Whether you like your coffee black, hot, frothy, flavored, cold, or with butter, the basics of brewing it are the same. Here are five essential tips:
1. Keep it clean. This is the most basic of the basics, but often overlooked. If freshness and great taste is what you’re after, make sure everything you use to make your coffee – the grinder, machine, pot and utensils — are thoroughly rinsed and cleaned after each use. That goes for single-serve coffee makers too. They represent the second most popular way of brewing coffee. It’s no wonder as it’s hard to beat their speed and convenience. Plus, the quality of the high-end single-serve coffees available these days is impressive to say the least. Courtesy of the National Coffee Association, here’s a guide for keeping your single-serve maker in shape.
2. Know your beans. This is the fun part. While most roasted coffee falls into one of four categories – light, medium, medium dark, and dark – there are seemingly endless numbers of blends, flavors and ways to prepare it. If you’re new to specialty coffees, you’re in for a treat. Start with a few light roasts and go from there. Keep in mind that all coffee beans begin green. The magic happens when they’re roasted. A chemical reaction takes place during the roasting process that unlocks their true flavor and aroma. Want an up-close-and-personal peek? Check this out.
3. Stay fresh. If you love coffee, you are familiar with the delicious aroma that fills the air when you break the seal on a new bag. As great as it smells, it’s a sign of flavor escaping into the air. For that reason, try and purchase your coffee as soon as possible after it’s roasted. While it’s tempting to buy in bulk, we don’t recommend it. Instead, purchase one-pound bags of coffee that you know you will use quickly. Make sure to store what’s left over in an opaque, air-tight container.
4. Back to the daily grind. The grind of your coffee makes a big difference depending on how you prepare it. Who knew? I didn’t, but I do now. For example, if you’re using a French Press, you will want a slightly larger, more course grind. If you’re making espresso, the finer ground the better. Burr grinders are preferred over blade. You can also grind your coffee at the store, or purchase it already ground and ready to go.
5. Water it. Water is the second most important ingredient in a great cup of coffee. That goes for its type, amount and temperature. If your house has well water and you visit a friend in the city who uses chlorinated or softened water, you are likely to notice a change in the way your coffee tastes. Both are perfectly fine, just different in terms of taste. If you’re not a fan of what comes from your tap, try using filtered or bottled water instead.
The amount of water you use when brewing is also important. The general rule is two tablespoons of coffee per six ounces of water. Start there and adjust according to your taste.
Finally, while traditional drip and single-serve coffee makers make this part fool proof, it’s important that the water you use to brew coffee manually (i.e. French Press Aero Press, Pour Over, etc.) is neither too hot nor too cold. Your water should come to a full boil and then cool to about 195 degrees before brewing.
Give It a Try
For more information on gourmet specialty coffee and which kind you should try first, visit www.grandkaffe.com. The Grand Kaffé Collection is available in over 20 flavors and is packaged in convenient one-pound bags. A special collection of five flavors is also available in single-serve cups. Authentic gourmet coffee…direct to your door. It doesn’t get any better than that.