by Linnea Covington
Long gone are the days of just brewing a pot of joe or mixing some hot water into a cup of instant coffee crystals. Today’s java drinkers can have a mug filled with steaming brew made in a variety of ways and from beans sourced from around the globe. As the craft coffee culture continues to grow, new trends have popped up—so, we enlisted a couple of coffee experts to explain what is hot (and in one case cold) in their barista world.
The Pour Over
What it is: Leaving the basic drip method of brewing behind, this style makes each cup an individual experience. First they pack a ceramic (or metal) cone with a filter and fresh grounds; next, they slowly pour hot water over the coffee in a steady stream, which drips out pure and uber fresh.
What they say: “In New York, the average consumer doesn’t just order the drip,” says Cora Lambert, the coffee director at RBC Coffee in New York. “More and more specialty coffee shops are investing in better pour over coffee.”
Artisanal Drip Coffee
What it is: Everyone knows the basic Mr. Coffee drip-style way to make coffee, but with new technology, this method is having a renaissance. Lambert says at RBC they use special fancy coffee makers, which she says makes a superb cup of Joe – and, with a price tag that runs in the hundreds to thousands of dollars, it better.
What they say: “If you are really paying attention to your drip coffee, which is often overlooked, you can actually get more consistency with these machines than with other methods.”
Light Roasted Coffee
What it is: Coffee beans start out green and from there can be roasted super dark like an Italian or French roasts; medium brown like city or American roasts; and finally light brown. The paler beans include the cinnamon and New England roasts and tend to give the coffee heavier acidic tones but, according to the experts, this style also brings out more of the natural qualities.
What they say: “At the roasting level the trend is towards more light roasted coffees,” says Jason Cain, coffee purveyor at Pablo’s Coffee in Denver. “The thought being that a lighter roast allows more of the origin character to shine through without giving over to the carbony flavor of a dark roast coffee. ”
What it is: Though we left iced coffee behind months ago, a big trend last summer was cold brewing coffee instead of adding ice to hot coffee or letting the already brewed coffee cool off. This method employs course-ground beans and cold water, about a ratio of one part coffee to four parts water. You soak the grounds for at least 12 hours, then strain and serve.
What they say: “A lot of people love cold brew coffee and are a lot less likely to make hot coffee and then just add ice,” says Lambert. “I am a big fan because it’s smooth and less astringent. ”
What it is: Just how detailed packaging for meat has boomed, Lambert says coffee growers have started adding information on their actual bags of beans. “Now it’s not only the country [listed], but the region, the name of the farmer and sometimes the elevation it’s grown at,” says Lambert. So far, she added, only Africa hasn’t really gotten in the game.
What they say: “Consumers are less content to just know the country or region where a coffee is grown,” says Cain. “It is becoming increasingly common to have coffees traced all the way back to the exact farm or farmer and many roasters are also bypassing importers completely and forming direct relationships with the farmers themselves. ”
What it is: Local has a new meaning in the coffee world as increasingly small shops have started roasting their own small batches of beans. For example, even though Cain’s employer Pablo’s only has one location, they roast their own beans and sell them to local businesses. A few other places that do this include Gorilla Coffee in Brooklyn, Blue Bottle in San Francisco, and Coffee by Design in Portland, Maine.
What they say: “On the national spectrum micro-roaster shops are becoming more apparent,” says Lambert. “As more small craft roasters open up, variety becomes the spice of life more people are saying they want to jazz up their product and bring more types in.”