All black coffee brewing is done using some version of these same simple steps. But the devil is in the details. The baristas and brewers who stand out from the rest are dedicated, meticulous, and – in the case of Lê Hoàng Sang – possess situational awareness. Known simply as Sang, this barista has been involved in building many shops across his country of Vietnam. We ran into him at Hanoi’s Gau Coffee & Bakery (link to previous DD article), when they were just setting up the place in the city’s heritage district known as The Old Quarter. If you ever get the chance to chat with Sang, you’ll find that he has a very balanced approach to coffee and a great respect for Specialty Coffee.
When you brew a new coffee, you look at all of your given parameters, such as your roast date, the origin of the coffee, and even the density of the bean. These will determine how you brew the coffee. They’ll affect the grind size, the ratio of coffee to water, and the temperature of the brew.
To Sang, setting up a café to seemed to be very similar to brewing coffees. He reads the parameters of the area and adjusts. Not everything will be the best, not everything will be specialty. but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be perfect.
Calibrate for balance and flavor.