What’s a coffee recipe?
As the specialty coffee culture spreads its influence across our coffee-loving land, you may have heard the term “recipe” being referred to in conversations, especially in relation to espresso brewing. What people are referring to when they use the word “recipe” in relation to brewing, is the amount of ground coffee that goes in, the amount of coffee extracted out into the cup, in a controlled amount of time.
A recipe will look something like this.
23, 50, 26
This means 23 grams of ground coffee in, 50mls of extracted coffee out, in 26 seconds.
Now, this is not just for the coffee toffs who love rabbiting on about terroir, varietals and nuances. Making coffee with a recipe will seriously improve your home brewing. Once you start using a recipe your coffee will be so much better you’ll wonder why you didn’t use one before.
Why brew recipes are important
There are many reasons why recipes have become a standard in the specialty coffee culture, but I will explain why it is important for you at home.
If you bought a bottle of wine and the tasting notes suggested ripe plum and black pepper, but you tasted dark chocolate, wild blackberry and spice, there’s a huge disconnect between what the winemaker intended you to taste and what you actually taste.
For wine, the majority of the flavour is complete by the time it’s bottled. Most of the wine’s flavour is achieved by the farmer and the winemaker. But coffee, on the other hand, offers an amazing amount of control of the final flavour to the barista.
The barista can either attentively draw out the beautiful inherent flavours, or the barista can easily ruin the flavours with poor brewing methods. One simple way to ensure this does not happen is by following a recipe.
Once a barista refines a recipe that consistently delivers a pleasing brew, then this is easily repeatable. They can make the same recipe over and over again and achieve consistent results. And if the results change slightly as the coffee ages, which it does, the barista then has information in the recipe which they can adjust to achieve a better result.
Recipes are valuable as they give us repeatable results and traceable steps. By following a recipe you can achieve the same result as anyone else brewing the same coffee regardless of experience.
All you need to start using a recipe system in your home espresso setup is a set of scales.
We offer a pretty decent set of scales with an accurate reading within 0.1g for only $20 at our online store here.
A few brew recipe examples
All our brew guides on our blog include recipes that are relevant to the brewing method used.
Such as …
For AeroPress our standard recipe is 15g of coffee and 250g of water with a brewing time of about 1 min 25 seconds.
You can see our AeroPress guide here.
All our Kalita Wave recipes are based on a specialty coffee standard ratio of 6g of coffee to 100ml of water with a brewing time of 2 mins 30 seconds.
You can see our Kalita Wave guide here.
Regarding espresso, when we’ve been brewing on our friends Breville home espresso machine, we’ve noticed that it performs consistently well with this recipe – 23 grams of coffee in, 50mls of espresso out, brewed in 26 seconds.
Give it a try and you’ll be surprised how much easier it is to achieve consistently good results. And make sure you use freshly roasted coffee that is stored well in an airtight container away from light, moisture and heat.
I hope this is helpful for you as you seek to brew delicious coffee at home. It’s certainly one of the best ways for you to keep it special at home.
Now for those of you are interested here’s a little history behind the evolution of recipes.
The evolution of the brewing recipe
In a professional setting for a long time we relied on the ratchet doser of a manual grinder to deliver the coffee dose. How much coffee this delivered was not consistent, and unfortunately, this was the standard in our industry for decades.
Over time we understood the importance of keeping the yield (the brewed coffee amount) the same as well as the extraction time. Throughout the 70’s , 80’s and 90’s the common rule preached was 30mls of brewed coffee, drawn in 30 seconds.
It wasn’t until a curious barista asked the question, how much coffee are we putting in, did the change start to happen.
In the mid 2000’s as the speciality coffee culture started to expand across the world, tracking extractions meticulously became a shared practice. In today’s modern espresso culture they are referred to as recipes.
Hope this has been an interesting read for you.
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