Caring for your Coffee

Coffee is at it’s best within days of roasting.

We realize that everyone does not have the advantage that we have to benefit from freshly roasted coffee daily, so here are some hints for caring for your coffee:

  1. We package in bags with de-gassing valves – this allows the natural gases to escape while not exposing the coffee to excessive air. We recommend that you keep you coffee in these bags at normal room temperature – use a clip for the top once opened. We do not think coffee should be stored in the fridge or freezer – would you buy a freshly baked loaf of bread and put it in the freezer?
  2. Coffee will last a long time but to realize its optimum freshness and flavour, we suggest that you use it within a month or so or buying it.
  3. We recommend clean filtered water heated to no more than 95°C to ensure optimum taste of the coffee

Making the Perfect Cup

Brewing coffee is as much of an art as it is a science.

The following general rules apply to each coffee making process discussed.

Coffee should be brewed for 4.5-5 minutes using a ratio of 55 grams (about 2 tablespoons per 6 oz of water) of ground coffee per liter of filtered water (195-205°F). We recommend filtered water or spring water as tap water frequently adds off flavours to the coffee and some minerals are essential to coffee flavor. We do not recommend distilled water for brewing coffee as it lacks the minerals to bring out the natural flavors of the coffee.

Methods of Making Coffee

French Press: The best way to control the time and temperature is to use a French press coffee maker. The French press offers unparalleled flavor due to perfect extraction time and delivery of the volatile oils that are often trapped in paper filters. A French press is also the least expensive coffee brewer available. To make coffee in a French press: boil the correct amount of water, pour some into the glass to warm the carafe for a minute or two. Freshly grind the coffee beans using a course setting, remove the plunger, place the coffee grounds at the bottom of the glass, add the hot water, stir by shaking, and after 4-5 minutes press the plunger down to separate the grounds from the extracted coffee. Note: You do not want to pour boiling water directly onto the coffee. The goal is to brew coffee at a temperature between 195-205°F.

Automatic Drip Coffee Maker: The easiest way to brew coffee is by using an automatic drip coffee brewer. Unfortunately, few coffee machines brew at the right temperature for the correct amount of time. The best drip coffee makers currently available are produced by Techni Vorm with the insulated carafe is probably the best drip brewer available on the market.

If your brewer has a hot plate under a glass carafe, remove the carafe after the coffee is fully brewed to prevent the coffee from burning. An insulated carafe is the best way to keep coffee hot because allowing a pot of coffee to sit on a hot plate only burns the coffee.

 

Espresso

An espresso is a concentrated coffee beverage brewed by forcing very hot, but not boiling, water under high pressure through coffee that has been ground to a consistency that is between extremely fine and powder.

A perfect espresso has a soft crèma with a nutty or reddish/brown colour and has a dense sweet aromatic body. Contrary to many beliefs, espresso is the preparation of the drink – not the type of bean or the type of roast. Not all espressos are made from dark roasted beans – the roast depends entirely on the particular bean. An espresso should be consumed within 2 minutes from when it is served. A perfect espresso will look like a mini pint of Guinness with a creamy head.

The best espresso should be extraordinarily sweet, have a potent aroma, and flavor similar to freshly ground coffee. The crema should be dark reddish-brown and smooth, yet thick. A perfect espresso should be enjoyable straight with no additives, yet bold enough to not disappear in milk. A pleasant and aromatic aftertaste should linger on the palate for several minutes after consumption.

Espressos serve as the foundation of many other coffee drinks:

  • Ristretto – (or short shot) Meaning restricted, this is a shot that is stopped at ¾ of an ounce. This restricted extraction ensures that only the best qualities of the coffee are extracted and not the bitter elements. This is the preferred straight shot in Europe.
  • The Single – Basically a shot extracted to 1 ounce.
  • The Lungo – (or long shot) a shot extracted to 1.5 ounces.
  • The Doppio (or double) – A 2 ounce shot using twice as much coffee in the portafilter.
An Americano is a really good way to enjoy a regular strength cup of coffee. Simply extract a shot of espresso and fill the rest of the 6 to 8 ounce cup with hot water. This makes a smooth cup of coffee similar to drip brewed.
Macchiato means “marked” in Italian. Therefore this drink is a shot of espresso marked with a small amount of foamed milk dabbed on top with a spoon and served in a demitasse (small cup).
Con Panna means “with cream” so basically this drink is the same as a Macchiato except using a dab of whipped cream instead of foamed milk.
By far the most difficult coffee drink to prepare properly. When prepared properly, a cappuccino is made with velvety, wet foam that mixes with the pour instead of a large bubbled meringue floating on top of the espresso. The cappuccino is a shot of espresso with steamed milk poured in without holding back the foam (like in a latte).
A latte is probably the most popular coffee drink served in cafes and coffee shops. It starts with a single shot of espresso for a 6 to 8 ounce drink. Steamed milk is poured on top but the foam is held back with the spoon until about 70% to 75% full. Then it is topped off with foam.

For a larger latte (12 to 16 ounces) a double shot is used to maintain the coffee flavor.

An inverted latté, with the espresso poured on top of the milk. When the milk is vanilla flavored with caramel drizzled over the top, it is called a caramel macchiato.
A shot of espresso served in a small glass filled with condensed milk. The shot and the milk remain separate unless stirred, as in a black and tan.
A latte blended with chocolate.

Making Perfect Espresso

The following steps describe in detail how to make espresso. You will also learn about the various factors and problems with espresso that limit its perfection. If any of these factors are off, you will not achieve a high quality espresso.

Without a good espresso coffee blend you cannot have a good espresso. The best espresso coffee beans are blended to achieve the sweetness, aromatics, and smoothness desired in espresso. The espresso blend must also be fresh.
Too often you will find espresso roasted very dark. This results in a bitter, charcoal tasting brew. People that know how to make an espresso will roast light to preserve the aroma and sugars.
The grind must be continuously monitored throughout the day to achieve an extraction time of 25-30 seconds. Do not change the pressure you tamp with to compensate for a grind that has become too large or small.
A high quality burr grinder is essential for espresso. A conical burr grinder is preferred to flat burrs since the particle size is more even, they last longer, and the coffee is not heated during the grinding process. A conical/parallel hybrid blade is considered the best design by many coffee professionals.
Coffee must be freshly ground to achieve peak flavors. Grind and dose on demand. When someone orders an espresso grind only what is necessary for one shot, dose properly, tamp, and brew. Discard any espresso grounds that are not used within 30 seconds.
Distribute the coffee evenly after dosing in the portafilter before tamping.
Tamp the coffee once very evenly with 5 lbs of pressure, then once with 30 lbs of pressure, and polish 720° with 20 lbs of pressure.
The water used for espresso must be filtered. Some cities must even compensate for the mineral content of their water. Over time oxygen will be forced out of the water in the espresso machine leading to off tasting water. Try filling a small glass with water, letting it cool, and tasting it for off flavors. If the water tastes strange you may want to dump the tanks daily and begin with fresh water.
The water temperature should be stable and somewhere between 92-96°C. Choosing the best espresso machine is very important to both water temperature and temperature stability.
The pressure of the water forced through the espresso should be between 9 and 10 atm. This pressure is responsible for the development of the crema.
Extraction time to fill two 1-oz cups should be between 25-30 seconds. Despite the time the pump should be turned off if the espresso becomes slightly lighter in color. The goal is to have a dark red espresso take approximately 25-30 seconds to brew with no change in color.
The porta-filter should always remain the same temperature as the water used to brew the espresso. Therefore it should always remain in the group head. The basket should hold 16-18 grams of coffee and must be straight walled. Curvatures in the basket will lead to uneven extraction.
Act quickly, but carefully. You should spend no longer than 30 seconds for the time it takes to dose, distribute, tamp, pre-heat, and brew the espresso.

This is probably the biggest problem with espresso today. If the machine, basket, and porta-filter are not cleaned regularly, the espresso will always taste rancid.
Everyday the burr blades should be swept clean. Between shots you may want to brush out the excess espresso that gets stuck between the burrs and the dosing chamber. The burrs must be replaced at least yearly so that they continue to produce coffee granules with a maximal surface area.
The humidity and temperature will change throughout the day. Since coffee is hydroscopic (absorbs moisture), the grind size must be changed throughout the day to achieve a brew time of 25-30 seconds. The temperature will not affect the espresso like the humidity, but it is important to avoid exposing the coffee to any high temperatures until brewing.
The espresso cup should be pre-heated from a source other than the espresso machine. Filling a cup with water from the espresso machine prior to brewing the espresso will lower the temperature of the water in the boiler and the espresso extraction will be uneven. The espresso cup should have thick walls and a narrow mouth to retain heat and aroma, respectively.

Practice makes perfect

If you want to learn to make espresso, it is essential to practice and experiment. The key to making espresso is to realize that it always has further potential. By changing any one of these factors you can improve or diminish its potential. If it does not work the first time try and try again – you will find ‘your perfect espresso’.