The Bulb Culture Evolution:
Coffee For All
How might we create a studio we love? As always, we start off ready to dive into some brainstorming around an idea or problem related to the experience we’re working on. In this case, our studio coffee experience!
Just take a second and imagine the smell of fresh coffee brewing...mmm. Coffee is fuel. Coffee wakes us up, and keeps our minds sharp. It might be our #1 salesman, if you consider its involvement in most early client meetings. Coffee is a necessity.
It was clear our team needed a great coffee experience in our studio, so we turned to our resident coffee aficionado and Lead Developer, Raleigh Mumford. Raleigh is very passionate about coffee related products and the intricate process involved in brewing the best cup.
Framing the Why?
Our first step was to figure out why we wanted quality coffee by framing our reason and the approach we wanted to take.
We wanted to have coffee in the office because it plays a part in our culture, health, energy, and focus. Having it available at the office is cheaper for employees than buying something at a coffee shop every day, and more convenient. We needed a one cup option or to make a pot for several people. We wanted flexibility, convenience, and quality.
We figured out our why, now we had to solve the what and how.
We decided we wanted to brew high quality coffee, which in our opinion, that alone eliminated researching Keurigs, Nespresso, and many other run of the mill coffee makers. Next, we had to consider the process that goes into making a great cup, which involves water, coffee, and equipment.
Seems simple right? However, if you've ever had a coffee lover on your Christmas list, you probably know how many different products are on the market. We lean more towards pour over methods, since everyone isn't always in the office and we're just a team of 11, for now. This method also requires a quality grinder so we can get the correct grind for different size pots or cups. Although most of the time we won't need to make large pots, we still needed to account for client meetings or our team birthday breakfast events. So we also needed to find a multi-cup solution.
The Good Stuff, Sweet Nectar, the Grounds!
The first piece of the process we decided to solve was the type of coffee. This is critical as the region and roast level plays a major part in the flavor and acidity. We had to decide the type, quality, and cost of the brand's we wanted. Again, we started with Raleigh’s recommendations.
African Coffees: Raleigh’s favorites are normally from Africa and, typically, a single origin from Kenya. African coffees tend to be more complex, exotic, and acidic with floral notes and tons of stone fruit flavors. As a whole, African coffee tends to be more expensive.
South American Coffees: South American coffee tends to be more chocolatey, nutty and roasted flavored.
Local Brands We Like:
- Madcap: Nationally renowned as one of the best roasters in the country
- Rowsters: Local brand known for quality and great service.
- Stovetop Coffee Roasters: New in our area but based in Ann Arbor and is known for consistent coffee and espresso roasts.
- Roots Brew Shop: A Grand Rapids Westside favorite that recently started roasting.
- National brands we like: Cat and Cloud, Heart, Verve, Onyx Coffee Lab, Coava, and Stumptown.
After reviewing past experiences, doing some new research, and testing, we decided on the Clever Coffee Dripper, Hario v60 and an Bonavita 8 cup coffee maker. Raleigh also uses the Toddy to make cold brew (which is a whole different thing to explain). Good water is also very important. The refrigerator we installed has a filter built in, so we were already a step ahead there.
How do we brew the best cup?
Brewing process for a pour over: The Bloom
This method is most relative to the Hario V60.
First, heat your kettle of water to 200ºF. Next, measure about 25 grams of coffee. Then grind the beans to the coarseness of sand, fold down the seam of the paper filter and place it into the pour over cone so it lies flat, then rinse the filter with hot water.
Next, set your timer and for the first 45 seconds of the pour over, pour just enough water to wet all of the grounds (normally 30-40 grams of water).
This is how you create what's called the bloom. The bloom helps with off gassing the grounds, which helps when you are using freshly roasted coffee. During the roasting process, lots of gas is trapped inside the beans, which contains off flavors that you don't want in your coffee.
- After 45 seconds, pour till you register 150 grams of water
- At 1:15 minute, pour till you register 250 grams of water
- At 1:45 minute, pour till you have 350 grams of water
This is the final weight of water you want with your cup (around 12 oz).
All water should have dripped through the brewing vessel into your cup around 2:45 to 3 minutes. Enjoy!
Clever Coffee Dripper
When you need a good cup fast! Perfect for the beginner. Drop in a filter, add ground coffee, pour hot water over the coffee, steep for 2-4 minutes, and then place the dripper on top of your cup. Coffee. Brewed.
This is a completely conical pour over with a slightly thicker filter, which makes for a cleaner cup of coffee. The conical shape can be a bit tricky for pouring, but with practice and if you're specific with your pour, i.e., you are using a proper concentric circle pouring method, you will get an amazing cup of evenly extracted coffee.
Bonavita 8 Cup Coffee Maker
Great for a group. The Bonavita provides the taste of the pour-over brewing method but in a large pot. Designed specifically to brew the ideal coffee flavor intensity and brew strength.
- Powerful and precise 1500-watt heater maintains optimal brewing temperature
- Optional pre-infusion mode wets freshly roasted snd ground coffee to allow degassing before brewing
- Shower-head design facilitates even saturation of coffee grounds
Our Coffee Making Journey Recap
We decided on why we wanted to make coffee, how we were going to do it, what equipment was needed, what brands of coffee beans we wanted to use, and finally determined the brewing process we'd use.
We started with a need and crafted an experience that the Bulb Digital employees love, using a simple and effective thought process. Raleigh was able to share something he’s passionate about with the entire team while guiding us to a delicious end result, crafted just for our studio.