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Zingerman rep­re­sen­tative Christopher Glasow hosted a short class for Hillsdale College stu­dents on six dif­ferent brewing methods. Wiki­media Commons

When a rep­re­sen­tative from Zingerman’s Coffee Company led a coffee tasting class Feb. 18, 12 Hillsdale College stu­dents learned how to properly describe the flavors of coffee along with six dif­ferent coffee brewing methods.  

Roaster and trainer for Zingerman’s Christopher Glasow said he teaches the same class once a month at Zingerman’s Cafe in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He said this is just one of the 15 coffee-related classes that Zingerman’s offers to the public.

“I like sharing the things that make coffee taste good,” Glasow said. “A lot of people brew coffee, but a lot of people don’t really nec­es­sarily know how to brew it right, so sharing that knowledge is nice and rewarding.”

Glasow opened up the class by dis­cussing ele­ments of brewing: time, tem­per­ature, grind size, fil­tration, ratio, and pressure. He said coffee roasters and baristas use these ele­ments to achieve a desired flavor for dif­ferent coffee roasts.

Sophomore Johannes Olson attended the class and said he was most inter­ested in learning about the ideal ratios between coffee and water as mea­sured by weight in grams.

“I hadn’t really looked into that kind of stuff. I was always going by volume,” Olson said.

After teaching stu­dents how to properly talk about coffee, Glasow demon­strated how to brew coffee using six dif­ferent methods. He used a V60 pour over, immersion brewer, Chemex, French press, Aero­Press, and a syphon brewer.

Most stu­dents had expe­ri­enced pour over and French press coffee, but few stu­dents had tasted coffee brewed using the Aero­Press and syphon brewer prior to the class.  

“I like to learn how other people are brewing coffee at home, and what other people’s expe­ri­ences are,” Glasow said.

Olson said he often uses a French press to brew his coffee at home. After trying coffee brewed with the syphon for the first time, he said he had found a new favorite.

“It had a rich flavor. It was more fla­vorful,” Olson said. “I like the idea that it focused more on the flavor of the coffee rather than the body or the caf­feine level. I drink coffee for the flavor because I can’t drink it a lot, so when I do, I want to enjoy it.”

William Persson, mar­keting coor­di­nator at Bon Appetit, said he has been talking about holding an event like this for some time since the class will help stu­dents to fully expe­rience coffee and learn more about Zingerman’s as a company.

“It’s more than just the caf­feine that we’re getting from it,” Persson said. “I think the class will also allow our stu­dents to interact more with the Zingerman’s brand and why we really like them as a company, and why we think they’re a good roaster to be part­nering with.”

Olson said he appre­ciated being able to ask a coffee expert ques­tions about how to perfect brewing his own coffee at home. For example, Glasow explained the effects of off-gassing in coffee and the impor­tance of the “bloom.” The “bloom” is a quick bub­bling up of carbon dioxide and coffee grounds pro­duced by slow pouring.

“I knew I could bloom it, but now I know why I should bloom it,” Olson said. “That was very useful.”

According to Persson, the cafe at Zingerman’s offers cus­tomers 10 dif­ferent brewing methods.

“They have this giant brew board, is what they call it, and it has all these dif­ferent roasts and then how they taste with a spe­cific brew method,” Persson said. “That really allows the cus­tomer to engage with their expe­rience and find what what brew method they prefer or what blend they prefer. It’s super inter­active and fun.”

Bon Appetit has con­sidered cre­ating a similar set up at AJ’s Cafe.

“Stu­dents are not just at AJ’s quickly, it’s not Jitters,” Perssons said. “They’re here, they’re sitting, and doing homework for hours on end, so why not give them a little resem­blance of a real coffee expe­rience. It’s more than just caf­feine.”