Coffee: The Brew

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In the previous (very long post) we talked about coffee history and chemistry. I think now we all deserve a warm soothing cup of coffee. Well some of you probably not, but I sure do. Making coffee might involved some simple steps but they are sure tricky and need helpful plans. I enjoy different kinds of coffee: espresso, greek (turkish), drip and frappe. But the most widely consumed by me and by most coffee drinkers is definitely the drip coffee. So that s what I am going to talk about. Drip coffee that is then…

There are four major steps in enjoying good coffee; buying it, storing it grinding it and brewing it. All of them sound simple and they are. However it is required that you give some attention stick to some major rules and you will succeed. The first thing therefore is to buy the coffee. There are major brands, secondary brands and usually local vendors. Coffee starts its life as a simple coffee cherry that is been drying in the sun till the outer part is removed and only the seeds remain. And this is what all coffee companies are starting with. But as I already said the biggest variation in flavor comes from the roasting process. That ‘s why it is important to select the right roast that suits your taste. There are a few general rules that you can follow.

Unfortunately there is not a generalized way to distinguish the different roasts. Many coffee vendors tend to go with the light, medium and dark classification. The light roast can be distinguished by the lighter brown color of the beans. They are shiny but less compared to the other roasts. The aroma of the whole beans is very fragrant. The dark roasted beans are very dark in color. The aroma is very bold and has a hint of smoke. The taste is also very sharp The most popular roasts such as, espresso and french, are dark. Some other makers prefer to go with terms such as acidity, body and aroma. I find this more complicated. However the I think the most accurate instrument to select coffee roasts is your nose and your eyes. Judge the flavor and the color and peak the beans that fit your taste. And yes I said the beans. Unless you plan to consume it instantly by beans. The flavor degradation happens by oxidation, when the beans are exposed to humidity. The oxidation takes place on the surface. The more surface you have the more oxidation you will get. In addition the natural surface of the bean does not expose a lot of the coffee ingredients to humidity. The moment you crash it however all the inside mater is exposed. So grinding coffee will expose more surface and more sensitive ingredients and therefore the flavor will be degraded. So do not buy coffee grounds. Buy beans.

Storing coffee is not a difficult. Just discard the storage package that the coffee comes in and get yourself a nice airtight container. The beans are very vulnerable to humidity. An airtight container is all you need. And many people like to put them in the fridge. Not me. If out take them out the humidity will immediately condensate on the surface which will again degrade the flavor of the beans. So just keep them in a glass airtight container in a cool dark cabinet. This will keep them good for about 3-4 months.

And now the fun part! The grinding. The nicely stored bean will have to be ground just prior to the brewing. The brewing method will determine the size of the grind. If you plan to make espresso, ten you need finely ground coffee. If you want to do drip coffee then go with fine grind but not as fine as the espresso. Finally if you want to brew the coffee with the french press, the pot that was the mesh to push the coffee down, you need coarse grind so the particles will not escape the mesh and float in the coffee. The grind size is very critical. The finer the grind the more flavors you extract. Among those flavors are some nasty bitter tanines that make coffee taste bitter and yuckie. Therefore prefer a coarser grind if you are not sure. You can find tons of different grinders in the market. I prefer those that use a mill for the grinding and are open from the top. The time you grind will determine the size of the grinding and therefore the flavor. Some really complicated devices where you adjust the grind size the time and stuff have a big disadvantage: you cannot clean them. And it is bad cause you need to get rid of all those particles that have been oxidizing for so long (since your last grind). Although I do admit that I don ‘t clean my grinder that often. But I do so at least once a month. Or whenever I change the coffee type.

Ant the last step is the brewing. You can get a really elaborate coffee maker that will give give you the joy of the buttons and the nobs and nothing more. Yes nothing more. See the only thing you really need is a machine that can heat the water and pass it through a chamber that has the coffee grounds. It doesn’ t need to have a hot plate either. I find that heating the coffee after is brewed degrades the flavor. To keep it warm just reheat it in a microwave. I find this method less harsh to the coffee.

So there you go! All you need to brew a descent cup of coffee. And it will actually taste good.

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Last modified: April 4, 2014 by Georgios Pyrgiotakis