Like fine wine and fashion, coffee is also susceptible to trends as enthusiasts and professionals continue on the quest for the perfect brew. This season, six key serves make their mark on café culture.
There are some things that simply transcend trends and the whimsy of fads. They are the classics, the simple, tried-and-true favourites that always delight and never disappoint. The espresso is one such timeless serve because, in effect, it is the very essence of coffee, pared back to an intense, concentrated shot. In much the same way the clean eating movement is gaining traction with those who seeking simplicity in their food, expect espresso to ride a wave of popularity.
A brew that rewards the patient, this Japanese method is gaining ground among connoisseurs. The key, as the name suggests, is in the pour. An ultra-narrow, swan neck kettle permits a gentle, perfectly controlled pour to filter through the coffee ground slowly and evenly for several minutes. The ritual takes time, certainly, but creates a distinctly different coffee, bringing out nuances of flavour in the bean. For the aficionado seeking a hand-made cup of something special, the appeal is obvious.
For those with less patience, the aeropress is a relatively fast pour that results in a full-bodied taste by immersing the coffee in water to extract flavour evenly. Gentle air pressure then pushes the brew through a micro filter by depressing a plunger set inside a tube for about 30 seconds. Unlike other press-style methods, the end product is free of silt and the process is reasonably fuss-free. A relatively new method, having been around for less than ten years, its popularity is growing.
Back in the 1990s the plunger, or French Press, became a household essential in Australia. The bourgeoning local café scene showed people that they didn’t have to settle for supermarket-issue instant coffee, even in their own home. Today, the plunger is having something of a resurgence because it strikes a comparatively accessible balance than the more labour intensive pour-over method—yet it delivers a similarly vibrant brew that reveals the subtleties of the roast.
Looking akin to an experiment from a science lab, perhaps part of the appeal of the siphon, or vacuum pot, method are the theatrics of the brewing process. Originating from France over 100 years ago, the siphon uses a naked flame to heat water and coffee mixed in the upper chamber. Once the heat is removed, the cooling lower chamber pulls the mix downwards, extracting it through the filter for a very delicate, gentle-tasting brew.
For something a little different—and the type of thing to will appeal to coffee devotees over the warm summer months—the cold drip method is the slow food of coffee. Chilled water drips slowly over coarsely ground coffee to make an ice coffee concentrate. Minus the heat used in other methods, the taste is sweeter and low in acidity. Cold-drip has the theatrical appeal of the siphon method, but this is a long show: anywhere up to twelve hours, without intermission.