Whether you're brand new to manual coffee brewing or a seasoned pro looking to expand their repertoire, we've put in the hours and have science to back up our brew guides. While we have a specific way we do things at D², we encourage you to experiment and develop brew recipes to fit your taste. Employ the scientific method, we would love to hear your results!
Here is what you need to make a great cup of coffee (in order of importance):
The core concept in coffee brewing is Extraction.
Extraction is the process of dissolving soluble flavor compounds from the coffee grounds with water. Our goal is to extract as many flavor compounds as possible without the coffee becoming too concentrated (read: bitter). When we talk about strength in coffee, we are referring to how concentrated it is. We manage the strength of our coffee by manipulating the dwelltime and the coffee to water ratio.
Dwelltime is the amount of time that your coffee spends with water. Water, the universal solvent, is a hard worker, and the entire time it is in contact with the coffee grounds it is working to extract flavor compounds. On the pour-over bar at D², our target dwelltime is 3 minutes and 15 seconds. The longer the dwelltime, the stronger the resulting cup.
The idea behind the coffee to water ratio is that for any given amount of coffee, there is a proper amount of water to go with it. At D² we generally use a 1:17 coffee to water ratio, and we measure it in grams. This means that for one gram of coffee, we would use 17 grams (or milliliters) of water. On our pour-over bar we use 22 grams of coffee and 375 grams of water. Generally speaking, the steeper the ratio, the stronger the resulting cup (eg. 1:10 will be stronger than 1:17).
While we prepare all our coffees with a specific strength in mind, there is no cut and dry right or wrong strength. The more coffee brewing experience you get, the more in tune you will become with extraction and your own personal strength preferences.
Before we dive into our recipes we need to cover a few important things related to coffee grinding.
Immediately following the roasting process, coffee begins releasing CO2 and flavor compounds into the air; this is called degassing. After about two weeks, the vast majority of the flavor compounds that make coffee delicious have left, leaving stale coffee in their wake.
The act of grinding coffee facilitates a rapid and large scale evacuation of flavor compounds. This is why it is important to grind right before brewing and not to pre-grind, especially if you are spending the money to buy a nice bag of coffee.
The proper grind size is one of the key factors in insuring you achieve a good extraction. Grind size influences dwelltime like this: a larger grind (coarser) promotes a faster dwelltime, while a smaller (finer) grind gives you a longer dwelltime.
Predicting the proper particle size of your grind based merely on visual evaluation can be difficult even to the trained professional. If you treat dialing in your particle size like a science experiment, it becomes much easier. If you notice your coffee drips through too fast, or your resulting brew is weak or sour, you can tighten down your grind (making it finer). Conversely, if you notice your coffee takes forever to drip through, or your resulting brew is strong or bitter, you can loosen your grind (making it coarser).
Making adjustments to particle size, or obtaining an even particle size is impossible with a blade grinder, that is why we highly recommend purchasing a burr grinder. In fact, of all the investments you could make to your coffee setup, your grinder is the most important.
Pour-over brewing is simply the process of making coffee by pouring hot water onto coffee grounds in a filter. We like pour-over brewing at D² because it gives us easy and on-the-fly control of the variables affecting extraction. There are many, many different pour-over brewers from just as many different manufacturers, but the concept is the same for them all: hot water goes on top, coffee comes out the bottom.
On our pour-over bar we use Beehouse drippers. The Beehouse is a simple ceramic dripper from Japan. It has two holes at the bottom and ridges down the side. We like Beehouse ceramic drippers because ceramics retain heat much better than cheap plastic drippers, also, two-hole drippers are superior to similar single-hole drippers because they promote even extraction better and give more control over dwelltime. Plus, they look pretty elegant and come in tons of cool colors.
This is the recipe for our "B Profile," our go-to recipe for new coffees. All coffees brew a little differently, so we adjust the recipe to fit the specific coffee we are working with. You can pour a little more in the beginning and bring in your second pours quicker to speed up the brew, or pour less in the beginning and bring in your second pours later to extend the brew time.
Set-Up – Fold your #4 filter along the bottom seam, then along the side seam, slide it into your dripper, and then place the dripper onto your mug/cup or carafe. Rinse the filter with hot water and discard; this gets rid of papery taste from the filter and also preheats the brewer and mug. Pour your ground coffee into your filter, shake gently to level, and place on a scale. Zero (or “tare”) the scale. We are ready to begin.
* - This stage is called blooming the coffee. The bloom serves a few purposes, most importantly it increases the dwelltime, giving us a better extraction. It also lets CO2 escape before starting the brewing process so the chemical reaction does not interfere with extracting flavor compounds, though this is most important with fresh-off-the-roast coffee.
The Chemex is a beautifully designed, American made glass pour-over brewer that was invented back in the forties, which means that there might be an old one kicking around that you thought was a vase. It is different from other pour-over drippers in a few ways.
Most obviously it is a self contained brewing and serving vessel. It looks great on any kitchen counter, table, etc.
More importantly, the geometry of the Chemex's brew column combined with its triple-walled paper filter give its coffee a distinctly clean and tea-like quality. This unique level of clarity can really bring out the best in more delicate coffees. We use a coarser grind and eliminate the bloom step for Chemex because the thick filter naturally gives us a longer brew time.
Set-Up – Fold your Chemex filter in half, and then into quarters (although many come pre-folded!). Place into the Chemex with “3-layered” side facing the spout. Rinse the filter with hot water and discard. Pour ground coffee into filter and place on a scale. Zero (or “tare”) the scale. We are ready to begin.
The Aeropress is a neat little brewer invented by Alan Adler, the guy who made the Aerobie Flying Ring. It utilizes pressure to create a quick cup of coffee that's heavy in body, somewhat similar to how an espresso is made, but at a much lower pressure.
We find the Aeropress to be ideal for accentuating bold flavors in coffee, especially fruity ones. It can also bring a little more punch to a delicate coffee, though this might be at the expense of some complexity.
We grind coffee finer and use a steeper coffee to water ratio for the Aeropress because of its quick brew time. If you find your press takes too long, coarsen the grind.
Set-Up We use what is called the "Inverted Method" for brewing the Aeropress (set-up pictured). Place the filter in the filter cap and wet it with hot water (watch your fingers). Add your coffee to the Aeropress using the funnel that comes with it; shake to level. We're ready to start brewing!
* Whenever you work stirring into a brew method, you want to make sure you're doing it the same way each time. A more or less vigorous stir will drastically alter extraction.
The Clever dripper is a pretty ingenious device that can be used as a drip brewer or full-immersion brewer. The plug on the bottom is shut if the dripper is not on a cup, and when placed on a cup it will drain.
At D² we use the Clever to make our iced pour-over coffee because its full-immersion brewing allows us to make an extra strong cup of properly extracted coffee which we then bring back to proper strength by releasing on ice.
Set-Up Rinse your clever with hot water and discard, add your coffee and tare it on the scale. Program a timer to countdown from 2:45.