We are rapidly approaching the beginning of the very first Coffee Chronicles. In preparation, we wanted to share a couple notes on brewing and tasting coffee.
With regards to brewing, here are a few practices we follow:
- Brewing Ratio – or more simply the ratio of coffee to water – we recommend a 1:17 ratio, or 1g of coffee for 17g of water. Each portion in the Chronicles is already pre-weighed at 25g, so you’ll want approx 425g (425ml) of water. Any ration between 1:15 - 1:17 is great.
- Gram scale – They’re cheap, quite available and can make your brewing a lot more consistent.
- Grinder – There are some great grinders available in the $120 - $300 range. For an entry model, the Baratza Encore is still a great choice. The authors of this newsletter happen to grind with Fellow’s Ode Brew Grinder.
- Brewing Methods – Here are a couple great brew guides for Kalita Wave, AeroPress, and Hario V60. Otherwise, brewmethods.com is a good source of vetted, quality brew methods. Our advice, don’t get lost in the endless permutations of each brewing method, with Coffee Chronicles, you’re starting with world class, quality coffee. Follow our tips with these beans and you will struggle to make a poor coffee. If you need recipes for other devices or have brewing questions, feel free to reach out to us here.
How should I evaluate the coffees? First, we encourage you to focus on enjoying each coffee and their nuance, as opposed to being highly critical. The coffees were selected by our Director of Coffee to provide you with an interesting set of differing varietals, regions, processing methods, and roast profiles.
We also encourage you to brew and taste the coffees “blind” — meaning you don’t know the identity/origin of the coffee until you’ve had a chance to taste and journal it.
There are some very unique coffees in this collection. You may be surprised to learn what you like. We hope you can find a few minutes each day to sit with each coffee, take it all in, and enjoy the experience.
Here are a few tips we suggest to engage with each coffee:
- When you open the bag for the first time, what do you smell?
- Before grinding, examine the beans. Hold them in your hand in bright light. How do they look? Are they big or small, long or wide, rounded or flat, rough or smooth? Is the colour dark or light, how consistent are the shapes. Over time, you can start to get a good feel for the coffee’s variety, growing region and processing just by the look.
- By grinding you are unlocking a huge amount of aromatics. Savor the dry aroma — take a nice sniff with your and mouth open a bit (like a cat) to engage those olfactory sensors. A coffee’s aroma can give you a preview of what you may taste, and the aromatics are a big factor in the taste experience.
- While brewing, watch the way coffee blooms and how dark or light it is. Bubbles indicate freshness. The roast level, roast date, and sealed packaging can all have impact here.
- After brewing, swish the around your cup or carafe. Take a look at the colour, how translucent or opaque it is, the viscosity of the coffee. Brew method, coffee quality, grind quality can all have an impact here. (Many “basic” coffee drinkers often consider pour-over coffee to look too light in color. NOT you!)
- Finally, taste the coffee at different temperatures. Most coffees tend to open up and show their true character as they approach room temp, but tasting it on the way down is enjoyable. Try and describe what you’re tasting: is it sweet or tart? Is it vegetal or fruity? You can even try and get more specific like, “green apple” or “Oreo filling”. It can be surprisingly hard to connect what you’re tasting with a descriptor, so some find that using a coffee tasting wheel to spark ideas is handy. Here’s a nice, freely available one from Counter Culture.
And what about my Coffee Chronicles paper journal? – You’ll notice the coffee evaluation isn’t overly specific. There are many formal, more quantitative ways to evaluate coffee, but that’s not what we’re here for! The Coffee Chronicles Journal is about keeping a log of what we drank, what we thought of each, and if it might be something we want to drink again. Tasting many different coffees is the key to discovering what your own preferences, and hopefully you’ll discover some flavors, coffees or origins you haven’t experienced before.
Oh, and the right-hand side page (creative brain side) — those are for fun.
(Except the mazes. Those definitely are not.)
Daily Feedback – Each day, included in the reveal, there will be a LINK for you to submit your thoughts on the day’s coffee. We’d love to hear from you and we may share out some of the fun ones. We are excited to hear about your experiences and how Chronicles helps you on your coffee journey.
Chronicle with Friends – From personal experience, Chronicles is much more fun with friends. In Revolver’s previous 24 day Advent Calendar experience, we had groups connecting together over slack, zoom, text threads, and even spreadsheets every morning for 24 days. Highly recommended.
That’s all for now. If you missed our welcome post, take a quick look.
Otherwise, until 0001!
– The Chronicles Team