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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. 

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 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.

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.

Brewing in the Wild

Being able to brew great coffee wherever and whenever you need it most has always been a key aim of ours. No matter where you are or what equipment you have with you, you should still be able to brew the best cup of coffee possible.

Nowhere is this truer than in the great outdoors, whether that's camping in the wild or hiking up a mountain -- a great cup of coffee is the perfect accompaniment. 

Over the recent Summer Solstice weekend, Sheffield-based bikepacking brand, Pannier, set up camp at Stanage Edge in the Peak District and invited tourers to join them for a few days of riding and socialising out in the wild. We roasted a batch of our Rwandan filter, Kirehe Remera, for them to brew up each day.

But brewing in the wild provides some unique challenges and so with practicality in mind, and travelling light a priority, we also put together a few tips to help keep your coffee tasting sweet even with a more lo-fi brewing set-up.

Aeropress

Use a metal filter
You can leave paper ones at home, so the filter holder isn't taking up the space of half a water canteen. Metal filters allow more oils and fine sediment into your cup, and need rinsing and wiping off once you've brewed, thus ensuring the oils don't turn rancid and taint your next cup. 

Use a scoop
Every AeroPress comes with a scoop which promptly gets tossed into the "random things" drawer in everyone's kitchen. It's actually pretty decent. The spoon end of a spork (below) also makes for a good alternative. 

Grind a touch coarser
You should be using a Porlex when camping; it slots into your AeroPress chamber when packing, is quick, and doesn't require an energy source besides yourself. Rather than trying to squeeze down your AeroPress with a considerable amount of force when you're likely brewing on an uneven tree stump or a mossy woodland floor, go for a coarser grind and longer steep time, with an extended stir to make sure the coffee extracts properly. A coarser grind will also make plunging through a metal filter that little bit easier.

Brew inverted
Make sure the rubber bung is securely in place in the brewing chamber and add your ground coffee. Then slowly top up with freshly boiled water to just shy of the brim of the AeroPress a this equates to around 250g of water. Get stirring and leave for a few minutes to steep before placing the filter and cap in place, flipping onto your tin travel mug, and slowly plunging. 

Pourover

Take pre-rinsed filter papers
If you're the kind of person to be doing pour-over brewing in the woods, you sound pretty into your coffee. For single cup brewing, the taste of a filter paper will come through if it's unrinsed, but when camping, water and heat will be in short supply compared to back home. Therefore when packing, spend a minute a few days before you leave rinsing a short stack of filter papers in your pourover cone, letting them dry before popping into your rucksack. That way you can brew straight away without having to boil extra water.

 

Grind a little finer than normal
This might sound counter-intuitive given the AeroPress brewing advice to grind coarser whilst camping but bear with me. The hard part of pourover brewing without scales is getting an accurate coffee-to-water ratio. We all know the right amount of coffee to water, ground on the correct grind setting gets you a cup of coffee which is well extracted and brewed to the proper strength. What we propose you do in the woods, however, is to purposefully brew a cup that's a bit too strong, but is properly extracted. Then, to dilute the concentrated cup and open up the flavours, add a little hot water to taste. 

 

Aim for a large bloom and higher brew bed throughout
As you won't be packing a gooseneck kettle, pouring carefully, slowly and accurately, in all likelihood, won't be possible. To counteract this, and still get an even extraction, start by pouring quite a lot of water onto the grounds, more than you would at home. Get a spoon in there and make sure that all the grounds are wet in this initial slurry, before continuing to pour. Keep the level of water quite high in your cone, as this will hopefully achieve a higher temperature in the brew slurry. Maintaining a high temperature, combined with a finer grind, means you'll be able to extract all the delicious flavours from your ground coffee, with less water than you would use to pour through the coffee bed at home. 

Dilute
When you feel like you've got a strong cup of coffee under the cone, take it off and taste it. Add a splash more hot water, mix and taste again. Keep doing so until the coffee is at your desired strength then savour and enjoy.

Cowboy Coffee
Finally, if you forgot to pack a coffee brewer, but still have your grinder or pre-ground coffee with you, don't fret. You can still brew a super lo-fi cup of coffee in your saucepan or kettle. This isn't going to be the most refined cup of coffee you'll ever drink, but here are some tips to get closer to that sweet spot. 
 
Use a medium grind size
There will be a tendency to want to grind very coarse when you're making steeped coffee. However, a coarse grind size won't allow you to reach an optimal extraction when the water and coffee are just sitting together, slowly infusing. Use a generous scoop for each cup you're making, and in the tried and tested tradition of English tea brewing, throw in another one "for the pot". This way you can opt to dilute the slightly strong coffee with a splash of water or milk, which will also stretch the amount of brewed coffee to go that little bit further. You'll have to leave behind some of the brewed coffee in the pan to avoid grounds in your cup, so having a slightly more concentrated brew to dilute down is a good thing. 
 
Boil and stir
Don't be afraid of brewing with boiling water. Measure out the water in the cups you'll be drinking from. The moment your saucepan is at a gentle rolling boil, turn off the gas and dump all the coffee grounds in (a hearty scoop for each cup, and one for the pan). Make sure at this point to use the back of a spoon to knock down any coffee grounds that are trying to float on the surface. Once they're all wet, you need to wait just a couple of minutes before giving the whole lot a really good stir. The grounds will have degassed and are ready to take on the water and start to diffuse their flavour into the liquor. 
 
Be patient and gentle
This is make or break for your cowboy coffee. You're now sat in front of a scalding hot pot of coffee which will be tastier the longer you leave it, and also will be more clarified the longer you leave it. The coffee grounds will slowly be sinking to the bottom of your pan. After a good ten minutes, you can start thinking about serving up the coffee. It is best to do this in one go, rather than to pour one cup and set the pan down again, and then to pour another cup later. Line up your mugs and ever so slowly and gently pour off the brewed coffee, trying not to disturb the grounds that have settled at the bottom of the pan.

Delving into automatics

Wilfa Grinder CGWS-130BThe era of the self-flagellating barista is over.

Overly obtuse and complicated brewing procedures that were once entertaining and exciting are now simply annoying. “There are no points for difficulty in coffee”. What really matters is using fantastic coffee and thoroughly enjoying the cups that you brew.

To that end we’ve been on the hunt for an automatic filter coffee brewer that we aren’t just happy to recommend, but wholeheartedly endorse, stock and sell to our customers. 

When we first dipped our toes into the world of auto-brewers we knew that we had to do a lot of experimenting. Upon testing a wide range of drip coffee makers we were scoring the machines in the following categories:

Ergonomics:
We looked at how comfortable and easy it is to engage with the machine, in preparing a pot, brewing and cleaning down, assessing the tactile qualities of the materials as well as sturdiness.

Brewing Temperature:
Assessing whether the machine is able to get the water up to an adequate brewing temperature, how quickly it does so and how stable it remains throughout the brewing process

Extraction Quality:
We trialled different recipes and techniques with each brewer, playing every role from skilled barista to someone half-asleep and feeling lazy in the morning. We rinsed filter papers, agitated as necessary and levelled the coffee bed for a more involved brewing procedure, but also trialled simply adding coffee and water by eye, with no intervention during the brewing process. Our thoughts behind these tests were that the better brewer would be the one that can adequately extract the coffee in a range of different scenarios. Using a refractometer we could check which machine brewed a stronger cup when using the same dose of coffee and water, thus informing us as to the more efficient option. 

Consistency:
It wouldn’t do to simply test the brewers once, so we brewed pot after pot of a wide range of coffees using water of varying hardness to see how the brewers coped in multiple scenarios. 

Speed:
Good things come to those who wait, but you can’t deny that your first cup in the morning can’t arrive quickly enough. Given that the machines will be popular in offices and cafes as well as in the home we wanted to make sure we selected a brewer that doesn’t take an age to produce a pot. 

Design:
You can’t overlook the importance of a slick looking machine. The footprint of the machine as well as the choice and finish of materials needs to lead to a pleasing aesthetic.

Value for Money:
There are some super cheap and some crazy expensive automatic brewers out there. It was important to us to find something with good build quality but not cost the earth, as the more people that can enjoy our coffee, the better.

Deliciousness:
Obviously this relies on the brewer delivering well on the above criteria, but we made sure to taste, taste and taste again to ensure the brewer reliably produces something utterly delicious.

Our Winner: The Technivorm Moccamaster

The Moccamaster ticked every box for us, and we’ve since been using it to brew fresh pots every day in the Workshop Coffee roastery as an extension of our roasted coffee QC program (and to perk the team up during a day’s roasting and packing).

A lesson in utilitarian, industrial aesthetic and a great example of quality manufacturing, the machine is hand-built in the Netherlands and comes with a 5 year manufacturer’s warranty. 

We were able to brew well extracted pots of coffee with minimal intervention, and have put together this concise brewing guide for those wanting to get the best out of their investment. 

We’re also importing and selling the new CGWS-130B electric burr grinder from Wilfa in Norway. Together they both deliver great results for minimal effort on your part: win win. 

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