Barista Magazine

AUG-SEP 2019

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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T h e r e a r e p l a n s t o t e s t b a t c h b r e w i n g ( o n e l i t e r o r m o r e ) T O s e e h o w t h i n g s c h a n g e w h e n b r e w i n g i s s c a l e d u p . mance in Open Service at the World Brewers Cup was the highest in the competition at 86 points, so he's onto something. Reigning World Brewers Cup Champion Du Jianing of China used the Origami Dripper, another fl at-bed brewer. She chose it because her extraction style is "really fast and highly effi cient … under two minutes with an extraction rate of 21.5%." She wanted to maximize sweetness in her very lightly roasted coffee. The shape of the Origami is based loosely on the Kalita Wave and uses a Kalita Wave fi lter, but it has a much larger hole in the bottom. The larger opening allows for faster fl ow speed. For Du, the height of the coffee bed was paramount, because it standard- ized extraction at all levels. The Origami was the only dripper that could accomplish that speed while extracting evenly. Yet, that even extraction rate is exactly what 2017 World Brewers Cup Champion Chad Wang of Taiwan was trying to avoid. He believes the "complexity in the cup is compromised" by using a fl at-bottom dripper. Chad chose the Hario V60 for competition because it was the fastest and produced the most acidity and complexity. With it he served a coffee with notes of melons, stone fruits, and caramel. In his own shop today, VWI by Chad Wang, customers can order coffee made either on a V60 or a Fellow fl at-bed brewer. Chad rec- ommends the V60 for "fl avor and complexity," but the Fellow to "enhance the sweetness and produce a heavier body." It's worth noting that in the past three years of competition, fi ve competitors have placed in the top three while using Hario V60s. In 2017, the top three fi nishers used a V60. In 2018, a full-immersion Siphon and the Gina, which can be both full immersion and dripper, placed second and fi rst in the world, followed closely by a V60. So how does what's winning on the world stage compare to the offi cial UC Davis fi ndings? In the lab, there were clear fl avor differences between the cone and the fl at-bottom brewer. Using the dark roast from Starbucks, the fl at-bottom brewer resulted in more chocolate, wood, and earthy fl avors. The same roast on the conical brewer resulted in more smoky and tobacco fl avors. With the light roast from Peet's, the fl at-bed brewer made cups of coffee that had more sweet, dried-fruit fl avors present. The cups made with the conical brewer had more raisin, berry, and citrus notes. Part of this is a result of the roast—when coffee is roasted very dark, some of the lighter fruit notes disappear. Even with that accounted for, however, there's enough difference in the re- corded tasting notes within each coffee to say that the shape of the brewer does have an impact on taste. Thus the experiment does hold up a bit of what specialty coffee's top competitors are saying. UC Davis found that fl at- bed brewers do tend to produce more syrupy-sweet fl avors, like chocolate or dried fruit, which echoes both Patrik's and Chad's descriptors of that basket shape. Yet Du was still able to draw both syrupy grape fl avors and delicate fl oral notes while brewing on the fl at-bed Origami. Clearly, the answers don't lie only in the shape of the dripper. Like all good science, this experiment raised more questions than it answered. Dr. Frost expressed a desire to factor in the depth of the coffee bed if another round of this experiment is conducted. Coffee-bed depth wasn't an examined factor for the study discussed here, but it's relevant. This experiment also only considered single-cup brewing. There are plans to test batch brewing (one liter or more) to see how things change when brewing is scaled up. Dr. Frost also noted that in some cases, especially with the fl at-bed basket, dry coffee remained after the brewing process. Therefore, the optimal way to disperse water onto a bed of coffee for even extraction is another question that needs answering. The full study, including TDS (total dissolved solids) readings of every cup Dr. Frost brewed, will be published in the Journal of Food Science this summer. Until more results are released however, we return to our initial question: Which brewer shape—cone or fl at—is better? It depends on what you like. If you consistently want more chocolate and bright fruit fl avors, shift toward a fl at-bottom brewer like the Kalita Wave, Origami, or the April Brewer. If you want a cup full of cocoa or raisins, a conical brewer like the Chemex or V60 might be your best bet. Remember, this experiment only tested one factor: brewer shape. We opened with a lot of other factors coffee professionals know or think impact taste, and we'll have to wait and see where science lands on those. Until then, baristas and home brewers can (and will!) keep conducting their own experiments. As Patrik very wisely told me, experimentation is exciting because, well, "[coffee's] just a bit boring if we all do the same thing." There are plans to test batch brewing (one liter or more) TO see how things change when brewing is scaled up. 96 barista magazine

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