Limited movement: Experiments with coffee

Three days ago, the government has announced a restricted movement order (RMO) in order to abate the spread of Covid19 in Malaysia. Technically, its lockdown-lite, you can go out, only for essentials, otherwise, stay the fuck home. But it seems that a lot of Malaysians are taking this lightly, reportedly out and about like everything is fine.

Honestly folks, even if you feel fine, stay home, other people might be depending on it, do your part.

I’m sure everyone has their own way of dealing with the RMO and in trying to avoid experiencing cabin fever. So I figured what I’ll do during this time is to experiment a little bit with how I brew coffee at home.

For people who don’t know, at home, I have a Profitec Pro 700 coupled with a Eureka flat burr grinder, which I use to brew coffee with. Traditionally, I would pull my espressos using the default benchmark ratio of two to one in thirty seconds. For clarity, what this means is that when I pull my shot, I would aim to extract 40grams of coffee liquid from 20grams of coffee grounds within thirty to thirty five seconds. This is what you’d call an espresso shot, and it’s what you’ll normally find at coffee shops as a base to other drinks.

Recently, I came accross a blend of coffee where the recommended brewing recipe was to pull 26grams of coffee from 20grams of ground coffee withing 30 to 35 seconds. This intrigued – and admittedly intimidated – me a little. It wasn’t something that I’m used to and that pushed me out of my comfort zone a little. For the sake of adventure, I went ahead and purchased said coffee, followed the recommended recipe and was totally blown away.

When I first brewed the coffee, it came out reaaaally slow, as expected since I had to dial down the grinder in order to grind the coffee really finely, meaning that it would be harder for the pressurrised water to flow through. I imagined that the resulting coffee would be over-extracted and hence, terribly bitter.

But no. To my surprise, the resulting cafe latte (I always drink my coffees with milk, to avoid an upset stomach) was vibrant and sweet tasting, without being overpoweringly bitter. The coffee that I pulled accentuated the sweetness of the coffee, with the bitterness taking a backseat, and complementing the flavours, if you will.

The shot that I pulled reminded me of something that’s called a ristretto. In simple terms, ristretto means ‘restricted’. In other words, a ristretto in the context of coffee, means to restrict the espresso. After reading and watching several Youtube videos, what I understand is that, with a ristretto, what baristas try to do is to restrict the flow of water through the coffee bed, brewing only about half the amount of coffee liquid than they would in a traditional espresso. The idea is to extract as much of the compounds that would dissolve during the earlier stages of espresso brewing. The brewing would then be stopped at a ratio of 1:1 or 1.5:1, before the the bitter compounds start to be overly extracted. The resulting shot would then be less bitter, but a lot more flavourful than a normal espresso.

Normally I’m not one to experiment. Coffee is expensive, and experimenting often means having to discard a lot of coffee, which then means a lot of money spent, and also, I am a creature of habit, so I will often just stick to the normal espresso ratio and adjust accordingly for optimal flavour. But, given that I’d have some time to kill during this lockdown RMO, maybe I can experiment a little.

I like my coffee to be on the sweet-ish notes, so I went out and bought ordered online, Collective’s Sweet Series blend to accompany me for the next two weeks (or more, depending on how stubborn Malaysians are). I’ve had this blend before, and it tastes pretty good when I stick to the roaster’s recommended brew recipe of 20grams in and 40grams out. What I’ll do, is tinker a little bit with my grind settings and brew ratios, to see if I can really accentuate the sweetness of this blend.

So as the weeks pass by, I’ll be working on getting the best out of my coffee – or throwing some of it away, god forbid. Filzah from ProjecktDrip recommend that I keep tab of the changes I make to my brewing methods, in order to zero in on a good recipe, like the folks at Prufrock coffee do, sans the overly-complicated stuff. And…I might just do that.

I guess that’s my next two weeks sorted, messing around with coffee and getting over-caffeinated. I hope all of y’all stay safe during these times, and find things to do that’s fun and fulfilling.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Eris says:

    Good to know you’re keeping yourself occupied! It’s a difficult time for everyone. Stay safe.

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