Brew Gear Archives - Extracted Magazine
Oxo Barista Brain Brewer

Oxo Barista Brain Brewer – In Depth Review

What makes the Oxo Barista Brain Touch a great addition to your kitchen? For coffee enthusiasts, there’s a lot of stigma around automatic coffee brewing machines. The auto-drip machine is looked down upon with great disdain. This is unfortunate, because most average coffee consumers come from place of brewing on something simple like a Mr Coffee.

The reasons for that are pretty clear – you don’t need to think about brewing the coffee, the machine just does it for you. On top of that, if you get a fancier machine, you can have it brew for you at set times, giving the wonderful gift of waking up to the smell of fresh-brewed coffee.

But these auto drip machines have some serious downfalls, if you care about getting the most out of your coffee.

In short, they aren’t optimized to create the best extraction. One of the greatest problems with the more average style of auto drip machine is the build quality of the water heater means over time (often it doesnt take long) your brewer won’t be brewing at optimal temperature. Even if it’s still brewing at 190 degrees (which will look quite hot to you), you will already not be getting the best extraction of taste from your coffee at that temperature (ideal being 202-205 for a drip machine). These machines also don’t distribute water very well to the grounds in the basket, and they aren’t designed with a specific rate of flow in mind.

In comes the SCA certification for home brewers. There are a select few brewers out there certified by The Speciality Coffee Association, and Oxo’s Barista Brain Brewer is one of them.

This certification assures you a few key things:

The coffee will always be brewed with the optimal water temperature.

The coffee will be evenly brewed in the basket.

The coffee will be of the proper range of extraction (provided you use the correct ground size and amount of coffee).

The coffee will remain in a certain temperature range after brewing.

Let’s take a look at the Oxo Barista Brain Coffee Brewer.

Diving right into the taste of the coffee: I’ve had the fortune of trying coffee on a lot of different machines and hand brewing devices, so I have a good grasp of the range of what is possible, and what the coffees I’m brewing with can and should taste like. I’m pleased to say that coffee brewed on the Oxo comes out just about as good as you can get from an auto-drip machine. The cup is full-flavored, balanced, and tasting as I would expect. I say ‘as good as you can get from an auto-drip machine’ because you can’t beat the full control and taste potential of a skillfully hand-brewed coffee without forking over $15000 for an industrial pour-over machine or a steampunk.

I can say that this is one of the best ways to make coffee for a group of people at home. The 9 cup Oxo brews up to 1200 ml of coffee, which will give you 5 eight-ounce cups of coffee. And if you do happen to churn through that, making another batch is as easy as pushing a button (or even just two buttons, if you have the Oxo Barista Brain Coffee Grinder).

That of course, makes the Oxo Barista Brain Grinder the perfect pairing. After checking out my review on the brewer above, have a look at the grinder here…

The Coldwave

The Coldwave – Make The Best Iced Coffee in 2 Minutes

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]ced Coffee and Coldbrew are all the rage right now. I find this newfound enthusiasm for coffee to be fantastic. This is coming from the perspective of someone who wants to improve your experience and get you exploring more delicious coffee. These cold and iced brewing options bring you a different perspective on coffee. In many ways, iced coffee and cold brew in particular makes it easier to get into drinking coffee with nothing added. This is because often coffee brewed this way comes off less bitter and more sweet.

But there are some significant downsides to the ways in which you can prepare coffee cold.

Starting with Cold Brew.

This method of brewing coffee is typically done in a lengthy immersion method. You start off with (a lot of) coarse grounds, added to a large chamber, and then you proceed to add a large quantity of lukewarm or cold water. At this point, you stir the coffee and then let it sit for 12-24 hours (either on the counter or in your fridge).

Cold Brew Coffee

*you can get easy to use cold brewers like this one on Amazon

The main idea here is that you aren’t using any hot water. And that’s where the main problem with cold brew originates.

In order to brew a full and proper extraction (of all the balanced flavors of a coffee), you must use heat. There are certain soluble components of roasted coffee which can only be extracted in water using heat. These are primarily acids of the coffee, responsible for the brighter and more complex flavors.

Industry professionals are critical of cold brew because of this – you aren't getting all of the coffee's flavors in your cup. Many people at the peak of quality in the coffee industry are focused on representing the farmers work to it’s fullest. It is no surprise then that you would find discontent in a brewing method which does not meet that objective.

But also, many cold brew coffees end up tasting the same, even if their hot brewed counterparts are wholly and very clearly different.

So you might then make an Iced Coffee using a hot brew.

This method is typically done using the Japanese Iced Coffee method.

This technique is only possible with pour-over and drip style brewing. In these methods, coffee is placed usually in a paper filter, and then water is poured on top. Coffee ‘drips’ through the filter into the vessel below.

To brew using the Japanese Iced Coffee method, you begin by adding ice into your vessel below the filter with coffee. You then adjust your brewing to account for the ice such that your total water and coffee ratio is still the same.  I do this by taking the total water I would use brewing and placing 1/3 of it as ice into the brewing vessel. Then to compensate for pouring less water through the grounds, I’ll grind slightly finer.

The problem with this iced method? Yes you get hot water to fully extract the range of compounds. But unfortunately, because you aren’t completely brewing with all the water, your extraction balance will be off no matter what you do (even if you grind finer or add more coffee). At best, you are brewing a more concentrated pour over and then diluting and chilling it with the ice.

You might say, why not brew hot regularly, and then let it cool off and/or throw it in the fridge.

The problem with doing that is your coffee either needs to sit out and cool off over too long a period (do you really want to wait an hour for your coffee to cool?) or you have to add a hot steamy carafe to your fridge, which is very bad for everything else in there.

The solution recently presented itself…

In the form of The Coldwave.

This coffee chiller is blindingly simple. All you need to do is brew your coffee however you wish. Then you pour it into the Coldwave carafe and add the frozen insert. In 2 minutes, freshly brewed coffee will be chilled down to 40 degrees F. Perfect iced coffee with no dilution.

The Coldwave

*Get Yourself a Coldwave Coffee Chiller

Aside from the simplicity of The Coldwave (anyone can use this, it requires no special knowledge or experience), you have the added benefit of being able to chill more than just pour over / drip coffee. You can flash chill your French Press. You can flash chill even your latte (imagine a chilled latte without having to worry about ice diluting your drink).

Check out my video review of The Coldwave and then go grab one for yourself.

 

Fellow Stagg Pour Over Coffee Dripper - Unboxing and Review

Fellow Stagg Dripper

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]ellow is a company I’ve been following for some time now. They caught my eye with their beautiful kettle over a year ago, and I’ve been eyeballing it since. This past April, at SCA’s Global Coffee Expo, I ran into the folks at Fellow and they showed me their new Fellow Stagg Dripper.

Now I’d seen a little bit of these drippers before – the new version they provided me is a little bit smaller. They have quite an intriguing style and design, being very compact and well made.

My initial reaction whenever seeing a new brewer is to ask, ‘why this over any of the other great options that are available?’

The Fellow Stagg Dripper I can best describe as a sort of a cross between Kalita Wave and Chemex – in terms of the resulting coffee that you get. So in the video, I do a lot of comparison between the Stagg and those two other brewing methods.

You’ll see my conclusion isn’t to call this dripper better or worse than any other – in fact, I think it’s a blessing to say that the brewed experience it creates is unique compared to the other options. You can, therefore, make such statements as if you really enjoy the Kalita wave but wish your cup was just a little bit smoother, then the Stagg may be perfect for you.

The physical qualities of the brewer could be more than enough to make it just right all on their own. Given that you can create a delicious and properly extracted coffee with the brewer – as you can with the Kalita, the Chemex, the Aeropress, etc – if you aren’t picky about the unique nature of the brew but would rather have something super compact, very well made, and extremely durable, the Stagg may be just right for you.

I actually really like the compact and durable nature of this brewer, along with some of the built-in features like the measuring/drip tray, and mini funnel for getting grounds into the filter.

The only real ‘drawback’ of this brewer is the price, at $60. They do give you two options. The smaller one I demonstrated is more suitable to a continuous pour drip method, whereas the larger one can produce some more immersion style brewing along with the drip. Since there are other brewing methods that make a fantastic cup of coffee at a lower price, you just need to take that out of the equation – that is, if the price is an object, look somewhere else (like a Kalita, or V60, or even an Aeropress).

You might consider the need to get their custom filters a drawback, but this is the case for most coffee brewers.

Go grab yourself a Fellow Stagg Dripper -> http://www.extractedmagazine.com/fellowstaggdripper-a

woman drinking coffee - coffee lovers magazine

Pour Over Coffee Makers – Why You Are Likely to Radically Defend One Over All Others

The barista hands you a full mug of freshly brewed coffee. It smells absolutely amazing. It even looks better than regular brewed coffee. You decided today to stop in a local cafe where they make hand-brewed coffee. Now, you have had hand brewed coffee before, and probably from one of …

Read more …