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Coffee has five primary ways of being brewed. Each method has brewing variables – introduction of water, brewing temperature, and separating the brewed liquor from the coffee grounds. These five methods are called Turkish brewing, concentrate brewing, percolating, drip brewing, and French Press brewing.
“Turkish” or “Greek” Coffee
Turkish coffee or kahve is the traditional name is made in small containers directly on the flame with water and finely ground kahve comes to a boil. Often times it is brewed up with sugar already introduced. In some traditions they will pour off a little into each cup and then bring it to a second boil, pouring the rest off into each cup insuring an even distribution of grounds. In some regions they serve the kahve with added spice which is usually cardamom. The coffee is not filtered from the liquor which leaves a thick pungent and muddy brew. The mud settles to the bottom of the tiny demitasse cups the coffee is served in. In many countries they read the coffee mud after you have drank your coffee and tell you your future.
Concentrate brewing is very popular in Latin America and other parts of the world. It is beginning to make a come back in the U.S.. Concentrate brewing takes large amounts of coffee that is brewed with small amounts of water to brew a concentrate. To make a cup of coffee you mix some of the concentrate with hot water. The concentrate is brewed either hot or cold. When it is brewed cold you must let the coffee sit for at least a day. This method creates a mild light-bodied coffee with little aroma and a little acidity with a muted flavor.
This procedure involves a continuous brewing of the coffee grounds using boiling water which then turns to boiling coffee liquor brewing over the grounds. This method is practical but is an insult to the coffee bean. Brewing with boiling water is bad enough, then boiling the liquor is asking for a thin, bitter and tarry coffee.
Though this produces an awful cup of coffee many people still prefer percolation. If its for you then more power to you!
This is the most popular way to brew coffee in the U.S.A. Pouring hot water over grounds in a filter and letting the brew drip out the bottom, simple. Drip brewing can produce an excellent cup of coffee if the proper equipment is used. One of the biggest issues with auto drip machines is they don’t brew at the right temperature. Bunn is one of the few companies which calibrate their machines to the proper temperature. If you have a good auto drip brewing machine then the next hurdle to tackle is the filter. Paper filters can deposit a flavor in the coffee and also do not allow a lot of the coffee oils and organic compounds through. A gold-plated reusable filter is the perfect option for drip brewing. It will not deposit a taste in the coffee and doesn’t trap as much of the coffee’s essence as paper filters do.
French Press or Press Pot
French Pres brewing gives you complete control. It is more labor intensive than auto drip the brewing variables can be better controlled. Coarsely ground coffee is placed in a glass carafe. The hot water is then poured over the grounds. When the brewing is complete the top is placed on and a plunger that consists of a metal mesh plate is pressed down pushing the grounds to the bottom. The coffee liquor is on top ready to be poured off. The mesh filter allows the oils and fine coffee particles through without a problem. Also because a coarser grind is required a longer brewing time is required. A general rule of thumb is four minutes for a French press. This direct contact of the grounds to water allows a more complete, controllable, and even extraction. Even with the coarse grind though a coarse grind will still produce some fine particles. A cup of French-pressed coffee will be fuller, more body, and more flavor. It will also have sediment on the bottom of the cup.
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It won’t matter how rich, expensive or high quality your coffee beans are, they won’t produce the best flavor if the grinding isn’t right. There is more than one type of grinder on the market and when evaluating grind and brew coffee makers, you will want to pay careful attention to the grinder.
The Grinding Side of Coffee Making
Some grinders come with blades and some have burr type grinders. The generally consensus among coffee growers is that the burr type is best. The blades tend to cut the coffee in a way that doesn’t release the best flavor. On the other hand, 2î burrs will gently chop the beans into a well ground consistency that will enhance the bean’s flavor. The objective here is a fine, consistent grind.
The other side of the combination grind and brew coffee makers is the brewing component. This will consist of a water reservoir, a filter and the cup or pot area to catch the hot coffee. Brewers come with a thermostat to heat water to the perfect temperature. Filer areas can hold a filter designed to hold enough grounds to make a full pot, or have single serving filters. The most important part of the brewing side of things to consider is how well the water is filtered as well as the coffee. If tap water is used and contains minerals, there must be a water filtration system to avoid having chemicals or minerals change the taste of the coffee. You could of course use filtered water, but in combination units convenience is the goal.
Putting the Two Together
Combination units have taken the best grinders and best brewers and put them conveniently together. Many combo units have timers so you can program them to grind and brew just minutes before you are ready to enjoy the coffee. This freshly ground and brewed coffee can be waiting for you and begin the process as you sleep. You will wake up to the aroma and flavors that will help you start your day just right.
There are various sizes and styles of combination coffee makers. Depending on the recipe (Espresso, Latte, etc) or if you plan to make more single cup drinks than pots, you can buy the right the model for your needs.
In addition to comparing features you will want to compare your personal needs to the machine’s abilities. For example, the super automatic Espresso maker or Cappuccino Makers are designed for the busiest people. They go from stone cold to a freshly brewed cup of coffee in a matter of minutes. There is also a clean up time to factor in. With super automatic styles, there is no clean up so you can save even more time with these models.
The basic formula for the perfect, freshest brew then is to begin with the beans. Select a flavor from around the world that appeals to you. Next, make sure you retain that flavor by grinding it with a burr style grinder (not usually found at your local grocery store) to ensure the texture is just right for brewing. Then brew with pure water and a good filter that won’t change the flavor. Grind and brew coffee makers with all of these features will do the job. The rest of the features, such as timers, automatic cleaning, etc. will just be foam on your latte!
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Air is the enemy of all coffee drinkers. Once air comes in contact with your coffee grinds, they begin to lose their flavor. Coffee manufacturers vacuum seal their grinds to keep them fresh while they sit on the shelves at the supermarket but once you break that seal, it’s all downhill from there. Buying whole coffee beans and grinding them yourself is a great way to ensure that your coffee remains as flavorful as possible. But do you know how to grind your coffee beans properly?
Different types of coffee calls for different types of grinds. So you’ll need to learn to use your coffee grinder properly if you want to make the freshest best tasting coffee possible.
If you plan on brewing your coffee with a percolator or a French Press coffee maker then you’ll need a coarser grind. Place the coffee beans in your coffee grinder and tap the grind button a few times as you would use the pulse feature on your food processor. The goal is to break the beans up so that they look like tiny pieces of coffee bean. If they look like a powder, then you need to slowly back away from the coffee grinder and start again. Remember to tap the button and not hold it down.
Automatic drip coffee makers work best with medium grinds. Picture the grinds that you’d find in a can of supermarket coffee. Those are medium grinds. They can be described as looking like brown sand. So remember the last time you went to the beach but instead of seeing the sand in between your toes, imagine seeing sand in your coffee maker. Once again, while holding the coffee grinder button, don’t get carried away and over grind your coffee beans. You do not want a fine powder if you’re going to use an automatic coffee maker.
Finally if your using an espresso maker, you want those fine powdery grinds that you’ve been trying to avoid when making coarse and medium grinds. So grind away until your heart is content.
Grinding your own coffee beans right before you brew your coffee is a great way to make sure that you’re getting the freshest cup of coffee possible. But a fresh cup of coffee can still be bitter or weak. Learning how to grind your coffee beans is an important part of making great coffee.