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That perfect cup of coffee

Updated on June 9, 2009

I love coffee, strong and black. I grind my own beans so I can get just the right flavor. My favorite coffees are Jamaican Blue Mountain and Kona, but we don't use them in the bed and breakfast because they're way too expensive. We use a nice European blend and mix it with French roast, which gives it a little bite. All our brewed coffee is made with freshly ground beans. It makes a huge difference to the taste.

The Basics — Roast, Body and Acidity

There are three basic elements which affect the taste of coffee: roast, body, and acidity. The lightmess or darkness of the roast directly affects the acidity: the lighter the roast, the more acidity. A darker roast will produce less acid and will bring out the sugars that caramelize during the roasting process. If you prefer a dark, smoky taste, you should select dark roast coffee. You prefer a sweeter, bright taste, then a light roast is the one for you.

The body of the coffee can be analyzed in terms of delicate and light, as compared to heavy and full. Where or not, you select a light bodied texture or full bodied one, is strictly up to you personally. It's a matter of preference, not of good and bad. Finally, the acidity in coffee refers to the sweet, tart sensation you experience in your mouth when you drink it. Most Arabica coffees, and coffees grown at higher altitudes, tend to be acidic. This includes Kenyan coffees and any coffees which are wet-processed.

Pros and cons of drinking coffee

The aroma of a fresh brewed cup of coffee or the taste of a freshly pulled shot of espresso is enough to get anyone out of bed on time, even on a dreary, cold morning. Coffee is truly a comfort food. But while some studies suggest that coffee is practically a health elixir with its abundance of antioxidants, others highlight the negative side-effects that caffeine has on our bodies. In 2007 alone, studies concluded that caffeine supplements eased post-workout muscle pain and the combination of caffeine and exercise can reduce the risk of skin cancer. Other findings said three or more daily cups of coffee may aid memory in older women, and drinking five or more cups a day can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

In March 2007, the American Psychiatric Association said more than 250 milligrams of caffeine daily may cause insomnia, irregular heart beat, muscle spasms, and the inability to concentrate. Other studies indicate that an afternoon power nap is more effective than caffeine at boosting energy levels and improving alertness. And most recently, in January 2008, the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology said that drinking two cups of coffee a day doubles the risk of miscarriage in pregnant women.

Myths about caffeine

it's addictive According to the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, it may be habit forming, but it's not addictive.

it doesn't cause dehydration It is a mild diuretic and increases the need to urinate frequently.

it worsens heart disease There's little proof that this is true.

it causes hypertension It does cause a slight elevation in blood pressure, but this decreases as the caffeine leaves the body.

it causes hyperactivity in children Caffeine is not the reason children are hyperactive.

it doesn't cause bone loss There is a slight decrease in bone density, but can be counteracted with calcium supplements.

it's linked to fibocystic breast disease Caffeine is in not way related to fibrocystic breasts.

it's not unhealthy for pregnant women Caffeine is a stimulant and not recommended for pregnant

it's high in calorie content Coffee has no calories, unless you add milk or cream or other ingredients containing calories.

Which coffees should you buy?

In general, African coffee beans and those from the Middle East have well-rounded flavor, medium to full body, and a bright spark of acidity. They are often described as floral or winy.

Coffees from South America, the Caribbean, and Hawaii are known for good balance, medium body, bright acidity, and floral hints.

Indonesian and Asian coffee beans are known for their full body, light acidity, aromatic flavor, and earthiness (Norman Kolpas, "A Cup of Coffee, 1993).

Grinding your own coffee

Be sure and adjust your grinder to the proper setting for the coarseness you desire. The coarsest grinds are for percolators, French presses, and the old cold-water method. Medium grinds should be used for flat-bottomed drip makers and stove-top espresso makers. Fine grinds are used for cone-shaped drip filters, and very fine grinds are used for espresso machines. An extremely fine and powdery grind is used for making Turkish coffee in a jezve (a long handled brass or copper pot).

Brewing yourself a great cup of coffee

The most common method of brewing coffee in America is the drip method. No matter which method you use, the following tips will apply:

  • Always use fresh water
  • Use 2 tablespoons of ground coffee to every 6 ounces of water (except for espresso)
  • Always use the proper grind for the equipment you're using
  • If using a manual device, use water that is just under the boiling point
  • Serve coffee immediately after making. Don't reheat coffee. Don't reuse coffee grounds.
  • Clean your equipment regularly.
  • Never leave your coffee on the burner for more than 20 minutes.

What is your favorite coffee?

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    • Dink96 profile image

      Dink96 7 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

      I love freshly ground, fresh-brewed coffee. If it weren't so late, I would make a cup now!

    • Mireille G profile image

      Mireille G 7 years ago from Kansas

      Why do I always seem to find the coffee posts. I followed you from the forum. You have a nice setting here. As I said in the forum although I have been a member several months I am just this week discovering what the hubs really are.

      It is so different from doing other type of sites. And it seems like we are in a litlle city with sidewalks to each other's houses. This is cool.

      I like your place

    • k@ri profile image

      k@ri 7 years ago from Sunny Southern California

      I love a good cup of coffee!

    • profile image

      wordscribe41 7 years ago

      Fantastic hub. I was brewing a pot of coffee just before reading your hub. I grind my own as well. In fact, since I moved to Portland, where coffee is HUGE, I'm a coffee snob. This is a fabulous hub filled with lots of great information.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      Dink: How about some decaf?

      Mireille: Sorry about the coffee article. But, there are plenty other ones here too. Thanks for stopping by.

      Kari: I'm with you! Thanks for the comment

      WS: Me too....about being a coffee snob. Coffee snobs unite! Unfortunately, I'm also a food snob, which makes it hard to find something to eat sometimes, unless I make it myself. What a nice comment! Thanks. Funny coincidence....you're brewing coffee and finding a coffee hub all at the same time

       

    • profile image

      \Brenda Scully 7 years ago

      After that I feel safe, I will continue drinking coffee, when the mood takes me....... Great hub Brenda x

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      Thanks for the comment, Brenda. Enjoy you coffee!

    • Reynolds_Writing profile image

      Reynolds_Writing 7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Great hub on a great topic. I start every morning with a freshly brewed cup of Starbucks coffee- made at home. My favorite is Komodo Dragon... very strong.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      OMG sounds deadly. I do like strong coffee, but sometimes Starbucks is a little too strong. I've never bought their packaged coffee. Do you buy the beans of get it ground? I'll have to try it. Thanks for the comment RW.

    • The_Drizzle profile image

      The_Drizzle 7 years ago from The Far Side of the World

      Oh, what I wouldn't do for a nice morning cup of drip coffee. I've moved to South Korea and everyone here LOVES instant coffee, which does not get it done. They do have some beans here, but they're expensive and subpar to begin with.

      On a different note, I think I'll have to disagree with the part about coffee not dehydrating you. If you're urinating more often aren't you losing more water? I usually drink cup of coffee, cup or two of water, then another cup of coffee if I need it.

    • Lisa HW profile image

      Lisa HW 7 years ago from Massachusetts

      I like coffee to have that lighter, nutty, taste; and I can usually only get that about a quarter of the times I brew it, using Arabica coffee. What I've discovered, though, is that all brands with Arabica beans are far from alike, and some have a horrible muddy taste. I'm wondering if there's something else to be looking for on the bag.

    • Jimmy Fuentes profile image

      Jimmy Fuentes 7 years ago from Rancho Cucamonga

      Good info. An interesting tip I found out recently is that the more mild the roast, the more caffeine in the coffee. When you roast the coffee dark, you roast more of the caffeine out of it. I don't know why, but I assumed that the darker roast would have more caffeine.

    • profile image

      preetirajlaxmi 7 years ago

      I love freshly ground, fresh-brewed coffee. If it weren't so late, I would make a cup now!<a href="http://workfromhomeindia.biz"> Work from home </a>

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      Driz: I wouldn't touch instant coffee with a ten foot pole! I really hate it; it has such a strange taste. No offense, but if you'll go back and read that part about dehydration again, you'll see that I said it's a myth that it doesn't hydrate you. I go on to explain that it's a diuretic and that's why it dehydrates you.

      Lisa: Yeah, I think you're right about all Arabica beans not being alike. Arabica just means that it was grown on high levels, but it can be from any country. Try Jamaican Blue Mountain or Kona (from Hawaii). They're expensive, but oh so good.

      Jimmy: Thanks for the tip about the roast affecting the caffeine. I would have thought,  as you did, that it was the other way around. What's your favorite coffee?

       

    • Eaglekiwi profile image

      Eaglekiwi 7 years ago from -Oceania

      Fantastic hub , freshly roasted beans closest thing to heaven ,so rewarding to the senses! I trained as a barista a couple of years back, and amazed at coffee facts etc .Did you also know that after oil ,coffee beans are the 2nd most traded commodity in the world..Cuba has terrific coffee. beans too.  .Great hub !, thankyou.

      Arabica is the name of the tree that the coffee bean comes from.

    • alekhouse profile image
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      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      EK Thanks for all the great info. No I didn't know that "after oil ,coffee beans are the 2nd most traded commodity in the world" And I've never tried Cuban coffee, but I would imagine it's good. I'll have to try it. Thanks.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      Coffea arabica is a species of coffee indigenous to Ethiopia and Yemen. It is also known as the "coffee shrub of Arabia", "mountain coffee" or "arabica coffee". Coffea arabica is believed to be the first species of coffee to be cultivated, being grown in southwest Arabia for well over 1,000 years. It is considered to produce better coffee than the other major commercially grown coffee species, Coffea Canaphora (robusta). Arabica contains less caffeine than any other commercially cultivated species of coffee. Wild plants grow to between 9 and 12 m tall (Wikipedia,2009)

    • Dame Scribe profile image

      Dame Scribe 7 years ago from Canada

      Oh we can't forget them coffee desserts, lol :) great Hub and love my espresso ;)

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      Yeah, I was going to put some of those recipes in, but didn't have the time. Thanks for stopping by

    • profile image

      Iðunn 7 years ago

      wonderful hub, I grind mine often as well.

    • TamCor profile image

      Tammy Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio

      I'm so glad I found this hub--lots of great information in it--thanks alot!

      I am almost 50 years old, and have never had expresso. Maybe I should hint for a machine for my birthday, because it sounds soooo good--I love strong coffee!!!:)

    • Eaglekiwi profile image

      Eaglekiwi 7 years ago from -Oceania

      Aww Tam dont hint , just buy it ,you deserve to have the best!

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      Iounn: Grinding is definitely the best way to go. Thanks for stopping by.

      Tam: Thanks for the supportive comments. If you like strong coffee, you'll probably like expresso. Only problem, it comes in those itty, bitty cups. I like a huge mugful when I drink coffee.

      EK: You're absolutely right. What about you. Do you like coffee??

    • profile image

      O'Brien 7 years ago

      I LOVE this post! I can say that I have been a fan of coffee since I was a child. There's so much great content here. I'm glad you posted the myths about coffee. How could anything that soothes our souls be bad for us?!

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      The only bad part, I think, is peeing all day; that is, if you drink a lot of it. Thanks for the comment.

    • profile image

      IQBAL KHAN 7 years ago

      good topic

    • Eaglekiwi profile image

      Eaglekiwi 7 years ago from -Oceania

      Yes I love coffee and when I was training to be a barista ,we were allowed to drink as much as wanted ( since our tutor was quite picky on us getting the extraction correct ect an then learning how to roll the milk ,oh my gosh I can still him telling me in his cute Brazillian accent ...you must rooooollll , the milk. lol..( quality milk) adds to the overall indulgence.....Buying (if you can) from a local coffee roaster guarantees the freeshest beans ,check your local yellow pages. To you best life . Ekiwi

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      IQBAL: Thanks for the comment

      Ekiwi: What does it mean to "roll" the milk? Never heard of that one. The freshest beans. Yes, that makes a big difference. And the freshest cold water.

    • Eaglekiwi profile image

      Eaglekiwi 7 years ago from -Oceania

      Yikes I just saw my spelling mistakes ,sorry about that alekhouse. Making lattes,cappucinos' flat whites etc all depends on the way the milk is  heated in the jug , the hotter it gets ,the milk will roll , and what you are doing is 'introducing air' into the milk ,it is that process that determines how 'full' volume the over-all milk will be when poured into the coffee (shot)....so rolling the milk ( steam -wand) is that gurgling sound you hear when a barista is making fresh coffee......you can buy smaller  home machines now , that are close to the big Italian or French commercial machines too.

      Hey I see your in KY , why dont I just come up there and we can do coffee! lol

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      Sounds like a plan! I love the idea of you coming here for coffee and making expresso.  I don't make expresso, but I like it. Actually, my favorite is Cafe Latte, with whipped cream, of course. You mentioned  "...come up there..." ....from where?

    • ArnMan profile image

      ArnMan 7 years ago from Alexandria, La.

      I gots to have my cup of coffee in the morning. The coffee I drink is Community French Roast or Medium Roast from South Louisiana. I like the get whole bean and grind em up, only thing is grinding whole beans, is so super loud, when you havent fully woken up yet. lol

      I am always on the lookout for restaurant style coffee with the best taste, so I can have it at home too.

    • Eaglekiwi profile image

      Eaglekiwi 7 years ago from -Oceania

      alekhouse...I trained in New Zealand but live in SC now ,sorry Im still geographically challenged lol....my sis-in-law lives in Richmond KY ,and Ive never even met her yet....think your up from me ?

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      Arnman: Yeah, but it's worth it! Right? Put some ear plugs on. I know louisiana coffee is supposed to be good, never tried it.

      Ekiwi: If you're in South Carolina, yes, I'm up from you. We're just across the river from Indiana.

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Love this hub as I love coffee - my poison of choice, my dark angel. See, the thought of it even makes me wax poetic! LOL I would serious love to grin my own beans - I've been told is the best way to enjoy it but alas, Starbucks is at my beck and call. Thanks for sharing :D

    • profile image

      nazishnasim 7 years ago

      What a great coffee smelling hub! I love European blend! yust love it love it love it! :D

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      Cris: So glad you stopped by. I really admire your work, especially your poetry. You're so creative.Coffee grinders are not expensive, you ought to try grinding your own. You'll never go back to buying it already ground. But Starbucks, that's another story, it's soooooooo good. They've got those coffee drinks down pat! Problem is, it's so expensive.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      naz: Thanks for the comment. Glad you liked my coffee smelling hub. I had no idea it would be so popular. Maybe my next one will be on pizza....give the people what they want! How does a pizza-smelling hub sound?

    • profile image

      Coffee Connoisseur 7 years ago

      I love my coffee, like the rest of you and have been enthralled with the single cup coffee machines.

      Has anyone had any experience with the new Krups Dolce Gusto? This is a relatively new single cup coffee maker and espresso machine. The thing I hate about buying a new coffee machine is that you have no idea the quality of the coffee they make.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      About the Krups machine: I know some people who have it. They love it, but said it was very expensive. It's perfect for a bed and breakfast.

    • Ashley Joy profile image

      Ashley Joy 7 years ago

      Finding the perfect cup of coffee is a quest many of us are on.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      Well, you may have found it already, without even knowing it. Try one of the coffees listed above.

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 7 years ago

      Great informative hub--I'm an incorrigible coffee addict--no amount of bad-mouthing coffee can get me off this stuff. It wakes me up in the morning and keeps me going through the day.

      My mom used to make coffee with a sprig of screwpine leaf and sometimes she adds a well-beaten egg (her own creation) and it tasted yummy.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      I have heard of adding an egg before. My grandmother used to put eggshells down in the bottom of the pot. Have you ever tried it with cinnamon? Add a cinnamon stick to the bottom of your drip coffee pot. Let it steep for 5 minutes or more. Very popular in Mexico. It's really good.

      That reminds me, another good coffee is Bustelo. It's a Mexican coffee, but I think you can buy it here in the states

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 7 years ago

      Cinnamon sticks--great idea and cinnamon is so good for the body too. Thanks for sharing another good coffee:)

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      Your welcome

    • Florida Keys profile image

      Florida Keys 7 years ago from Jewfish Key Florida

      Read your hub and thought you might like my take on the perfect cup.

      https://hubpages.com/food/The-Perfect-Cup-of-Coffe...

      Also My other Hubs are mostly about my home in Florida which we use for vacation rental when we're not there...may run it as a B&B one day.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      Thanks for the comment, suggestion, and the link. I love coffee made in a French press. But I have a bed and breakfast and we're pretty busy. It's more expedient for us to use a commercial grinder and coffee maker.

    • Florida Keys profile image

      Florida Keys 7 years ago from Jewfish Key Florida

      Still it's more cost effective and makes a better cup of coffee when you roast your own beans.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      OK. Good to know. Thanks

    • profile image

      Badass Screens 7 years ago

      I love coffee but I can't agree its a myth that its not addictive. Just try giving it up for a couple of days :o)

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      BS: Well, you just may be right. There is a full blown controversy going on among researchers, etc. I have given it up, but I'm not an addictive personality; all I get is a headache for a couple of days.

    • profile image

      Badass Screens 7 years ago

      Yeah the headaches kill for sure, but I definitely have a real urge to make a pot of coffee in the morning when I get out of bed much like I used to get for cigarettes in the bad old days. I do have an addictive personality though. :o)

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      Well, it's good that you're aware of it. At least you know to stay away from certain things.

    • e-bookssite profile image

      e-bookssite 7 years ago from Lehigh Acres, Fl.

      I drink coffee day and night. My favorite is Peruvian Organic and Dunkin Donuts. I prefer the dark roasts, the darker the better. Great article. I like the voting part at the bottom.Happy Drinking!

      http://e-bookssite.com

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      Thanks for stopping by. Never had Peruvian Organic. I bet it's great. I like the dark roasts too. I probably would like it. Can you get it in the US?

    • profile image

      ralwus 7 years ago

      I like my Columbian done in my French Press.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      I see you are a man of gentile tastes. Yes, coffee made in a French press is wonderful. Kona is my favorite, or Jamaican Blue Mountain. Love your new avatar.

    • profile image

      CoffeeWriter 6 years ago

      Nice hub. Appreciated the information on coffee myths. Good use of citations within your article... adds a lot of credibility to your points.

    • profile image

      CoffeeWriter 6 years ago

      Nice hub. Appreciated the information on coffee myths. Good use of citations within your article... adds a lot of credibility to your points.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      Thanks CoffeeWriter...appreciate the confidence

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 5 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Kona is my favorite when I can afford it. Usually I just buy the knock off Hazlenut Kona variety. It is only about 15% Kona, but oh well.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      I love Kona too...it's also my favorite...but no favoring please...just good old strong, black coffee.

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