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Making Coffee Tips
this is not me!
Does anyone else out there remember when a coffee just consisted of boiling a kettle, dropping some powder into a cup and filling it up with some milk and sugar?
Where are you at with your coffee now? Would you say you have evolved?
I'm not a super amazing barista but I have evolved from instant to grinding beans and I've learned quite a bit which I want to share with other lovers of the bean!
My home coffee machine does a fairly good job too and can anyone tell me if the fact that I have gone through two coffee machines is progress towards becoming a barista?
Here I want to share the phases I went through in my coffee drinking. It's a ritual I probably need - like it strong thanks with raw sugar and I don't mind milk on occassion and rarely will I refuse an offer of coffee.
So here goes.
Evolution of a Coffee Drinker - Early Days to the Present from no-idea to connosieur
I actually used to think instant coffee was ok - I can't believe how I did now but I will still drink it when I'm desperate or when I've been on the road too long and the only coffee is a Driver Reviver station!
Before too long I was branching out into new realms of coffeemania and began to discover more "discerning" instant coffee.
I found how my head felt or coped with it was the key to the quality of the instant coffee.
Over time you begin to discover the clarity of mind or not different brands of instant coffee can offer and the varying degrees of ability to take you over sleepy lulls in the day.
It is said that shepherds in Biblical times discovered coffee when they noticed their sheep didn't sleep after eating the beans from the plant.No doubt they were eating organic coffee too!
Ground Coffee in a Packet with Plunger
When I was introduced to the ground coffee powder and plunger I thought so this is how you really drink coffee at home.
Let's not forget the drinking of a beverage is also, in great part, about the ritual and so the plunger rituals began. Don't put too much water in and leave it to steep the longer the stronger.
The Aluminium Coffee Kettle
The next significant milestone in my coffee drinking was when I started living with a brilliant muso who made great italian coffee in one of those coffee makers made of aluminium. See pic.
He'd didn't grind the beans but Wow, I thought, so this is the way to make home coffee taste like one from a coffee shop.
Well...No-one uses those aluminium kettles anymore. I think because aluminium cooking implements became linked to alzeithmers or it might have been because if you forgot you put the coffee on ...uh oh, I've burned the house down!
Grinding Your Own Beans
You could be forgiven for thinking though it can't get any better than coffee made with the aluminium kettle, it was pretty amazing but it actually does get better when you discover grinding your own beans and a coffee machine.
I discovered the fresh grind, called the "blush", is naturally the best coffee and I learned to keep the bag of beans in the fridge once the packet is opened.
If you don't keep them in the fridge you soon find they get stale - the coffee produced will be OK but never as good.
Also, as a rule go for a finer grind, i.e. leave the grinder on for longer.
You'll get a better "shot" of coffee if you do this but if too fine the pump on your machine may not cope too well.
My first machine packed up and I put it down to the pump not being able to cope with the finer grinds which eventually stuffed it but it was also because I didn't know you need to 'bang' the portafilter against something (like a block of wood) when you empty it to remove fine coffee that could clog the filter.
The Coffee Machine
You wouldn't think so but the temperature of the coffee machine can make a huge difference to whether you get the "crema" coffee or not. This is the creamy part of the pure coffee that is produced as hot water is pumped over the grounds.
Some guides, advice you should "pre-infuse" the coffee by turning the machine on for a short burst, off again then on again.
With my machine I personally like to start the hot water coming through after it's reached it's peak temperature and is on the way down again.
This ensures you don't "burn" your coffee with a blast of pure steam forced over the grounds. which destroys all the "crema" and gives the coffee a "flattened" look and a "scorched" taste.
Like tea I'm of the opinion that the hot water you use to make coffee is best if it is not super hot but, on the other hand, nor should it be tepid.
Knowing the right temperature comes with practice and experience. If you are not seeing the espresso "crema" the temperature is wrong.
On my machine I sometimes even wait for the reheat light to come on and use this as my cue to start the hot water flowing through the grounds.
All I can say, if you have a machine is to EXPERIMENT and you only need to have the water flowing through your grind for a short time. Left on too long and you will dilute the best of what comes.
The first 10 seconds is all you need for a good "shot". REMEBER: it's not instant coffee so don't fill the cup to the brim with water you've forced out over the grounds.
So what coffee is best?
Whatever you find tastes good and gives a good effect but lately I have found the very best ever coffee I've drunk.
It is an organic and fairtrade coffee.
Organic coffee comes from certified farmers whose soil must have been pesticide free for at least 3 years. Certifiers will continue to test the soil every year for the coffee farm to maintain it's certified organic status.
Starbucks now serves organic coffee on demand.
Also, it is said eco-friendly coffee is grown in the shade of natural forests (most Organic coffee comes from Peru). Here bugs on coffee leaves are kept in check by the forest birds who eat them and who also fetilize the plant.
Their droppings fall to the ground around the plant so helping certify it is trully going to be an organic bean!
Roasting is perhaps a major part of the coffee process that makes a difference to the quality or taste.
Personally, I find an overly dark roasted bean gives the coffee too much of a burnt taste but there are coffees out there that are very dark so there must be drinkers out there who like turning up this aspect of their coffee.