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.”