Best suited for: April Brewer, Origami (with flat papers), Zen Dripper
Background: I first saw this recipe from the Coffee with April YouTube when they shared a 2 pour recipe for an Origami dripper. I didn't get it, but much to my surprise (especially with lighter roasted coffees) I found this to be a consistent way to get a light and vibrant cup of coffee. I have had successes using this recipe with Origami, April Brewer, and more recently Zen Brewer. I think this comes down to the dynamics of a 'wider' flat bed brewer, since we're relying more on what's happening in the coffee dripper than how a dripper is designed to feed water through. I personally like to use this recipe to make a cup of coffee that has a lot of 'flavour transparency', clarity, and isn't too intense to drink.
Preamble: Before I go on, I completely understand that a lot of the things I say comes across as 'pesudoscience', 'malarky' or as a recent commenter implied 'completely unnecessary', and hey, I get it. I'm not Jonathan Gagné (buy his book) and I never will be. I believe the important and scientifically understandable things are being said already by people who have the time, means and technologies to record and analyse coffee in a meaningful way - like Gagné, Gods Honest Truth, Rao and others. I spend a lot of my professional life listening and reflecting on how we can use such measurements to meaningfully improve coffee in cafes and environments where there's access to such tools that make these things possible. At home, I don't have the time or money, so what I'm left reflecting on is how can we actually use recipes as a rough guide to predict cup style.
Theory: A wider dripper does have the advantage of having a shallower bed of coffee, meaning full saturation of the coffee is 'easier'. A wider brewer also needs to need more downward pressure generated, since dripper walls aren't 'vertical' and gravity and bed dynamics are really left in charge of what happens to your drawdown time. This recipe uses centre pouring to help force that water through the coffee bed.
By 'wide' brewer, I'm referring to brewers that have less 'aid' by design to pass water through. A lot of brewers for flat papers use narrow chambers and vertical-ish walls to help speed up drawdowns with flat bed papers, such as Kalita and Orea. These brewers are great in their own right, but function more like cone-shaped brewers. Wide brewers tend to struggle more with pulse pouring, and can sometimes lead to stalling depending on what your technique is.
Approach: Pick a desired strength through a ratio
(14:200g for a more 'intense' cup and 12:200g for a lighter cup), and pick a level of intensity through temperature (88c being a lighter expression of that ratio and 100c creating a heavier expression). I like to use smaller doses here to take full advantage of that wide bed, but you can scale up or down as much as you like.
Pour 100g quickly, in around 10 - 15s. I typically use a combination of 'circle' and 'centre' pouring. If you want to know more about my approach here, check the 'Adjustments' section below. Basically, the slower and the longer you take to pour can lead to slower brews or even stalled brews, so pour aggressively unless you want to intentionally extend contact time.
Then at somewhere between 30s and 1 minute, pour your next and final 100g, pouring in a similar fashion. I like to do around 35 or 40s, and I tend to leave a longer 'bloom' time if the coffee is fresher. At the drawdown, I find I don't really care about if there's coffee clung to the sides. If I were to guess, I'd say the water is passing through more 'evenly' along a thin layer of coffee, rather than squeezing through a densely packed bed of coffee, and that generally leads to a more favourable cup quality. Anyway, I never swirl or stir here because I don't think it's particularly necessary.
I'd like to finish with the caveat that more aged coffee, lighter roasted coffee and experimentally fermented coffees can have more consistent drawdown times. If you're working with fresher coffee, grinding 10 mins before or even earlier can help if you're experiencing poor or inconsistent results.
Taste: Light bodies, clean, sparkly and good quality acidity and nice sweetness. In bigger brews I find flavours can be a bit muddled, and with this approach the cups are always very clean and flavours can really stand out.
Try this: for a light, bright and sparkly cup of coffee.
Example recipe for April Brewer, Origami or Zen Brewer:
Dose: 13g Water: 200g Temperature: 93c Grind: Medium-coarse (4.2-5.0 on a Kinu or 24-30 on a Comandante)
At 0’00 fill up to 100g by pouring 30g in a circle and 70g in the centre of the dripper, in a continuous motion. Pour quickly, in around 10-15s, but preferably around 10s. Let the coffee drain through for around 30s, and if you find the coffee hasn't begun to form a crater, let it sit for a few more seconds.
At 0'40s, fill up to 200g by pouring in the same manner as the first pour.
I find a good total brewing time to be between 2'20 - 2'50, but I've had nice cups at 4'00 and nice cups at 1'40.
I've found ~generally~ that more dense coffees (or coffees that need more assistance) require less circles and more centre pouring, and coffees that are less dense are more flexible. Broadly speaking, I'd say for washed Ethiopians, Colombians and Kenyans a 30/70 split is good,
and for most other coffees a 40/60 split is good. Density can lead to clogging, so using more centre pouring can help mitigate this.
Bloom time can be useful to adjust here too, a longer time will lead to a 'quicker' drain through. Don't be afraid to stretch it out to 1 min especially for fresher coffees.
It's easy to get stuck using the coarsest setting on your grinder, and while there's no issue with that, just keep in mind many coffees behave differently and a dense, washed and/or, fresh coffee will always take the longest to brew. Try grinding earlier before brewing and see if that helps, or try and pour ridiculously heavy in the centre.
If you find the coffee tastes ‘weak’,
try increasing your dose.
If your coffee tastes astringent and flat, try coarsening your grind.
By 'astringent' I mean the intense drying sensation particularly at the
edges of your mouth. By flat I mean the flavours are there and the
sweetness is good, but it's lacking clarity.
If your coffee tastes like ‘nothing’, try grinding finer and using hotter water.
Example 1: I'm drinking a light roast Ethiopian and it's taking ages to brew. What can I do?
For a coffee that produces a lot of fines, a coarser grind may not necessarily help. Try grinding earlier, pouring more heavily in the centre, using a 30/70 pouring style and/or leaving a longer bloom time. If this still isn't helping, try resting your coffee for longer before brewing in this style.
Example 2: My coffee is draining waaay too quickly. What can I do?
I've found anaerobic or experimentally processed coffees can drain through very quickly with this method. Try leaving a shorter bloom time, pouring more gently or using a finer grind than you might think. Also, keep an open mind and taste first, sometimes quick brews are exactly what you need.
Example 3: The flavour is too light. What can I do?
I would try adding more coffee to the brewer, or using boiling water. This method does dissipate more heat than others, so if you want a brew that gets more body then adding more coffee is the best way to go. If you want to create more body through agitation, add extra pours as centre-only pours.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment or send a message to @jamesperrycoffee on Instagram