518 Coffee Collective – Coffee Tasting

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The Capital Region Coffee Collective had a brew method exploration at the end of January at the Learning Center of the Healthy Living Market. It was a great event in a great space, and \was a fun, educational way to see (and more importantly, taste) a few different brewing methods and find what your preferences were in a cup.

I forget the coffee we tried, but it was a freshly roasted blend from Gimmie Coffee.
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The first method was a simple pour-over with a filter. This is how I’ve enjoyed my Blue Bottle coffees, and I figured this would be my favorite for the day, but I was surprised that it was not! It was good, but wow, let me tell you, the differences between brewing methods were very noticeable.

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The second demonstration was the Chemex. This was one of my favorite ways of brewing. It cut a lot of the acidity and was a really smooth, rounded cup of coffee. Being able to try the Chemex method immediately after the pour-over method was great, as I was able to see how much smoother the Chemex was compared to the pour-over (which ordinarily I’d think was just dandy)
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French press was next. This was a bolder cup of coffee in terms of flavor and acidity.

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The Aeropress was next.
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The aeropress is probably the easiest coffee making method of the bunch, and is best for single serve cups of coffee.

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PUSH the water through the coffee. I thought this lent a lot of acidity and bitterness to the coffee, which I didn’t care for. Other people really liked it, so it was a fantastic learning experience to be able to have different opinions on brewing methods and open up dialog with other attendees about what you liked or didn’t like and why.
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The Moka Pot. I think of this as the espresso coffee maker because a few friends use these to make, well, espresso. Also a pretty easy and compact brewing system to use.

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The Syphon. This was the most impressive looking brewing method, for sure. It’s a 2-stage coffee brewing system. you put the water in the bottom pot, and the coffee + filter in the top pot (which also has a glass tube that leads into the glass pot below. Once it comes to a boil, the water is siphoned into the top pot to brew, then goes back into the lower pot when done.
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Wow. That was really awesome to watch. And it also made a great cup of coffee for me. Tied with the Chemex due to its rounded flavors and low acidity/bitterness.
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Now here is the only down side – my two favorite methods of brewing were also the two largest and most difficult to clean if I want them at home. Chemex = big glass vase that the cat will probably declare a mortal enemy and try to break, takes up a lot of space and will need to be stored somewhere to protect it from the cat and my own clumsiness. Syphon = TWO pots to clean, and that pot with the siphon tube will need to be cleaned almost immediately after brewing; plus protective storage from Rambo cat and clumsy oaf owner. I’ve decided to order these out when I see them, like at Tierra coffee roasters (they have Chemex for $4 a pot).

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P1030858Thanks to the 518 Coffee Collective for putting together this educational public event! It was truly fantastic to be able to compare different brew methods side-by-side. I’d likely never really be able to tell the differences (or seek them out) otherwise. It was energizing to be in a room full of passionate people sharing their craft.

5 comments
  1. if you are going to critique the coffee, should you not remember the blend/type???

  2. CRCC said:

    Thanks for the great round-up! We appreciate it very much.

    FYI – the coffee we chose was Gimme Coffee’s Mocha Java Blend – a blend of Java Estate Blawan and an Ethiopia Yirgacheffe. A classic blend, executed very well.

    We will be announcing our next public event very soon!

  3. amanda_ny said:

    Nice roundup! I had siphon coffee once and thought it was very good, but I never tasted it side by side with something else – I wish I had made it to the event! Was there an explanation offered for why the differences you tasted might be expected? Chemex and pour-over seem similar to me, so do you think the differences come from the qualities of the filter? What if I used a Chemex filter in my pour-over funnel?

    • Hopefully you can make the next event they have 🙂

      They didn’t quite get down to the science of why there were flavor differences, but they did note that the flavors would be significantly different due to the different methods. Like you, I am also wondering if the Chemex filter would work in a pourover method – it did appear to be down to the filter, although that is just from my initial taste and no scientific method behind this theory (maybe we should make it so!).

  4. -R. said:

    Either the Chemex or ‘The Syphon’ shouldn’t be at all difficult to clean, provided you use the correct agent. You need the blue fluid, commonly sold as Clearly Coffee. This amazing chemical effortlessly dissolves all coffee oils and residues from every nook and cranny without any scrubbing. Got a Thermos you use daily and can’t quite get clean any longer? This stuff will shock you if you’ve never experienced it. In coffee brewing, cleanliness is paramount.

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