Thursday, November 11, 2010

First Thoughts: James Hoffman on Cupping, Nick Cho on Clever

First thoughts on two very interesting, and much-linked new pieces this week.

The first, by James Hoffman, details his attempt to replicate the cupping experience in a French press.  He fined up the grind and deliberately allowed the coffee to sit with the grounds in the press for 10 (!!) minutes prior to serving.  Result: high marks at the cupping table and via ExtractMojo.  Hoffman concludes by suggesting we may routinely under-extract our presses.

As usual, James gets points for taking the bull by the horns.  Why do cupping coffees still taste decent after 30 minutes, while French press coffee often tastes rancid?  Some commenters observed that the cylindrical design of the press (low surface area) leads to poor immersion of grounds.

My take: agitation (or lack thereof) is a critical differentiator between real-world french press consumption and the cupping room.  Fines can precipitate out of a still mixture whose surface is occasionally disturbed by a cupping spoon, but mixing the coffee as it is decanted and then lifting, swirling and sipping the cup continually re-involves the grounds in the brew process, pushing the brew toward over-extraction as it ages.  Tastier real-world French presses need to calibrate for quite a bit of agitation over the life cycle of the cup, which might mean a coarser grind than ideal.

The second piece, by Nick Cho, is an experimental video showing a pour over experiment in a Clever dripper using both a SwissGold filter and a standard paper filter.  The idea is to trap coarser grounds in the SwissGold, which can be lifted out of the brew prior to drainage.  Draining is then quicker, which allows Cho to increase immersion times without falling off the edge into over-extraction.

My take: Fascinating idea.  Kaffeologie is working on a Clever filter to go with our new pour over items, and I'll be trying Nick's suggestion with our prototype.  At first glance, the idea seems to increase the similarity of the Clever to full-immersion systems like the French press.  It would be interesting to deliberately map out a new world of pour over - press hybrids.  Way to think outside the box!


  1. Looking forward to that new Clever filter :D

  2. Funny coincidence. I've been doing something similar with the Clever: