All coffees, like wine, come down to taste, as far as which blend is better than another, and since coffee burst upon the scene as the new hobby, there is no shortage of flavors to work through. Anyone can become a connoisseur, if they have the time and inclination, but the good news is that the secret of making the world’s finest gourmet cup of coffee is going to be revealed, right here and now.
What’s in a Bean?
Similar to the grape, the flavor of the coffee bean is highly influenced by the condition under which it is grown. The first, best means of detecting the type of roast and getting a hint of its flavor is to enjoy the aroma, so by all means, smell the roast. This stage of selecting a favorite bean is your process of learning exactly what particularly appeals to you.
What’s in a Grind?
Both blade and burr grinders are available to render the freshest ground coffee for brewing. The sooner the coffee is brewed after it is ground, the more profound the flavor. You only want to grind what you are planning to use right away. As for the whole beans, plan to use what you open within a week, and preferably no later than two weeks. The fresher the bean, the better the brew.
The blade grinder is the simplest device that performs much as a blender with spinning blades. At their high speed, the tiny blades break the beans down with ease. Due to its compact size, ease of use and cleaning, my grinder performs heavy dual-duty as I find it so handy for quick grinding chores, especially for grinding down my favorite home-grown chili peppers.
However, the burr grinder is a device that leans toward aficionado status. When you are able to adjust size and uniformity of the grind, the flavor can be better articulated. If this is your preference, you leap into another realm altogether. The burr ground coffee drinker is profoundly aware of the essence of the coffee.
In the case of both grinders, exposing the surface area of the beans is what releases the flavor and aroma. The less time ground coffee is exposed to oxygen, the less chance of oxidation, which is responsible for weakening robust flavor. It is best to brew ground beans right away, another reason for the compact size of grinders.
What’s in the Water?
Just as the bean takes on the flavor of the region in which it is grown, it will take on the flavor of whatever is in the water used to brew it. Plan to use the same water you are prepared to enjoy as a refreshing beverage by itself, whether that is bottled or filtered.
The Brew that is True
With all of these methods, your proportion is key to success. Except for espresso, using 10 grams, or about 2 healthy tablespoons to 6 ounces of water is recommended. Espresso uses the volume of water that would fit into a single shot glass.
You have choices when brewing such as:
- boiling, like the cowboys did on the range or for famous Turkish coffee.
- steeping, such as with the French press, AeroPress and vacuüm brew.
- filtering, also known as percolating, electronic drip or single cup, all of which are poured over a filter.
- steam pressure, as with espresso for a concentrated brew.
Finally, if you are making espresso, try using a clear shot glass on the pour and take a moment to watch how the volume immediately starts to separate. You will see the depth of color bands shifting in the glass as the coffee settles after the pour. The more the coffee settles, the more the flavor is diminished. Test your coffee palate by drinking an espresso shot within minutes of dispensing, and then try one after it has been allowed to sit longer and settle. You will be able to taste a difference.
Follow these steps with your home brew and you will very soon be the keeper of the secrets to making the world’s finest gourmet coffee cup.