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A Simple Adjustment To Make Tastier Coffee

Brewing coffee well can be tricky, because each coffee has a different sweet spot. How do you know where to begin? We’d like to suggest that once you have a solid brew recipe, there are only two variables that you should worry about - one of which can be adjusted before you even attempt your first brew. 

Before we jump to that let’s start with your brew recipe. If you need one, I recommend the one we use here at the roastery. If you are using a full size brewer such as the 02 V60, Kalita Wave 185, or a vessel of similar size, use the guidelines below for reference. If you are using a smaller brewing device, you’ll want to lower the grams of coffee you use by about 5 grams (10-18 grams total). This isn’t to say you can’t make good coffee outside of these parameters, but hey, we have to draw the line somewhere.  

General Guidelines:

  1. Use between 15-23 grams of coffee 

This creates a coffee bed depth that is appropriate for the size of the brewer. 

2) Keep your total draw down time (when you can see the coffee bed at the end of the brew) between 2:30-3:10.

3) Finish pouring all of your water by 1:40-1:45 (Every time)

4) Use water between 200-205F (This is less important but I think you have more to lose by shifting out of these parameters)

Now that you have a recipe, let’s talk about the 2 components that will potentially need adjusting. Remember, keep the rest of your recipe consistent. 

Moving on to the 1st component: Ratio. Your brew ratio is the amount of water in relation to the amount of coffee used (i.e. 1:16, which means 1 part coffee to 16 parts water). In order to measure this properly, I recommend getting a $10 grams scale on Amazon. This has a major impact on the quality of your coffee. A simple trick in regards to ratio is to use a 1:15 ratio for all processing methods, other than washed process coffees, and a 1:16.6 ratio for washed processed coffees. (You’ll typically find the processing info on the bag or on the roasters website). Here is a list of most of them. It’s hard to keep track lately. 

  • Washed
  • Natural
  • Honey
  • Anaerobic
  • Carbonic Maceration
  • Lactic Process
  • Etc.

This small but significant detail of using less water for processed coffees is effective because the hypothesis is that processed coffees, due to extra fermentation, have weakened cell structures compared to washed coffees. This makes them more permeable allowing for easier extraction. Since water is the power behind the extraction, we need to decrease that power so we don’t over-extract the coffee. If this happens, it will lead to a bitter, dull, and drying cup of coffee. The opposite is true of washed coffees. Due to their density and impermeability, they require more extraction power (i.e. more water). As for the results, we notice using a 1:15 ratio on processed coffees yields a fruitier and more vibrant cup, while washed coffees seem to get sweeter, and more balanced with a 1:16.6 ratio. These are just guidelines. We have used 1:14 ratios on processed coffees as well as 1:18 on washed processed coffees, with fantastic results. Experiment and have fun with it until you over-do it. 

The second adjustment that makes the largest impact is grind size. Use our recipe above to dial in your grind size. If the final drawdown time is over roughly 3:15, chances are it will be a little over extracted - meaning more bitter, dull, and drying than it should be. We recommend adjusting the grind size 1 line coarser, and re-brewing until you hit the correct drawdown time. If your drawdown time is faster than 2:30, we recommend grinding 1 line finer, and re-brewing until your drawdown time is at least 2:30. If you keep your recipe consistent, and adjust your brew ratio ahead of time, you might find that you have a favorite grind size that you end up liking across a majority of your roasts. Then, you’ll only have to make minor adjustments for each coffee. 

In summary, find a consistently solid brew recipe, adjust your brew ratio to account for the process used on the bean, brew on your standard recipe with your favorite grind size. Check your draw-down, taste for over or under-extraction, adjust grind size, and brew again.