Learn about the equipment used for brewing coffee, including roasting, grinding, and extracting.
Coffee roasting equipment is used to take whole, green coffee beans and heat them to the desired temperature.
Coffee grinding equipment is used to take whole, roasted beans and cut or tear them into grounds appropriately sized for exraction.
Coffee extraction equipment is used to combine water and ground, roasted beans to brew coffee or espresso.
There are many methods of brewing espresso. They all have their own pros and cons. Extraction times average around half a minute. A blend of extra fine coffee grounds, packed tightly, is quickly extracted by water at a high temperature and pressure. This brewing method extracts a thick body, a concentrated coffee flavor, and a head of crema foam. Shorter extractions and a finer grind produce the most intense espresso, while longer extractions and a coarser grind are slightly weaker. Some designs are simple to clean, while others are challenging. These are all important factors in a user's happiness with the equipment and its espresso.
Manual espresso brewing machines are the original method. These machines require the user to perform all the actions. These include adding fresh water, grinding beans, tamping grind into the portafilter, monitoring the water temperature, and pulling a lever to create the pressure during extraction.
In the 1960s, an electric pump was added as state of the art to create pressure for espresso. This eliminates two actions in manual espresso where the user has to monitor the water temperature, and then pull a lever to create the pressure.
Current state of the art espresso makers can make pre-defined espresso recipes with as little effort as 1 touch. They have a reservoir for roasted coffee beans, a chilled reservoir for milk or cream, and can be hooked up to a water line. The only actions required are periodically topping off roasted beans, milk, or cream.
There are many methods of brewing coffee. They all have their own pros and cons. Extraction times vary from under a minute, to four minutes, to longer. Most use water with temperatures between 190 and 200F, but some use boiling water. Most use standard air pressure, while some brewing uses higher pressures. Some designs are simple to clean, while others are challenging. These are all important factors in the resulting coffee.
Drip is a brewing method that involves gravity. Most Drip brewing is done with automatic machines that have flat bottom filters. Water just below 200F (93C) is sprinkled over a medium grind, and it sits with the beans, slowly dripping down into a pot patiently waiting below.
Pour Over is a manual method very close to Drip. Water just below 200F (93C) is poured with a kettle over a fine grind. Gravity pulls it through a conical filter into a pot directly underneath. Water passes through quickly, so it must be continually added to the top.
The French Press uses a large cylinder. Extra course grind is scooped into the bottom, and water just below 200F (93C) is poured in. The coffee is covered and left to brew for about four minutes. Then, a filter is pressed down slowly through the coffee, trapping the grind in the bottom of the cylinder. The top of the French Press has a spout for pouring right into glassware.
The ibrik is a traditional Turkish method for brewing coffee. It does not use a filter. It produces bold coffee with some sediment.
Atomic Coffee Brewers have a semi-circular shape to them. Fresh water is boiled in the bottom and travels around to the top. Pressure forces it through a handle that is packed with a fine grind, just like manual espresso. Below the handle sits a pot ready to collect the strong, delicious coffee. The design was invented in 1947, amidst the Atomic Age of the World. Some Atomics will have a steam wand or nozzle for creating wet cream or microfoam. They are somewhat rare and can be expensive.
Mocha Pots have three chambers. Fresh water is boiled in the bottom chamber. The boiling water travels through the intermediate chamber, which has a fine grind of coffee surrounded by filters. The coffee is quickly brewed and continues upward and collects in the top chamber. The top chamber has a spout for pouring. They are relatively inexpensive.
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