General Guidelines for Great Coffee
- Stay away from a blade grinder! A blade grinder creates an inconsistent grind size and will result in an uneven extraction (the large grinds sit on top while the powered beans end up on the bottom pressed under the blade). The blade grinders also create heat, and lots of it which is not friendly to your coffee beans natural oils and resulting aroma. The best grinders are burr grinders that are designed to create a uniform grind size and are adjustable to accommodate different brew methods. They also produce very little heat and thus leaving the chemical structure of your coffee beans in place. There are several burr grinders to choose from on the market, your local specialty coffee shop will gladly grind your beans for you based on your brewing method.
- Do not store your coffee beans in the freezer, the best place to store your coffee once opened is in a cool airtight container away from heat, not in the glass mason jar next to the stove. Heat, light, moisture and air all cause your fresh coffee to deteriorate. To maintain the integrity of your coffee and be able to enjoy the nuances in your cup, find your new storage spot for your fresh coffee.
- Only purchase enough coffee for a week or two at the most. Fresh coffee like, fresh produce, has a shelf life, to get the most flavour buy fresh and often.
Drip Brewer Coffee Preparation
Many homes have a drip coffee brewer that is used in their morning coffee preparation. With this method, to get the best results, having a brewer that brings water to 200 degrees F will enhance the flavour and aroma of your coffee. Low temperature can result in weak underdeveloped coffee with a sour flavour profile.
Ensure your beans are ground according to your basket type. Cone or basket… cone basket grind is slightly more fine than flat bottom grind setting
- Measure out your water, Having the correct water to ground coffee ratio is critical (using a filtered water will also enhance your coffee experience as the chemicals and impurities will not impede the flavour of the coffee).
- Measure out your ground coffee. A weight measure is the best way to determine your coffee amount rather than scooping tablespoons. Dry ounces are a unit of mass (or weight) and a tablespoon is a unit of volume. Measure the amount of water, in fl. oz, you are brewing. Weigh out .5 gms of coffee for weak cup of coffee, 1 gm per oz of water for a medium cup of coffee and 1.5 gms per oz of water for a strong cup of coffee.
- Run some water through your paper filter to remove any paper taste.
- Put your weighed out coffee in the filter basket and give it a light shake to create an even bed of coffee grounds.
- Brew your coffee.
- Do not leave your coffee on the warming element after brewing, serve it straight away or transfer to a preheated thermos or air-pot. Leaving your brewed coffee on the warming element continues to ‘cook’ and change the chemical structure of your coffee which adversely affects the flavour, creating bitterness.
French Press Preparation
(aka: press pot / plunger pot or many call Bodum incorrectly as it is a company name)
This is a great preparation method to enjoy the full spectrum of what a coffee has to offer, it truly showcases the full body and essential compounds of each coffee.
- Preheat your French press, an insulated press is ideal as it will maintain temperature much better than a glass non-insulated press.
- Pre-weigh your ground coffee 1 gram of coffee per oz of water for a medium strength cup, 1.5 gms for a storng cup in your French press.
- Place your coffee in the preheated press.
- Heat water to 200 degrees (if you don’t a have a thermometer bring to a boil then let sit for less than a minute will give you a temperature in that target range).
- Set timer for 4 minutes.
- Slowly pour water over grounds in a circular motion to ensure saturation of the grounds.
- With a spoon give a gentile stir to disrupt the coffee bloom.
- Place lid on press and let dwell.
- When the timer goes off depress plunger in a slow fluid motion and serve immediately. If not consuming full press right away, the best practice is to transfer the brewed coffee into a preheated air-pot or thermos or avoid over extraction of the coffee in the French press.
Pour Over Brewing
This is typically a single cup preparation that highlights the subtly and clarity of a coffee, through a shorter dwell time and filtered preparation. It is a more personally involved approach as you are in control of the process. You will need a coffee dripper or a chemex, paper filter appropriate to the size of your pour over and a Hario coffee kettle which allows controlled and accurate water distribution.
- Place your filter in the coffee dripper or chemex and pour some heated water through to rinse the filter and warm the vessel then discard the water.
- Add your ground coffee to the filter, medium fine grind setting (similar to a soft sand texture).
- Pouring your water that has just come from boil out of the water kettle slowly counterclockwise over the grounds in a circular motion, about a one-inch in diameter from the center of the filter
- Dwell time should be about 3 minutes to run the water through the filter.
- Experimenting with grind size will allow you the most flexibly when exploring a coffee
Tips for Choosing Coffee
- When was it roasted? Buy coffee that has a roast date on it, you want to know this because over time the flavour compounds of your coffee degrade, the flavour becomes flat and the body of the coffee becomes weak.
- What brewing method are you going to be using? Espresso? Drip or pour over? French press? Some coffees are better highlighted by different methods of brewing, using a pour over technique will not get the most out of a coffee roasted to an espresso profile, a more robust Italian roast will lend itself well to a French Press preparation showcasing the great body and texture of the coffee. High altitude coffees with subtle aromatic notes and subtle flavour can be accentuated by the clean flavours of a pour over or drip preparation.
- What are you looking for in a coffee? Ask questions of your barista, and get recommendations.
- Experiment with different beans from different regions of the world, different altitudes the flavours and experience are very different.
- Are you in the supermarket? Leave and go to your local Caffè Artigiano to buy your beans. They will be fresher there.