Nestled along the left hand wall of the Dublin Coffee and Tea Festival at the RDS this weekend is the SCAE Brew School: a long bar covered in equipment that looks like it belongs more in a mad chemists lab, a phalanx of baristas and volunteers, and an amazing smell of coffee.
The baristas are there to showcase a few of the more unusual methods of coffee brewing, including Aeropress, Chemex, Siphon and V60 Dripper. All using the same blend of coffee, everyone is invited to try them all out, and sample the differences in the resulting flavour from each process.
Even to a lightweight coffee drinker like myself, this was a fantastic chance to learn more about coffee making, and to explore flavour and texture.
By far the most fascinating – and crazy-looking – is the Siphon Brewer (or vacuum coffee maker). It works by heating the water in the lower bulb glass. As the pressure builds it forces the water into the top glass jar holding the coffee grounds, then as it cools and the pressure drops it falls back through the filter to the lower glass.
Buying one of these is expensive, but makes a very hot, very strong and very flavoursome cup of coffee, plus the peculiar satisfaction that comes of performing alchemical wizardry and owning a bunsen burner.
The Aeropress looks considerably less exciting, but is a lot faster makes a beautiful smooth cup of coffee, while the Chemex occupies a strange space between the laboratory and nature with it’s wooden collar. It imparts very little of its own flavour on the coffee, and minimises bitterness even in strong coffee, making for a pure flavour.
If you’re into your coffee and want to find out more about the brewing process, we definitely recommend you pay the Brew School a visit over the weekend. It’s run by the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe, who are also responsible for the festival as a whole, so again, worth checking out.
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