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By: Ollie Sears 24 April 2018
Batch brew coffee is a recently popularised way to produce filter coffee.
It is often seen in cafes now as the replacement of, modernisation of or innovation upon, the old school diner-style filter coffee pot.
Much like that, batch brew is produced using machines rather than manually using common brewing devices like those that are seen at home. So, instead of V60s, Chemexes, Clever Drippers and older-style paper filters in cones, with batch brew we see machines brewing with human error minimised, and quite often producing exemplary filter coffee at a relatively low cost per cup.
The difference nowadays most commonly lies in the ability to do it at much higher cup quality than was ever possible years ago.
So, in this article we aim to introduce you to the wonderful world of batch brew, and we look to outline some of the equipment and key factors to be aware of as you enter the fray with this unmissable style of coffee. It could well be the thing that gives you ultimate convenience and maximum coffee output, all the while being effortlessly repeated at high quality!
Batch brew coffee equipment varies tremendously, from very old-school, simplistic machines to relatively intelligent brewers that allow programming of different recipes and preferences.
As you might guess, costs scale accordingly.
What we have attempted to balance in our offering on our online shop is build quality and functionality, while keeping an accessible price point. That’s why we opted for the Moccamaster models and the Wilfa brewer. Both use the Speciality Coffee Association Gold Cup Standard in their pre-programmed brewing cycles, so the risk of error and poor results is minimised. On top of that, we find them extremely easy to use and to maintain, with little that can’t be cleaned or restored by the user at home. This is essential for machines that will have (usually) around one litre of water passing through their systems per brew.
However, there are more advanced options to play with at home. For example, Bunn and Fetco offer a tremendously niche level of control in their batch brewing devices, which are available upon enquiry with us directly. Prices of course start at higher levels, as is expected for commercial grade coffee equipment that must be able to handle rapid use in a wider range of environments.
Essentially, we see the terms pour over and batch brew used in different contexts to refer to different drinks in café environments. However, they do refer to the same type of coffee, they’re just brewed with different pouring methods.
Batch brew is pour over coffee created using machine assistance to do the pouring over of water onto coffee. Pour over instead uses manual pouring from a barista with a trusty kettle to distribute the water over the coffee.
Machines that create batch brew tend to disperse water in short bursts at intervals during a set brewing cycle’s overall time. Baristas, however, are not that robotic, and vary their techniques according to their preference and style. Some like to use continuous pouring, and others try to match the machine-like style of adding water in bursts too.
It couldn’t be simpler to give you a recipe to try for batch brewing. We tend to see the least error in brewing, and the least negative results when recipes are simply kept to 60g coffee per litre of water added. The strength and balance of brewed coffee has been studied in great depth by the Coffee Brewing Institute, the Speciality Coffee Association and others.
Generally speaking, data and research suggests that between 55-65g coffee used per litre of water added to that coffee, yields an ideal level of strength and flavour extraction when ground correctly. However, from our experience in the UK wholesale market and from our home brewing classes too, preferences tend to range from 60-80g coffee per litre. This can be varied for different coffees and different preferences, as always.
Our advice is to keep it simple and focus on grinding correctly at the above range of ratios.
Cafes favouring batch brew coffee are on the rise, as they realise the key points that follow:
Batch brewing at home is better than ever nowadays, with brands like Moccamaster and Wilfa offering home brewing equipment that rivals (and in a lot of cases, exceeds) the quality that can be achieve with commercial scale batch brewing machines.
Check out our brewing equipment page to find the two above listed on our online shop, and you’ll see how affordable their brewing devices really are. The two that we offer on our shop have been selected for their capabilities in brewing any coffees without muting their intrinsic flavour qualities – that includes the dense, speciality grade beans at a light roast degree that frequent our range.
Batch brewing machines of old were all too commonly over-brewing coffee with poorly calibrated brewing cycles, and they often dropped water at excessively high temperatures (above 96 degrees Celsius) over your coffee grounds. In both the Wilfa brewer and the Moccamaster options, the brewing cycles have had their water doses regulated in proportion to the amount of water they are dispensing, both by overall number and in the regularity at which they drop water onto the coffee. This in addition to lower temperature water (92-95 degrees Celsius) and even dispersion of that water (from a taint-free, non-metallic pipework arrangement) allows you to produce exceptional quality batch brew at home, with little human error to feature.
If the price tag is still not leaving you convinced by them, pop in to see Ollie and he’ll demo anything you are interested in, free of charge.
Remember also that in relative terms, making filter coffee at home can be much more financially viable than espresso, if this is a choice that comes to mind. Adjusting an espresso recipe takes on average 5-6 attempts even with relatively high quality equipment and a good level of technique and knowledge (this is per bag, and if you try different coffees regularly this will happen per bag of each different coffee).
Espresso machines tend to ship with double shot baskets of capacities from 17-20g; so in 3 espressos you have essentially used the same coffee dose that you would make 1 litre of batch brew coffee with! Then, you’re still using that 17-20g per cup, rather than to make 330ml per 17-20g as you might with batch brewing. This fact alone means that per bag of coffee you buy, you’re more likely to be better off with batch brewing in the long run. Once you have a recipe (typically from 60-80g coffee per litre that you are brewing) and a grind setting that meets your tastes, it will change marginally if at all from one coffee in our range to the next.
Only when you vary roast degrees will you find your recipe really ‘performs’ differently in batch brew. This is the beauty of it – litres of clean, filtered coffee in an effortless, repeatable fashion.
You’ll find suitable starting recipes tailored to each recommended brewing method for any of our coffees, right in their online shop page. We do this to help you get ahead with a coffee so you don’t ever end up wasting most of your bag simply getting used to a coffee. You’ll find a recommended brewing ratio, and recommended filtration types in there for the coffees, which should stop you making the fatal error of batch brewing an entire bag before even getting the mouthfeel and overall flavour in good balance.
A top tip with batch brewing is to be cautious with grinding. Always grind on the fine side for any brewing method that is gravity or pressure-led, because if you ever have a coffee that is on its way to being slightly over-extracted, you can stop brewing early and dilute it afterwards with what we call “bypass” in the brewing world.
However, if you avoided this piece of advice and ground your coffee too coarsely, you’ll quickly find yourself with watery coffee that cannot be ‘repaired’ after brewing so easily.
As we always recommend, get in touch with us before you make any uncertain moves, and we can perhaps save you wasting both precious beans and precious time!
Contact Ollie to chat all things Batch Brew ☕
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