13 Aug How to Brew the Perfect Kopi Luwak Coffee: Brewing Methods & Instructions
There is no process with more possibilities and variables than brewing. Every method allows for seemingly endless variations. In this post we’ll focus on fine tuning the brewing formula for your Kopi Luwak coffee.
The formula for making excellent Kopi Luwak coffee is simple: Two tablespoons per six ounces of water. Although this formula is an important starting point, slight adjustments may produce a better batch, one that tastes better to you.
Before we dive into the various brewing methods, it’s important to first understand proper brewing temperature and contact time.
Although any temperature water will eventually become coffee if in contact with beans for long enough, hot water is the fastest means to this end. Water heated to 200 degrees, plus or minus a few degrees, is considered the standard benchmark. Water not heated as high is less efficient. Water heated higher extracts bitter flavors.
The longer the coffee grounds are exposed to water, the more flavor is extracted. The shorter the grounds are exposed, the less flavor is extracted. The appropriate average time varies by grind; a drip grind takes four to six minutes, but a course grind can take up to eight minutes. If using a manual machine that steeps the coffee in a reservoir, such as a Vacuum or French Press, you can easily vary the contact time between the grounds and water. French Press coffee with a finer grind and longer extraction time will taste significantly different than one with a courser grind and shorter extraction time. See our post on grinding for more information.
Now that you understand the basics of Temperature and Time, let’s move on to some of the most popular brewing methods.
Pour Over/Manual Drip
To make manual drip or pour over coffee, Water flows over the coffee grounds and allows the coffee to drip through, extracting oils from the grounds as they pass. Gravity and the amount of grounds control the contact time between grounds and water. More grounds take more time through which to pass, increasing the brews strength.
Drip brewing requires a careful balance of variables. Grind fineness, batch size and other factors must work together precisely to ensure that hot water drenches the grounds for an exact amount of time. This does not mean you can’t make great drip coffee; it just requires a more minute grind or formula changes.
- Set the water kettle on high heat to boil.
- Weigh the whole beans and grind medium-fine. Do not grind too fine.
- Preset the paper filter, fold the filter in half, and set it in the basket. Place the double fold (the thicker of the two sides) over the runnel (the channel on the brewer).
- Add the grounds to the filter. Shake the basket to settle the grounds, but never pack them.
- Remove the boiling water from the heat and let it stand for 1 minute or until the water stops bubbling.
- Slowly pour the water over the grounds in a circular motion. Your Kopi Luwak will likely foam up as it releases carbon dioxide, and then settle back down. For better flavor extraction, allow this to occur before pouring more water.
- Repeat until all the Kopi Luwak coffee is brewed.
- Removed the filter and discard.
- Stir the brew to mix together the strongest coffee, which comes through the earliest, with the weaker coffee, which comes at the drip brew’s end.
- Enjoy your Kopi Luwak!
Unlike the Pour Over method, which pours hot water down through the grounds, and a vacuum brewer (below) which shoots hot water up through the grounds, the French Press works by keeping water around the grounds still – also known as steeping. This produces a different extraction and flavor. It’s unknown whether the still water causes different oils to come forth, or whether it just reacts differently and changes the taste. However, most people agree that French Press coffee has a different taste.
Many who evaluate coffees for a living claim the French Press comes closest of all methods to matching the cupping taste experience.
A French Press’ plunger usually consists of a metal screen over a solid metal piece and a rod that screws into them, which allows you to drive the filter down through the hot brewed coffee. This gets threaded through a metal or plastic cap that fits over the glass cylinder. Most French Presses come preassembled and with simple instructions on dismantling and reassembling.
- Fill the kettle with the appropriate volume of water. For example, for four 6 ounce cups, heat 3 cups of water, plus an additional 8 ounces for scalding the press pot and evaporation. Heat on medium heat until it reaches a boil.
- In the meantime, assemble the press plunger.
- Grind 2 tablespoons of whole bean Kopi Luwak coarsely for each 6-ounce cup and set aside.
- Preheat the press pot by scalding it with 4 ounces of hot water.
- Swirl the water and then discard it.
- Add the ground coffee to the empty pot.
- Pour about half of your hot water over the grounds. With your Kopi Luwak, foam will form and swell. Let the foam rise and fall.
- Set your timer to 4 minutes. Pour the remaining hot water into the pot.
- Place the plunger cap on the cylinder. Depress the plunger just enough so that the top of the grounds are held under the water. Start the timer. Once each minute, agitate the grounds (by swirling, pressing the plunger up and down, or stirring) to prevent clumping and to ensure maximum extraction.
- At the 4 minute mark, slowly but firmly depress the plunger fully.
- Pour the coffee slowly to keep sediment in the cups to a minimum and evenly distribute it among the cups.
- Enjoy your Kopi Luwak!
The Vacuum Brewer, which resembles an hourglass, consists of a water reservoir, a filter, and a brewing upper bowl with a long stem. It involves heating water in its bottom half, shooting hot water up through the grounds, and agitating grounds during contact time. A vacuum is created as the water bowl cools and draws filtered, brewed Kopi Luwak coffee into the lower bowl. The top half is removed before serving the pot of coffee. It is unique among brewing styles in that the water doesn’t touch the grounds until it is hot enough to brew adequately. Agitation during extraction ensures thorough mixing of grounds and water. The vacuum’s pull efficiently drains the finished brew from the grounds.
Once you learn to master this method, it’s easy to get hooked. It’s a great way to showcase your Kopi Luwak and add to the experience for house guests.
- Fill the lower bowl with carefully measured cold water. For this method use 8 ounces of water per 2 tablespoons of finely ground coffee to make up water lost during brewing.
- Measure out whole beans.
- Insert the filter into the upper bowl. Any type of vacuum filters (glass, ceramic, or metal) will produce a high quality brew.
- Add approximately 2 tablespoons of finely ground coffee per 8 ounces of water.
- Place the lower bowl on the heat source on medium heat. Let the water come to a boil and then place the upper bowl snugly inside the lower bowl, which then forces water to rise through the tube and filter into the upper bowl, where it mixes with the Kopi Luwak coffee. Keep a spoon nearby to gently stir the grounds and facilitate mixing.
- When most of the water has risen into the upper bowl, start a timer. A small amount of boiling water should remain in the lower bowl.
- Lower the heat just enough to keep the lower bowl water boiling.
- After 1 minute, remove the entire brewer from the heat source, ideally using heat-safe gloves. Place the brewer on a trivet or heat-resistant surface. The sudden temperature drop in the lower bowl should start the vacuum process, during which the freshly brewed coffee is drawn down through the filter tube andante the lower bowl.
- Once most of the coffee has returned to the lower bowl, listen for a gentle bubbling. This indicates that the vacuum has drawn every bit of coffee flavor from the grounds. (Examining the spent grounds should reveal that they are almost dry.)
- Carefully separate the two bowls. Some vacuum brewers come with a cooling stand. If yours does not, lay the upper bowl on its side in the sink until you’re ready to clean it.
- Stir the coffee in the lower bowl and serve.
- Enjoy your Kopi Luwak!
The Ibrik method, also known as Turkish or Greek, consists of tossing pulverized coffee grounds into a vessel with water. The water is boiled with the grounds multiple times. There is no filter. The grounds settle, so carefully pouring the coffee is the only way to reduce the amount that ends up in cups. Some in the coffee industry consider the careful pouring part of ibrik coffee making an art form. To some, ibrik represents coffee brewing at its oldest and most basic form.
Traditionally, ibrik coffee is served sugarless at funerals or unhappy occasions and with extra sugar at weddings and other festivities. Also, in some Arabic countries, serving someone the coffee without any foam signifies “losing face” because the foam is considered the coffee’s face. Be careful. If you don’t divide the foam equally, you could send the wrong message!
- Place 3 ounces of water into the ibrik.
- Add 2 tablespoons of powder ground coffee.
- Add 1 tablespoon of sugar per demitasse. Never fill an ibrik more than half full. It will foam up during boiling and could overflow.
- Put the ibrik on medium heat and bring mixture to a boil. Once it boils, lower the heat so it won’t overflow. Also, gentle heat produces a milder cup. Let it sit for 1 or 2 minutes.
- Once the coffee stops boiling, repeat the process, bringing it to a boil twice more, reducing heat immediately upon boiling.
- As it reaches a boil its third and final time (and likely, as the foam nears the top of the ibrik’s neck, in spite of our precautions), remove the ibrik from the heat.
- Pour carefully into prewired demitasse cups. Divide the foam between the cups using a spoon.
- Enjoy your Kopi Luwak!