Brewing Coffee Manually

Better coffee. One cup at a time.

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2016 Brewing Coffee Manually Coffee Gift Ideas- Coffee Lovers Gift Guide

It is already November which means it’s time to start putting together Christmas gift lists for the coffee lovers and aficionados in your life. Here are some of the coffee gift ideas that have been resonating with me this year. If you have something to add, join the discussion in the comments down below.

Want more ideas? Here are the gift guides from previous years:

Stocking Stuffers

  1. Cupping Spoon- Whether you are slurping through an Angels’ Cup subscription every week just occasionally dabbling in the practice, every coffee enthusiast should have a cupping spoon. Cupping spoons vary from the very basic to the silver plated Rattleware RW (and beyond). You may even be able to snag one from a favorite roaster or get one custom engraved.
  2. Brandywine Coffee Roasters Chemex Pin-This enamel Chemex pin from the creative minds at Brandywine Coffee Roasters is amazing. What manual coffee brewer wouldn’t want this 1.25 inch tall pink Chemex hanging out by their slow bar?
  3. 30 Pack of Kalita Kantans- Several weeks ago, I wrote a brew guide about these handy little disposable brewers. The Kalita Kantans are the perfect gift for the people who don’t need extra coffee stuff. They take up almost no room, are disposable and are fun to throw in for on-the-go coffee brewing adventures. Win, win…. win
  4. Flow Restrictor for the Bonavita gooseneck kettle- For less than a quarter (plus shipping), you can upgrade your giftee’s Bonavita gooseneck and make it easier for them to get a constant flow rate (for brewing methods like the Nel drip). You will probably even get to explain what it is. This restrictor will allegedly slow down the flow rate of the Bonavita gooseneck kettle severely.
  5. Coffee Makes Me! Sticker by Kyle White- Kyle sent me a couple stickers a few months back. I really like his “Coffee Makes Me!” Sticker. I put mine on my airpot I use when I bring coffee for my co-workers but it would also look good on a water bottle or coffee journal.

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What is Cascara? – Exploring Coffee Cherry Tea

Cascara (a.k.a. coffee cherry tea) is something that is picking up steam in the craft coffee world. A few years ago, I would hear some mentions of it here or there but would have had to actively search if I wanted to find some (let alone a recipe for brewing it up). These days, I see cascara in many coffee shops and online roasters. If you have questions about this trending fruit tea, here is an informational and brewing guide.

What is Cascara?

A brief history

Coffee is the seed of a fleshy, cherry-like fruit that grown primarily between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn (you can read more about green coffee here). In most cases, the flesh of the coffee cherry is removed and discarded during coffee processing. This discarded flesh from coffee processing can be a nuisance and can even create a pollution problem if it is not dealt with properly.

WARNING: Do not confuse cascara made from coffee cherries with Cascara Sagrada. Cascara Sagrada (sacred bark) is the dried bark of the cascara buckthorn plant that grows in the Pacific Northwest. It has an extremely bitter taste (allegedly) and is known for its laxative properties.

Traditional consumption of coffee cherry tea is thought to be even older than roasting the coffee seeds (beans). Legend has it that coffee was discovered by an Ethiopian herdsman (Kaldi) and his goats. He began making a caffeinated tea out of the fruit (which eventually morphed into roasting the seeds themselves). A drink made from the coffee fruit has been consumed in Yemen (called qishr*) and Ethopia (called hashara) ever since. Cascara is also consumed in Bolivia under the traditional name of sultana.

The credit for the recent rise of cascara’s popularity has been given to Aida Batlle, a renowned coffee grower from El Salvador. It is said that during a cupping, Batlle made an infusion out of some discarded coffee cherries and coined the phrase cascara (which means skin or husk in Spanish) because coffee pulp wasn’t a very marketable name.

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The Java Maestro Stainless Steel Pour Over Cone Product Review

Earlier this year, the company that creates the Java Maestro metal filter cone contacted me and asked if I would be willing to do a review on their product in exchange for them sending one over. It has taken me awhile to get around to putting my thoughts together on paper but after a busy summer, I am ready to discuss this nifty little brewer.

The Java Maestro is a metal pour-over filter cone about the size of a V60. It is available on Amazon for  $17.99. Unlike some of the other metal filter cones on the market, the Java Maestro is used as a stand-alone brewer (not as an accompaniment insert like the popular Able filter cone).

I realize that there are quite a few stainless steel pour-over cones of strikingly similar design on Amazon. Although they are similar, I cannot vouch for them as I have not held them in my hand and brewed with them.

Metal versus Paper Filtration

The differences between metal and paper filtration is something I have not talked much about on the blog thus far.

Paper filters produce a cleaner cup of coffee that has less body. This is because the paper is designed to remove the sediment and some of the oils. There are varying degrees of thickness in paper filters and thus the amount of sediment and oils removed will vary from brewing method to brewing method (Chemex filters versus Hario V60 filters for instance). Many coffee drinkers are used to the type of coffee a paper coffee filter produces and thus prefer it.

Until recently, most people’s experience with a metal filter was the French Press. Most of the metal filter cones (the Java Maestro included) produced a cup of coffee with less sediment than a traditional French press coffee. Coffee that has been filtered with a metal filter should have a fuller body because it contains more oils than a paper filtered coffee.

With pour-over metal filtration, the metal screen is there to simply keep the coffee grounds from getting into the cup; nothing is removed from the coffee. This can be a pleasant and eye opening experience if you have not dabbled much in metal filters (or unpleasant if you prefer paper filtered coffee).

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