There was a time when the most exotic thing you could order from a café was a cappuccino. Now, that particular drink seems almost naff (though still delicious, thanks very much), what with the dozens and dozens of other options out there. Sometime in the last few years, even the cool girl-approved flat white stepped aside to give newer drinks like cold-drip, cold-filtered and pour-over brews their place in the sun.
Cold-drip coffee is exactly what it sounds like: cold water trickles slowly through coarsely ground coffee and an inky substance is created as the solids absorb and then dispense the caffeine equivalent of alchemy. It’s ideally served cold over ice, like a shot of whisky, and is robust and intense enough for milk to be added, if desired. It’s low on acid, meaning you really taste the subtleties of the bean, with a smooth, creamy aftertaste. Cold-filtered coffee is a different product altogether and can be created using numerous filter coffee devices. It’s best served over ice too, but generally not with milk. And as for pour-overs, they’ve come a long way since your dad first bought a French press in the late ’80s. In fact, many cafés use them in conjunction with traditional espresso machines.
But how do you get these amazing tastes at home? We look at three gadgets that will change your caffeinated world.
Early-adopter coffee-lovers embraced this nifty little gadget, rushing to pack it into their briefcases, suitcases and campervans. This $49 gadget has, for many, replaced the traditional French press or plunger for ease of use and more intense brews.
The AeroPress was created by an aerodynamics engineer and the inventor of a leading flying disc (think big kids’ Frisbee). Essentially, it’s a plastic funnel with a rubber-sealed plunger that uses suction to develop pressure. Coarsely ground coffee is steeped in water for a few minutes then pressed through the funnel. The pressure creates a thicker brew, with a delicate crema. It’s plastic, lightweight, and compact – and can be taken anywhere.
The AeroPress is such an international success story that world championships have been held around the globe for the last eight years. Proud Mary Coffee Roasters, in Melbourne’s Collingwood, hosted this year’s Australian AeroPress Championships on March 17, in conjunction with Condesa Co. Lab from Sydney’s Alexandria. Here, the cream of the coffee-making crop showcased their coffee-and-water-squishing skills. Georgina Lumb, training manager for Patio Coffee Roasters in Adelaide, won the event and will compete in the World AeroPress Championships in Dublin in June.
At the roaster’s showcase café, Aunty Peg’s, where a diverse collection of home-brewing devices are displayed and demonstrated, barista Jane Waring shares a few tips: “We use a ratio of 12 grams of coffee to 200 grams of filtered water. Fresh coffee should be ground to about the consistency of table salt.” Jane’s method includes weighing the coffee and hot water (96°C) over a set of digital scales, gently stirring the mixture and allowing varying times for steeping and plunging.
“When you are comfortable with the technique you can tweak coffee ratios, steeping and plunging times to create different results. The judges taste all AeroPress brews blind and decide which one they like best,” she says. Everyone uses the same blend of coffee beans to ensure a level playing field.
• AeroPress brews are best black, but can be served with milk.
The Cold Bruer
At $130, and made of sturdy tempered glass sections, the Cold Bruer is a practical option that really does produce a drink on par with its more expensive competitors (and indeed, there are versions that cost more than $600).
The Cold Bruer has three chambers. The top chamber holds iced water, the centre chamber holds medium coarsely ground coffee, and the lower chamber collects the precious liquid.
Doug Thew, head roaster at Newcastle-based Crema Coffee Garage, serves cold-drip and cold-filtered coffee at the café. He’s a fan of the Cold Bruer and says it’s ideal for home use. He recommends a recipe of 70 grams of coffee to 700 millilitres of filtered water (bottled water is good, tap water is okay), and aims to achieve about 40–45 drips per minute (a little over a second for each drip). But it’s not a set-and-forget process.
“There’s a valve on the inside that helps set the drip rate, but the drip rate will slow down because of the velocity of the water and needs to be checked every hour or so. It should take between two and six hours, depending on the consistency of the drip rate,” he says.
Freshly ground coffee (a good grinder is essential for coffee lovers) will give the best results. Experiment with coffee beans and blends, and play around with your grind and drip rate to achieve your own ‘best’ recipe.
• Cold-drip brews are best served black over ice, but can be delicious with milk. Experiment with coconut water in place of filtered water.
Pour-over filter brews were the first baby step many coffee-lovers took away from the French press; most never looked back. Most baristas agree, too, that pour-over filter coffee is one of the best ways to appreciate the flavour of coffee and experimentation is encouraged.
Pour-over devices are funnel-shaped and made of glass, plastic or ceramic. A cone-shaped paper filter is used to line the funnel and hold freshly ground coffee. Hot water is poured gradually over the coffee and the brew filters into the vessel below.
The Hario V60, at just $35, is the market leader. It can be set directly on top of a coffee cup or mug, or over an elegant matching glass jug (another $35). Although there are other brands on the market, Hario has led the way, making glass, coloured ceramic and plastic versions of the device, plus accessories such as stands and kettles to enhance the process. Other leading pour-over brands include the Chemex, which looks like an elegant carafe and can brew up to 10 cups at a time.
Using a V60, Aunty Peg’s barista Tom McAdam recommends a dose of 14 grams of coffee to 250 grams of hot water (96C) to create a single-cup brew. The coffee should be ground a medium-coarse consistency (a little coarser than table salt).
Tom rinses the paper filter in the cone first and rests the filter and vessel on the scales before he weighs the coffee and water. “There’s a bit of technique in pre-wetting and agitating the coffee and in pouring the water in a spiral motion over the coffee,” he says. The coffee should take about two minutes to brew.
• Pour-over brews are best served black.
I made these gluten-free doughnuts one morning when we were desperate for something sweet and quick. The simple combination of oat flour and almond flour come together to make it light and flavourful, while the ground psyllium husk gives the doughnut structure in the absence of gluten and a little bit of fibre to boot. It includes a simple glaze, but you could also just gently toss the warm doughnuts in cinnamon sugar.
Inspired by the restaurants and cafes found on the trendy Parisian foodie street, Rue du Nil, this dish sees bright and buttery salmon paired with a vibrant salad of rice, sweet potato and finely ground coffee.