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The Moccamaster KBG Select: Overview & Brewing Tips

Last year, we created a video offering tips on how to get the most from the Moccamaster KBG that’s proven valuable to many. The more recent release of the Moccamaster KBG Select provided us with the perfect opportunity to revisit our favourite automated filter coffee brewer and take a detailed look at some of its updated features, which includes a switch to adjust water flow for smaller or larger batch sizes. 

We also revisit and expand on some the brewing tips we recommend for getting the most from each batch brewed with the Select, including grind size and recipe recommendations. 

The same overview and brewing tips found within this piece can also be experienced visually and aurally via our video on the brewer, which can be found at the bottom of this entry. 

Breaking down the Moccamaster
Having started manufacturing their products in The Netherlands in 1968, Moccamaster continue to hand make their units there today. The first KBG was first released in 1974 and, whilst the team at Moccamaster have continued to iterate on the original design, you can still clearly see the original silhouette within newer models of this now classic countertop brewer. 

When brewing, the first element you come into contact with is the BPA free plastic reservoir. Labelled with volumetric markings, these provide a very useful guide that ensures you're always adding the right quantity of water for your chosen dose of coffee.

The water then drips through to a copper heating element that sits within the brewer's casing and, once hot, is fed via a glass pipe inside the reservoir through the 9-hole metal shower head. This sprays your water onto your ground coffee, which is housed in a ridged plastic brew basket (also BPA free). These ridges help keep your filter paper away from the basket's walls, helping to promote water flow.

A simple but smart plug is also housed under the basket, which will only open when the glass jug is placed underneath it. This is handy should you wish to experiment with pre-infusion, but also means you should ensure your jug is squarely in place before beginning the brewing process. 

The glass jug is fitted with a lid that includes a thin, black destratification pipe. Descending down into the jug, it aims to help avoid your coffee layering (i.e. not mixing together) and provides more consistent cups. 

What's in the box?
Alongside all of the above, on unboxing your Moccamaster KBG Select, you'll also find a few filter papers, a scoop (although we recommend having scales to hand to ensure you stick to a consistent, repeatable recipe each time), a sachet of cleaner to keep everything clean and scale-free over time, and an instruction manual. Each unit also comes with a 5 year manufacturer's warranty. 

As with any brand new piece of brewing apparatus, we would advise running an empty cycle before brewing coffee. 

The Select switch: a new feature
The new Select switch offers two different flow rates, depicted on the Moccamaster by an icon of a half batch of coffee, and another showing a full batch. This doesn't mean you need to brew batch sizes of exactly 50% or 100%, but it does mean that the rate the water passes through the brewer can be selected to run either more slowly (for smaller batches) or more quickly (for larger batches). 

For us, this is a fantastic and exciting addition to the brewer, as it adds greater flexibility to the brewing process. As well as providing the opportunity for fuller extraction in smaller batch sizes than its predecessor, this additional variable also allows you to offset imperfect grind settings should you need to. For instance, if your hands are tied by pre-ground coffee that's a little too coarse when brewing a full batch, you can run the brewer on the half batch size to achieve a fuller extraction. Equally, if you're pre-ground coffee is finer than you'd ideally like, you can utilise the full batch setting to creater a quicker extraction with a reduced chance of stewed, over-extracted notes. 

Which flow setting for which quantities?
For anything up to and including 750ml of water and 45g of coffee, we would recommend using the half batch setting. For bigger batches of 1L to 1.25L we would suggest the full batch setting. 

Suggested grind sizes

Despite our detailed and ongoing testing across a range of grinders, it is always worth noting that any suggested grinder settings are always a staring point. Even highly calibrated, professional-use grinders are subject to variation and nuance, but this is even more true of at-home variants. That said, the following should provide a useful springboard into finding your sweet spot:

For a brews up to 750ml... 

  • Timemore C2/Slim – 28 clicks
  • Comandante C40 – 34 clicks
  • Baratza Encore – 28
  • Wilfa Svart – Align the red line with the dot between FILTER and AEROPRESS
  • Wilfa Uniform – 34

For a brews over 750ml...

  • Timemore C2/Slim – 32 clicks
  • Comandante C40 – 36 clicks
  • Baratza Encore – 30
  • Wilfa Svart – Align the red line with the R of FILTER
  • Wilfa Uniform – 37 

As a rule of thumb, taste your coffee and if it's a little thin and sour, fine up your chosen grind, and if it's tasting bitter, astringent and stewed, coarsen it up a little.

Brewing with the Moccamaster KBG Select
After folding your Size 4 filter paper and popping it in the brew basket, we find it easiest to weigh our beans into this and then, when grinding them, quickly rinse the paper under the tap before filling up the reservoir to the desired level. 

It's worth noting that the volumetric markings on the reservoir will not correspond directly to the amount of coffee that eventually finds itself in your glass jug. This is because the grounds retain anywhere between 2 to 3 grams of water per gram of coffee. So, if you fill the reservoir to the 1 litre mark, you can expect a batch of around 850ml of coffee. 

With your coffee ground and added to your rinsed filter paper, simply pop your brew basket in place and flick the start button. In theory, there's nothing nothing else to do but weight a few minutes for your coffee to be ready to drink and enjoy. 

However, we've enjoyed even better results in the cup from the Moccamaster KBG Select by enlisting one small, but for us important, extra step: stirring.

We're aware that this divides the crowd. A relatively expensive brewer, and one that's billed as automated, many are reluctant to have to be present during the brewing process. We completely understand and by simply turning on the Moccamaster and walking away you'll still get very tasty cups of filter from the process. However, we very much advocate getting in there with a teaspoon to ensure all of your grounds are evenly wet. You're more reliably going to get nice round, sweet cups of coffee with that extra bit of agitation during the brewing cycle. The fact that you are actually able to access your grounds and water during the process is a major benefit the Moccamaster has over many other automated drip brewers, so we'd highly recommend taking advantage. 

The hotplate
A somewhat hot topic amongst home brewers, we're often asked whether we'd recommend using the hotplate function on the Moccamaster, which, unless you turn the brewer off once it has finished its brew cycle, remains on for 45 minutes after brewing. It is worth noting that your coffee will degrade as it sits on the hotplate and, as time goes on, may become a little briney and less aromatic. For this reason, we prefer to brew enough coffee to drink immediately portioning it out accordingly. Ultimately, though, it all boils down to personal preference. 

Cleaning & Care
The moment your brew is done, throw away your filter and grounds immediately and rinse the basket. Minimising the contact time between the brew basket and coffee oils will reduce the frequency with which you’ll need to deep clean the plastic basket with cafiza or a similar cleaning chemical. 

As a rule, if you’re using water that deposits scale, then you should also run through some descalant after 100 brew cycles. This is easy to remember if you’re buying packs of 100 filter papers. At the same time, I’d recommend filling the basket with Cafiza or something similar and scrubbing with a brush to get into the ridges and get rid of any built up flavour taint. 

The Moccamaster KBG Select is available in the hardware section of our online shop. If you have any follow-up questions on getting more from this brewer, be sure to contact our Home Brewing Helpdesk on betterbrewing@workshopcoffee.com. 

A Closer Look at Decaffeinated Coffee

Decaffeinated coffee remains a taboo amongst some people specialty coffee world. I haven't seen any other coffee trope so ubiquitous, whether tattooed onto a forearm, scrawled on an A-board or emblazoned on a diner mug, as the "Death Before Decaf" motif. This is strange to me. Coffee lovers who are eschewing caffeine, either temporarily or permanently, but still seeking that unparalleled experience that coffee delivers, should be welcomed with arms opened wide, as they're here for what really gets our hearts (metaphorically) pumping: flavour!

We're going to take a look here about how we select our decaffeinated options, and also why we branched out into developing a secondary roast curve for filter coffee brewing with our decaf range, to complement our existing espresso roast style.

First up, we need to look briefly at what caffeine actually is. For the TLDR crowd amongst you, scroll down to the bottom to watch our video.

What is Caffeine?  
A bitter, psychoactive compound, caffeine exists naturally in coffee and acts as an insecticide deterrent to prevent bugs and other pests from damaging its fruit, flowers and leaves. Whilst toxic to insects it sadly isn't enough to prevent insect damage entirely. 

When it comes to preparing and drinking a cup of coffee, the amount of caffeine it contains is going to vary depending on the origin and variety of coffee, how much you actually use to brew your cup and the quality of your extraction (i.e. how much soluble material was taken from the grounds by your water during the brewing process). For more information and detail on caffeine, we'd recommend a visit to Coffee Chemistry's website and their Caffeine in Coffee section.

Can Decaffeinated Coffee Occur Naturally?
There are species and varieties of coffee that are very low in caffeine.

Eugenioides, which is a species of coffee that actually parented Arabica along with Robusta, and a variety of Arabica called Laurina (or Bourbon Pointu) both produce lower caffeine coffees, not entirely caffeine free but containing less than most Arabica varieties. They are not grown on a large commercial scale and so you might only see them pop up on roasters' offer lists once in a blue moon. They're really interesting to taste if you can get your hands on them, but to reiterate, they are not going to be caffeine free. 

Why we Showcase Decaffeinated Coffee
To include those who might need to limit or completely eliminate caffeine from their diet we want to be able offer a cup of coffee that caters to these needs and is also delicious in and of itself. 

A broad trend amongst coffee drinkers that we've noted over the last few years is that more and more people are becoming dual-drinkers. Rather than opting solely for caffeinated coffee throughout the day, or being exclusively decaf drinkers, more customers are brewing from their primary stock of regular coffee throughout the day but ensuring they have a bag of decaf in rotation to dip into in the late afternoon or evening. 

How is Coffee Decaffeinated? 
There are several ways you can decaffeinate green coffee, including the Swiss Water method, Super Critical CO2 and the Methelyne Chloride method. However, our preferred process is the Sugar Cane Ethyl Acetate (EA) method. 

Ethyl Acetate is a compound that is produced naturally in fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears and bananas. An ester with a smell not unlike that of pear drop sweets, ethyl acetate is the primary active solvent in what can be marketed as a "natural decaffeination" method and is the one we've chosen exclusively for our decaffeinated coffees for the last 6 years. We've been working exclusively with lots from Colombia that are processed at the Descafecol plant, the only one of its kind in the country, and there are several reasons why we think this is the best method to use. 

Firstly, the coffee doesn't need to be shipped twice. The coffee is grown and harvested in Colombia before being moved to the decaffeination plant and then can be sent to use here in Europe. Avoiding a stop-off in another country for further processing limits the time coffee seeds spend in a container and therefore maximises the freshness and extends the shelf life of the green coffee. Not only that, but carrying out decaffeination in the same country as the coffee is grown provides an additional industry and income stream at origin. Fewer destinations en route also helps to reduce the ecological footprint of getting the coffee to us.

Of equal importance for us, though, is taste and flavour. We've found that this process keeps the coffee's characteristics more intact, and the flavour imprint from the EA method is less detectable than others. At times, experienced cuppers and tasters haven't recognised that our coffee on the table has even been decaffeinated. 

How the Process Works
After being delivered to the decaffeination plant, the first step in the process is that the green coffee is steamed in order to make it swell up, helping to remove the silver skin layer. This is a very fine, papery layer that clings to the green seeds within the parchment layer. It's then moistened with hot water and we begin to see the beginning of hydrolysis of caffeine, where it starts to loosen its bonds with the salts of chlorogenic acids in the coffee.

Image taken from Descafecol – descafecol.com

Once this has taken place, mountain spring water is mixed with the Ethyl Acetate. This is produced from fermenting sugar cane and is the active solvent in the process. This circulates throughout the tank containing the beans and bathes them continually until 99.9% of the caffeine has been targeted and dissolved away. 

Image taken from Descafecol – descafecol.com

Next, any traces of Ethyl Acetate need to be removed and this is done by passing pressurised steam through the coffee before it's placed into large, vacuum-sealed drums and dried down once again until they reach between 10% and 12% moisture, representing a stable level that allows them to be shipped.

The final stage involves adding a protective layer of carnauba wax. This vegetable wax seals the seeds again after what is quite an invasive process that aids them in their journey to our roastery. 

The caffeine that's removed during the process is then sold on to pharmaceutical companies and soft drink manufacturers, with Descafecol selling it by the bag themselves. 

Our Approach to Decaffeinated Coffee
When it comes to roasting the decaffeinated coffees that we've purchased, there are a few factors we need to take into account. The green coffee is visibly different from its caffeinated counterpart, being a deeper, darker green colour. This in turn impacts some of the physical analysis we do here in the roastery. Some of the numbers and metrics we check during quality control analysis look very different to what we'd normally expect from regular coffees in our range. 

Thankfully, we're not just using visual and auditory cues in our roasting process, and through the use of multiple temperature probes, pressure gauges and roasting software, we're able to design consistent roast profiles that give rise to truly delicious, well balanced espresso and slim, clean cups of filter coffee. The fact that our lots are highly uniform with good density means that creating a balanced and consistent flavour from batch to batch is fairly straight forward.

The decision to offer both a decaffeinated espresso roast and a decaffeinated filter roast is relatively simple. Historically, we'd been solely roasting a decaffeinated espresso coffee as a means of offering non-caffeine drinkers the ability to enjoy a cappuccino or a latte in one of our own coffeebars or when visiting our wholesale partners. However, growing numbers of our guests and customers were taking bags home with them and asking how to get the best from it using their V60 or French Press. 

For a while, we altered our brewing advice to ensure they were able to get the most delicious results from a slightly more developed roast profile, but in 2018 we made the decision to design and offer a specific filter roast as well. The result is something that adheres to our usual brew recipes and offers a really clean, balanced, flavoursome cup.

Whilst not subject to the same pace, our decaffeinated coffee range continues to rotate as the year progresses. You can view our current offering here. 

For the Outdoors: Our Latest Brew Bundle

There's something about brewing and drinking coffee in the outdoors. Perhaps it's the fact there are fewer distractions, or maybe it's just the novelty of spending some much-needed time away from familiar surroundings.

Regardless of the reason, the process of brewing away from the kitchen counter can often create a heightened experience in both the making and the consuming. It was this level of enjoyment that we wanted to capture and share with our newest brew bundle, For the Outdoors.

We've brought four pieces of brewing apparatus together that allow for the enjoyment of exceptional coffee wherever you find yourself. 

It centres around MiiR's Pourigami, a durable and de-constructable coffee brewer. Arguably the world's most compact pourover, its three stainless steel panel quickly and easily interlock to create an on-the-go drip brewer that's simple to use and even easier to transport. When not in use, it packs down into the included case and fits into your backpack or back pocket.

This is combined with MiiR's 12oz Camp Cup – a 21st Century homage to its well-known and much-loved counterpart. Striking a sleek silhouette, its double wall vacuum insulation locks in temperature for longer, whilst its powder coated stainless steel finish ensures a robust and hard-wearing vessel that's designed to go wherever you are.There are a total of 12 colours and designs to choose from. 

Finished with a 250g bag of whole bean filter coffee from our rotating seasonal range and a pack of 100 1-cup V60 filter papers, you'll have everything you need to begin brewing immediately. 

Perfect for those preparing to spend a summer outside, it's also ideal for travelling and for those looking for a space-saving home or office coffee set-up. 

Our Brew Bundle: For the Outdoors is available to purchase here. Combining the items allows for a £9.50, or 13% saving. 

Timemore’s Chestnut Slim Hand Grinder

The Chestnut Slim grinder from Timemore is a really high spec, but accessibly priced, hand grinder which we’ve been thoroughly impressed with in our testing. The following relays our experiences with the Timemore Chestnut Slim, but if you’d rather experience it in video form, head straight to the bottom of this piece or click here.

An Overview
Equipped with 38mm hardened stainless steel conical burrs, these are designed primarily for filter brewing, but there is also an option to upgrade the burr set to Timemore’s ‘Spiked to Cut’ stainless steel burrs, or their 6 point titanium coated burrs if you want to prepare your coffee as espresso. The solid metal chamber of the Chestnut Slim means that the drive shaft is held securely in place and offers that bit more durability and an improved grind profile versus the Timemore Chestnut C2’s moulded plastic chamber.

Weighing just 430 grams, the Slim can be conveniently disassembled and broken down into component parts for travel – and that’s all made even easier using the included travel case. At just 45mm in diameter, it also fits perfectly inside an Aeropress, and the wooden handle is removable, saving even more space. It then magnetically clicking back into place when you’re ready to grind. 

The outer casing of the grinder has a diamond patterned knurled finish, providing a textured grip, which makes the grinding experience that little bit smoother and ergonomic. The design of the handle and bearings inside the driveshaft all contribute to a very smooth grinding action, and we’re really impressed with the speed of the grinder – when grinding for a single cup V60, we’ve consistently been able to grind 15g of coffee in around 20 to 25 seconds without breaking a sweat. 

Grind Adjustment & Recommended Settings
The grinder can be adjusted by fully closing the adjustment dial to the ‘zero position’, winding it all the way around clockwise until the crank handle ceases to move and then counting the clicks back to your desired grind setting

When it comes to dialling in for specific brew methods, there are some really useful jumping off points mentioned in the instruction manual that comes with the hand grinder. These are useful in guiding you before you settle on your own preferred grind settings for whatever brewer you’re using to make your coffee,  but we have also trialled the grinder to establish our own suggestions:  

Aeropress (1 minute steep): 16 clicks
Aeropress (2 minute steep): 19 clicks
V60 (single cup 15g): 18 clicks
V60 (two cup 30g): 22 clicks
Clever Dripper: 20 clicks
Steepshot: 15 clicks
French Press (500g): 24 clicks
French Press (1 litre): 27 clicks
Chemex (1 litre): 32 clicks

The maximum capacity of the Chestnut Slim is around 28g of whole bean coffee at a time if you’re using lightly roasted, dense beans. Any more than that and you’re really starting to push what the chamber and the grounds bin are capable of holding.  

Additional Features
With narrow hand grinders, it can be tricky to get your beans into the grinding chamber tidily. Timemore have made this a little easier by mounting the stabilising arms deep within the chamber, making this process considerably easier. We’ve found that weighing into the grounds bin of the grinder also makes it easier to load your beans more efficiently.

Another particularly thoughtful element of the Chestnut Slim’s design is the fact that the burrs are recessed into the body. This means you’re able to balance the grinder on your counter whilst weighing out your beans – a really nice feature that isn’t present in every hand grinder. 

Cleaning & Maintenance
After grinding, you can use the included cleaning brush to sweep out any chaff or bits of ground coffee that might cling to the burrs because of static build up. The amount of ground coffee retained is fairly negligible and we haven’t found the need to updose to account for grinds retention in this particular grinder. 

Following a fair bit of usage, you’ll want to deep clean the grinder, which is also fairly easy to do. Screw the grind adjustment dial to the coarsest setting and as you keep spinning it will come off completely, allowing you to access the burrs inside. Keep track of the order of each component you pull out so that can assemble it again properly in the correct order. The instruction manual will help you out here if you get a bit lost, so we’d recommend holding onto it. 

Nicely finished, the Chestnut Slim enlists durable, quality materials that make for a high spec hand grinder. Nice to hold, smooth to grind with and super adjustable, it’s priced appropriately and accessibly compared to other hand grinder options of a similar spec, and very capable of making delicious coffee on the go or with very little effort at home, regardless of your chosen filter brewing method.

You can find the Timemore Chestnut Slim Hand Grinder in our Online Shop.

Timemore’s Chestnut C2 Hand Grinder

The Chestnut C2 is Timemore’s entry level hand grinder, but the small price tag gets you a grinder with a number of excellent features. We've also created a video that offers a detailed outline, which you can view at the bottom of this piece. 

An Overview
Coming equipped with 38mm hardened stainless steel conical burrs, these are designed primarily for filter brewing, but there is also an option to upgrade the burr set to Timemore’s ‘Spiked to Cut’ stainless steel burrs, or their 6 point titanium coated burrs if you want to prepare your coffee as espresso. 

Like its burrs, the C2’s crank arm is also made from stainless steel, whilst the inner chamber, grind adjustment dial and handle are moulded from plastic and the grinder’s casing is made of aluminium. Overall the grinder is fairly lightweight, weighing less than half a kilo, and can be conveniently disassembled and broken down into component parts for travel – made even easier using the included travel case. 

The outer casing of the grinder has a knurled finish, providing a textured grip, which makes the grinding experience that little bit smoother. The design of the handle and bearings inside the driveshaft all contribute to a very smooth grinding action, and we’re really impressed with the speed of the grinder – when grinding for a single cup V60, we’ve consistently been able to grind 15g of coffee in around 25 to 30 seconds, without breaking a sweat. 

The grinder can be adjusted by fully closing the adjustment dial to the ‘zero position’, by winding it all the way around clockwise until the crank handle ceases to move, before counting the clicks back to your desired grind setting.

Recommended Grind Settings
There are some really useful jumping off points mentioned in the Chestnut C2’s instruction manual, but  we’ve also trialled the grinder to establish our own suggestions on where to start for some of our favourite filter brewing methods:

AeroPress (1 minute steep): 16 clicks
AeroPress (2 minute steep): 19 clicks
V60 (1-cup 15g): 18 clicks
V60 (2-cup 30g): 22 clicks
Clever Dripper: 20 clicks
Steepshot: 15 clicks
French Press (500g): 24 clicks
French Press (1 litre): 27 clicks
Chemex (1 litre): 32 clicks

Additional Features
The maximum capacity of the C2 is 30g of coffee at a time if you’re using lightly roasted, dense beans. Any more than that and you’re really starting to push what the chamber and the grounds bin are capable of holding. 

One thing that’s particularly considered with this grinder is that the burrs are recessed into the body. This means you’re able to balance the grinder on your counter whilst weighing out your beans – a really nice feature that isn’t present in every hand grinder. 

After grinding, you can use the included cleaning brush to sweep out any chaff or bits of ground coffee that might cling to the burrs because of static build up. The amount of ground coffee retained is fairly negligible and we haven’t found the need to updose to account for grinds retention in this particular grinder. 

Cleaning & Maintenance
After a fair bit of usage, you’ll want to deep clean the grinder, which is also fairly easy to do. Screw the grind adjustment dial to the coarsest setting and as you keep spinning it will come off completely, allowing you to access the burrs inside. Keep track of the order of each component you pull out so that can assemble it again properly in the correct order. The instruction manual will help you out here if you get a bit lost. 

Overall, we feel that for the price of the C2 you get a really sturdy, nicely put together and reliable hand grinder. Nice to hold, smooth to grind with and super adjustable, you’ll be able to make delicious coffee on the go or with very little effort at home, regardless of your chosen filter brewing method. 

You can find the Timemore Chestnut C2 Hand Grinder in our Online Shop. 

Introducing the SteepShot Immersion Coffee Brewer

Allow us to introduce the SteepShot, a new breed of coffee brewer.

Designed by Ari Halonen in Norway, this intelligent and considered 1-cup coffee maker utilises pressure to create delicious coffee simply and speedily. 

Having spent the last few weeks brewing almost exclusively with the SteepShot, and having enjoyed the process immensely, we wanted to share our experiences with you. If you'd rather watch our overview than read it, you can access the video here or at the bottom of this piece. 

Why is the SteepShot different?

We first became interested in preparing filter coffee inside a pressurised brewer since Gordon Howell won the UK Brewers Cup championship in 2015. Jeremy Challender then won the next year brewing inside a regular Thermos before decanting and filtering. 

This approach can produce a really fantastic cup, but as well as being a little slow and messy, the techniques – both of which involve repurposing numerous pieces of drinkware and kitchen equipment – highlight the potential of the SteepShot to produce unique, delicious cups of coffee.

It truly is unlike anything else we've brewed with. Developed by Ari Hanolen in Norway, the unique, patented brewing technology permits the brewer to utilise the benefits of brewing in a pressurised environment, whilst keeping the process fairly simple, with clean down being much easier to handle.

It isn’t like espresso or stovetop brewing, which are essentially pressurised percolation brew methods, and it isn’t like a regular immersion method such as French Press, Clever Dripper or Aeropress, as it utilises the pressure built up within the chamber to speed up the brewing process. 

Ostensibly a single-cup filter brewer, it requires quite a bit of headspace to allow pressure to build up inside the chamber to accelerate the extraction process, SteepShot's main benefit is that this allows you to brew faster and still achieve nice high, even extractions without some of the more common obstacles faced in filter brewing, like channelling – where the water effectively ‘misses’ pockets of your ground coffee. 

Components & Assembly

At first glance, the brewer might look a touch complicated when compared to a regular pourover, which is just one piece of brewing kit. However, with only one more component than the AeroPress, it all fits together easily and is incredibly intuitive to use. 

Like any coffee brewer, there will be a certain part responsible for actually filtering the grounds out of the brewed coffee, and in the case of the SteepShot, this is a perforated metal disc. The disc that comes with the brewer has holes that measure 100 microns, which is relatively small and will catch most if not all of your coffee grounds even if you’re grinding quite fine. If you like the fuller body and mouthfeel of coffee from a French Press, but don’t like waiting for so long to let it settle to deal with the sediment that tends to come with it, then this provides a nice solution. This filter isn’t going to create anything viscous and heavy like coffee from a Mokapot or espresso machine, but the brewed coffee tastes a little creamier and rounder than that prepared with an AeroPress of Clever Dripper. 

If you favour clarity of flavour and a slimmer bodied cup then there are a couple of alternatives available. You can buy a second disc with 60-micron holes, which will help further reduce the sediment in the cup. Otherwise, there’s also the option of using AeroPress filter papers for an even cleaner cup, but they obviously aren’t reusable in the same way that these metal filters are. 

The metal filter disc sits into a filter holder cap and is then locked in using a ring that sits above the metal or paper filter. 

The last part of the SteepShot is called the Deflector, which is a lever that screws onto the lid to create an airtight seal. It contains a small rubber O-ring, which is integral to the brewing process as it's what creates a seal and helps create the pressure.  

Once assembled, everything is placed onto the brewing chamber, which is double-walled stainless steel, so you can add boiling water to it whilst still being able to comfortably pick it up and hold it.

Our Recommended SteepShot Recipe

We'd highly recommend experimenting with the SteepShot and the main ways you can do that are by altering your grind size and steep time. The rule of thumb to follow is that a finer grind will require less brewing time, whilst grinding coarser will require a longer steep. 

However, we've been getting excellent results with the following recipe:

  1. Add 16g of coffee to your brew chamber, followed by of 250g boiling water (opt for clean, soft water to improve cup clarity and enhance flavour notes – we recommend using a water filter jug).
  2. Start your timer and seal the brewer.
  3. Swill to ensure the slurry is properly mixed.
  4. At 50 seconds, swill again and then upend the brewer.
  5. At 1 minute, point the deflector into your cup and release the SteepShot.
  6. Allow the brewer to fully drain, which will take between 15 seconds and 1 minute depending on your preferred filter (100 micron, 60 micron or paper).
  7. Disassemble and rinse off all the components before brewing again.
  8. Clean in the dishwasher or with hot soapy water.

Where to Set Your Grinder for Your SteepShot

As each grinder will be subtly different as a result of manufacturing discrepancies and the degree of wear experienced by their burr sets over time, the following setting recommendations should be treated as jumping-off points. However, the following grind settings are where we'd suggest starting from to create a predominantly sweet cup, with integrated acidity and minimal bitterness. To learn more about how to approach grinding your coffee you can watch our video here.

  • Baratza Encore – 12
  • Wilfa Svart – Set the hopper so you can see the "SS" of AEROPRESS
  • Wilfa Uniform+ – 21
  • Fellow Products' Ode – 1.5

Cleaning & Other Considerations

Dispensing the grounds isn’t quite as simple as with the Aeropress or a pourover, but you easily knock your spent coffee out into your compost bin or rinse the brewing chamber and catch the grounds in a little sieve as you discard the water into a sink. If you’ve got any extra boiling water you can also brew an empty chamber and use that to clean out the brewer and your sink quite nicely. However, we do recommend either placing the brewer in the dishwasher or cleaning it with hot, soapy water to remove all of the coffee oils and avoid tainting subsequent brews. 

No brewer is without its own set of hazards, to it's also worth considering how to use the brewer safely. Once you’ve added your coffee and hot water and sealed the lid, the inside is pressurised and so you should never open the deflector when the brewer is upright, as coffee can spray out upwards. 

The other point is that when you’re ready to release the coffee into your cup it will come out quickly accompanied by some steam, so keep your fingers nice and clear and on the deflector lever, with the opening lowered down into your cup to reduce the risk of spilling coffee everywhere.

Experimentation

Ultimately, the best SteepShot recipe and technique is the one you most enjoy making and drinking and so we encourage getting familiar with the brewer by experimenting. 

The main ways you can tweak your SteepShot technique are by altering your grind size and steep times, as well as by playing around with different filtering mediums. You can definitely trial super quick brewing styles with a nice fine grind, and SteepShot themselves claim you’re able to get a nice extraction in just 30 seconds. 

Whilst initially dubious about this claim, we've found that if we move through the steps involved in preparing a cup very quickly, then a fast but impressive and full extraction is indeed possible. Unlike a quickly-brewed AeroPress, we've consistently found that rapid SteepShot brews taste sweet, complete and balanced with a long finish. 

You’ll find that if you opt for the finer mesh filter, and even more so with a paper filter, that your draw-down will slow down a touch, but the pay off is a slightly cleaner cup. Through clarifying the brew liquor more effectively you may find the mouthfeel gets lighter, but flavour clarity can jump up, and so depending on what you want from your coffee, as well as what particular beans you’re using, you can make the decision for yourself. 

The SteepShot is available to buy from our Online Shop here. For UK wholesale enquiries, please contact coffee@workshopcoffee.com.

November 01, 2020

Brewing › Hardware › MiiR ›


The Pourigami: The World's Smallest Travel Brewer?

Having introduced the full range of MiiR products to the UK, there are some we feel warrant closer inspection and a more in-depth introduction. 

The Pourigami is one such item. MiiR's only coffee brewer, this durable, portable travel dripper is also arguably the world's most compact. Packing down into three constituent parts made from powder coated stainless steel, the pourover is housed in a case that neatly fits into your backpack or your back pocket. 

If you'd rather watch a video demonstration of the video, you can do so here. 

When it comes time to brew, the brewer is quick and simple to construct, with the three panels interlocking to form a cone. Once it's together, the brewer is ready to place on top our your designated vessel.

Brew Recipe

The Pourigami is capable of brewing up to 2 cups (30g of coffee to 500g of water), but we've enjoyed our best results with one Camp Cup-sized brew.

Using 18g of coffee, we grind a little coarser than we normally would for a single-cup pourover to allow for a slightly slower draining time. Taking your kettle off the boil, pour around 60g of coffee over your grounds for your bloom and wait for 30 to 40 seconds, allowing an opportunity for the grounds to become fully soaked and ready to extract. 

Begin pouring your water over your grounds in a thin and steady stream, aiming for dark or dry patches and stopping as you near the top of the Pourigami. Continue topping up until you've added 300g of water, allow your brewer to drain and then remove it from your vessel.

Discard your filter paper, clean down your brewer and enjoy. 

Features

When we talk about MiiR’s products, we talk a lot about their thoughtful design, which you can see in how this brewer comes together. But it’s the little extra elements that really help elevate their products, which in the case of the Pourigami are the notches on the bottom of the brewer, which help hold it in place on your mug or decanter. 

And as with all of MiiR’s products, the Pourigami has a unique Give Code printed on it. Every MiiR product sold helps to fun trackable giving projects around the world and entering this alphanumeric code over on MiiR.com allows you to follow along with the project your purchase has helped to fun, as well as gain access to updates on them. 

If you'd like to find out more about the Pourigami, visit the dedicated MiiR section of our online shop here.

October 26, 2020

Brand › Hardware › MiiR ›


Workshop Coffee x MiiR: Generosity Driven Drinkware

We’re delighted to officially introduce MiiR and their range of products to the UK for the first time.

Several years ago, we brought you Fresh Pots, a limited run of vacuum-insulated filter coffee flasks that we produced in partnership with MiiR, a drinkware company based in Seattle. That project led to an ongoing conversation that took place over emails, video conferences and – when we were lucky to be in the same country – coffee, and which lasted the best part of three years.

During that time we got to know the brand, the business and the people behind it in more detail, and were continually inspired by their social and environmental mission. Aiming to empower people for a better future, MiiR’s focus is on creating beautiful, considered, design forward drinkware that has generosity at its core. Operating a product to project model, every product sold helps to fund trackable giving projects around the world and, to date, they’ve donated over £1,000,000 to 70 projects in 26 countries.

Driven by the belief that business and philanthropy can and should be intrinsically linked, MiiR’s sustainable giving projects centre around the provision of clean water, a healthy environment and strong communities. As well as funding trackable giving projects, MiiR are also a member of 1% for the Planet, which means they contribute at least 1% of their annual sales to environmental causes. This is supported by their Climate Neutral certification – a result of their comprehensive action to measure, offset and reduce carbon emissions – and their position as a Certified B Corporation.

As official UK distributor, MiiR’s extensive list of products are now available via our Online Shop and on a wholesale basis. From tumblers and water bottles to refillable growlers and camp cups for the road, MiiR's diverse product range of premium stainless steel drinkware brings together over 10 collections, comprising up to 12 colourways. Enlisting medical grade stainless steel and Thermo 3D™ Double Wall Vacuum Insulation Technology, they’re not only built to make a difference, but to last.

We’re also delighted to offer access to their bespoke customisation service, CustoMiiR. Every product in the MiiR range has the ability to act as a canvas, providing the backdrop for a diverse range of custom screen printed designs in up to five Pantone colours. 

To find out more about MiiR, and browse their range of products, visit our Online Shop. For wholesale and wholesale enquiries, please contact us via miir@workshopcoffee.com. 

Introducing the Baratza Encore

As our range of equipment and hardware continues to expand, our focus remains on showcasing products we’ve extensively tried and tested to ensure they don’t just complement, but elevate, your home brewing experience.

Sometimes that means introducing a new category of products, like water filters or storage canisters, whilst at others it means extending our existing range to offer greater choice.

With that in mind, we’re pleased to welcome the Baratza Encore to our fleet of coffee grinders. If you’d rather skip straight to a video version of this piece, it’s available to view here.

Dubbed an entry-level grinder, the Baratza Encore is perhaps underselling itself. Whilst it is the brand’s most accessibly priced grinder – and comparably priced to the much-loved Wilfa Svart – it’s a reliable and impressive countertop grinder for the home brewer. The 64mm hardened steel burr is hard wearing and produces a precise grind quality. Two colour options – black and white – allow you to choose a look that blends in on your countertop. 

Setting-up and dialling in
Boasting a small footprint (33.8cm x 14.0cm x 16cm (H x W x D)), the Encore is incredibly easy to set-up straight out of the box. Simply pop the rubber ring into the top of the burr set and affix the switch and you can begin grinding your coffee. However, as with any grinder, the first thing you’ll want to do is dial it in. 

Your grind size can be easily adjusted with a simple twist of the hopper. Following the 40 numbered settings labelled on the hopper, rotating towards the lower numbers will provide a finer grind, whilst twisting toward the higher numbers will coarsen the consistency of your grounds

The instruction manual in the Encore’s box offers some useful jumping off points for where they recommend setting your grinder for different brew methods. However, what these don’t factor in is your recipe (i.e. how much coffee you might be making with that specific brewer). We’ve therefore built on their guidelines to offer some more specific starting points:

AeroPress
1 minute brew time, 15g coffee to 230g water, inverted – Setting 12
3 minute brew time, 16g coffee to 250g water, regular – Setting 15

V60
1-Cup, 15g coffee to 250g water – Setting 14
2-Cup, 30g coffee to 500g water – Setting 20

Clever Dripper
25g coffee to 400g water – Setting 18

Chemex
60g coffee to 1000g water – Setting 32

French Press
45g coffee to 750g water – Setting 26

MoccaMaster
36g coffee to 600g water – Setting 25
75g coffee to 1250g water  –Setting 30

Whilst more specific than the manual’s instructions, we still view these as starting points. Each grinder will be calibrated slightly differently, so be sure to find the grind size that works best for you in the cup. You can find more detail on how to approach your grind size in this video.

Cleaning & Maintenance
Keeping your Encore clean is incredibly straightforward. Remove the hopper by rotating it to the coarsest setting and lifting it out. This will reveal the rubber seal and burr set below. Removing both, the stiff-bristled brush included with the grinder allows you to remove any built-up fines from the seal and the burrs.

To maintain consistently clean cups of filter coffee we recommend carrying this out at least once a week if you’re using the grinder on a daily basis, and monthly if you’re just using it at the weekends. 

Perhaps one of Baratza's most commendable and appealing qualities is their commitment to creating products that stand the test of time. As well as allowing for easy removal of parts for cleaning, the Encore has also been designed so that every part of it can be replaced with relative ease. This avoids the challenge of built-in obsolescence that many electronic devices face and helps ensure the product will be part of your home brewing routine for years to come. 

To find out more about the Baratza Encore, you can watch our video below, and find more technical information and shop the product here.

April 24, 2020


Some thoughts on brew water

As more of us brew coffee at home than ever before, we've collated various thoughts and conversations we’ve had amongst ourselves over the years on the subject of brew water. We hope the following will provide a guide to and through what is a dense and, at times, distracting topic in specialty coffee.

Our shared goal is to enjoy delicious coffee, so let’s look at getting the very best cups possible. 

An unfinished product
Coffee is a unique product in many ways. Often compared to wine or chocolate, in that it can be cheap, simple and commoditised or a vastly complex, high quality ingredient, capable of delivering amazing flavours, coffee stands apart in that the actual drink only materialises right before it is consumed (with the exception of pre-canned cold brew options, but let’s leave discussion of those for another time). 

The onus on the home brewer, making a cup for themselves or a pot for the family, to do right by their beans is greater than that felt when popping a cork from a nice bottle of wine or snapping a square off of a high quality chocolate bar. As a roaster that sells whole beans we’re asking the end consumer to carry the potential quality of their chosen coffee through into their cup. Armed with a good burr grinder, a robust recipe and some basic brewing advice this can be achieved quite easily, but there’s one more wrinkle that needs ironing out: water. 

Don’t lose sight
Ultimately, there are certain properties that the water coming out of your tap might possess that will dampen some of the attributes that make specialty coffee so special. 

By entering your postcode into your water supplier’s website, you should be able to read a report that breaks down what you’ll typically find in what’s coming out of your kitchen tap. Of particular interest will be the alkalinity, which you should think of as your water’s potential capacity to buffer your coffee’s perceivable acidity. Certain compounds will essentially work against you, making your coffee flatter and duller than it could taste brewed with different water. 

So, if a bright, sparkly acidity is something you prize highly in your cup (we certainly do) this is something to be aware of. 

Caveat Emptor: focussing too much on water can be a distraction. 

The Music Analogy
Think of water as your hi-fi set up. Yes, you can spend thousands of pounds on the right turntable, needles, amplifier, cables, tweeters and woofers, and there are plenty who get a lot of joy from doing so.

Similar-minded groups of fervent brewers wishing to bring the same vigour and enthusiasm to their coffee brewing would be buying a home water distiller or the Zero Filter jug, and keep a stock of a couple of different mineral additives like Epsom salts - link and bicarbonate of soda - link). They can then create their own finely tuned brew water to recipe, to accentuate those attributes they find most appealing in their cup of coffee. 

However, it is only those with a particular constitution and finely tuned ear who could lay down Curtis’s Roots on a more lo-fi sound system and find the music unlistenable and unenjoyable. Indeed, a lot of music producers and engineers often ‘car test’ their mixes as a way of ensuring a wider audience is able to listen and enjoy their music on more basic music systems. They may well concede that it won’t be at apex quality through such a system, but they wouldn’t eschew ever listening in the car. Similarly, well roasted, clean, fresh tasting coffee will give the drinker a huge amount of pleasure across a range of waters. There’s enough richness and depth when drinking coffee to allow some slide when it comes to your water quality. 

To stray from one multimedia analogy and into another, you are allowed to watch The Irishmen on your phone, despite what Scorsese says. 

What are my options? 
The music analogy can only take us so far. There are definitely times when untreated water used to brew quality coffee may be like listening to music with severe fuzz and distortion over everything, whereby the music underneath cannot be heard and enjoyed, in comparison all the positive flavours in the coffee are no longer perceivable. 

At what point does poor water quality result in a flavour defect in the cup rather than something sub-optimal? If all of the positive aspects of a cup are getting knocked around by the minerals in your water, creating something indiscernible from a poorly roasted, commodity coffee brewed with the same water, then steps do need to be taken to reclaim the characteristics that make specialty coffee special, and worth the extra time, effort and cost. 

[1] Bring Your Own Bottle
I’ve jumped straight over bottled water. It’s undoubtedly a solution, but not a sustainable one, so I recommend purchasing one or two reusable bottles and visiting your local specialty coffee shop. They’ll be treating their water to reduce scale buildup in their machinery and make their coffee taste better. 

On the off-chance you get funny looks or are uncomfortable asking for this you could always offer them some money each time you fill up, as it will cost them to treat their water. But if you’re buying your beans from there too, they’ll no doubt be open to helping you get the best out of them. We’re always open to sending you home with great brewing water when you visit a Workshop Coffee bar.

Obviously this isn’t an option during the current state of lockdown, but if you plan to keep brewing coffee with gusto and enthusiasm when we’re open again, keep this option in mind.

[2] Take the edge off
Filter jugs are mainly designed for taste and odour. They clean up the overall character of your water, but you don’t have ultimate control over your water’s buffering potential or overall hardness. Most regular household filter jugs like the Brita are very effective when the cartridges are fresh. Over time they do less work to improve your water quality before ultimately needing replacing. 

Another option from BWT will improve taste and odouor, but also replace some of the mineral content in your water with magnesium, which is a very buzzy topic in the specialty coffee world due to its potential to highlight more sweet, fruity characteristics in your brew. We have found that magnesium rich profile waters can make distinct coffees taste a little monotonous, ultimately resulting in sweet and round cups but that can taste quite similar to each other. They also take a lot longer to “break in” than Brita jugs, whereby the first few litres of brewed coffee can taste a little weird before things start to get tasty. Once broken in however we’ve had undoubtedly sweet and complex cups of coffee that are leagues ahead of cups of the same coffee brewed with untreated tap water. 

Despite the limitations of both Brita and BWT filter jugs, in that the water quality will fluctuate throughout their usage, they are a fantastic addition to your brewing repertoire for a very reasonable amount of money. Comparing cups of coffee brewed with untreated tap water and cups brewed with both Brita and BWT filtered water it is very easy to see their benefit. You can even return spent filter cartridges to certain shops for recycling.

[3] Fully customised 
Making your own water is an extreme option, but you wouldn’t be alone in doing so. 

As mentioned above, a home distiller or the Zero filter jug will create water completely devoid of minerals. By adding your own minerals, which requires a very accurate scale to 0.00g fidelity, you can experiment with different water profiles to get the very best out of your coffee. Different coffee roasters may even share their water specs so that you can recreate the very same water they use to assess and tweak their roast profiles. This option is maybe not quite as decadent as buying bottled mineral water to brew with, but does allow you to fall fairly deep down the rabbit hole and explore the complexities and intricacies of water. 

[4] Adapt
Heresy? Not quite. 

The obstacle of imperfect water coming out of your tap for coffee brewing is not insurmountable. Just like how a slightly dull set of grinder burrs or a slightly darker roast can be managed through adjusting your recipe and technique, you can work with your tap water rather than against it to create a sweet cup of coffee. 

If your water is muting acidity and creating more bitter, flat and stewed characteristics, then limit the potential for this by using a stronger dose and aiming for a slightly lower extraction overall. This will ultimately accentuate acidity and brightness, which may express as sour in soft, clean, neutral water, but that unbalanced acidity will be rounded out and bridled in the harder water. You’ll also reduce bitterness by curbing extraction, which is achieved by using a fractionally coarser grind, slightly cooler water, coupled with your slightly higher ratio of coffee to water. 

What does that mean in practice? Here’s what would usually be a one-cup V60 recipe made with clean, soft water, made using the Wilfa Svart, adapted for tap water:

Recommend Brew Guide (Clean, Soft Water)
1. 18g of coffee ground at the first 'R' in 'AEROPRESS' on the Wilfa Grinder. 
2. Clean, soft water brought to the boil. 
3. Start your timer. 
4. Bloom for 30s with 50g of your water and stir fully. 
5. Add all of your 300g of water by the 2 minute 30 second mark. 
6. Drink, savour and enjoy. 

Tap Water-Adapted Brew Guide
1. 20 of coffee, ground 2 clicks before 'AEROPRESS' on the Wilfa Grinder. 
2. Tap water, brought to the boil. 
3. Start your timer.
4. Bloom for 30s with 50g of water, but don't stir. 
5. Add all of your 300g of water by the 2 minute mark, 
6. Drink, savour and enjoy. 

The changes are relatively small, but the impact they’ll have on the attributes in your cup will be more than noticeable, allowing you to regain some clarity and definition in the flavours you’re looking to find. 

There are other implications of using tap water, primarily its effect on your equipment in terms of scale build-up. That’s nothing some quick and basic maintenance tips can’t address, and we’ll be covering those in another Journal piece. 

In the meantime, if you want to get in touch please email betterbrewing@workshopcoffee.com for advice on how to get the very best out of your coffee.

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