Coffee is the most complex beverage known to man. Yemen and Ethiopia, both claim dibs on being “The First” to discover our modern day wake up call. Crude oil is the only commodity that tops coffee. Coffee is worth over 100 billion worldwide. 144.6 million bags totaling 9.5 tons are produced annually. That's a lot of coffee beans!
The coffee beans (really a seed), the roasting method, species of tree or shrub (Close to 100 species are known), the grind, and the equipment used to brew your freshly ground coffee are some subtopics into the world of coffee. Let’s get to the geeky stuff. Coffea is the true species name for these multi-colored gems. Green at first. Then yellow to cerise, hence the name cherry for the blooming berries. Two types of coffee are defined as Arabica and Robusta. Robusta contains more caffeine, but Arabica is the prized seed.
Coffee fancies neighboring the Equator. Rain, shade, rich soil, and a tropical environment enable coffee to blossom to 30 feet if left to grow naturally. Today, pruning techniques keep the trees down in size, full of the precious berries to push production to the max. 70 Countries produce coffee. Brazil is the world leader.
Roasting the green bean to its fit to drink, dark and shiny self has been in implementation since the 15th Century in Iran. The Maillard Reaction, which in simple terms, proposes browning foods just taste better! Coffee, steaks, biscuits, dumplings are just a few known items that when that burnt smell occurs, so too, does tastiness!
Roasting coffee is quite easy. We just need coffee beans and heat. When you roast coffee, roasting time, temperature, and sound are key to a good roast. Whether on the stove at home, using an old popcorn air popper (Please use discretion for this style!), or an industrial drum, or hot air unit, the sound is a tell-tale sign of readiness. Known as the “First Crack”, at 385 degrees, the bean opens up, losing its moisture; this is a light roast. Light roasts have more caffeine. They hold their acidity more. A sharper, grassy flavor with less sweetness is the dominate taste at this stage. At the other end of the spectrum, 437 degrees, the beans start to collapse. This creates “The Second Crack”. The darker roasts such as The Full City roast live in this zone of coffee roasts.
Going further, French and Italian go longer 464 to 473 degrees. When a coffee bean is roasted to this heat, the roast flavor governs. Acidity leaves. Aromas and flavors fall to the heat. Still, a preferred coffee for some. Therefore, blends are great taking both light and dark together, creating a great morning cup of coffee.
Now for those of us buying our bags at Buy-Low Foods and other supermarkets, coffee can range in taste and cost. The biggest mistake is buying ground coffee! Once ground, your coffee has a much shorter shelf life. There are many companies offering great beans. Kona, Hawaii and Jamaica have some really great coffee. With so many varieties to choose from, it's fun to research and make your own coffee taste challenge.
For those in the know, grinding the precise amount and the grind size are important. Maybe the best grinder is the Breville - Smart Grinder - BCG800XL. This beast can grind for drip, French press, percolators, and espresso in 25 different settings! The LCD read out ensures cups and or shots are dispensed accurately.
The three most known grinds are:
Coarse for percolators and French presses typically
Medium for the standard old coffee pots
Fine for espresso or conical (cone) machines
For crafting the perfect cup of coffee, 1 to 2 tablespoons per 6 ounces of filtered water is the industry standard. The 8 0z. white Hamelin Melamine Coffee Cup is the textbook cup for coffee aficionados. The classic look, plus just enough room left for cream, milk, or just a bit more coffee to start the day marks this mug one to reach for in the kitchen cupboard.
Options are plentiful in brewing. Check out a few of the popular brewing options:
Percolators: Cuisinart – Classic Cordless Percolator
Water heats from the bottom of the percolator. A vertical tube then takes the heated water up to the top where perforations spew water over the course ground. This process continues until finished. The Cuisinart shuts off after a perfect percolation of your port blend. Back in the olden days, one had to watch out for over brewing. This creates a bitter batch…Not with the Cuisinart or the Bialetti . These two impressive products make any morning a pleasure.
Drip Coffee Makers: Breville - The Grind Control Drip Coffee Maker
These types of coffee makers range in price from less than $20 to over $500. Ones like the Breville grind whole beans and brew unto your travel mug or the stainless-steel carafe. Filters have become the norm on high-end versions. Even for under a $100, the Cuisinart 12 cup Coffee Maker Comes with its own filter, programmable for 24 hours in advance, brew pause for those that need a cup quickly, and a self-cleaning function. Water drips onto the medium ground coffee which lies in a paper or metal mesh basket, which slowly drips into its carafe or cup. Simple technology. As with all coffee making, water should be at just under a boil (About 205 degrees).
Cold Brew Coffee: Zing Anything - Flip & Brew Iced Coffee/Tea Maker
Cold brew is a newly popular way to make coffee. At room temperature. Cold water slowly passes through a finer ground coffee for 12 hours. This creates a smooth, mellow coffee with less acid due to no heat.
French Press: Espro - P3 Glass & Black Plastic Coffee Press (18oz)
The French press holds 17 ounces of water with 1.1 ounces of course coffee. In about 2 to 4 minutes, one can press the plunger which keeps the grounds at the bottom, and the fresh coffee to the top to pour. This makes a wonderful cup of coffee.
Espresso is simply awesome! So many drinks are fashioned from this powerful infusion of finely ground coffee forced through highly pressurized hot water. Compacting the coffee promotes even brewing in quick time. This almost syrup-like beverage contains lots of caffeine due to the oils remaining from this method of brewing coffee.
Adding milk, cream, flavored creamer, or sugar is to personal preference is the norm for most. Black coffee is for the purist. Check your coffee supplies and see if it's time to kick it up a notch with some new brewing equipment or some new beans to try it out.
Check out our full supply of Coffee makers, espresso, latte and more!