I love to drink coffee and I think I can’t stand a day without having a cup or two. It’s already vital in my system and daily routine to keep me functioning at work. While I love to sip my instant coffee without the frills and the hassles, it intrigues me how the commercial coffee which I binge for socialization is being made from scratch. Several concoctions please my palette, and admiringly, these are the products of a barista’s hard work and labor of love.

Brewing your own coffee looks intimidating since you’d usually think that the equipment is expensive. Coffee connoisseurs invest in knowledge and materials to grow their passion and it doesn’t seem simple as it is. However, with the right techniques and tools, I learned that manually brewing your own coffee can be intrinsically easy and enjoyable at the same time — just like learning latte art two years ago at The Giving Cafe.

Today, I participated in the Basic Manual Coffee Brewing Workshop hosted by The Institute for Coffee Excellence and conducted by one of its trainers, Argenel “Argie” Vegas. He was the same barista who taught us about coffee art during the launch of TGC. I was excited about this event — because Henry and Sons’ programs already grew close to my heart. They do not only excel in the food and beverage industry, they also impact social responsibility.

Argie Vegas, seemingly quiet and shy at first, often seen in his rugged barista apron stood in front to lecture about Home Brewing. In between conversations, he candidly shared how he transformed from a lowly accounting clerk of Manila Coffee Gear (formerly Ricmas) into a confident barista after nurturing his curiosity with the coffee roasters that surround his workplace before. Michael Harris Conlin, whom he fondly calls as “boss”, invested a lot in his training and career after seeing his potential in handling an espresso machine. Now, he is one of Institute’s trusted Instructor and recently he emerged as the Philippine Brewers Cup 3rd Placer. Ideas flow spontaneously as he speaks to a small crowd of media and bloggers, and his being a good conversationalist shows a testimony of a person rising from humble beginnings.

Argie Vegas, Philippine Brewers Cup 3rd Placer and Institute for Coffee Excellence Instructor

The classroom-type discussion was interesting. Together with the other bloggers, I learned about the basics of coffee brewing: from the equipment, the right coffee type, temperature and manner of pouring the water. Apparently, each coffee-brewing tool has its own preferred type of coffee, amount of water and beans, and methods/ techniques.

Here are some of the things we’ve learned:

V60-(Pour-over) – It’s a unique brewing method introduced by the Japanese brand, “Hario” founded in 1921. The name “V60” comes from the vector 60, and the 60 degree angle cone shape, and spiral ribs inside the dripper allows paper filter to create enough space for the air to escape.

Chemex (Pour-over)– Invented in the 1940’s and was designed by German Chemist, Peter Schlumbohm. It uses a paper filter which is 3 times thicker than other pour-over. The grind size to be used should be Medium Coarse.

The first equipment from the left is the Chemex

Syphon (Vacuum Pot)– Another invention introduced by Hario, the “syphon” or vacuum pot was invented in 1949 as a glass filter coffee syphon. The grind size to be used should be Medium.

Aeropress- It was invented in 2005 by Aerobie President, Alan Adler. Grind size to be used should be medium-fine/ fine.

Factors to consider when brewing:

  • Coffee – Know the coffee your are using e.g. Origin, tasting notes, etc.)
  • Water temperature – 92 – 95 degrees celsius
  • Grind size of coffee

For the hands-on activity, we were divided into three groups. We were given the chance to apply the theories we have learned by using the different brewing equipment. I have learned that consistency is important in brewing coffee. The amount of water and coffee, temperature of water and type of coffee used can all make a difference in the taste if not considered properly. Coffee-making also requires the right use of our senses — smell, taste, touch, and sight! Brewing is an intricate skill that one should learn with passion and willingness.

Today I had so much fun with my new learning. It also deepened my admiration for our baristas and their innate skills for precision, control and sharpness for taste. I guess every time I’d order my coffee, I will never look at it in the same way again.

The Institute for Coffee Excellence offers these courses:

For more information, you may visit their website https://coffeeexcellence.org/ or inquire directly at their office located in Sheridan corner Pines Street, Mandaluyong, 1550 Metro Manila