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Filter Coffee Renaissance for the Masses

Five Senses CoffeeBen Bicknell 7 October 2014

Ten years ago, filter coffee in Australia was terrible. Defined by poor quality, stale coffee, it was prepared with little understanding of what was necessary to achieve great tasting results. Over the last decade however we’ve seen this all change — some of the most progressive cafes have adopted ?by the cup? brew methods like pourover, siphon and Clever Coffee Drippers to showcase the subtleties of flavour available in thoughtfully sourced and carefully roasted coffees. And now, with the novelty buzz around filter offerings subsiding into the quiet hum of everyday service, baristas and drinkers alike are increasingly focusing on issues of consistency and the ease of ordering great brewed coffees. Welcome to the new era of Batch Brew!

Filter coffee prepared by the cup can be excellent — there’s no doubt about that. However, achieving consistently excellent results takes good organisation, skills and time. Many great cafes around the world are managing to turn out high quality, by-the-cup filter offerings and there’s no doubt that the theatre of this prep method has played an integral part in engaging coffee drinkers enough to encourage them to try a new style of coffee. With Batch Brew, there’s now a great new opportunity to complement this style with a new prep method focusing on ease of service and consistency under volume.

Batch Brew is all about the equipment which allows the user to prepare large batches of filter coffee in one, automated go.

These batches can vary in size — the small domestic drip brewers of yesteryear would often produce around one litre of coffee which could be seen as a small ‘batch’. Larger, more commercially sized units produce anywhere from one to six litres of coffee in a given batch. The brewing technology can be likened to large, computerized versions of a pourover — the water is heated and then dispensed over the bed of ground coffee via a shower screen before dripping down into a carafe, airpot or urn. The huge benefit of batch brew systems is that they allow users to prepare a large quantity of coffee in a very consistent manner without the heavy labour or the impact made by variable skills which occurs with by-the-cup brewing.

This essentially means more consistently delicious brewed coffees available with very little wait time and with a lower production cost? WIN!

Batch brew has had a shadow cast on it because of its historic uses for evil such as the muck stewing in nameless diners in the USA, along with soul destroying convention centre coffee we all shudder at. However, with both a focus on better technology in the brewing devices and a quantum leap of quality behind the sourcing, roasting and variable management of the coffee used, Batch Brewing is experiencing a renaissance.

Five Senses have been partnering with Marco Beverage Systems for the past seven years to offer some of the most progressive hot water systems around. Recently, Marco launched an exciting update to their range of batch brew gear, incorporating many of the technological learnings from their innovative Uber projects. We launched some of these products at the Melbourne International Coffee Expo earlier in the year, but now that the two new products have landed here on our shores and are being put to great use in cafes, we wanted to introduce them formally.

First in the line-up is the Marco Bru unit. Using flash boiler technology, the Bru is focused on offering solid water temperature stability for smaller batch sizes at an incredibly affordable price point. The Bru is essentially plug and play, working off a standard power wall socket and allowing for manual water filling. This device is perfect for venues which want to experiment with batch brewing without investing too heavily or being weighed down with too much brewed coffee at any one time. It will brew 1 ‐ 2 litres at a time over 5 ‐ 6 minutes of contact time. The new, patent-pending flash boiler design does a great job of managing the common challenge of this technology which is a water temperature spike at the end of the brewing cycle. Overall, this brushed stainless steel unit is an ideal option for an entry level batch brew program that wants to deliver some consistently delicious cups.

The other new release from Marco, the Jet 6 brewer, is the big brother to the Bru. It requires a little more power and is plumbed into a mains water line to allow management of its own water delivery. The Jet 6 is a step up in batch size too, enabling the user to prepare 2 ‐ 6 litre brews which run into the slick, thermally insulated dispensing urns. This brewing system is also pretty exciting for us because Marco have incorporated their existing displacement boiler heating system and modified it with the recirculation reservoir technology they explored in a previous R&D project, The Pillar, resulting in incredibly stable brew water temperatures. Pair this innovative heating system with a user-friendly interface allowing for temperature, contact time, volume setting adjustments (and much more) and you’ve got an incredibly flexible device for delivering tasty brews to the masses. Adding to the niftiness of this bit of kit is the optional, integrated Jet 6 Grinder. A collaboration between Mahlkonig and Marco, this grinder connects to the brewer and, once calibrated, will deliver ground coffee appropriate to the volume of coffee you’re brewing at the time. For larger operations with a wide variety of operators, this setup can really help manage quality and consistency in a high turnover location.

If you’re keen on tweaking all the variables on your batch brew system, then the Jet 6 brewer offers a great solution.

These two pieces of equipment have been showcasing some delicious results in both the Five Senses labs and out in the field at cafes, and I get the impression that we’ve only scratched the surface of how this approach to coffee preparation will influence workflow and customer service. I’m certainly pretty excited to see more delicious filter coffee available on tap from my favourite cafes!

To find out more about the new Marco equipment, receive pricing or arrange a test drive, drop us a line via our Wholesale Enquiry form — we’d love to hear from you!

Notes:

  1. Our own experiments and advice from Marco recommends that brews should be kept for no more than two hours in their respective thermal dispensers for optimum taste.
  2. We’d recommend starting with the standard 60g of coffee per litre of water for your batches.

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