The boss of MBR is an irresponsible slacker who believes that living without computers for three weeks is a better use of time than meeting his publication deadlines. The nerve! I'll try to pick up some of the slack, but I'm lucky if I can churn out nerdy homebrewing articles on a monthly basis and, as a professional brewer, I'd like to avoid masquerading as a beer critic. While I wake up the ol' brain and ponder which politicians to randomly accuse of torpedoing Wisconsin's beer industry, I'll talk about something that's vaguely related to brewing beer: brewing coffee!
The best and worst coffee in my household are both made via French press. In fact, they both exist in a given mug at the same time. The top 3/4 of the mug is beautifully robust, with thin wisps of brown foam on top and an aroma that can stain walls and make you optimistic about the existence of heaven. The bottom 1/4 of the mug is a sludgy, gritty ooze that needs to be chewed before swallowing. My French press is a cheap piece of junk, pain and simple. I have a small drip machine as well, but its default coffee defines mediocrity.
Thinking of coffee in beer-making terms, I realized that using a French press is like batch sparging and using a drip machine is like continuous sparging. Could I batch sparge the coffee grounds in my drip machine? Hell yes! For coffee to flow out of my coffeemaker, the pot needs to be on its warming plate. By just brewing the coffee without the pot, I can let the beans steep in the brewing water for as long as I like. Once the grounds are steeped, I quickly slide the pot onto the warming plate and wait for it to fill. Because the filter housing
needs to hold all of the water in addition to the beans, batch sparging cuts my
brewing capacity in half. Luckily, I rarely drink more than one mug a
After some trial and error, I found that grinding the beans coarsely and letting them steep for four minutes (starting when all of the water is in the filter housing) works really well. The coffee is much better than what my drip machine would normally
produce, but it's not quite as good as the first 3/4 of a mug that comes
out of my French press. At some point, I'll throw some money at the problem and make it go away. In the meantime, knowing how to make beer is improving my coffee.