COFFEE BREWING TIPS
1. Start with freshly roasted, whole bean coffee. Coffee
decays rapidly once it has been roasted, and even faster after it has been
ground. Even a few hours can make a big taste difference! So please, do yourself
a favor and buy a coffee grinder. Basic rotary blade models start at less than
$20. Get one!!!
2. Use "good" water. Water that tastes or smells funny will adversely
affect your coffee's flavor. If your tap water tastes OK, then go ahead and use
it, but if not, use either filtered or bottled water. To see how much difference
this can make, try making your favorite brew using tap water and then try
brewing a pot using bottled water, we're sure you will notice the difference.
3. Select the correct grind. Different coffee brewing methods require different
kinds of grind. How coarse or fine coffee is ground is critically important to
making good coffee! Coffee ground too fine will delay the brewing process and
produce a bitter cup; conversely, coffee ground too coarse will speed up the
brewing process and produce a watery, less robust beverage. You must also be
aware that temperature and humidity will affect the coffee brewing process. A
grind that works well on a cold day may need to be adjusted when it's hot.
Although inexpensive rotary blade grinders work well, for a more precise and
consistent grind we recommend a burr-type grinder, particularly where an
extra-fine grind is needed such as when grinding for espresso.
4. Keep your coffee brewing equipment clean. Coffee oils quickly build up and
over time become rancid. The rancid oils will then taint your coffee's flavor.
Clean your coffee maker regularly!
Coffee Brewing Methods
The following list is not intended to cover all the myriad brewing techniques
that have proliferated around the globe. We include here only the most common
ones for which brewing equipment is readily available. The descriptions are very
basic and are intended for use as a general guide only. For specific brewing
instructions on any particular brewing apparatus, we recommend that you follow
each manufacturer's specific instructions.
Whether automatic or manual, the basic idea is to allow gravity to filter hot
water through ground coffee suspended in a filter of some porous material
(paper, tight wire mesh, etc.). Filters can be either flat bottomed or cone
shaped. If flat bottomed, the grind should be medium; if a cone, then the grind
should be fine. We have found that in most cases the cone shaped filter tends to
make a better brew. When using an automatic drip machine, do not leave the
brewed coffee on the burner!!! It will continue to cook and will become bitter
in a few minutes. Transfer the brewed coffee to a good thermos for flavor's
The French press consists of a beaker shaped container with a fine wire mesh
plunger unit attached to the lid. This coffee maker is one of the more popular
devices available and comes in sizes ranging from single cup to eighteen cups.
In this method, first the glass beaker should be preheated by running it under
hot water. Then put in the amount of medium to fine ground coffee needed, add
water heated just off the boil and stir. Let the coffee steep for three to four
minutes and stir again. Finally, put the lid-plunger apparatus on the beaker and
push the plunger down gently as far as it will go. This method may sound
complex, but it's really simple. Please keep in mind that the coffee used in
this method cannot be ground too fine. If ground very fine the plunger will tend
The idea behind espresso is to extract maximum flavor out of the grind using
minimum water. This can only be accomplished at fairly high levels of pressure.
If you are considering purchasing an espresso machine, be advised that, as with
almost everything, you get what you pay for. Lower priced machines generally
have lower levels of pressure and will not be able to produce the same caliber
of beverage. One way to gauge a machine's relative extraction abilities is to
see how fine a grind it can handle. An optimal machine should be able to produce
a one to one and one-half ounce pull of espresso in eighteen to twenty-three
seconds when using a very fine grind. Although you can adjust the grind to work
"optimally" for any machine, you must remember that because of the
short brewing time, the coarser the grind is, the less flavor will be extracted.
Choose your espresso machine carefully!
Here are some tips that will help produce the best results. The coffee must be
finely ground, as fine as your espresso machine will allow. The grounds should
be tightly packed in the gruppa or metal filter cup. This is where most people
have trouble,if the grounds are too tightly packed, the water will not be able
to get through properly producing a bitter, burned tasting pull. If the grounds
are too loosely packed, you will get a watery, weak tasting pull. To get it
right you may have to experiment a little. Don't try to pull more than the
standard one to one and one-half ounce of brew from the grounds; overextracted
espresso tends to be weak and bitter tasting.
Stove Top Espresso
This simple unit works on the same basic steam pressure principle as the
standard espresso machine but does not produce quite the same caliber of brew.
These units do produce a hearty triple-strength brew that is comparable to the
lower-end home espresso machines, but at a much lower price. The Stove Top
Espresso pot consists of two pieces that screw together with a filter chamber in
the middle. Originally these units were made from aluminium and tended to add an
unpleasant taste to the coffee. Newer units can be found that are made from
stainless steel that do not taint the coffee. To make a brew with this unit,
first fill the base with water up to it's safety valve. Fill the filter chamber
with finely ground coffee, do not pack it down. Place the filter chamber in the
base and screw the top on tightly. Place the pot on the heat. When the coffee
starts to pour out of the stem in the top, reduce the heat to low. When you hear
a gurgling noise, all of the water is out of the base. Remove it from the heat
and wait for the coffee to stop pouring from the stem. These units have a rubber
gasket that will need to be replaced from time to time, and remember not to
leave the pot on the heat after all of the water is gone from the base.