All over the world, people enjoy coffee. Although coffee can be brewed using all sorts of different equipment, it is available in many varieties, flavors, blends and strengths. Basically, there is a coffee to suit just about every taste. Most coffee drinkers can’t even think about the day without their first cup and, of course the accompanying slug of caffeine.
Many of us stop at the nearest coffeehouse and ask our favorite barista for the latte, Americano, cappucino, moccaccino, espresso, single, double, etc., etc. that gets us going. We can enjoy all of these, but are we as likely to know how to make the best coffee at home?
Start With the Water
Water from the tap, while safe to drink, often doesn’t help the flavor of your coffee and since coffee is just about 99% water, you’ve got to get that right. Unfiltered water has elements such as chlorine, carbonate hardness, mineral content, tannins and other natural deposits that can affect the taste. And, of course, limescale can be a significant problem in certain areas. Did you know that limescale is the cause of approx. 95% of all coffee equipment failures?
So start with cold water and protect your equipment and the taste of your brew by using filtered or bottled, but never distilled or softened water.
Filtered water that is just below the boiling point (89-94°F) is the optimum to extract the oil from freshly ground coffee beans. If the water isn’t hot enough, the coffee will be weak, if it’s too hot, the coffee may taste bitter or sour.
The Coffee Beans
Besides the water, the better the beans, the better the coffee in your cup. Try lots of different beans and find the ones you like best, get whole beans, then grind your own as you need it. Be sure the grind is correct for the type of coffee maker you are using. Store in a air-tight container in the fridge.
There are many different countries producing coffee beans but it’s the roasting that makes a real difference to the flavor. The lighter roasts will have lots of flavor and aroma, while the darker roasts tend to be flavourful but heavier and can often be somewhat bitter.
Use the Right Equipment
With so many different types of coffee makers on the market, one can get very confused. Filter coffee machines allow water to drip slowly through the ground coffee. A cafetière or French Press steeps the coffee after hot water is poured over the coarser grounds, which are then pressed down. Pod or single serve coffee makers drip water from a reservoir through the capsule containing the coffee, tea, chocolate or flavored coffee. Percolators are making a comeback but can often make extra strong coffee. The stove top espresso makers work well but can be dangerous since the water is boiled in a chamber under the coffee and forced at very high temperature through the coffee grounds. They have been known to explode!
Finally, if you are really into brewing espressos, lattes or cappuccinos, one of the speciality coffee makers may be for you. While some make regular coffee s well, these speciality machines can be very expensive and fairly large.
Never reheat your coffees, especially not in a microwave and keep your equipment clean to avoid the bitter oils that will spoil the taste. If you have one of the pod-type makers and need sensibly-priced refills visit http://www.my-cap.com.