The Drake deep cuts were bumping as freshly crowned NW Brewers Cup champion Brandon Paul Weaver of Slate Coffee Roasters prepared his award-winning brew method. We're huddled up in a two-story converted house / apartment in the very heart of Capitol Hill, just a block east of Cal Anderson Park. The music blasts. The mescal flows. BPW and his best friend / training partner Nik Virrey offer up a kind of “swag hospitality”, warm and brimming with welcome, while the speakers thump-a-thump along with our conversation. The topic is coffee nerdcore realness.
Weaver explains his winning brew theory to us as he puts together his brand-new Baratza Vario W (first place prize at Brewers Cup). “If you stick a cloth in a water bath it sinks,” he tells us. “But if you stick a sponge in one, it floats. Why? Density. It's all about density.”
Someone pours more mescal and BPW continues talking, as Drake fades in to Lana Del Rey. “Where this applies to brewing: fines are not dense enough to sink. Meaning that if you fill the brew vessel really high at the end of the brew, all your saturated particles will sink and all your fines will float. As the water draws down, the fines stick to the edge of the filter and stay above the water line, meaning they stop extracting earlier than the rest of the brew. This kind of naturally sieves the cup.”
Meanwhile, Nik Virrey is up and down and back again, pacing the back room of the apartment taking wholesale phone inquiries for Slate. It should be mentioned that Slate is not actually open yet – they've got a roasting & training facility being outfitted in the Central District, and a flagship cafe getting built out in east Ballard, but neither were press-ready over NWRBC weekend. We tried.
But think about it this way: Slate is not actually open yet, and these guys are already doing deals and winning championships. How's that for swag?
“Clever In A Clever Way”
Brew Recipe by Brandon Paul Weaver
Coffee used was the Limu Trio, a custom blend of three cooperatives from the Limu region of Yirgacheffe, sourced by Atlas Importers for Slate Coffee Roasters
“So the idea is add enough water so that the water level is above the bed of coffee. 50 grams of water with 19.3 grams of Limu Trio seems to do it. That way all the coffee is submerged and can absorb away. Depending on the density of the cultivar, roast level and grind setting, the coffee will saturate in more or less time.”
At this point, BPW covers the Clever for one minute.
“At about one minute I added 50 more grams of water to ‘break the crust' in the Clever. I then placed the Clever on a decanter to start the draw down while adding another two-hundred grams of water.”
At this point, the Clever becomes something of a pour-over device, drawing down as he pours the rest of the brew water.
“It's actually a distant cousin of a brew method derived from Coava Coffee‘s Devin Chapman last year; he did the same idea but without the theory and with a Chemex, which leaks water instead of steepin' it, making it less repeatable. This brew method allows for a Matt Perger (Australian Barista and Brewers Cup Champion) style higher extraction percentage with lower strength. More flavor with less coffee. I could talk for weeks about this.”
“I used a high grown dense Ethiopian Heirloom variety, meaning even though I used a fine grind it takes one minute and twenty seconds to saturate fully.” But is that like, from visual observation? Is there perhaps a photo we could have of this in action, back-lit by a lighter?
Weaver figured out those timing standards by testing out five grams of coffee in a clear glass vessel, pouring hot water in it cupping style, and watching the particles fall (which is much like waiting for the beat to drop). The idea here is repeatability based on observation for each unique cup. Is this the easiest brew recipe to replicate? Naw son. Did Brandon Paul Weaver win the NW Brewers Cup with it?
Yes, yes he did.