There are countless variations of brewing a cup of delicious coffee. Various preferences mean that no single technique would be fit for everyone.
The brewing method you choose for your coffee should be based on your needs and your own preferences. We all have our opinion in what makes the perfect cup of coffee.
Are you into cappuccinos? Lattes? Plain brewed coffee? Do you prefer a strong blend or a moderate one? Coffee can be brewed in many different ways.
There are different machines and methods but through all these differences, there are main pointers to follow in preparing the best cup of coffee. One cannot be a master without knowing the basics.
Choosing the right coffee beans
It all starts from the choice of coffee beans. A misnomer though is that they are not really beans as they are seeds from the fruit of the coffee tree. There more than 6,000 varieties out which 3 are the most important types.
- Arabica- 60% of the world’s coffee production are Arabica. These are used to produce gourmet coffee. Its many varieties are mostly named after their country or region of origin. Arabica beans vary in quality according to their origin. Most Arabica varieties come from Africa, South and Central America, and some in Asia. Java is a name always related to coffee is actually an Indonesian variation of Arabica.
- Robusta – Robusta beans make up most of the rest of the world’s coffee produce. It is also less expensive than Arabica. Robusta are also blended with other coffee types due to its strong flavor. It’s also noted that he bean contains higher levels of caffeine.
- Kona – Kona beans are smaller as compared to Robusta and Arabica. The type normally thrives in Hawaii and is very expensive. It’s main characteristic is its powerful aroma.
Different types have different flavor characteristics. The variety of coffee and place of origin are factors in different coffee taste. There are also blends that literally blend coffee beans from several countries, regions or varieties.
These coffee beans are also roasted. The process changes the chemical and physical properties of coffee beans. The amount of roasting also changes the flavor. It is ideal to purchase newly-roasted coffee beans. Try to estimate consumption as you don’t want to purchase a lot only to stock it for months.
Match the grind with your coffee machine
The grinding process also has a huge impact on the brew’s flavor and strength as this process determines the amount of coffee elements that are infused during brewing. It is generally regarded that burr-type of grinders are superior as they produce finer and uniform grinds.
Newly-ground coffee is better to the point that modern coffee makers grind the beans just before brewing. Finer grinds make for stronger coffee though this should also be balanced with the characteristic of bean type itself. Grinding strong coffee beans too fine will produce a bitter brew and too coarse a grind will result to under-extraction producing weak coffee.
Coffee grinds are also matched according to the brewing process preferred as indicated below.
- Coarse Grind – French Press, Percolator
- Medium Grind – Drip Makers
- Fine Grind – Stove Top Espresso Pots, some Drip Makers
- Super Fine Grind – Espresso Machines
Water quality is important
As coffee is 98.6% water, the quality of water used has an effect to the overall taste of coffee. Strong odors or chlorine might be present so have it filtered. The Coffee to Water ratio is also a determining factor in your brew’s taste.
Too much or too little water can cause your coffee to be too bland or too strong and bitter. This is partially determined by individual preference but a good rule of the thumb is 1-2 tablespoons of coffee grounds per 6 oz. of water. Also factor in that water evaporates during the brewing process.
How to make a great brew
This process is where the actual extraction happens. Key factors are the brewing time and the water temperature during the process. The recommended water temperature is between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal extraction.
Cold water will result to under-extraction and pale-tasting coffee, while brewing coffee too hot will result to the coffee taste being altered. Brewing time is the period of time that your coffee grounds are in contact with water and it is different among the different brewing methods.
Optimum brewing time is necessary for proper coffee extraction. Drip coffee makers ideally allow 5 minutes while plunger pots should do good between 2 to minutes. Espresso machines on the other hand operate between 20 to 30 seconds. Personal tastes also factor in so feel free to experiment until finding what’s ideal for you.
Sit back and relax
Brewed coffee tastes best after just being brewed and served in a warmed cup or mug. Coffee makers maintain the heat, but it is best if your brew is consumed immediately.
First enjoy the aroma. Have a sip. Take a few moments to notice the taste, body and overall vibe of your brew. Do take note of what you’ve done differently in preparation for your next coffee brew.