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Art of the caffeinated pour

T.o.ch Coffee CEO shares hand-drip know-how

(t.o.ch_ed.by.t)
(t.o.ch_ed.by.t)

While the city transitions to a state of relaxed social distancing, T.o.ch Coffee CEO Lee Min-kyu shares his hand-drip know-how for caffeine aficionados looking to use time at home to perfecting their pour-over brew game.

Lee, a one-time consultant-turned-green bean seller, launched his business in Samseong-dong, Seoul a year ago.

He started out by selling beans from farms he visited and then roasting those beans in a way that reminded him of how it tasted when he first tried the coffee at its source.

The point was not to sell roasted beans, but to give those looking to roast beans for their own businesses an idea of the flavor and character of T.o.ch’s single-origin coffee.

However, word spread about their coffee and Lee temporarily closed the showroom and opened a coffee shop called ed.by.t in late April in Samseong-dong.

“While T.o.ch was a space to showcase the green beans we brought in, more and more people came for the coffee itself,” Lee, 36, said via email on why he launched a sit-down roastery cafe.

Ed.by.t’s brews are extracted from green beans from T.o.ch, Lee said, adding that he plans to reopen the showroom in a new spot in about a year.

For T.o.ch’s beans, which hail from Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia and Guatemala, Lee leans towards a light roast at ed.by.t with the aim of achieving “coffee that is clean and tea-like.”

“However, for coffee that really boasts a strong nut and chocolate profile, we do a medium roast,” Lee added.

For pour-over coffee aficionados who have a handle of the basics -- essentially grind coffee, add coffee to a filter and pour hot water several times to extract coffee -- Lee offers some additional tips accumulated from time spent cupping, roasting and extracting coffee from around the world. 


Ed.by.t roasts beans from T.o.ch, which hail from Colombia, Costa Rice, Ethiopia and Guatemala. (t.o.ch_ed.by.t)
Ed.by.t roasts beans from T.o.ch, which hail from Colombia, Costa Rice, Ethiopia and Guatemala. (t.o.ch_ed.by.t)

Let your coffee rest

Firstly, Lee recommends making sure one’s coffee has been degassed.

“When beans have just been roasted, they harbor carbon dioxide which inhibits the extraction process. Time is needed for the gas to be released and the lighter the roast the longer the degassing period,” Lee explained.

While Lee says the degassing period runs around three to four days, he recommends asking the roaster how many days one should wait to brew one’s coffee when purchasing the beans as the easiest way to know when one can start extracting one’s coffee.


Measurements

At ed.by.t, Lee says 18 grams of lightly roasted beans are extracted with 280 grams of water that is heated to 92 degrees Celsius. The ground coffee is extracted over a period of two to two minutes and 20 seconds.

However, if one wishes to enjoy a milder brew, one can opt to use water heated to 88 degrees Celsius, Lee added.


The grind

Lee recommends starting off by grinding one’s lightly roasted coffee to the coarseness of grains of sand. When brewed, if the coffee tastes too strong or intense, one can adjust for a coarser grind and if the coffee tastes too flat then one can go for a finer grind, he elaborated.


The filter

Depending on the filter, one can opt to prewet one’s filter. Lee explains that the purpose of prewetting the filter is to rid it of any smell of paper so it does not affect the flavor of the coffee.


The pour

The initial pour, according to Lee, is meant to let the coffee infuse. About 50 to 60 grams of hot water is poured for this step, said Lee. After the water is poured, he then recommends waiting 30 seconds.

After the initial pour, there are three more pours. Starting with the second pour, Lee recommends pouring in a circular motion from the center to the outside and then from outside back to the center.

The remaining three pours should each take 30 seconds so that all pours total approximately two minutes.

Once the extraction is complete, sit back and take a sip.

While helming a green bean brand and now a roaster cafe that not only specializes in brews but in roasted beans as well, Lee has had plenty of time to amass his own approach to pour-over coffee.

However, Lee is quick to stress that at the end of the day coffee is very personal and that ed.by.t’s approach to pour-over coffee is just one of many ways to enjoy pour-over coffee.

By Oh Jean (oh_jean@heraldcorp.com
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