A well roasted coffee brewed with care can be a satisfying and comforting daily ritual. It doesn’t have to be time consuming or complicated.
To dial in your preferred recipe, we suggest you have yourself an at-home coffee competition. Gather your different coffees and brewers and get ready to take notes. Your coffee expertise will grow immensely.
Try Different Coffees
Trying different coffees is an obvious starting point for an at home tasting competition. Our latest single origin release happens to be an ideal starting point: We purchased two great coffee lots from the same cooperative this year. They are both delicious but distinctly different in both how they were processed and the flavor imparted by this difference.
Naturally processed coffees are dried with the coffee fruit, or cherry, still totally intact and covering the whole coffee bean. Naturally processed coffees can vary immensely in flavor due to differences in drying times, temperatures, sun exposure, and a whole host of other tiny details.
At the other end of the spectrum, washed coffees have the whole coffee fruit removed from the bean prior to drying. In between the washed and natural poles exists a spectrum of honey processed coffees that have a varying amount of the coffee fruit removed prior to bean drying.
Generally speaking, natural-processed coffees are dominated by fruit notes, while washed coffees, where most of the skin and mucilage are removed have more classic coffee flavors of chocolate and brown sugars.
This set is an opportunity to understand the huge influence, in coffee flavor, that processing method makes. It's an opportunity to learn about coffee in a way that is sometimes only available to coffee professionals.
This is the one that may blow your mind. If you have access to spring water and/or distilled water, try brewing with that instead of tap. Even if you only have access to tap, try letting a bit sit out for 24 hours to dechlorinate and compare. A cup of coffee is mostly water after all. Compare and be amazed at the difference water makes.
If you have a way to measure temperature, this can be very insightful as well. We recommend pour overs at 205° F as a starting point, some coffees are delightful at a lower temperature. We don’t recommend trying anything below 180 degrees. Try a range and see how much variance you can conjure.
Brew with Different Brewers
Whether you use a “standard” drip coffee maker, a pourover immersion dripper, a french press or an aeropress: each can help bring out a unique coffee flavor profile. Line up your brewers and give each a test using the same coffee.
Drip Coffee Maker
They’re convenient and quick. Try our recipe and see if it gives you a better profile:
10 cup coffee maker
60-65 grams coffee, 2.1 ounces, or 11 tbsp
Morton’s kosher salt
1000 grams , or 32 ounces (4 cups), water should be filtered
Brew and enjoy
Even if you only have a drip coffee maker, you can try your drip brewer’s coffee vs a “cupping” method: pour hot water directly on grounds in a cup and let steep for four minutes. Knock the crust of coffee of the top, skim any grounds and gently sip. We use 12.5 grams with about 175 to 200 grams of water.
Have a french press lying around? Compare it with your drip coffee maker using our tried and true method:
75 grams, course*
1 Liter, 205° F
Plunge, Pour & Enjoy
*What do we mean by "course"? Think chunky sand.
Use our recipe for a Hario V60 for most pour overs:
225 grams, 200° to 205° F
15 grams coffee,
Table salt fine
Pour 30-40 grams of water & stir to saturate all coffee
Pulse pour until you reach 225 grams
Taste and adjust grind to maximize flavor
Adjust your grind
Grinding too fine makes your cup much more bitter. Too course can make it too weak. Try adjusting your grind and taste the results. Only you know what you prefer. This process can help you get acquainted with one of the most critical parts of your coffee making arsenal: your grinder.
Adjust your vocabulary
As you try different methods, it might be helpful to borrow some of the semantics that the pros use. Counter Culture offers a very intricate version of the tasting wheel that professional coffee folks use: https://counterculturecoffee.com/learn/resource-center/coffee-tasters-flavor-wheel
Feel free to use your own descriptions. We recommend taking notes and writing down your impressions as you cup. That way you can adjust and recalibrate as you go to find exactly your preferred combination of brewing nuances.
Let us know what you learn as you try different tastings.
Here’s a cheat sheet of some of the different words we’ve used to describe our coffees:
Sweet Balanced Nutty Complex Bold Full-Bodied Smoky Smooth Cacao Cane Sugar Baker’s Chocolate Blackberry Grape Cherry Honeysuckle Apricot Peach Jasmine Jackfruit Berry Floral Brown Sugar Red Apple Milk Chocolate Dark Chocolate Caramel Blueberry Chocolate Black Tea