How to Start Brewing At Home

Posted by Keith Yee on

Coffee is a necessary thing for most of the people. Some people just enjoy drinking it but for others this is not enough, they are interested in learning how to prepare it so they can enjoy wherever they are. However, it can be troublesome for a coffee lover to head down to a café, especially in the morning when you are getting ready for work or school, so here are my tips to start you off brewing at home with just a few simple tools.

delicious coffee common man coffee roasters

Many of my friends and customers have asked me this question, 'How can I brew a coffee at home that tastes delicious whilst not spending too much money on coffee equipment?' My answer is always the same, go buy a Clever Coffee Dripper (CCD) and a good bag of CMCR coffee! The CCD is suitable for every beginner because it doesn’t require too much technique and the cost is relatively low. All you need to have is a CCD, paper filter, a stirrer, delicious coffee and you are good to go!

CCD common man coffee roasters

So a little about the CCD, firstly it brews coffee in what we call the immersion method. This method allows you to control the steeping time while brewing, resulting in a much more balanced cup compared to other brewing methods.

Once you take your CCD out it’s box, you’ll notice it has a release valve at the bottom of the brewer which unlocks when pushed and allows the water to start dripping when you place it on a cup. You’ll also see it comes with lid which keeps the heat in the brewer, so you can have a lovely hot cup of coffee every time! The CCD is also lightweight and portable so you can enjoy the same great coffee at home, work or even on holidays.

ccd common man coffee roasters

Here’s my recommend recipe and a list of the tools you’ll need:

CCD
Paper filter
Scale (Optional but if you want a consistent cup is worth the investment)
Stirrer (a kitchen spoon will do)
Boiling Water
Delicious coffee (roasted for filter and CMCR of course!)

Once you have all these, here how to start brewing:

  1. Place your CCD on either your scale or worktop but do not place on your cup yet otherwise you’ll release the valve!
  2. Fold the paper filter according to the line on the side and place it nicely in the CCD.
  3. Rinse the paper filter with hot water to get rid of the papery taste and warm up the brewer.
  4. Put 15g of ground coffee into the CCD (medium coarse grind size – ask your barista for a filter grind if you don’t have your own grinder).
  5. Pour 250g of hot water into your CCD (or equivalent 1:16 ratio).
  6. Stir 5 times and put the lid on.
  7. Allow to steep for 2:15 minutes.
  8. Take off the lid and stir 5 times.
  9. Now place your CCD on your cup to release the valve and let it drip.
  10. Sit back, relax and enjoy a cup of joy!

It's really that easy! This is my recommended recipe but you may find you like it slightly stronger or weaker depending on the type of coffee you have. Why not have an experiment at home to see what works for you? remember consistency is the key so having a scale and a home grinder will mean you can repeat your recipe again and again.

Did you know that you can also brew cold coffee at home using a CCD? check out our blog for our method and enjoy a delicious cold brew made by you!

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How to Brew the Perfect: Flat White

Posted by Matthew Patrick McLauchlan on

The Espresso

The espresso shot forms the foundation for a great cup, and without a well-executed espresso, the final beverage can fall flat on its face (not the ‘Flat’ that we’re after).

Like a lot of things in life, making espresso is as much art as it is science, but relies heavily on a recipe to reach a consistent result.

The main goal of this standard recipe is to reach a desired result, whilst controlling the myriad of variables that go into the making of espresso.

As an example, here’s a ‘Common’ espresso recipe;

  • Dose In – 22g of Ground Coffee
  • Dose Out – 38g of Espresso
  • Ratio – 1:1.7
  • Extraction Time – 28sec

The Milk

As with the espresso, a lot of attention must be paid to the milk preparation as part of the finished beverage.

Temperature, both at start and finish is critical when preparing milk.

Starting with very cold is imperative to give you ample time for controlled texturing, with the proteins in the milk coming together a trapping air to create a silky, micro-foam texture.

For a Flat White, the amount of foam is important, adding a small amount of foam on top to create some textural contrast, stabilize the beverage as it’s being carried and to create a beautiful pattern on top.

Finishing on the correct temperature is also important, as the milk should be hot enough to ensure that those looking for a wake-me-up in the morning are satisfied, but not too hot as to scald the milk or inhibit the flavours present in the espresso.

The Finished Product

Often overlooked, the ration of espresso to milk is one of the key differences between a Flat White and other milk beverages.

We serve our Flat Whites as a more punchy beverage, with a 1:5 espresso to milk ratio in the cup ensuring the characteristics of our espresso remain intact and translate well through the milk.

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CMCR Blends Explained

Posted by Stella Cochrane on

No matter where you are on your coffee journey, there's no doubt that you may have been a bit confused about coffee descriptors at some point along the way. For many people, coffee tastes like, well, coffee! For those folks, reading a description of a coffee as having 'notes' of 'apricot' or 'red capsicum' or a 'syrupy' or 'juicy' mouthfeel can tend to make the selection experience a bit overwhelming.

Sometimes when we taste coffees in the lab, we get so excited about what we’re doing that we forget how far we’ve come in our taste profile exploration, meaning that we communicate our passion to some coffee drinkers, but not all. And not always in a language that everyone can understand.

With that in mind, we’ve created a simple guide to our current coffee blends. The list below outlines the blend profile along with some general descriptors, or rather, descriptors for the beginner coffee connoisseur!

An important thing to remember is that as coffee is a fruit and, like all fruits, is a seasonal product. Hence these beans in these blends may change over time as coffee comes into season in various parts of the world. However, the profile listed will remain the same. That means if we choose to replace a Colombian with a Guatemalan somewhere along the line, the end result may taste a little different, but the level of body, acidity, fruitiness and chocolaty-ness will remain the same. Happy hunting!

22 MARTIN22 martin common man coffee roasters signature blend

 

This our homage to those classic coffee flavours - think hazelnut, toffee and dark chocolate with a long, lingering finish.

Body: heavy
Acidity: low
Fruitiness: low
Chocolaty-ness: high levels with prominent dark chocolate, graham crackers and hazelnut flavours

 

COUNTRY COUSINCOUNTRY COUSIN COMMON MAN COFFEE ROASTERS SIGNATURE BLEND

 This blend is for those with a refined sweet-tooth, with plenty of candied fruit and a super clean finish

Body: light
Acidity: medium - high
Fruitiness: medium - think apricots, peaches and tropical fruits
Chocolaty-ness: low

 

LUCKY BASTERDlucky basterd common man coffee roasters signature blend

 This blend is for the adventurous amongst you, comprising our beloved Ardi Sidama natural process from Ethiopia year-round, creating a vibrant fruit forward cup.

Body: medium - heavy
Acidity: medium
Fruitiness: high - think jackfruit and plums
Chocolaty-ness: medium - cocoa powder and black tea

 

CMCR ESPRESSOCMCR ESPRESSO COMMON MAN COFFEE ROASTERS SIGNATURE BLEND

 This blend can be all that you need with incredibly complexity of flavours, ranging from subtle, floral and light citrus notes, to rich dark-fruits and even bakers chocolate

Body: medium - high
Acidity: medium - high
Fruitiness: medium - think stone fruits and citrus
Chocolaty-ness: low - medium

 

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In Focus: Acids in Coffee

Posted by Stella Cochrane on

Our CMCR KL Academy Trainer, Pablo Bialaszynski, took some time out of his busy schedule recently to investigate the complex effect of acids in coffee.

Here's what he found:

'When we think of acids, we often think of a pH level chart and reminisce about school science experiments with lemon juice and vinegar. In this case, we’re going to focus deeper on the source of coffee’s acids and the sensorial experiences that come with them.

This post aims to provide a perspective that simplifies acidity, rather than complicate a topic that is already tricky. You might find a greater appreciation for your cup of specialty coffee with a little more understanding.

There are a few stages of a specialty coffee’s journey that could alter acidity in the final cup and inevitably how we sense and perceive it. It could be the type of Arabica, the environment of where it’s grown, the method of processing, as well the effects of roasting.

yellow bourbons   coffee cherries    drying coffee

There are two main groups of acids, known as 'organic acids' and 'inorganic acids'. 'Organic acids' - as the name would suggest – can be easily considered as naturally occurring in the plant and fruit's development via cellular respiration. While 'inorganic acids' are acids present that could be a byproduct of, for example, a fertilizer or soil rich in certain minerals.

Organic acids are more prominent in gradually higher altitude Arabica; and there are over two dozen of these acids! Different cultivars can be composed of different levels of these same acids. An effective analogy is the one of apples. Have a look at these different apples below, could you try to imagine how they taste individually?

apples

Now what’s remarkable is that you didn’t need to be an aficionado of apples to know which of these would be the juiciest and sweetest, or has a tart sourness and crisp feel.

These apples – like specialty Arabica – are rich in acids and sugars. In this case, over 90% of apples acids are malic acid. And while an orange would also have malic acid, we would never compare 'an apple-like flavour' to that of an orange, simply because of its undeniable character, rich in citric acidity, or citrus. In fact, stone fruits like peaches have both malic and citric acids in almost equal amounts!

Of course, we couldn't talk about acids without considering the environment that the coffee grows in, as this is a big factor effecting its end quality. Higher elevations (thus lower levels of oxygen) promote the maturation of harder and denser seeds within the fruit and the cool nights slow down the ripening of the fruit. Bright citric acid slowly matures into sweeter malic acid and ultimately changes how acidity can differ in presentable flavour.

Altitude map

Different processing methods will also effect the perception of acids in the coffee. Washed processed coffees are higher in perceived acidity and this is attributable to the removal of mucilage which contain most of the fruit’s sugars. A 'natural' or 'dry' processed coffee retains the mucilage and therefore has a greater presence of sweetness which can mitigate perception of acidity. An easy analogy is that of making lemonade - We know drinking lemon juice concentrate isn’t a delight, and diluting it with water might make the sourness less painful, but all it takes is some sugar to turn it into something more palatable.

Now that we have some good understanding of how certain acids form, let’s look at how roasting coffee can alter that. The concept of roasting can be viewed pretty simply; a light roasted coffee generally preserves acidity. while a darker roasted coffee degrades specific acids whilst increasing a very select handful of others. There are many chemical reactions in roasting; as well there are many ways to go about it.  

roasting stages of coffee

The fruity acids like citric and malic degrade at higher temperatures and longer roasts, while certain groups like chlorogenic acids have components that break down and increase during the roast. Quinic and caffeic acids are a result of this degradation and are commonly associated with bitterness, astringency and the body found in darker roasted coffee. Naturally, we wouldn’t want acidity to be the only character, it would overwhelm the drink, nor do we want a cup full of bitterness - Balance is key and this is where skill and experience in roasting comes into play.

Here are the few acids that we can easily identify in taste!

Citric acid – as you would find in oranges and lemons, it is easily detectable. While it’s known for bright and juicy sensations, this acid has one of the greatest presences in green coffee. It reduces in darker roasts.

Malic acid – quite like the crispy joy of biting into a green apple or sweet pear, this is a tart and lingering acidity. A prized quality in specialty-grade Arabica coffee.

Acetic acid – the taste of vinegar, how delicious. A common byproduct of washed coffees that contribute to a rounded, clean tasting cup. Poor fermentation can accentuate this acidity but the right amount of it makes for nice complexity.

Tartaric acid – the grapey and winey notes in coffee, which is understandable considering grapes, are rich in this acid. Too much however will be sour and unpleasant, this acidity is one of the main acids in wine.

Quinic acid – the byproduct of cholorogenic acid decomposing during roast. It increases in concentration in darker roasted coffee, stale coffee and coffee that was brewed and cooled or sat in a coffee pot too long over a hot plate. It does give coffee a clean finish but is better known for the sourness of coffee that turned cold.

Phosphoric acid – introduced during fertilization, this inorganic acid is commonly found in Kenyan coffees. With a hint of sparkling in texture, it’s the reason for the delicious currant notes. It’s believed that the larger presence of this inorganic mineral makes Kenyans so iconic.

As you can see, there’s much room for flavour expression in specialty coffee!

apples              citrus fruits

There is a plentiful of things for us at Common Man Coffee Roasters to consider. Tasting different coffees from one harvest to another, new and old cultivars from varying regions and countries, analyzing and improving our understanding of how different coffees react in the roast; and, inevitably how we brew our coffee and serve our consumers. Put simply, making delicious coffee common.

Next time you find yourself in a specialty café, look out for tasting notes in the coffee you ordered, even if they’re as funky as raspberry, cola, liquorice, banana or coriander.

Thanks for reading, this calls for a great brew!

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Home Brewer: Cafe in Your Kitchen - Part Three

Posted by Stella Cochrane on

So now you have your machine up and running and can pull a mean espresso shot it time to turn our attention to the thing that everyone wants to try - Latte Art! We are going to look at creating the Rosetta, a fern or leaf shaped pattern, which is the most well known and often the most difficult design to master. Here we are going to run through the process step by step, so you can try it at home.

Common man coffee roasters milk texturing latte art

So you’re getting consistently good shots of espresso and you’ve mastered your milk steaming with silky consistency. But all your challenges are not surmounted! Increasingly in cafes around Singapore, patterns and designs are flowing onto the surfaces of coffees — while everyone around you is happily enjoying the filigreed designs, your frustration builds as you get no closer to achieving more that what your friends and family fondly refer to as your ‘abstract phase’. Well it’s time for that to change — below are some tips and pointers for getting you closer to giving birth to your first Rosetta.

My first prefacing statement would be that without a good set of shots as the base for your coffee, there’s no way you’re going to be able to achieve great latte art, let alone a good tasting coffee: so get those shots right! Remember: once your face gets close enough for the first sip, no-one can see the latte art anyway!

Secondly, you really need to have mastered your milk texturing before attempting your Rosetta. If your milk is lumpy, airy, too foamy, not foamy enough or not folded together thoroughly, you’re going to have all kinds of problems as you try to pour.

Another important factor is the spout on your milk jug (something that you generally only learn after purchasing 37 different milk jugs to find — the right one). Make sure that your milk jug has a clearly defined spout — check out our Incasa Milk Jugs we’ve got in stock: one of the reasons we chose these jugs is that they’re great for latte art. A spout with no point or one that has a big lip at the edge will disperse your milk widely, restricting you from any fine detail.

Alright — you know what you’re aiming for and you’ve prepared your shots. For the Rosetta, you want to steam your milk as if for a flat white — much thicker than this and there will be no definition to your design. Once you’ve steamed your milk (check out last month’s Café in your Kitchen — Part II article if you’re not sure about this), you’re ready to roll!

Begin pouring straight into the center, keeping the jug low to the cup. Begin with quite a slow pour to help stabilise the crema in the cup.

common man coffee roasters latte art guide

Once you’re around 1/3 of the way up the cup, move the jug so you’re pouring towards the back and start slightly shaking or ‘jiggling’ the jug side to side to throw the foam forward.

common man coffee roasters latte art guide

Once the foam has marked the surface of the crema, continue that same shaking or swaying motion while moving the pour backwards through the cup. Upon reaching the front of the cup, pour in a straight line toward the back of the cup, through the lines you’ve previously created. Your swaying motion will create the leaves of the Rosetta with the final pull through creating the stem.

You can then start practising doing fancy things like this:

common man coffee roasters guide to latte art

Alright — that’s a step by step walk through but just a few more tips:

  • Always make sure that the tip of your milk jug spout is as close to the surface of the milk as possible (pour low).
  • Once you’ve shaken the white to the surface, use a fairly slow swaying motion to create the leaves — don’t zig-zag but rather rotate just your wrist.
  • Try with a large cup to begin with — more surface area = more canvas.
  • Always attempt to have only as much steamed milk as you need in the jug: too much milk and the angle of your pour towards the end will still be too low.

So with these tips, hopefully you’re closer to achieving that great finish to your coffees, and always remember: the espresso base and texture of your milk are the most important factors — latte art is the icing on the cake!

Visit the Common Man Coffee Roasters online shop for all your home barista equipment needs!

If you want more hands-on practice and tuition in latte art, sign up for a Latte Art Class at the CMCR Academy, details of all our classes and how to book.

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