“Coffee has become recognized as a human necessity. It is no longer a luxury or an indulgence; it is a corollary of human energy and human efficiency.”
- William H. Ukers, All About Coffee (1922)
Great coffee, the kind that reminds you of everything you appreciate in life. It's about the art, the ritual, and the moments shared across the table. It is more than another tasteful drink; it’s an experience. The average consumer is ignorant as to what real or good coffee really is, they have adapted into a routine that involves instant coffee, pre-ground or an on-the-go vendor which ultimately leads to a poor experience. The solution to escape mundane mediocrity is to take action and invest in tools that will create coffee euphoria.
How Do You Measure A “Good Cup”
The quest for measuring the perfect cup of coffee begins in the 1950’s when a gentleman by the name of E. E. Lockhart sought out the answer, the MIT chemist professor issued surveys to American consumers to find out what makes a good coffee. He discovered consumers preferred coffee that had an extraction range of 18% - 22% with brew strength between 1.15% - 1.35%. Today, it is the same. Extraction refers to the particles from dry grounds while brew strength is the total dissolved solids. Ideally, it is best to use a coffee to water ratio which will produce the same results without the confusing jargon.
The core fundamentals that produce a great morning brew consists of a few things,
These play a vital role in how the coffee tastes, and the aromas experienced. Remember, coffee is more than a typical drink, it is an iconic morning ritual and if it is something that is going to be done everyday it is always great to begin with an enjoyable brew. Let’s dive in deeper and exploit what truly makes a great cup. First and foremost it is important to start with:
High Quality Coffee Beans
High quality coffee beans refers to whole beans that have been recently roasted within a few weeks, connoisseurs claim that a lighter roast will produce more of a flavor while a dark roast will produce a strong bitter taste. Be sure to stay away from pre-ground coffee as there is no way to preserve the flavour.
After you purchase your beans it is crucial to take proper care of them, place the beans into an air-tight container (mason jars work well), this reduces exposure to oxygen and will preserve freshness and quality. Also, it is important to keep the beans stored in a dark, cool place because sunlight, along with moisture will increase the chemical activity and oxidation of the beans resulting in loss of flavour.
Grind Your Own Beans
Coffee is a delicate substance which contains a large amount of flavour however, it can also deteriorate quickly when exposed to oxygen. Grinding your beans minutes before brewing allows the flavour to remain intact and makes for a delicious morning. Additionally, grinding coffee is like Goldilocks, the beans cannot be too coarse nor too fine but just right in order for proper extraction of flavour to occur. It is critical to invest in a quality grinder that produces uniform grounds, this ensures that the extraction rate of the oils and acids will be consistent.
Coffee to Water Ratio
This is overlooked by the average coffee consumer, in order to get the perfect cup it is essential to have the correct measurement of each. This produces a rich taste that will enhance the drinkers experience. To further understand the coffee to water ratio it is recommended to use a reference chart, this not only will help dissolve any confusion but will also provide guidelines of what to expect. As always, modify according to taste.
When spending the money on high quality coffee beans it is important to ensure proper temperature for maximum flavour, ideally, coffee should range from 140 F-160 F (60 C - 70 C) when consumed. Coffee that exceeds these ranges reduces the taste receptors and virtually has no taste whatsoever. When brwing, the temperature of the water is critical because if the water is too hot the beans will burn however if not hot enough the extraction will be poor. The ideal temperature is from 195 F - 205 F (90 C - 96 C), in a perfect scenario the closer to 205 F one get the better the brew.
Types of Brewers
There are a wide array of brewers to choose from as listed below
Each of these have their own distinct tastes and brewing styles, to find which one fits yours it is great to try brews from each of the brewers. You can do this by visiting cafe’s and asking which brewing method they use. Having a diverse experience allows you to make a clearer decision and a happy investment. This may appear to be a big hassle and unnecessary although, one may argue that if you are consuming coffee everyday why wouldn’t you want your morning to be optimized for that perfect cup of joe.