Coffee is an everyday part of our lives and it must above all fit our lifestyles and our pockets. There is no single best way to make coffee; each of us prefers one method to the rest. Making coffee is both a ritual and a practical part of life. Unlike tea or cocoa, coffee lends itself readily to many different ways of making the infusion. All these methods share the basic principle which is to use hot water, to extract from the ground beans the natural essential oils, the caffeol, that give coffee its wonderful aroma and flavour. The resulting brew, or liquor, is a coffee infusion.
Anyone can make a cup of coffee—the procedures are common knowledge and really not that difficult to do. How to make a good cup of coffee, however? That’s a different story! There are many elements that go into making a good cup of coffee. From the purchasing to the preparation, remembering a few simple tips on how to make coffee will help you to achieve the perfect results!
The drip or filter method is perhaps the most widely used process today. Finely-ground coffee is placed in a paper or reusable cone-shaped unit and nearly boiling water poured on top. For best results, a small quantity of water should be poured on first to wet the grounds and speed up the release of caffeol. The resulting brew filters through the unit into a pot or mug and is ready to drink. The coffee grounds remain in the cone. There are electric versions which automate this process, including heating the water, and in general make a better or more consistent cup of coffee than the manual version. The filter method is used especially in Germany and the USA.
Wonderfully designed double beaded stove-top pots, they combine the characteristics of espresso and percolator coffee. They force the water, which has come to the boil in the lower chamber, up through a tube and then down through the finely-ground coffee. Handled skillfully they can satisfy coffee cravings and produce an adequate 'espresso type' coffee in under a minute. No Italian home is without one or more mocha jugs of varying sizes, and no matter what you think of the coffee, their visual appeal is undeniable.
The coffee percolator was a civilizing influence in the American wild west; it was certainly widely used throughout the USA, where, until the recent coffee 'revolution', it was a standard piece of equipment in most homes. The percolator heats the coarsely ground coffee and cold water so that it boils and bubbles up into the top of the unit. It is an excellent way to have the relaxing sound of the coffee liquid burbling and gurgling, and to waft the aroma of coffee through the home, as all the volatile wonderful flavors go out of the percolator and into the air! There is possibly no worse way to make fresh coffee than this.
ARAB OR TURKISH COFFEE METHOD
There is a fundamental difference between the Arab and other methods: the Arabs boil their coffee, traditionally, three times. Boiling coffee boils away the most delicate flavors, but it is a romantic way to make strong-tasting coffee. Arab coffee is made in an ibriq, a small copper pot with a long handle. Two teaspoons of finely-ground coffee plus one of sugar are added to a cup of water and the mixture is brought to the boil. The ibriq is taken off the heat as it comes to the boil, usually three times, and then it is poured out and drunk. A cardamom seed can also be added for flavor.
THE PLUNGER-CAFETIERE METHOD
The plunger method, was invented around 1933. This method extracts the most flavor from the ground beans. The pot is warmed, coarsely ground coffee is placed in the bottom, hot water is added to the grounds and stirred, then it is allowed to steep for three to five minutes, before the plunger is pushed down to separate the coffee grounds from the coffee infusion. This method is only slightly less convenient than the filter method and is today one of the two fastest growing ways to make fresh ground coffee.
ESPRESSO AND CAPPUCCINO
Today, espresso and cappuccino, which were invented in Italy, are the fastest growing methods of making coffee. All the other methods involve a 'natural' form of infusion, and for a small cost you can have a system that will make acceptable coffee. But not with espresso. Espresso machines force the hot water through very finely and compacted coffee and then into the cups below. Good espresso is expensive to make because in order to extract the greatest amount of flavor from the coffee, a high level of pressure is required and thus a high specification machine. Yet when making espresso, it is important not to over-extract the coffee, which means the machine should be switched off sooner, rather than later. While the coffee is still coming out as a golden brown liquid, it is perfect. This liquid is the 'crema', which lies on top of the black coffee underneath. The cream will dissipate a few minutes after the coffee is made, but in those few minutes it will tell you everything about the quality of the espresso. Too light, or too thick or too thin: all mean that the espresso is sub standard. Espresso can become like a religion to some people. And there certainly is a big difference between a really good espresso and a not so good one. How much we spend in terms of money or energy in seeking out the best is one of those lifestyle choices we all make for ourselves.
Espresso is the foundation of cappuccino; it is the coffee upon which a luxuriant structure of frothed and foamed milk is ladled and poured. A good espresso is less obvious under its head of frothed milk, but the quality of the coffee underneath is still an important factor. The milk, ideally semi-skimmed, is poured into a jug, into which a steam spout is placed. The steam control should not be turned on until the nozzle of the steam spout is under the surface of the milk. Once the steam is gurgling and bubbling under the milk, the jug should be moved around, or the milk will spoil. The aim is to aerate the milk and give it the consistency of whipped cream without burning it. It is essential that the cups are warm when the milk is poured in or the froth will deflate. They are normally stored upside down on top of the espresso machine. The combination of frothed and steamed milk is then poured and ladled onto the coffee in the cup, gently as though folding it in. The small amount of remaining milk is poured in also. And there we have the perfect cappuccino.
The jug method of making coffee is the simplest of all. The coffee should be quite coarsely ground and then the hot water added. It is somewhat like the cafetiere method, but without the convenience of the cafetiere's plunger to separate the coffee grounds from the infusion. The jug is not now widely used, although it is always a serviceable stop-gap method.
It’s All In The Beans—Purchasing And Storing
One of the keys to making coffee is purchasing high quality ingredients. That said, you should make sure that the coffee beans you buy are top of the line. When it comes to coffee beans, good is somewhat of a subjective term, because everyone has different tastes and preferences.
However, you can make sure that you are buying top quality beans by making your purchase from a supplier with a good reputation. Additionally, you should make sure that you purchase your coffee beans from an airtight bag instead of a self-serve bin. The longer coffee beans are exposed to air, the faster they lose their flavor.
Which brings up another tip for how to make coffee: when storing your coffee beans, do not open the airtight package until just before you are ready to prepare the coffee in order to ensure a strong, clean flavor. After the first time you open the bag, store the remaining beans in an airtight bag.
Using The Right Grind
Grinding the coffee beans yourself will make the flavor of the coffee stand out. After learning how to make good coffee, all you need to do is buy a coffee grinder. However, it is important to make sure that the coffee grinder is compatible with your coffee brewer; it should also have the ability to vary the coarseness and fineness of the grinds.
There are three different types of coffee grinders: coarse grind, medium grind, and fine grind. A course grind is good for percolators and French Presses, while a medium grind is more compatible with a wide variety of coffee brewers. If you have an espresso machine, then a fine grind is the way to go!
Coffee is 98% water, so the kind of water that you use in your coffee can make all the difference! If your tap water is poor quality, you might try filtering it before using it to make coffee. Another alternative is to use bottled water instead. Also make sure that the water is at the right temperature. The best water temperature for making coffee is just below boiling point.Methods Of Making Coffee