Brewing coffee is an art form. However, the humble batch brew is not the most spectacular or eye-catching brewing method.
It’s a bit like the station car of coffee brewing methods. A bit dull, but very useful!
However, don’t be fooled; there’s a reason why specialty coffee shops are rediscovering this old-school brewing method 🙅
This guide will explain everything you need to know about making batch brew coffee, whether at home or in a café.
We’ll discuss the best methods and equipment for brewing and some tips and tricks to help you make the perfect cup every time. Are you ready to learn about the best way to make coffee? Let’s get started!
What is Batch Brew Coffee?
Batch brew is a method of brewing coffee using a filter machine that works via percolation.
Batch simply refers to the fact that you can make multiple coffees at once “in batches” so to speak. On the other hand, pour over, and espresso only produces a single or a few cups at a time.
There can be a bit of confusion around the term ‘batch brew’, however, when coffee people talk about it, they usually refer to the profesional version of “drip coffee.”
However, it’s the same, just on a more extensive and “professional” scale.
For ages, this method has been used in commercial settings, such as cafes and diners.
In the past, batch brew coffee didn’t have the best reputation. It was often made with dark roasted lower, quality beans. Cleanliness could also be a problem. Coffee was left on a burner plate all day, and eventually, the glass carafe would get an almost permanent layer of coffee oils.
This didn’t exactly foster an environment for spectacular coffee. So when Italian-inspired espresso-based coffee became all the rage, people were quick to dismiss the old ways. Drip coffee was put in the corner.
Third-wave coffee then entered the scene, and this trend was emphasized even further. The Hario V60 and the hand brew became paragons of extraction excellence.
Why is batch brew having a renaissance?
However, today, more and more third-wave coffee shops rely on batch brew as their primary brewing method for black coffee.
The main reason for this is simple: batch brew makes it possible to serve many people quickly and efficiently without sacrificing quality.
There’s no reason that batch brew can’t be made with the same high-quality light roast beans you would use for other brewing methods. This allows you to enjoy all the flavor nuances of a great cup of pour-over coffee without waiting for a barista to brew it by hand.
The batch brew is a more efficient way to make multiple coffees at once. It scales way better than the espresso and pour over.
For that reason, more and more specialty coffee shops are starting to make batch brewing a priority.
Another benefit is that it’s often a more consistent alternative to pour over, which can be challenging to replicate each time. You don’t have to worry about an inexperienced barista being on duty with batch brew since everything is more standardized and automated.
How do you make a good batch brew?
Now that we know batch brew is making a comeback let’s talk about how to make it.
As with any brewing method, there are specific techniques you’ll need to learn to make a great cup of coffee.
Besides, all the essential modern specialty rules of coffee also apply. So here are a few tips to get you started.
(By the way, these tips also apply to regular drip coffee when made at home.)
- Fresh Roast: Use relatively fresh beans. Ideally, roasted between 2-4 weeks ago.
- Proper Water: Make sure that the water quality is right. Soft water under 100 TDS is usually the best solution for drip coffee.
- Cleanliness: Make sure that all the equipment is sparkling clean. This is very important!
- White paper filters: Use a white, bleached paper filter. The brown ones add a nasty cardboard flavor to the brew. Pre-rinse the paper filter before brewing.
- Grind quality: Use an excellent grinder—preferably, a flat burr grinder with unimodal grind distribution.
- Store in a thermal carafe: Don’t let the coffee sit on a heat plate. Transfer it to a sparkling clean thermal carafe right after brewing.
- Brew ratio: Find the ideal brew ratio for your customers. SCA’s Gold Cup brewing standards are an excellent resource to reference. However, 1:16.6 usually provides a balanced cup.
Pro tips for batch brew
If we’re talking about commercial batch brew, you can (and should!) take things a bit further. The batch brew process can be individualized for different coffee beans to optimize flavor extraction. The grind size, coffee to water ratio, and pulsing frequency are controllable parameters that can be tweaked to create the perfect cup of coffee.
Additionally, the water temperature can also be adjusted to account for darker or lighter roasts. By calibrating these variables to each specific bean, you can ensure that your batch brews consistently taste great.
Best Practice – the essential details
One often-quoted key to batch brewing is using a coarser grind than you make expect and keep a close eye on the depth of the brew bed. This will help ensure even flavor balance, evenness of extraction, and consistency.
- Ideal range: Most batch brewers have a perfect range to function optimally. It’s a good idea to stay within these parameters. If you either brew smaller or larger quantities, you’ll end up with a less than the ideal depth of the brew bed.
You should always stick to the same basic recipe and grind size in a commercial setting. Of course, you can consciously choose to alter the extraction percentage by changing the dose. Some beans will taste better if the extraction yield is lower or higher.
- Timing: Keep the timing between 5.30-6.30 minutes. Ideally, it should take around 1.30-2.00 minutes from the last drop of water delivered from the spray head until the brew is completely done.
If your brew doesn’t live up to these suggestions, then it’s likely that your grinder is producing too many fines. It could be that it’s time to invest in a new grinder or burrs. Or maybe your recipe doesn’t fit the brew basket size.
- Sprayhead: The sprayhead is also worth taking into consideration. Some models are based on retro designs and do poorly at evenly dispersing the water. I also talk about this in my review of the legendary Technivorm Moccamaster. The old version tended to dig a hole in one side of the brew bed. Luckily, the new water outlet arm does a better job.
Generally, the more separate streams, the better. However, some companies also produce 3rd party sprayheads compatible with popular commercial devices such as the Fetco.
The market for commercial batch brewers is growing. However, a few popular brands seem to have a lot of fans out there.
- Wilbur Curtis
While they are not technically designed for commercial use, it’s possible to see a Moccamaster in some small coffee shops out in the wild. In addition, a wide range of drip coffee makers is certified by SCA to brew up to the Golden Cup standard. However, these tend to max out around 1.25 liter of coffee.
Some coffee shops also tend to land somewhere in the middle. Instead, of brewing smaller batches on a commercial device, they automate their pour over setup with a device such as Marco SP9
Brewing coffee in large quantities can be a daunting task. However, if you follow the guidelines in this comprehensive guide, you’ll be able to batch brew delicious coffee that your customers will love.
Top Featured Image: Creative Commons 2.0 | Claralieu
Making good batch brew coffee is all about following a set of guidelines that will help produce a consistent and balanced cup of coffee. This includes the right grind size, water temperature, and brewing time. Additionally, it’s essential to stay within the parameters of your equipment to ensure optimal results.
The amount of caffeine in batch brew coffee will depend on the beans that are used and the size of the mug. However, most batch brews will have between 95-200mg of caffeine per cup.
While you can technically brew coffee multiple times, it’s not something that we recommend. The flavors will be lackluster and thin. Only the most desperate and caffeine-starved person should brew the same coffee twice.