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10 STEPS TO FINDING THE PERFECT COFFEE – This guide will help you locate the best beans, grind them to perfection and produce the perfect cup of coffee. Of course its all down to personal taste…..
The first step to finding your perfect coffee is to decide on your bean preference. The choice of coffee bean is limited to two variations Arabica and Robusta.
Arabica is considered as the finer bean (“with more complex sugars, yielding deeper, more interesting flavours”) and is grown at higher altitudes. The best Arabica beans are found between 4000 and 6000 feet. The second type of coffee bean is Robusta. It is more common and is grown at lower altitudes. It is considered a more inferior bean with less flavour, but is a higher yielding crop.
Most coffee brands will use a blend of Robusta with a lower percentage of Arabica.
+ 5000ft = Spicey, fruity and floral
+ 4000ft = Nutty, Chocolate, Citrus and Vanilla
+ 3000ft = Sweet and smooth
+ 2000ft = Simple, mild, soft, subtle
Arabica also contains less caffeine. In fact in the average 6 ounce cup Arabica contains between 75 and 130mg compared to Robusta 140 – 200mg. For Arabica to “punch” through milk, it needs a deeper flavour and usually needs to be roasted quite dark. This makes a very oily bean.
2. ALL ABOUT THE ROAST
Arabica contains less caffeine than Robusta. In fact in the average 6 ounce cup Arabica contains between 75 and 130mg compared to Robusta 140 – 200mg.
In the same manner that fermentation time and the grape type determines the flavour of wine, the bean and the way it is roasted will determine the flavour of the coffee. Inconsistent, under or over roasting can make even the best bean taste bad. For Arabica to “punch” through milk, it needs a deeper flavour and usually needs to be roasted quite dark. This makes a very oily bean.
3. THOSE PERISHING BEANS
Coffee shops are used to high throughputs and purchase beans in high quantities, usually 1Kg vending packs to fill professional bean to cup machine hoppers. If you are buying beans for personal usage, then it may be wiser to purchase smaller bags and only purchase what you would need in a week. Coffee beans do not like fresh air and will start to perish through oxidisation. This will make them stale and less flavoursome. You should aim to use your beans within 48 hours of opening them.
4. LOOK AFTER YOUR BEANS
We have heard many ways to store fresh beans and even on the packets it often says keep refrigerated. However this does tend to make the beans more brittle and could result in a poor cup of coffee and damaged bean grinders. Coffee beans should be kept in an airtight container, away from light and heat. Coffee can also pick up oders or moisture from refrigerators or freezing and this will alter the flavour, leading to stale and unpleasant cup of coffee.
5. CLEAN MACHINES MEANS NICE TASTING BEANS
After each use you should wash out your caffetiere, carafe or pot. This will remove the sik of contamination through coffee oils and sediments. These have a habit of settling at the bottom of the pot and can build up leading to a bitter tasting cup of coffee.
6. COFFEE AND THE DAILY GRIND
So you have the finest beans, the nicest water but the next step in the process to ensure a great tasting coffee is the grinding. The difference between coarse and fine grinds can affect the bean flavour and also the effectiveness of the extraction.
5 – 10 Seconds: Coarse – percolators
10 Seconds: Medium – French presses
15 Seconds: Fine – vacuum
25 – 30 Seconds: Extra Fine – for espresso machines
7. COFFEE TO WATER
If you are lucky and have a bean to cup machine, then you can just relax. For other non-automatic machines here is a little tip. We suggest using around 2 tablespoons of ground coffee for every 6oz of water. The ideal brewing time should be around 4 – 6 minutes, any longer than 6 minutes may leave your coffee tasting bitter!
6. FRESH COLD WATER
Apart from your beans the most important ingredient is water. If you are making your coffee first thing in the morning remember to run your cold tap for a bit. This will ensure you are using nice and fresh cold water, free from odours and iron flavours. Try to avoid using distilled or softened water.
9. ADDING WATER TO COFFEE GROUNDS
To ensure all this effort hasn’t been wasted you need to ensure the water temperature being poured through your grounds is very hot, but not boiling hot! Ideally the temperature needs to be between 190 – 200 degrees.
10. DON’T WASTE THE TASTE
Now it’s time to sit back and enjoy that lovely cup of coffee. But don’t leave it too long otherwise you will have wasted all that effort. To ensure you get to enjoy the most from your cup of coffee you should drink it within 30 minutes of brewing it. If you are on the go, then a good quality thermos will retain the flavours and allow you to enjoy it at your leisure.
We hope you enjoy your perfect cup of coffee, please let us know what brand and blend you like…