Finding the Right Coffee for You:
There is a lot that goes into your morning cup. 70 years ago you just went down to the corner grocery and picked up a can of whatever pre-ground that you preferred. The coffee was then brewed with some magical formula, a measurement, most likely determined by the matriarch of the kitchen, thrown into a percolator basket then put on the stove to do its business. Soon you would have a hot cup in your hands. Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s this is how I was introduced to coffee. It wasn’t until I embarked on my restaurant career that I was introduced to the auto-drip coffee brewer.
With today’s plethora of brewing systems, all designed to provide the “best” cup of coffee, grinders, and coffees to choose from how do you decide what is best?
Ultimately, the coffee you enjoy is the coffee you should drink. Make it the way you like it and enjoy it.
Let’s take a few minutes to determine how to decide what is best for you.
I think a great starting point is to get you brewing needs in order. Select your brew system; you may have already done that, so be certain to know that system and its function well. Know how your grinder works and the best way to ensure consistency in the grind. Know the best way to properly dose the coffee as well as the best way to store your coffee.
1) Make sure you are using fresh coffee. If the coffee is old and stale you cannot get the optimum flavor that you are looking for. Coffee, once roasted, has an effective shelf life of about 3 weeks. The staling effects of oxygen will cause whole bean coffee to lose as much as 80-90% of its volatile flavor profile in that time. Ground coffee will be impacted in the same fashion in just a few days.
2) Be sure to grind properly, a good general guide to grinding is:
a. Turkish, equal in size to powdered sugar. Very Fine
b. Espresso, should be ground for your specific espresso machine. Follow the instructions.
c. Pour over / cone filter, the same size as table salt
d. Flat bottom filter, same size as kosher salt
e. French Press, medium course; a bit more course than for the flat bottom filter
f. All others should be coarsely ground and of consistent size.
3) Dosing your coffee. In the shop we use a standard formula, 15/1 ratio of water to ground coffee. Or, you can start with an approximate measure of 2 TBSP ground coffee for every 6 ounces of water. (That is approximately 15/1) Then adjust to your personal taste. Remember, coffee is all about your enjoyment.
I told you there was a lot that goes into your morning cup, but once you have a system in place it is easy to duplicate on a daily basis.
4) Water temperature is CRITICAL to your coffee brewing. There is a 10 degree window for water temperature for proper brewing. That window is 195°F-205°F. If the water is too cool the flavor oils will not properly dissolve leaving flavor in the grounds. Too hot, and the oils can scorch leaving a burnt flavor in the cup.
Most home brewers won’t do an adequate job on water temperature so be certain that the one you are buying does reach the proper brewing temp.
Now that you have everything in place and understand its function you can start trying different coffees with confidence. You can stop in the shop and discuss your coffee preferences (really you can do that right away so we can work together through the whole process if you like.) But in deciding on your coffee there are a couple of questions to ponder.
1) What is the general depth of roast you prefer? We have a broad selection of coffees and varying roast degrees to meet with every palate.
2) Do you like bright and lively coffees? Creamy, round and smooth? Or, dark and bold?
3) Are you willing to experiment?
4) Do you prefer single origin coffees or blends?
5) What are your preferences on acidity and caffeine?
One of my favorite things is to talk coffee! It is my desire to help you get the same enjoyment out of your cup as I get out of mine. Please, if you have the time come to one of our tasting events or schedule one of your own. We can dedicate some time to taste and discuss all things coffee.
And, remember, coffee should be both fun and flavorful.