Batch Brew - how can we make it better?


(Nicholas Reo Bentley) #1

Hi all, a good number of my daily customers are solely interested in purchasing a “cup of coffee” that is quick, delicious, and a little bit cheaper than our manual brewing options. I think it’s important to make this batch coffee as tasty and efficient as possible and any information, equipment, or techniques we can share with each other will be immensely helpful. Thanks!

-N


(Joshua Dusk-Peebles) #2

Assuming a decent brewer, I think it is important to think of batch as just another brewing method. As far as the actual brewing process goes, a Fetco & a V60 have more things in common than they have differences!

With that being the case, it comes down to a few things:

1 Buying good coffee to batch brew.

2 Programming the machine to output water with a bloom stage and 2 or 3 dispensing stages.

3 Keeping the equipment very clean. We would never serve coffee brewed with a dirty v60 into a dirty cup. Clean your spray heads, brew baskets, and pots with cafiza once a day and rinse them very well between each brew.

4 Stirring or shaking the pots after you finish brewing them. Stratification during brewing is real- the coffee at the bottom of the pot will taste quite a bit different than the coffee at the top unless you mix it up.

5 Dialing it in. Start with a 5 minute dispensing time, medium grind, and 120g of coffee for a half gallon. That should make a pretty legit pot of coffee that you can feel good about selling while you fine-tune it. Taste a bit of each pot you brew and make minor adjustment according to extraction flavors (grind) and desired strength (dose). If you only change one variable slightly each time, you should end up with an optimized brew recipe very quickly.


(nicolas) #3

Hey,

Batch Brew is something I spent quite a lot of time focusing on at my old store because we didn’t have any pour over options, and batch brew was our only source of getting a filter, my beloved drink of choice, I wrote up a two page guide if you will, to getting a good batch brew.

I’ll put the piece in the next comment so this one isn’t that long for ease of reading, let me know if it helped you or what you think can be improved on it. (It was written for Bunn Filter Machines and Marco systems)


(Nicholas Reo Bentley) #6

Definitely attach the guide Nicolas!


(Felix McCarthy) #7

Aside from getting a top of the line drip machine (I recommend the Fetco XTS), the best thing to do is make batches that are at least smaller than a half gallon. We drip in batches a bit larger than a quarter of a gallon and it allows us to have fantastic coffee for simplistic tastes, and we can sell it on the real cheap but still be delicious!


(nicolas) #8


Sorry about the delay! new members can’t post more than one photo per message and I was limited to my comments! do let me know what changes can be made! I’m thinking about adding in something to do with the water quality and the cleanliness of the machine and how to manage those influences!


(nicolas) #9

Hoping this helps anyone struggling to get the best out of their batch brew system! although a splitting point between speciality enthusiasts, it is certainly a god send when you’re desperate for a coffee that won’t take 3-6 minutes to prep!


(winn) #10

Speaking from experience with with both new & old Fetcos, I will say that the biggest obstacles to brewing good batches are the following:

  1. Basics.
    Make sure the brewer is level, clean, is dispensing the amount of water (in grams) that you are programming it to dispense, & make sure to stir after brewing.
  2. Evenness.
    This is my constant battle with batch brewers. All the Fetcos I have ever worked with have had problems with unevenly wetting the grounds. The older spray plates were better than the current csd thing, but not by much. I have been imagining a new dispenser for a while, but I have yet to make a prototype.
    The primary way that I deal with this is by setting the pre-wet very assiduously. When programming, I stop batches after the pre-wet to make sure I am getting good saturation before I do anything else. I often use bigger volume pre-wets & longer delays than I would for a pourover. Right now I am running 13–14% for 2.5 liter batches, with delays of as much as 1.5 minutes. I also max out the pulses.
    My only other trick is to gently shake the basket during brewing, & especially before the drip delay to encourage it to drain evenly. With the Fetco XTS you have to be carefully not to interrupt the basket sensor because the brew will stop & you’ll be left with a half brewed batch!

My only other bit of advice is to try to extend the brew time as long as you can without over extraction, but that’s more general brewing advice.


(nicolas) #11

Another important thing that’s fairly imperative is the actual storage of the filter in the carafe, they have to be cleaned thoroughly and regularly, and use the correct cleaning procedures, some cleaners can actually cause irreversible damage within the Carafe, regularly cleaning them is the best bet and also makes it faster to clean, instead of leaving it for a while and being left to deep clean a small space!

this is coming from a guy who cleaned 6 Carafes with anti-bacterial spray, and then had to throw 6 carafes away since every brew started tasting like soap… not a pleasant flavour note


(Nicholas Reo Bentley) #12

A level brewer is paramount, and that’s a point that rarely gets touched on but will throw off your whole extraction process if overlooked. I’ve seen suggestions for both 2-3 pulses, and for as many as you can get your machine to do. Aside from different batch sizes, does anyone have specific reasoning for either?

@MattPerger I seem to remember reading some time ago a method you had for cleaning carafes. Do you mind dropping a link or re-iterating?


(Matthew Perger) #13

Hot waiter and espresso cleaner in the carafe.

Put a steam arm into the carafe and boil the hell out of it. Leave for a few. Boil again. Drain and rinse.

If you have a press pot: press out the hot liquid through the pipe.


(nicolas) #14

We use large 6L carafes to store 2.2L of coffee, the steam arm isn’t long enough to steam the water, would you suggest using a sponge on the end of a stick (like a loofah) to scrub the inside?


(winn) #15

why can’t you just fill the carafes with more hot water?


(winn) #16

Another thing that I neglected to add apropos of prewet is that it is best to have the shallowest bed depth possible to aid with saturation; the biggest problem spot is the bottom of the basket above the hole.


(nicolas) #17

the issue is the size, I could fill the full 6L carafe with water and 1.) steam wand doesn’t go in enough and 2.) the health and safety concern is too much


(Rand Ordway) #18

Here’s my check list every time I go to one of our stores I go through this whole list. I’ll throw in some of my personal notes as well to help you guys out.

I. Equipment Check
A. Level
Is the batch brewer level? Main points to check are the spray head and bottom of the filter basket. I use a bubble level app on my phone since it’s easier then carrying a bubble levle with me
B. Temperature
Is the brewer spraying out hot enough coffee and is the saturated bed staying hot enough? We have a special filter basket that has a probe that we use to check the temperature in the basket during the brew. Ideally you want your water at 200-202 and the bed 195-200. If your bed isn’t staying hot enough, you might have to wrap your basket in some insulating tape such as the type used on car exhaust.
C. Water Quality
Does the water fall within our recommended PPM for our coffee. Double check mineral content by isolating magnesium, calcium, bicarbonate with a titration kit.
D. Grinder Burrs
Are the burrs in good condition? Visual inspection and double check using a sieve stack.
E. Bed Depth
Ideally we want something between 2.5 and 5 cm in bed depth. Easiest way I found to do this is to use a post-in note. Embed the sticky note into the dry bed after grinding with the stick side perpendicular to the ground. The grinds will stick to the sticky part of the note. Length of grinds on the sticky side of the note = depth of bed.

II. Brewing
A. Batch size
Are the batches small enough that the coffee is staying less than an hour old?
Can we make batch sizes small enough that we can maintain freshness without having a bed depth that is too shallow? If we can’t, advise on smaller brewer or alternative basket. Batch size should satisfy both coffee <1hr old and bed depth >2.5cm
B. Extraction % and Strength
What’s our brew ratio? Aim for 1:15-1:18 for lighter roasted coffees, 1:17-1:19 for darker roasted coffees. Shoot for 19-21% EXT and 1.15-1.4 TDS (depending on flavor)
C. Prewet
If possible, program a pre-wet cycle on the brew equal to 2ml per gram of coffee (11-13% of the brew volume). This useful for moistening all areas of the bed & drives off some CO2 which tames the bloom. Pre-wet should have a 30-60second delay, bigger batches/deeper beds need a longer delay (45-60 seconds) to allow water to filter through the whole bed of coffee
D. Brew Time
Aim for a brew time between 5 and 6.5 minutes. Brew time is total programmed time + time until brew starts dripping from the basket. Larger batches should have shorter programmed brew times (4min) to as water takes longer to filter through. The longer it takes to filter through the bed, the longer the coffee will come out from basket after brewing is done.

Although I’m not a believer in puckology, I think examining the bed of grinds can be quite useful. A perfectly flat bed indicates even extraction during the draw down. Excess grounds stuck to the sides of the filter is not good. Grinds stuck to the side will be underextracted in relation to the grinds in the bed. If grinds are stuck to the side, extend brew time. If you are already at the limit of 6.5min for brew time, coarsen your grind then re-adjust dose and yield to maintain TDS and EXT% target


(Matthew Perger) #19

What’s the health concern?

There literally won’t be a more sterilised or food safe area in your cafe than that carafe at that moment.


(nicolas) #20

@MattPerger Spilling a 6L Carafe of scalding hot water is my main worry, I tried to put the steam wand in an empty one today and I have to hold the carafe at a very slanted angle, I don’t feel safe trying it out with a steam wand on full power and a Carafe filled to its holding capacity.


(Nicholas Reo Bentley) #21

Does anyone have thoughts/opinions on plastic vs. metal brewing baskets? Specifically for the Fetco XTS Series, but I’m sure the same theories would apply across most brands.


(winn) #22

I prefer steel even though I reckon plastic is probably better with respect to temperature equilibrium. I think steel is more durable & definitely prettier.