day if you’re enjoying it at home, so it’s worth investing in to make sure you get the most out of it.

Coffee lovers around the world can attest to the benefits of setting up your own coffee station at home – placing everything you need for that perfect first cup within arm’s reach. If you can’t free up counter space in the kitchen, find a drinks trolley or a cabinet corner where you can dedicate the space purely to your caffeine fix. The advantage of a drinks trolley or bar cart is that it’s mobile, so you could even have it in your bedroom if you don’t want to wander too far from your bed in the morning.

Organise your morning

The purpose of a coffee station is to keep everything you need for that perfect cup in one place, clutter-free, lined up, stacked and organised just the way you like it so you don’t even have to think too much. Simplifying this one little thing leaves you free to really savour your coffee. So how can you start your morning off on the right foot? To set up your very own coffee station, you will need some (or all) of the following coffee accessories, depending on what you find essential to your coffee making process: 

  • Coffee container (filled with beans, ground coffee or pods)
  • Coffee maker of your preference (filter machine, French Press, Chemex, Nespresso)
  • Filters for your chosen method
  • Kettle
  • Grinder - Hand or electric
  • Milk frother, optional for a little bit of decadence
  • Mugs or teacups
  • Espresso cups
  • Sugar or sweetener
  • Teaspoons and a spoon rest
  • A tea towel

A coffee station is an inexpensive and easy way to bring some style to your early morning routine, not to mention the convenience of having all the essentials on hand. Bringing some structure to your morning coffee routine can help to make the whole process more relaxing, easing you into the day with a caffeine fix that’s truly satisfying. 

Do you have a coffee station set up at home? Share a photo with us and tell us if it helps you get going in the mornings.

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