Learning from the Best: Hoffmann, Kaminsky and Chefsteps

Learning from the Best: Hoffmann, Kaminsky and Chefsteps

By Chris Kolbu

Filter coffee today is objectively better than it has ever been. From the farm to the cup, developments have taken place in the last years that have all nudged the quality of your cup higher; taken together, these nudges constitute a very noticeable improvement. At the same time, as a home consumer, the quality of the coffee is ultimately in your hands.

Careless brewing, stale coffee, dirty equipment and a host of other variables can all result in an underwhelming experience.

Have you ever brought a fresh bag of coffee home and become disappointed the coffee you brewed wasn’t quite as tasty as the one in the coffee shop, or had a great brew and a not-so great one from the same bag of coffee without understanding why? If the concept and process of dialling in a coffee or terms like over- and under-extraction are mysterious to you—and they are to most—there’s definitely room for improvement.

Colour of coffee beans at various roast levels

This is where Chefsteps.com1 comes in. Run by a diverse team of cooks, videographers and developers, they’ve demystified many of the ingredients and techniques of modernist cooking, expanding the horizons and repertoires of professionals and amateurs alike.

And now, with the help of coffee experts, they’ve decided to tackle filter coffee brewing. They are: James Hoffmann, 2007 World Barista Champion2 and founder of London’s Square Mile Coffee; and Ben Kaminsky, three-time(!) U.S Cup Tasting Champion3 and one of the coffee professionals leading the way in exploring coffee extraction.

Brewing a Chemex

Structured like a class, Coffee — Your Daily Brew, Perfected goes through most aspects of brewing coffee. It’s very practically oriented, aimed at getting you out there, buying great coffee, brewing it as well as possible, and understanding why you’re doing what you’re doing. They feature multiple brewing devices (like Chemex and Aeropress) as well as a few fun recipes for cooking with coffee.

Think back: Do you remember that first, truly incredible cup of coffee? The one that changed the way you look at the beverage that wakes up much of the world each morning? Most coffee lovers didn’t start out that way; it takes a remarkable brew to show us just how sweet and balanced, refreshing and complex this bewitching beverage can be. Now, we’re going to teach you to surpass that memorable cup at home, by combining the art of extraction with state-of-the-art brewing practices.

Chefsteps also offer a free—equally great—class on espresso, with expert help from Charles Babinski, current U.S Barista Champion and runner-up at this years’ WBC.

All images and videos taken from Chefsteps.com

 Notes   [ + ]

1. Established in 2012, it is led by Chris Young, who did time in Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck research kitchen before he went on to head Nathan Myhrvold’s immensely ambitious Modernist Cuisine project.
2. link to James’ WBC performance.
3. Cup tasting championships take the form of 8 triangles of three cups, each with one cup that differs from the rest. Heats are judged purely on accuracy and time. Winning it three times speaks to an incredibly precise and disciplined palate.
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