How-to.... Coffee Making & Brewing
Coffee Making and Brewing Methods
There are many methods of coffee brewing available to the dedicated coffee drinker. Each has pros and cons, but just about all have the potential to provide a great cup of coffee. The price of the equipment can range from the insignificant to the expensive. But whichever you choose there are some fundamentals that will help you to produce excellent coffee for your enjoyment.
In any coffee preparation there are some important elements to remember, and they apply to all types of coffee brewing methods.
Firstly choose the coffee flavour you prefer. There are many varieties from locations throughout the world (including Australia) and you may need to try quite a few before you find the flavour you desire. And just to make it more confusing there a lots of blends, not to mention different roast styles. You can be sure that there is plenty of scope to find a flavour to suit your taste.
One very important determinant of quality is the coffee type. All good quality coffees are made from ARABICA beans - these coffees are generally grown in higher altitudes and their slower ripening imparts flavours not found in the cheaper and lower quality lowland ROBUSTA coffees. Robusta coffee is used mainly for instant coffees and as fillers for some commercial blends as well as in some of the strong European espresso blends. The dedicated coffee drinker is best served with freshly roasted Arabica coffee.
The Right Grind
Having made your selection, make sure you have a suitable grind for the coffee equipment you are using (ie coarse for basic infusing, medium for plunger, drip filter, stove pots and vacuum brewing and fine for espresso machines). Your coffee supplier can help you choose the right grind. If you grind your own coffee, where possible use a cone or plate grinder rather than the more common blade type. The blade grinders don't provide a consistent grain size and this factor can lead to insufficient extraction of the flavours and a cup of coffee with a muddy residue.
You will need 7 grams of ground coffee for each cup of coffee.
Use only FRESH Coffee
Of critical importance is the freshness of your coffee. As ground coffee beans begin lose their flavour almost immediately, it is preferable to only buy enough for a week at a time and have it ground while you wait. Coffee beans, however, keep longer and retain most of their freshness for two or three weeks after roasting. Beans and ground coffee should always be kept in an airtight container in a cool dark spot - remember that exposure to oxygen is the main reason coffee loses its flavour. To help maintain the freshness of their coffee, good coffee suppliers are now using resealable packaging with a one way valve which allows the excess carbon dioxide out of the bag whilst preventing air to enter.
Most of the coffee available in supermarkets is roasted and packaged interstate or overseas and is likely to have deteriorated significantly even before you purchase it. Locally roasted and properly packaged coffee offers the best chance of retaining the full coffee flavour for your enjoyment.
Clean good quality water
Coffee is affected by the quality of the water you use. Rainwater is great if you manage to collect it! However tap water is generally acceptable especially if you allow it to stand to allow the dissolved chlorine to be released. The same result can be achieved if the water has been boiled and left to cool - that brown scale in the bottom of your kettle is the residue of the chlorine. Bottled water is another good option.
Water at the right temperature
Having obtained your quality water you need to heat it. Be sure that the temperature at which the heated water contacts the ground coffee is just a few degrees less than boiling. Boiling water quickly leaches the bitter flavours from the coffee and spoils the final product. The optimum temperature is between 92 and 95 degrees Centigrade - bring your kettle to the boil and then let it stand for a couple of minutes. Once you have made the coffee, don't allow it to stand for too long as the flavours are quickly lost. It is a good idea to use warmed cups to ensure the temperature of the coffee is retained as long as possible