Dan Manco is the founder of Grimpeur Bros. Specialty Coffee (https://www.grimpeurbros.com). Founded in 2012, Grimpeur Bros. is a cycling-centric specialty coffee company that sells some of the best fresh, roast-to-order specialty coffee in America. Dan loves all things cycling-related and is dedicated to supporting the companies, media outlets, bike shops, bike racers, mechanics, and people that support growing cycling as a sport, healthy lifestyle, and transportation method.
Brewing Great Coffee is Part Science, Part Art
Making a cup of great coffee is part science: exacting ingredients, formulas, recipes, roasting, and tools.
Making a cup of great coffee is also part art: extraction technique, tools, and honestly, showmanship.
I love brewing coffee. And I love brewing coffee in front of people. In my experience running Grimpreur Bros. for 6+ years, EVERYONE – regardless of their coffee geekdom level – loves watching pour over coffee extraction. I get the best questions and have the most interesting conversations with people while making make coffee for them. “Why do you use scales?” “What water temps do you use to brew coffee?” “What’s up with your kettles?” “What’s that temperature gun for?” “Where do your beans come from?”
And then they drink it and smile. People love great tasting coffee.
So let’s jump into the science basics of brewing coffee. A quick preface: I’m focusing on brewing coffee with pour over and presses, and not espresso. I was ok at science in school until I got to molecular chemistry at university. You don’t need to be a science nerd to make great coffee. If I can do it, you can too.
The reasoning behind the science of coffee preparation is key: once you get the techniques down, you can produce great cups after great cups every morning. If one day the cup isn’t so tasty, you can systemically examine your technique and your inputs (coffee, water) and quickly figure out what needs to be tweaked.
My personal formula for brewing great coffee is:
Fresh Roasted Specialty Coffee + Filtered Local Water + Correct Extraction Technique = Repeated Coffee Happiness
Let’s tackle each part of this formula from the 50,000-foot level.
Buy Fresh Roasted Specialty Coffee
Specialty coffee is coffee that is graded 80 or above on a 100 point scale. Specialty coffee is generally grown in Africa, Asia, South America, and Central America. There are various specialty coffee associations around the world. In the US, it’s the Specialty Coffee Association of America [https://sca.coffee/]. But specialty coffee is much more than an 80+ grade. Specialty coffee is comprised of the small farmers and producers, green coffee buyers, roasters, baristas, and you the coffee drinker.
Freshly roasted beans are critical to your coffee enjoyment. In my opinion depending on the coffee, roast, and storage, it is best to drink fresh-roasted coffee within 3-4 weeks after the roast date on the packaging.
But don’t go to a grocery store and buy specialty grade coffee that is months old. You are wasting your money. Purchase the freshest specialty coffee at your local coffee shop or directly from the coffee roaster.
Use Filtered Local Water
Whenever possible, brew coffee with filtered local water from your tap. We use a Brita filter at home. Pur filters work well too. Filtering water reduces water contaminants such as lead, chlorine, zinc, copper, and many more. Besides being unhealthy for you, they can affect your coffee’s taste.
Correct Extraction Technique
In my opinion, there’s no one perfect way to brew coffee. Chemex hand pour overs are my favorite. But that’s just my opinion. French presses are amazing. So are aero presses, especially when traveling. Hotel coffee doesn’t have to suck! Moka pots and drip machines [http://bonavitaworld.com/product-categories/coffee-brewers] produce great cups too. Check out our brewing guides [https://www.grimpeurbros.com/pages/coffee-brewing] for different recipes and tips. We’ll go into more details on coffee extraction in future posts.
Repeated Coffee Happiness
This is our end goal. Follow our formula. Dive deeper into the specialty coffee world. Filter your water. Learn the techniques. Get any additional equipment required (it doesn’t have to be expensive). Achieve repeated coffee happiness. It’s doable and within reach. Cheers and tailwinds!
Send any questions, thoughts, post suggestions or feedback to dan at grimpeur bros dot com. Ride your bike. Drink great coffee. And always support your local coffee shop.
Check out our WAP blends from Dan and Grimpeur Bros at wideanglepodium.com/coffee