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Brewing The Perfect Cup of Java
Making a delicious cup of coffee is not a magical experience or a hit-and-miss stroke of luck. With the proper information, anyone can brew a consistently great cup of coffee every time. We will be going through the procedures of coffee making to take the mystery and haphazardness out of this old world beverage.
First, let me say these procedures may look lengthy and intimating. Truly they are really quite logical and common sense steps that are very simple to follow. But be advised, if you do not take your coffee making and drinking experience seriously and therefore choose to not follow these steps, you are not getting the best cup of coffee that your money can buy. The choice is up to you.
Your coffee making equipment must be spotlessly clean.
If you are not the kind of person who thoroughly washes out their coffee urn and maker after use this step is for you. Without the proper cleaning, coffee sediment and oils will settle in your coffee making device that will grow stale as they are left exposed to the air. These build up producing an off, bitter taste in the cup-quite an unpleasant experience.
Select the freshest, best quality beans available.
I suggest you head to your specialty coffee purveyor and select from their coffees. Many of us have purchased the supermarket brands of pre-ground or whole bean coffees. The problem with these coffees is you can never be too sure how long the beans sit in those chutes and, as you know, exposure to air is an enemy of freshly roasted coffee beans. I recommend your specialty coffee purveyor, not to discredit your friendly grocer, but because specialty coffee retailers are solely in the business to sell coffee beans and therefore you can be more confident their beans are fresher because they move much more rapidly than supermarket beans.
Purchase only enough coffee that is reasonable for your lifestyle.
In other words, if you drink only one cup a day, don't go stockpiling your coffee beans because you just happen to be near your specialty coffee store and they happen to be running a sale on Ethiopian Harrar this week. Coffee beans are a perishable item which begin to loose flavors if not stored properly or used quickly after roasting.
Use the best possible water available.
This is key to a great cup of coffee and should not be taken lightly.When you consider that coffee is made of approximately 98-99% water, you must use good tasting water. If you use plain tap water as I do, then be sure it doesn't have any strange flavors, odors or textures in your mouth. If it does, and you are a serious coffee-holic, then consider either a water filtration device or use a water delivery service. If you choose to use your water from the faucet, be sure it is cold and runs for a few seconds to aerate the water for your machine or water kettle.
Grind your beans just before you make your coffee to retain freshness.
A good reason to purchase a grinder for use in your home.
Select the proper grind for your type of brewing method.
The following grinding times are approximate and will differ with the type of grinding equipment. For purposes of ease and availability, all grinds indicated below were accomplished using a hand held electric grinder such as Braun, which uses steel plates called burrs, (similar to coffee store grinders), or Krups, which uses a steel blade. If you do use a steel blade grinder, be sure to shake the grinder a few times during the grinding process. I was given this valuable bit of information 12 years ago when I bought my grinder from a very knowledgeable retailer from the Coffee Connection located in Boston. This assures you a more even grind and a better cup of coffee. If you're looking for more such valuable tips and info about coffee grinding and grinders do check out Kitchenguyd's detailed coffee grinder buying guide.
Coarse: 5-10 seconds, used for percolators and the cold water brewing method that I have outlined above. This is the least popular grind used today.
Medium: 10 seconds, used for electric drip/manual drip and French press methods. The drip method is the most popular in the United States today.
Fine: 15 seconds, use for vacuum and Neapolitan flip methods. Vacuum method equipment is not easy to locate in the United States. Some of the larger specialty coffee retailers will carry it. Neapolitan flip is a method I'm quite familiar with from my youthful days as a student in Italy. You can purchase this at most coffee retailers.
Extra fine: 25-30 seconds, used by espresso machines.
Measure the coffee to be used and measure the volume of your coffee cup.
I can't stress how important this is. One six-ounce cup of coffee needs two tablespoons of coffee beans. If that sounds like a lot then you have probably been making less than full strength coffee as I was. For years I was making coffee with less robust flavors because I had too large a cup for the amount of coffee I was using. When I finally did begin measuring, my coffee drinking experience was transformed into the delightful, pleasing experience that remains constant if I follow these simple directions.
Store coffee in an airtight container on your counter or shelf if using quickly.
The less exposure to air and water caused by condensation in your refrigerator the better tasting your cup of coffee. If you do choose to store your coffee in the freezer, again, place it in an airtight container and use within 2-3 months.
Use only very hot but not boiling water for your drip coffee maker.
This would involve the French press, Neapolitan flip or a manual drip brewing method such as the well known Melitta.
Stir your coffee after it is made before serving.
This disperses the coffee particulates evenly instead of sitting at the bottom of the pot and therefore provides a consistent cup of coffee.
Store any freshly made coffee in a preheated air pot or thermos.
This will preserve the quality of your coffee and retain it's temperature.