The days are shorter with a crisp hint in the air. It’s the perfect time of year to cozy up in a Coyuchi blanket with a warm, delicious cup of coffee and a good book. We sat down virtually with couple Ally Walsh and Casey Wojtalewicz, Los Angeles based creatives and owners of their own coffee line, Canyon Coffee, roasted in L.A., to learn how to make the perfect cup of coffee to carry us through every toasty morning this winter.
Don’t forget to compost your coffee grounds as it’s rich food for the soil. Take Ally and Casey’s advice by learning their methods below.
1) Start your kettle on the stove (if you have a variable temperature electric kettle, set it to 203°F)
2) Grind 2 x full V60 scoops (Or 5 x level tablespoons, or, if you have a scale, 36 grams of coffee) to medium to medium-fine.
* We strongly encourage everyone to invest in a burr grinder! It's the biggest game changer for better coffee at home.
3) Set up your pour over set (dripper, server and filter)
4) Once water has boiled, pre-wet the filter. This also pre-heats the server. Discard water from the server.
5) Pour ground coffee into a filter. Once water has had at least 30 seconds to cool from boiling, bloom the coffee by pouring just enough water to get all the grounds wet, and let sit for 30 seconds.
6) After bloom, proceed to pour water slowly over coffee, moving from the center out and back in circles.
7) Your goal for total water poured over coffee, including the bloom, is 576 mL (grams). This also translates to around 20 oz or 2.5 cups of water. It equates to roughly a 16-to-1 water-to-coffee ratio. Our ideal starting ratio when we're working with a new coffee on pour over.
8) Allow water to finish dripping through, give the server a nice swirl to blend the coffee, pour into your favorite mug and enjoy!
Tell me a bit more of the sourcing of Canyon Coffee and how it’s grown?
Coffee plants are trees/shrubs. They were "discovered" centuries ago in the highlands of Ethiopia by a goat herder who noticed his goats were acting hyper after eating the cherries from the trees! Though there are constant developments and innovations in growing methods, it's widely accepted that the highest quality coffees (with regard to taste) are of the Arabica species grown at high elevation, close to the equator. The limitations resulting from high altitude, combined with year-round, consistent quantities of sunlight, lead to the plants focusing their growth on their cherries.
We work with trusted importers whose main work—aside from the international logistics involved in exporting and importing coffee—has been connecting with and working with farmers, often for years longer than we've been a company, to help them increase the quality of their crops and achieve better livelihoods and financial independence. Thanks to the excellent work of importers we work with, like Sustainable Harvest and Trabocca, we're able to connect directly with farmers and provide full transparency of our supply chain.
We started Canyon Coffee with only Certified Organic coffees, both to support farmers who have taken that step and to provide that guarantee to customers—the same guarantee we look for when food shopping. Of all the coffee farmers we've met, almost all of them want organic certification and are growing their coffees accordingly—despite not having certification yet. So we also now source coffee from farmers like this, to support them in their efforts to achieve organic status.
How did you determine when starting out who you would work with in relation to your standards of growing and quality of the finished product?
In coffee, there's a universal method of tasting coffee called cupping. Whenever we're selecting coffees, we cup numerous samples from the recent harvests of farms in different countries. We often source those samples through our importers, though we can also facilitate getting samples directly from farmers.
In the beginning, we had built relationships with importers and learned the ropes of that trade through our time in the coffee industry prior to starting Canyon. There seems to be a trope amongst roasters that they're out there traveling to find farmers on their own. To us, this takes credit away from the amazing work of importers in both identifying and working with farmers, but also for the pure logistical process of moving coffee from origin to roasters around the world. I also can't imagine what kind of budget we would have needed to go off "exploring" looking to build new relationships without already having an actual roasting operation to source for!
We definitely compost it first. Coffee has a lot of nitrogen, which is great for soil, but adding it on its own to the soil can raise the pH. Also, caffeine is the coffee plant's natural, evolutionary tactic to thwart weeds and harmful pests. So left on its own on the ground, it could actually wind up harming the plants it's next to. In the compost, it will contribute to balancing out pH as all the ingredients react together.
We’ve seen different approaches to "greens" vs "browns" for composting, and have heard coffee fit into both categories by different sources. We consider all food scraps and fresh green leaves as "greens" — these basically provide a lot of enzymes to the compost pile. We usually lump brown, dead leaves, clippings, and coffee grounds together as browns, but aim to add these in a 3-to-1 ratio with greens.
How do you responsibly dispose of the coffee filters?
We use white V60 and Chemex filters. White filters are oxygen-bleached and don't add any flavor to your coffee, whereas kraft filters contribute a kraft papery taste we can't help but notice! Coffee filters will compost best if you don't let them dry out (so keep them in your coffee or greens collection), and—as with all food scraps—they will compost quicker if you tear or break them down into smaller pieces.
What if non-organic coffee is being brewed should they still compost these grounds?
We compost both our Canyon certified organic and non-organic coffees, because we trust that our non-organic farmers are not using heavy chemicals. They are typically families, couples, or individual farmers working their own small plots of land, and care as much about their health and exposure to chemicals as we do! Of the farmers I've had the pleasure to meet, they also are thinking about the soil health and want to ensure the land provides for their descendants.
And to be honest, I would still compost non-organic coffees if I wasn't sure of the source. What's the alternative? If we care enough about the health of our compost and soil, we should probably care enough to invest in coffee that we can trust is not laden with chemicals! Even so, the coffee beans are actually the seeds within the cherries. After harvest, they're fermented, de-pulped, washed and dried. So while I'm not saying chemicals aren't absorbed by the plant, you're at least not working with anything that would have been directly sprayed, in a worst case scenario.