Coffee sommelier and director of Ethical Bean Aaron De Lazzer, sits with HOLR to discuss and demonstrate some of the most efficient, tasty tactics for home-brewed regular and iced coffee. In 2003 Ethical Bean was born, establishing a sustainable, equitable yet effective way to work with coffee farmers to create a positive future in the industry. Ethical Bean is Canadian-roasted, 100% fair-trade certified & organic brand creating a positive process in the coffee world for something we can all enjoy.

Is there a particular grinder style you recommend for consistent, smooth, tasty coffee? 

Thank you for starting with grinders. Has someone told you all the coffee professional secrets?! The grinder is a necessary, yet utilitarian, ingredient to great coffee. A “good one” might very well unlock flavours in your cup that you never knew existed.

There are approximately 10 to the power of 9 choices for grinders. I would actually like to recommend two, as I have an affection for the sleek, portable, manual, elegant grinders like the Porlex and their kin, or the Baratza Encore as fantastic places to start for someone looking to up their grinding game. Flexible in the application, accessible in price (although not cheap), but still good value.

It might be the last grinder you ever need, and if you outgrow it… call me.

What are 1 or 2 myths about “making the perfect coffee”? 

Myth 1: “Making a great coffee is hard and/or expensive”.

Sure, it takes a bit of interest to manage some details, but it only becomes expensive if you’ve chosen expensive.

Myth 2: That “most people really care” about making the perfect coffee.

Most people just don’t and I’m (finally) ok with that. J I get that most folks are looking for convenience—something that is “good enough”.

The growth of specialty coffee has made a faux pas in our keenness and zeal to share the gospel of great coffee. It has become complicated and elite. And I think it’s pushed a lot of people away. I’ve always wanted Ethical Bean to appeal to all comers: To be great coffee, that is fun and accessible to anyone.

What are your top brewing methods? 

 Above all, I’m a fan of simplicity when it comes to both process and equipment.

I’m partial to drip coffee. Can be either auto drip or something like a Hario V60 or Kalita brewer. There is a clarity and balanced presentation to the brew that is, to my sensibilities, “classic” and my go-to.

Now if you “pressed” me for something more, I would suggest trying an Aeropress. It’s a deceptively simple but phenomenally flexible brewer that even has a competitive circuit of national brewing, culminating in the WAC (World Aeropress Championship). Also, the national poster artwork is off the chart.

There’s even an Annual publication that is/was published detailing each of the winning national competitor’s recipes, which are as varied as snowflakes.

If you haven’t tried an Aeropress, it’s a fantastic and fun way to brew.

What does it mean to be 100% fair-trade certified & organic?

Fairtrade means that coffee growers receive a minimum price per pound for their coffee, one that’s guaranteed to cover the cost of sustainable production.

Fairtrade producers also receive additional funds to invest back into their community (called the “Fairtrade Premium”). How producers choose to invest this premium is up to them–whether it be in schools, health care, the environment, or something else they wish to improve.

When you buy products with the Fairtrade mark, you’re choosing to put farmers and workers first. The Fairtrade logo means that the product has been produced by small-scale farmer organizations that meet Fairtrade’s social, environmental, and economic standards.

Organic farmers are required to use practices that promote ecological balance, conserve biodiversity, and support the use of on-farm resources. Organic farming methods build fertility and soil health.

This means that all of our coffee is grown without the use of prohibited pesticides or fertilizers.

Does it being a Canadian roasted have any positive environmental or social impact that you can identify?

Well, being roasted in Canada, there is a risk that your coffee will apologize for spilling, even though you both know it was totally your fault…

We’re not afraid to roast coffee dark; it’s a style that has always played well on the West Coast and does to this day.

We’re looking for coffee that is balanced and approachable in the presentation. Something that’s easy to live with, accessible, and appealing to a broad selection of palates.

What style of coffee is your guilty pleasure?

Ha! I’ve been in coffee for… well, quite a while now. And I’m way beyond the point that I might harbour some sort of “quad-shot, iced mocha with extra whip” dark secret.

I’m still delighted—truly—by the fundamentals done right.

A well-prepared espresso is loveliness in itself, burnishing one’s day in a way that is hard to describe.

What’s the one thing you think all home-brewers MUST know?  

That the relationship of coffee to water is everything. And to manage this you will need to use a scale.

Start with 50-60g of coffee per litre of water; I dare you. J

What’s the biggest difference with brewing a coffee vs. iced coffee, besides the ice? 

By “iced coffee”, I’m going to dismiss the cliché blended iced coffee we all know—dolled up in cream and sugar and sucked through a straw.

I’ll also set aside its close cousin—shots of espresso over ice, topped with milk.

Both can be delicious, and both need care to do well… but they’re not where my mind goes.

Iced coffee is tricky to get right because you’re playing with dilution to get the strength just so.

Freshness is also important (although no one thinks it is).

For folks like myself (those who earnestly whisper Kenyan varietals to each other at the cupping table), iced coffee relates to a few things.

Front and centre is the needed extension of acidity into the brew. This is our everything. How does one do that? Brew with a particular selection of coffee, typically lighter roasted and often Ethiopian in origin.

Brewed over ice, in what is commonly referred to as the “Japanese method”, the coffee is cooled instantly, diluted perfectly. The end result is meant to be crisp and articulate with (fingers crossed) some delicate aromatics preserved. Served in small glasses, drunk “neat” and with appreciation.