2023 certainly ended up being an unusual year. I started the year with one goalAlbeit a goal I still have no idea how to achieve. in mind, but that was disrupted a whopping ten days into January and never seriously revisited. If there’s one thing we can know for sure when setting goals at the beginning of the year, it’s that we have no idea what December 31 will look like.…but I’d wager this is not the Year Of Full Self Driving Teslas nor AGI.
Reflecting back on 2021’s goals shows I’ve made solid progress on my mountain bike bunny hop height since leaving San Diego for Boise–a totally normal metric that totally normal people track–and have wreck-lessly completed some steeeeep, fast, and loose trails around here. But what about this year? Should it have some goals?
Year of coffee?
2024 could be the year of coffee, maybe. After accidentally cracking my beloved Zojirushi coffee pot last April, I had an excuse to drive downtown to Slow by SlowBoise’s bougiest coffee store. MAN do they sell some fantastic beans, though. and pick up a Kalita Wave. And if you have a pourover device, then you really need a scale to weigh your beans and correctly measure water for the final recipe. And if you have a scale to follow recipes, things are a lot easier if you have a stovetop gooseneck kettle to pour with–it’s much easier than a Pyrex measuring cup. And everyone knows it’s a lot less risky to put the brewer on a glass server that can hold 800ml, rather than brewing into an opaque mug you can inadvertently overflow…
With more than 400 pours completed since thenThe depressing downside to the Kalita Wave is that its Nipponsei filters come in packs of 100, making it way too easy to track how much coffee you’re making and question whether you have an addiction., I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve found the limits of my no-frills Oxo conical burr grinder. Even with unevenly ground beans, it’s becoming a soothing part of my morning routine.
There’s a lot of griping on the internet about how the larger Kalita Wave, the 185, “stalls” and clogs with fines. Proffered solutions to the problem include drilling the holes in the brewer larger, or putting some kind of stainless steel wool under the filter. This is the way of madness. In my experience, this happens either because people are ruining the filters with needlessly aggressive rinses, or trying to make 200g H2O recipes in a brewer that can comfortably fit 50g of beans inside without overflowing.
The proper rinse is shown in a video by Kurasu, a Japanese roaster. Use your left hand to gently press the filter down against the ridges on the bottom of the brewer. Pour the hot water straight into the center of the filter. As the water makes its way up the filter via the wonders of capillary action, gently and slowly rinse in circles around the filter’s edge, from bottom to top. If you do this correctly, none of the “waves” in the filter collapse. I’m typically using a measly 50g to rinse.
The whole point of the Kalita is that its pre-drilled holes in the bottom control the rate water flows through the coffee bed. I’ve discovered that my recipes for brews of 600-800g of H2O finish just as fast as my Kurasu recipes for 400g. My only hunch is that the increased head pressure on having the brewer almost entirely filled with coffee, as opposed to only using the bottom 1/3 or so of it, forces the water through the bed more steadily.
My current recipe for 1.5 mugs of single-origin African beans follows Kurasu’s “three pours” method:
- 39.5g of coffee : 600g of ~205* H2O (1:15.2 ratio–strong).
- To guard against overextraction, I use a fairly coarse grind. Kurasu claims cheap grinders are more consistent at larger grind settings. This seems reasonable.
- Lately, I’ve been bringing the kettle to a boil, rinsing the filter, and brewing at a higher temperatures than I first started (~185*).
- 00:00 - Bloom with 80g.
- 00:45 - 1st pour. Slam it with another 80g in <10s.
- 01:15 - 2nd pour. Gently and continuously pour to 600g, aiming to finish by the 3:00 mark.
- I’ll do this in circles once the water level is even with the height from the first pour. It’s more difficult to have a completely flat bed with this much coffee than it is with a recipe using 25g of beans.
- Kurasu’s recipe calls for pouring straight into the center the entire time, then just briefly swirling the edges at the very end of the pour. I believe this is to minimize agitation, because their theory is that the flavor comes out in the second pour; this pour only exists to dilute the coffee down to drinkable levels of Total Dissolved Solids. I don’t think I’m skilled enough to do that without the coffee channeling, so I’ve had better luck agitating more of the beans by doing circles throughout.
- 04:00 - Remove brewer.
Who knows. Maybe 2024 will be the year I make a pourover that tastes as good as Johnny Broadworth’s. Or maybe 2024 will be the year that I’m afflicted with some terrible medical condition that precludes drinking any coffee whatsoever. Or maybe 2024 will be the year I open a coffee shop. I certainly don’t know, but you’d better believe future Eric will give an amused snort when he looks back on this.