• On the Menu: Coffee Brew Methods


    No city knows coffee quite as well as Seattle. We stopped by one of the city’s favorite cafes, Elm Coffee Roasters to get the scoop on getting the most out of your coffee beans in any situation.
    Photos by Christina Hicks 


    Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? How did Elm get started? 
    Elm Coffee Roasters is named after my soon to be wife, Emily Lauren Mullally. I grew up in Seattle and worked in a local coffee shop while I was young. I moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico to attend college at St. John’s when I as 18, and worked in coffee there as well. After college, I moved to New York to attend graduate school for philosophy. My focus was on aesthetics and epistemology. While in New York I began working for Joe. I worked for Joe for 7 years, lastly managing Joe Pro Shop, their multi-roaster, brewing equipment retailer. I soon realized that the academic life was not for me and decided to open my own shop. I wanted to settle down, maybe start a family, and I thought Seattle would be a good place to do this. I moved to Seattle with Emily, with no financing and no space. It took about a year and a half to open. Financing was the most difficult; it was rather hard to convince the banks that something new could be done in Seattle coffee. By great fortune, I met Drew Fitchette, our head roaster and green buyer, and we have had a great working relationship. He has taught me a great deal about purchasing, tasting and roasting coffees.
     
    What sets Elm apart? 
    We try to place a focus on warm, friendly, non-snobby customer service, along with the highest quality light-roast coffee. We are constantly tasting, adjusting and re-adjusting our coffees and brews in order to deliver seamless, and efficient service, as well as a delicious product. We purchase some of the finest coffees available, and roast them lightly so that their natural sweetness comes through, while avoiding sour and vegetal notes that are common in light roasted coffee now. We utilize all the new tools available for brewing consistently good coffee, but do not make this a point of emphasis with the customer; the focus should be on the service and the product. Under-promise, and over-deliver. 


    How much coffee do you drink every day? 
    I have one full cup in the morning, and I taste throughout the day!  I don’t want to think about how much it adds up to.  It’s probably a lot.
     
    Is there a secret to keep your coffee beans fresh? 
    Not really. If they are light roast, they are good for at least three weeks.  I have had our coffee at a month off roast and it was still yummy. Put it in a Tupperware.
     
    Brew Methods

    The French press method: 
    French press is an immersion brew method, where coffee and water sit together, and are then plunged.


    How to make the perfect French press: 
    If using a gram scale (you should, it’s not as fussy as you think and makes it easier): use 55-60 grams of coffee in an 8 cup French press.  Adjust down as necessary. Set a timer for 4 minutes, and hot (195-201F) water and start the time. Pour the water up to 1.5 inches from top. Wait 60 seconds, and stir the coffee on top to mix everything together.  After four minutes, press plunger and serve. 

    Tip: After four minutes, take two spoons and scrape off the scummy looking stuff on the top of the brew and discard. Like skimming a stock!
    Tip: Do not grind as course as some people say. Grind coarse, but not the big gravel-sized chunks that seem to be ubiquitous. 
     


    The pour over method: 
    Pour-over is a manual filter coffee, drip style. With drip coffees, the water is poured over a bed of coffee by a human or machine, and then drips out the bottom through some kind of filter. There is really nothing special about it besides the fact that one has more control over the way the coffee is brewed, and that you can brew one cup at a time.


    How to make the perfect pour over: 
    We like Hario v60. Put the filter in the cone and rinse the filter thoroughly with hot water. Discard the rinse water. Put 24 grams of light roast coffee in the brew cone. Pour about 50 grams of hot (195-202) water onto the coffee and stir with a small spoon. Wait 30 seconds. After 30 seconds slowly pour a total of 400 grams of water onto the coffee, trying not to get too high in the cone. Try to finish pouring the coffee at around 1:45-2:00.  When all the water is in, give it another stir. Total brew time should be around 2:30-3:00. If longer than that, grind coarser, and vice versa.


    The Aeropress Method
    Aeropress is immersion like French press, but filtered like a pour over, so it sits somewhere in between.  It is small and great for traveling.  It can only make a small amount of coffee at a time.

    How to make the perfect aeropress: 
    Put the filter in the holder and screw on the aeropress.  Rinse the filter very well. Make sure all water is through filter and add 17 grams of coffee.  Put aeropress on a sturdy receptacle, and slowly pour in 340 grams of water.  Stir the brew, and put the plunger in, pulling up to create a seal.  After 1:45, take out plunger, and stir. Put plunger back in, and slowly press the aeropress. Done.
     
    Tip: Trying using lower temperature water (170-180) for aeropress.
    Tip: When pressing plunger, try pressing very slowly.


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