February 25, 2008

I make my coffee with a knife! (updated)

I've been reading a couple of posts recently on some sites dedicated to the art of making coffee.

I particularly like this one which talks about making coffee with a $4 filter.

Now I wouldn't call myself a coffee freak but I do like a nice cup of Joe. Personally I'm a big fan of the Cafetiere (or 'French press' as it is called in the US). The reason is that my coffee grinder is a blade grinder which doesn't produce fine enough (or consistent enough) grounds for an espresso maker. but for something like a cafetiere or the $4 coffee filter it is absolutely fine.

Now the secret to making good, tasty coffee is not the apparatus, or the fancy, thermally treated, heat capturing cup you've purchased. It's not even about the filter or the water (although all these things are important)

It's about the grind. Or more importantly it's about the beans that you grind. As coffee geek says:
  • Only buy fresh roasted coffee - ask, nay, demand roast dates on the coffee you buy, and only buy coffee that was roasted 7 days or less ago (if you're buying via the Internet look for vendors who ship the day it roasts, or the day after).
I personally buy my coffee from a local store called Mochachinos which also sells on-line. They have all sorts of beans and different grinds depending on what you're going to use the coffee for. I used to use a percolator and ask for a 'number 11' when getting it ground, but since I bought my own grinder I can just buy the whole beans and be done with it.

The beans: I tend to go for decaf (I know, I know.....) and then I tend to go for flavoured decaf (I know, I know....) and usually end up with about £6 ($12) of French Vanilla whole bean to play with. There whole beans are all fairly recently roasted although the flavoured ones are not as fresh as non flavoured ones.

Back home I drop them in my blade grinder, which - as stated before - cuts them just right for the cafetiere, but I only do this at the point the kettle is on and approaching boiling. Remember as soon as you grind your beans the flavour starts to leave them. That aroma you smell once the beans are ground is the goodness leaving them, never to return.

Just before the water boils I switch off the kettle, pour the water into the cafetiere over the recently ground beans and then - I STIR THE SLURRY WITH A KNIFE. You don't have to use a knife, a spoon or chopstick will do, but whatever you do, you need to make sure the water gets the opportunity to interact with all the beans in the pot. I then wait for about 4 minutes for it to 'mash'.

Then consume.

The flavour is affected by a number of things: Freshness of the roast, freshness of the grind, temperature (and taste) of the water, length of time left to mash, and how much sugar or milk you put in ("If I'd wanted cream and sugar I wouldn't have asked for coffee")

So forget your expensive (and complex) cappuccino/latte/espresso makers, get yourself a cafetiere and some good beans and have a ball!

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