Tag Archives: Pour-over Coffee

The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee

Blue Bottle Craft of CoffeeThe Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee

Growing, Roasting, and Drinking, with Recipes
by James Freeman, Caitlin Freeman and Tara Duggan
Photography by Clay McLachlan
Illustrations by Michelle Ott
Published by Ten Speed Press

If you haven’t had the chance to visit Blue Bottle Coffee in the Bay Area or NYC, then you may not have heard of their cafes and roasted beans. If you are so lucky to have visited one, you are corrupted and will never be the same. For the rest of us there is The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee.

Putting the craft into pour-over coffee

Great pour-over coffee starts with great beans roasted to perfection. That’s where James Freeman started, roasting beans in his stove. The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee starts with James’s story of how he got from professional clarinetist performing in various bay area orchestras to coffee artisan extraordinaire. In a nutshell: vision.

James started small, first roasting small batches that he sold at local farmers markets, and later buying a coffee cart in an out-of-the-way location. But before long, the quality of the coffee started bringing the customers in to the point there were always lines of people patiently waiting. The saying, “build it and they will come,” was certainly true for Blue Bottle Coffee.

Soil, altitude and attitude

While coffee originated in Ethiopia, most is now grown in Brazil. Many of the growers who are producing the best beans for roasting are located in Africa, South America, Hawaii and Asia, and Blue Bottle sources from all these locations. The first chapter of The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee covers coffee growing, bean structure, harvesting, origins, locations, processing and the history of coffee beans. He features a couple of growers and includes some side notes on coffee blends, acidity and other factors that are not well known to the average coffee drinker.

First crack at the crack of dawn

From using a lowly kitchen stove to restored Probat industrial roasting machines, Freeman evolved into a master roaster. The crazy dream to roast coffee in his backyard with an adobe brick roaster powered by his German Shepherd (Who would power with it with a treadmill?), spurred the decision to get it right instead, from which Blue Bottle was born. He takes us through the process of roasting (listen for the crack of the beans), cupping and tweaking for flavor, which is dictated by the beans. The good roaster, like the sculptor, draws the character and flavor out of the raw bean. The chapter also includes step-by-step instructions if you want to roast at home using the same stove technique.

Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee
Drink up

The next chapter covers some of Freeman’s preferred preparation techniques, including pour-over, French press, siphon, drip and espresso. (Be ready to fork out some serious money.)

He touches on Japanese coffee brewing tools and techniques. He offers pointers, how-to’s and sage advice. Note to the home brewer: Invest in a high-quality burr grinder.

Eat, drink and be merry

The last section of the book is devoted to the food that is served at the Blue Bottle Cafés. Try the coffee shop’s recipe for making homemade granola and yogurt. Also find recipes for crunchy biscotti, sweet madeleines, chocolate pudding, and savory delights like Braised Boar’s Shoulder and Stuart Brioza’s Tuna Melt Sandwiches. Afterword, toast to it all with Nopa’s Blue Bottle Martini.

The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee

A classic American success story, The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee, is conversational but informative. The photography is beautiful, as is the minimalist graphic design. This well-rounded guide complements anyone’s cookbook collection, as well as makes a worthy coffee table book.

The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee is available at your local bookstore or online.

Pour-over coffee is easy!

Don’t be intimidated by the Pour-over coffee method.

You dont need a kitchen scale, $60 pour-over kettle, burr grinder, etc, to achive great pour-over coffee. A lot of how-to’s will suggest you need a complicated and expensive mix of tools and technique. Which is true if you are seeking perfection. It is possible to get great results with just fresh ground coffee, a cone, filter and hot water.

Start with fresh roasted beans

The most important element to great tasting coffee are the beans! Buy smaller amounts of fresh-roasted beans from a local artisan roaster. If there are none in your city, try mail order. There are many great roasters that will ship fresh roasted beans. Google artisan coffee roasters.

Cone and filter

Any cone system will work, from the plastic Militta cone from the local grocery store to a glass Hario v60. No matter what you use you can get great coffee. Filters are more readlily available for the Militta type than the circular Hario type. Go with what works for you.


Heat your favorite coffee cup with hot water (boiled or tap) let stand for a couple of minutes, rinse the paper filter inside the cone with hot water from the preheated cup.

Hot water

Get a glass 2-cup measuring cup, add 1 1/2 cups of could water, place in a microwave for 3 minutes (or as long as it take to boil). After it reaches boil, remove from the microwave let cool a couple minutes. Take this time to grind the beans. You can also use a stovetop kettle or pot to heat the water, but pour the water into the mesuring cup.

The right amount of ground beans

If you have a burr grinder find the right setting to grind enough coffee, you can fine tune this though a little trial an error. Or if you have the a blade-type coffee grinder, only use as much beans as you’re going to need. In either machine grind the beans to the consistency of sand.

Bloom the grind

Place the grounds into the rinsed filter. Pour a small amount, enough to soak the coffee through, watch as the coffee absorbes the water and swells up. Wait just over a minute.

Slowly pour

Pour the remaining hot water into the cone, make sure the stream is small, start in the center and work out in a spiral pattern until the water is gone.

Drink and enjoy!

Once the water has poured through, add cream sugar or drink black. You should have a great cup.

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