For our anniversary the ever thoughtful Mrs Frivolitea bought a session at Brew Lab in Edinburgh on artisan coffee brewing. I’m not sure what this says about my coffee making skills but it was, nonetheless, most welcome. A nice surprise ahead of the day was a message that I was the only person booked in. Rather than cancel, we were offered free places for any friends who might care to join. Nice. So Mr and Mrs Frivolitea brewed some coffee together under the expert tutelage of the delightful Emiliya Yordanova. We were shown pour over technique (with the Kalita wave), immersion brewing (with clever dripper) and Aeropress.
In many ways we barely scratched the surface of this craft and I left with a renewed respect for the skill of someone who makes coffee with the level of attention to detail displayed at places like Brew Lab.
The class itself was a great mix of explaining concepts, such as over and under extraction, then demonstrating this and letting us taste the results. We played with how tiny variations of a recipe (changing the quantity of coffee by a few grams) dramatically affect the result of the brew and the different qualities extracted from the coffee at different points in the process.
We also tried the same coffee brewed with the different methods, again tasting the very different results. Artisan coffee is still a pretty small market, although rapidly growing, and often parodied as the domain of arrogant hipsters; attracting the man who perfects just the right bounce to his cappuccino and his beard but cares for little else.
I admit that I don’t know as much about the world of coffee as many and I was a little worried I might be looked down on, as if I might be someone who thinks Costa serve something worth drinking… None of that at Brew Lab. Emiliya was a great tutor. Clearly passionate about good coffee and wanting to share and encourage. She patiently handled our newbie questions and it was a pleasure to spend the morning with her.
My day to day, practical coffee brewing probably isn’t going to be dramatically changed as a result… In an office where Nescafé is the default option I’m already gently lampooned for my hand grinder and Aeropress. But we definitely learned some techniques and tips that will make a difference; a clever dripper is on our purchase list… And I am gaining more of a taste for the delicate flavours to be extracted from pour over brewing.