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Essentials of Making Great Coffee

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The Essentials of Making Great Coffee

Use high-quality coffee, preferably recently roasted and ground just before serving. Always use the correct grind for the method. If your coffee is too bitter and muddy, the grind is too fine; if the brew lacks flavor, the grind is too coarse. Always use freshly drawn cold water. Never guess amounts. Use the correct proportion of coffee and water (two level tablespoons per six ounces cold water for regular-strength coffee), preferably measuring both. I f coffee is too strong or weak, change grind and/or blend, not proportion of coffee to water. Make sure the coffee maker is scrupulously clean and thoroughly rinsed. Coffee quickly picks up off-flavors during the brewing process. For best results, always brew at least three-fourths of the coffee maker’s capacity. Most large coffee makers do not make one or two cups satisfactorily. Never guess when timing. Use the clock. Remove the grounds from the brew as soon as the brew cycle is completed to prevent bitterness. Also for that reason, never rewet grounds. Serve coffee immediately after brewing. (With drip methods, stir the brew before serving.) Coffee is at its best when just brewed. If coffee must be kept warm, try to hold it at 180 degrees to 190 degrees farenheight. Brewed coffee stays palatable for twenty minutes, drink able for one hour maximum. The longer it is held, the less desirable it becomes. Never reheat cooled coffee; it breaks down in flavor. Never allow the brew to boil; its flavor turns bitter.

Coffee 101:

Q. What’s the difference between specialty coffee and why does it cost more than regular coffee?

A. Specialty coffee is a different species of coffee called Arabica. Arabica beans are picked and processed by hand, then freshly roasted to ensure consistent top quality. As a result of the special care and time required to harvest and process Arabica beans, the coffee is more expensive than the lower quality commercial beans. Commercial-grade coffee is usually machine picked and processed, and made from lower grades of coffee called Robusta.

Q. What’s the difference between French Roast and regular coffee?

A. French Roast is a particular style of dark roasting that results in a dark , oily bean. French Roast is stronger and more flavorful than regular coffee.

Q. Which coffees have the least amount of caffeine?

A. Dark roast have less caffeine than light roast. That’s because as coffee beans are heated at high temperatures, the caffeine evaporates. The longer the beans are roasted, the less caffeine they have (although the difference in caffeine content between roast is relatively slight). I f you want to cut down on your caffeine consumption but don’t like the taste of decaffeinated coffee, try a dark brew. Or try a split shot espresso drink or a half decaf/half regular brewed coffee. NOTE: Arabica beans contain approximately half the caffeine of the lower-grade commercial coffees made from Robusta beans.

Q. Is drinking decaffeinated coffee harmful to your health?

A. There is no proven health risk associated with drinking decaf coffee. Methylene chloride, the chemical used to decaffeinate coffee, vaporizes at 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Since temperatures in the roaster reach in excess of 400 degrees Fahrenheit for several minutes, it is safe to assume that any residue burns off during this process. If you’re still concerned, you can order a Swiss Water Process decaf, which is not treated with any chemicals.

Q. Is coffee fattening?

A. Coffee is 98% water and therefore has virtually no calories. Calories and fat come from the sugar and milk you add.

Q. How is coffee harvested and processed?

A. Coffee trees produce fruit known as coffee cherries. Inside the sweet, gummy pulp of each cherry are two flat, green coffee beans that lay against each other. Once the coffee cherries have been picked, the outer hull of the fruit must be removed to get to the beans. There are two methods used to extract the beans: the wet method and the dry method. The wet method requires a large supply of fresh water. A machine strips away the outer layers of skin and cherry, leaving the beans enclosed in a sticky inner pulp. The beans then are soaked for 24 to 72 hours in fermentation tanks to remove any remaining pulp. Coffees processed through the dry method generally have lower acidity and deeper, more complex flavors.

Q. How is coffee roasted?

A. Roasting is a fine art, requiring a delicate hand, split-second timing and an ability to judge when the coffee bean is at its peak of flavor. First, the roaster drops the green beans into a drum filled with hot air, causing the temperature inside the drum to drop. Then the roaster heats the beans until the water in the beans begins to steam, making the beans swell and audibly pop. The heat causes complex polysaccharides to break down into starches and then sugars, which caramelize. Aromatic oils within the beans boil to the surface, giving them an oily appearance. The expansion of oils causes a second audible “crack”. Along the way, the beans darken from their original green to a rich chestnut brown. The longer the beans are roasted, the darker they become. Roasts are classified as light, medium, dark and darkest. Despite the current vogue for dark roast, they are not necessarily better. Some single origins are better suited to a light or medium roast.

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