Coffee may have come in three waves, but it has managed to sweep us away like one big tsunami. Manifestations of its impact can be found everywhere — from memes on the Internet to our shape-shifting pantry shelves, where with time, Bru and Nescafe have been swapped with brands like, Araku, Subko, Blue Tokai and more.
Rajjat Gulati, now the co-founder of a fintech startup, points out, “there are better beans available increasingly now. I have been in the coffee-brewing space for over 10 years now, and I am still discovering newer methods of brewing coffee at home”. Formerly the owner of F5, a chain of cafés from Delhi-NCR, Gulati’s observation indicates towards India’s expanding craft and specialty coffee segment, which is expected to grow annually by 9.15 per cent, as per several market studies. Pioneered by homegrown ventures that are working closely with the farmers’ ecosystem, the phenomenon has played a seminal role in informing our coffee culture. As a result, enthusiasts have switched from making grab-and-go stops at their local cafés to investing in brewing equipment and making their cuppas at home.
And it has gained steam, thanks to the portability and cost-effectiveness, vis-a-vis Nespresso machines that are way costlier. “Manual brewing is a way smaller investment, when compared to machine coffee. Especially, when we’re talking about the specialty coffee market, where people are more curious about understanding the nuances of flavour like, the body, after taste, bitterness, sweet-bitterness or citrusy notes,” elucidates Rohan Sebastian, who heads the coffee quality division at Subko Specialty Coffee Roasters. Plus, manual brewing allows the maker to connect with their cup more deeply. Dr Lancelot Pinto, a pulmonologist and epidemiologist, but more importantly, a passionate coffee enthusiast, echoes this when he says, “the pouring of water from a Buono kettle onto a pour over funnel; watching and waiting for the bloom then, pouring over the rest, while enjoying the aromas, can have a meditative charm. The deliberate slowness of the process also results in the coffee being ready at a temperature that would be perfect for most people.”
Left To Your Own Device
It is important to note here that manual or home brewing isn’t new to Indians. For years, in the South, coffeeholics have used the nifty traditional drip coffee maker for filter kaapi. And then, of course, came the ubiquitous Moka pot. Be that as it may, when it comes to the home coffee bar, there are several options worth exploring. Mithilesh Vazalwar, founder and CEO Corridor Seven Coffee Roasters, gives us the lowdown:
Chemex: In essence a pour-over method, the Chemex is a coffee maker, invented by Peter Schlumbohm back in 1941. It involves passing water through a bed of coffee via a filter and usually delivers tremendously clean cups. “It’s a beautiful technique and equipment. It ensures good clarity and nice acidity — it’s not very sharp and kind of mellowed down,” he offers.
AeroPress: “This is a rage everywhere, thanks to AeroPress championships across the world,” says the certified coffee Q-Grader and Indian Aeropress Championship 2017 winner. “It’s a really versatile brewing technique; you can carry it anywhere and brew the same coffee in a thousand different ways,” Vazalwar opines. Invented by Alan Adler, founder of AeroPress Inc., the equipment is a cylindrical chamber, similar to a syringe, in which coffee and water are steeped together and then, forced out, using a plunger. The ubiquitous, portable and easy-to-use machine is a go-to for espresso lovers.
Trinity Zero: A patented coffee press, this compact machine has a pump built into the lid of the water chamber, which helps produce stronger cups of coffee. Speaking about it, Vazalwar says, “It is a hand-held brewer and it hasn’t caught up in the market right now. You put fine-ground coffee, hot water, place it on top of a glass and start pressing with your thumb,” adding that it also allows dilution with water or milk, too.
Hario V60: “It’s hands-down the best manual brewing equipment available. It’s dynamic and similar to the Chemex. But a V60 gives you the opportunity to understand the coffee more, and you can tweak it easily to bitter, sweet or sour, depending on what you like,” he tells us about the manual, pour over ceramic apparatus that makes use of a glass decanter, paper filters and gravity to give you a versatile range of brews.
Clever Drip: This plastic device resembling a moka pot, is in fact, a mix between a French press and a pour over that makes use of a valve placed at the bottom, which enables it to extract the coffee using two methods — immersion and filter. Elaborating on the equipment, Vazalwar says, “You basically have to put a filter paper, add hot water, coffee and let it sit for three to four minutes or whatever recipe you’re following. And then, lift it and put it on top of a glass. So, you don’t have much to do and the coffee tastes phenomenal.”
Moka Pot: “This is a very old brewing technique and the most commonly found equipment at homes. It gives you a nice, thick coffee, but it doesn’t give you much control over it, when compared to a pour over,” the coffee connoisseur argues. The device is available in both stove-top and electric versions and what it does is, use boiling water to pressurise ground coffee using steam. There are several options available when it comes to the Moka pot.
French Press: Also known as a cafetière, the French press is yet another all-pervasive coffee-making device that utilises the technique of immersing coffee grounds and water, and then separates it using a pressing down filter. “I personally don’t like it, but a lot of people prefer it because they like full-bodied coffee. Plus, it’s super easy to make,” he adds.
Cold Brew: “We must have explored 0.000 per cent of its potential in India,” Vazalwar shares about the process, which involves steeping coffee grounds in water at cooler temperatures for 12 to 24 hours that is then extracted using paper coffee filters. Because the resultant coffee concentrate does not come in contact with heat, it typically delivers a profile unlike with other brewing techniques.
Min-Maxing Your Brews
Dr Pinto, who tries different ways of experiencing coffee by tinkering with “multiple variables from roasting to grinding and brewing” suggests a few additional tools that can veritably up the ante on your coffee home bar, and subsequently your daily source of caffeine.
“It cannot be emphasised enough that the beans must be freshly ground, and this should not be done with a conventional blade grinder. Blade grinders grind unevenly, and heat up the coffee grinds, causing volatile flavours to be lost,” he suggests, recommending a burr grinder, which uses two revolving abrasive surfaces — kind of like a mill — to grind up coffee. “While the electric ones tend to be expensive, manual ones work fine, especially if one is brewing for one or two persons at a time. Hario makes a great manual grinder, which I carry with me when I travel,” he adds.
Speaking of roasts, he suggests that having a regular supply is important. “A roaster, who roasts regularly (and mentions the date of the roast on the pack) is invaluable. Grinding closer to the date of roasting tends to be preferable, as coffee can lose its flavours quickly,” he explains.
Additionally, he proposes having a good kettle and clean water handy. “I do not have a temperature-controlled kettle, but it would definitely add value,” he says. For pour over users, he suggests having a Buono kettle, while urging AeroPress fans to use a steel mesh instead of the default paper filters. “Getting the grounds-to-water ratio right is important to get consistent coffee, and a weighing scale is ideal. I have an Acaia scale, but there are several inexpensive options as well,” he signs off.
Get Roasted — 5 Coffees For Your Home Bar
Speciality Arabica, Bartchinhulla Estate
Roast level: Medium
Dope Coffee Roasters
Speciality Arabica, Attikan Estate
Roast Level: Medium Dark
Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters
El Diablo Blend
Roast level: Medium Roast
Third Wave Coffee Roasters
Roast level: Espresso
Curious life Coffee Roasters
Speciality Robusta, Double Barrel Blend
Roast level: Medium
Dope Coffee Roasters
Recommendations courtesy Rizwan Amlani, CEO and co-founder, Dope Coffee Roasters
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