From Aosta to Messina, from the North to the South of Italy, if you walk into a coffee bar and say: “a coffee”, in most cases, you will receive an espresso.
Conversely, if you went to somebody’s home and asked for a coffee, the result would not be so obvious. Leaving aside single-portion solutions (such as pods or capsules… caricatures that I will not discuss in this article), you might receive a coffee made with the moka pot or the cuccuma (flip-over stove pot), or maybe get a nice large cup of boiling stuff from a trendy family accustomed to filtered coffee.
It seems strange but probably, the latter option is a more usual solution along the Romagna coast, where the Germans arrived on the beaches in the 70s and 80s with their “Melitta”, their paper filters and ground coffee (quite coarsegrained) to teach lifeguards how to prepare a “filterkaffee”.
So, recently, when you ask for “a coffee”, here in our country, you can expect anything. Especially in recent years, with the explosion of the so-called “third wave” of coffee shops, and thanks to the many good guys who are spreading a different coffee drinking culture.
- Let’s tidy things up
- Only the good stuff. Only beautiful things
- French Press
- V60 and Chemex
- Cold Brew
Let’s tidy things up
Different how? From what we’re used to drinking regularly at home/in coffee bars/restaurants.
When we speak, as in this article or during our workshops, of “alternative systems of extraction,” we are talking of everything that is not an “espresso”.
Some see it as a deliberately alternative fashion to forcibly oust the espresso from our coffee bars (these were the answers to an online survey we did some time ago). On the contrary, we see it as a sensory amplification to be implemented in order to support the espresso, at a time when coffee consumption in our country is at a standstill.
You don’t believe me? In defence of this theory, I could start by telling you that almost all the extraction systems that we will talk about afterwards, were used in order to fine-tune the creation of the espresso machine. De facto, as you will see, they were born beforehand. The first coffee machines were those which set fire to Italic minds at the beginning of the century, and pushed them towards inventing the drink which is so fashionable today, more so abroad than at home. Starting from this statement and going beyond the boundaries set at the beginning of the article, we could therefore say that the alternative extraction system is, in fact, the widely-drunk espresso.
And it is precisely when approaching the unknown, that the need to learn and to study is felt, in order not
show any uncertainty to our interlocutors. We have been doing this for six years, right up to being awarded the title of Italian Brewers in 2016. And we would like to take the opportunity given by these new pages to share with you what we have learned over these years.
We believe, in fact, that exploring these new ways of drinking coffee in your/our coffee bars, is an alternative which could revive the coffee market in general. Or rather, the good coffee market. Because if I have to drink 2 cl of any beverage, somehow, with sugar or milk, or chucked down like some medicine, I will, but if I have to drink 30 cl of a hot drink, it must be good. Really good.
This is the chance: to allow understanding through these methods that coffee can also be good. I might even wish to drink one: not out of necessity, to have a break, or to stretch my legs from sitting at my desk. I could have the same vibrant need as when I’m looking at a steak while foretasting a glass of red wine, or on a hot day at six in the evening, in front of a freshly drawn beer. To have that deep desire to once again find the same things that I once felt in that cup, understanding that there must be nothing strong, nothing really fullbodied, nothing unpleasant, only little or no bitter aftertaste in that coffee. Only balance.
Only the good stuff. Only beautiful things
Here is a manual with a little history and some advice concerning the systems which you could push in your premises. I will try to suggest the basic blends, almost all original, with some exceptions created by the samples, designed to create a cleaner extraction, but not close to the original. From this point onwards, needless to say you will be able to indulge in changing each system as you please. In fact, I highly recommend it. If it works, it’s called avant-garde. If it fails, you will have explored!
To get started, you will need:
• good coffee, possibly Specialty, a lighter blend compared with the espresso one, always freshly ground;
• a grinder;
• a scale;
• a kettle with built-in thermometer;
• a stopwatch;
Before being trendy, a bit of history. Before the history, a special thanks to: Enrico Maltoni, and Mauro Carli, for having drawn up a monumental book, from which we are inspired and we study: Coffee Makers.
The first coffee maker which had a controlled extraction that we know of, was the “De Belloy” at the very beginning of the nineteenth century. It was not patented, but there are documents that prove that this was the very first pot created to make coffee with a little more, let’s say, art, rather than simply pouring boiling water
over roasted and ground coffee (like we do today, in one way or another). The first patent was granted in 1802, for the “Henrion Coffee pot”, a kind of thermos created mainly to keep coffee hot, as well as to prepare it by “infusion”, to then move on to the Hadrot coffee pot, created in 1806, and to the one which is so dear to us Italians, the “flip-over” pot, made by the Parisian tinsmith Morize in 1819, now known throughout the world as “La Napoletana (The Neapolitan pot)”.
We take a huge leap to 1842 when Madame Vassieux finally patented the glass globe coffee pot. Today, commonly called “Syphon”, it was renamed this way in 1959 by Hario Japan, which has been manufacturing it finely since 1949. A coffee pot consisting of two containers with a filter in the middle. Initially, the filter was made of fabric, today you can find it made of paper or steel, manufactured by various companies with different filtering sizes (measured in microns). Underneath the lower globe, there must be a source of heat.
Coffee/water ratio: it depends on the size of the pot; however, it must always be around 60 grams per litre. Example: for the common 3-cup Syphon: 26 grams of coffee with 365 grams of water.
Grinding: it is useless that I suggest any measure in microns. I shall say it with a little poetry: not too thin as for espresso, not too coarse as for filter coffee… let’s say a little coarser than the grind that you know for the Moka pot.
Check that your coffee pot is completely odourless. The filter must be well-placed with its spring and, previously wet, whether it is made of paper or steel.
Now, get confident with the heat source, and turn it on.
Pour boiling water in the lower globe, before placing it on the stove.
At this point, place the upper globe’s syphon into the lower globe.
When you see the hot water bubbles surfacing in the lower globe, it is time to hook the upper globe to the one below and wait for most of the water to pass to the level above thanks to compression. At this point, stir the water to slightly lower the temperature and blow in oxygen, but also to check that the heat is stable and that the water does not plunge again into the lower globe. If it is stable, it’s time to add the coffee, start a stopwatch, and mix immediately, to make sure that every
single coffee particle receives water.
Wait 40 seconds and turn the heat down, stirring again.
When a minute has gone by, remove the pot from any heat, stir again and wait until the drink has filtered by heat decompression, passing into the lower globe.
If you’ve done it all under 1 minute and 30 seconds, you are on track. At this point, remove the upper globe, and serve. If you want to
“clean up” the experience, pass the drink through a V60 paper filter (which we’ll see later).
Not so far away, in France, a few years later in 1852, Mayer and Delforge created the “plunger or filter press” coffee pot, now known as “Cafetière” or “French Press”. This coffee pot was the most used one in households and in coffee shops around the world until the beginning of the twentieth century, when espresso machines and the “Bialetti” machine invaded more or less all the planet, carried by Italian immigrants.
There is a bit of Italy in this coffee maker as well. In fact, Attilio Calimani and Giulio Moneta added the mechanical spring to press the filter to the glass body of the coffee pot in 1929, and Bruno Cassol coated the filter with another wire mesh, like the ones we have today. Before buying one, some advice. Always buy one made of Pyrex glass with a completely removable plunger and a lower than 200-micron particulate strainer.
Coffee/water ratio: always 60 g/litre, for a half-litre pot use 36 grams of coffee with 530 grams of water.
Grinding:…really coarse. To give you an idea, take a coffee bean and break it into about 300 pieces. You
could almost count them. You are close to one millimetre for each little piece.
Preparation time: All in all, 4 minutes
Put the coffee in the coffee maker. Start the timer and immediately pour the water at 94° maximum, over the coffee, creating a little turbulence (water and coffee mixing action). Stir and wait for 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, wet the plunger filter well with hot water, to remove any bad smells from previous coffees or simply because the coffee maker and filter are new! Once the fourth minute is up, insert the filter in the coffee maker and gently push down to separate the coffee from the liquid.
Pour immediately into your serving cups without leaving the drink in the coffee maker any longer.
Tips: buy a 400-micron sieve, sift the coffee before using it. As the coffee is left in contact with the water for four minutes, you cannot afford any fines in the liquid. Forget the filter: once the four minutes have passed, pour it on a V60 paper filter. It will be much clearer.
V60 and Chemex
From these coffee pots on, at the turn of the twentieth century, there was a strong desire to discover how to make things simpler, automated and practical for all housewives. It was actually a housewife who patent ed paper filters in 1906. A complete revolution in coffee brewing. Auguste Melitta Bentz was the first to patent the ceramic cone-shaped drippers specially holed at the bottom, suitable for holding this paper filter. Later, the process became mechanised thanks to the electric machine, which preheated the water, poured it into the cone-shaped dripper with an underlying jug, where the filtered beverage was collected.
All this was reproduced by the Japanese Company Hario in 2005, with the trademark V60: made of ceramic, glass, plastic and copper, with small internal angled strips to allow drainage, with the “60” indicating the angle formed by the cone, corresponding precisely to sixty degrees. Another splendid imitation of a coffee pot called Chemex, was created by Dr Peter Shlumbhom in 1939, in the United States.
For the “02” cone-shaped dripper:
Coffee/water ratio: 18 grams of coffee for 300 grams of water at about 93° (it is in this “about” that the question lies!)
Grind: a lot finer than with the French press, but coarser than with the Moka pot.
Preparation time: 2 minutes and about 30 seconds.
Pull out your V60 kit, which consists of a glass pitcher (or directly a mug of at least 32 cl of capacity) and place the special paper filter over the cone-shaped dripper (the paper filters must always be kept in their original packaging to protect them from any humidity and heat sources), bending it where the sheets have been glued together.
At this point, wet the filter paper thoroughly. This will help you to:
• avoid any bad taste caused by the paper
• correctly position the paper to the cone-shaped dripper
• heat the cone and cup
Now put the coffee into the filter. Put everything on a scale with tare. Start the stopwatch and kick off the pre-infusion, i.e. pour 40 grams of water onto the coffee, with delicate concentric movements in relation to the centre of the dripper (drawing small circles around the centre), making sure you wet all the coffee well with the water.
Wait 30 seconds. Then, pour the remaining 260 grams of water, in about a minute. If you have done everything right, in 2 minutes and 30 seconds you should be out of water having poured it all into the dripper.
Tips from the champions: make 20 second steps every 50 grams of water poured, up to 200 grams. The last 100, straight. This should help you obtain a more balanced final cup, by slowly extracting the good things at the beginning, and quickly the least good (but essential) at the end. Should you be preparing a Chemex, due to the lack of drainage serrations, you are obliged to follow these small steps in order to avoid creating air bubbles which would be an obstacle to the straining itself.
And here we are today. An extraction system which has invaded the world, overturning, in the true sense of the word, the way you interpret a drink of coffee: the
Aeropress. Patented in 2005 but conceived much earlier by the engineer/inventor 0of the flying saucer “Aerobie”, Alan Adler.
This system is easier to prepare than to explain. The genius of this device is that you can create cups similar to any other extraction system, from an espresso to a French press, adding the bonus of an impressively clean product.
De facto, it is a giant syringe, with a perforated disc at the end (the housing for the paper or steel filter, several microns of capacity). I will just write down the original recipe, which is also explained on the pack. Just go to Youtube and type the word Aeropress, to see the multitude of opportunities there are concerning extraction with this method.
• Water/coffee ratio: 12 grams of coffee for 190 grams of water
• Grinding: let’s say like with the Moka pot
• Water temperature: 92°
• Preparation time: about 30 seconds.
Disassemble the Aeropress completely.
Place the round paper filter into its housing and wet with hot water. Attach the filter to the bottom and place the entire device onto a nice large cup. Put the 12 grams of ground coffee and level it with well aimed taps. Put everything on a scale and adjust. With the help of a kettle, now pour the 190 grams of water on the
coffee. Remove everything from the scale, mix with the stirrer that you will find in the box and insert the top (the “plunge”).
Gently press. Done!
Now, we have finished with the “hot” coffees. We still have the cold one.
In 1602, most of the Indonesian islands were controlled by the Netherlands: here, the Dutch had created the “washed” method for brewing coffee and, among the
many positive and negative things, there was the “Cold Brew”. Legend has it that some sailors/traders created this coffee extraction method as a ready-made drink to give the Japanese emperor as a gift, during one of his many visits. Fantasy pushes us to think that along the Indonesia / Japan route, the cold coffee was transported in barrels that had contained gin, therefore reaching its destination with undisclosed sensory properties. This method is very much in vogue today. Should you drive across England or the US, every coffee shop or supermarket stores this type of drink in their fridge, either with a short or a long expiry date. It will certainly reach Italy too.
The strength of this drink, conceptually cold coffee, lies in the ease of its preparation both at home and, consequently, in a coffee bar.
Coffee water ratio: 80 grams per litre of water.
Preparation time: 10/12 hours (it depends on many factors: roasting, the type of water you use, the temperature of where the brewing takes place, the shape of the infusion container, etc.)
Use any type of container, whether a plastic bowl, a food container, a tank, a glass bottle, in short, a container which can hold more than one litre of liquid.
Grind 80 grams of coffee, neither coarsely as with the French press, nor “fine” as with filter coffee: in between (twelve hours of brewing are a lot!) Mix water and coffee together. Leave the mix at room temperature for 10 hours, without closing the container but simply covering it. Oxygen is essential for the extraction. Filter using a V60 filter, bottle it, and leave in the refrigerator for another 12 hours.
Drink it cold, with or without ice.
If you want, you can also make a concentrated cold coffee, which you can dilute later with hot water, to drink a sort of “filter coffee” or American coffee. As before, but with a ratio water/coffee of 120 grams per litre. Once it is ready, keep it at room temperature and try mixing 100 grams of this drink with 200 grams of boiling water. You will be surprised.
Eddy Righi, barista trainer at Caffè Pascucci Torrefazione, won the Cold Brew 2016 championship and represented Italy at the following World Championship.
Inside our Youtube channel you can find Eddy’s tutorials and many other videos focused on our favorite drink.
Article taken from “Pascucci Magazine #4”