Mastering the Perfect Cup of Coffee
Coffee is a beverage that has provided countless inspiration and extra energy for millions of people. And perhaps the most notable among them would be famed coffee addict Honoré de Balzac, who reportedly drank fifty cups of the good stuff every single day.
Adding to the delight of the beverage is the fact that it can be brewed at home, so you don’t ever have to leave the house. Before choosing your favorite mug and starting your day off right, there are a few things you need to know in order to make the perfect cup of coffee.
Understanding Coffee at a Deeper Level
Coffee comes from the seed of the ripened fruit of the coffea arabica or the coffea canephora (robust) plants. There are innumerable steps in the chain from coffee bean to coffee cup, and multitudes of opinions on how to obtain the best tasting cup of coffee. There are as many flavors of coffee as there are wine, and just as many coffee snobs.
The bottom line is, however, that there is a right and a wrong way to make a good cup of coffee, and complicating matters, there are many types of coffee makers out there. One of the most popular is the French press, which extracts a lot of flavor from the beans in a short amount of time. Below, we’ll explain how to brew a cup using the pour-over method.
Choose the Right Ingredients
Just like with any recipe, you have to start with high quality ingredients, which means choosing the right kind of coffee beans. Of course, you’ll want to seek out ethically sourced, fair trade beans. Brands that carry the Rainforest Certified Alliance Seal ensure that your coffee has been ethically produced, and that it was not obtained via deforestation tactics.
The Coffee Brewing Process
Grind your coffee beans within thirty minutes of brewing to ensure that they remain fresh. Some coffee consumers like to brew their beverages in a burr mill, which can be rather pricey. Electric grinders will do the job well if you’re not willing to spend that much.
The quality of the water you use is also extremely important. Because of this, you should use only bottled or filtered tap water. The ratio of water to coffee grounds is important too, and many serious coffee drinkers will invest in small scales that measure out the coffee grounds by weight, with the typical ratio being 5 tablespoons of coffee to 16 ounces of water.
Experiment on your own, but err on the side of making a stronger brew, because you can always dilute it with water if you must. If you’re storing the water in any type of container, it must be washed thoroughly and frequently, as the buildup of bacteria will dramatically and negatively affect the taste and quality of the coffee.
The amount of time you brew your coffee is one of the most important steps in the process. The golden time is usually 3 minutes, if your grind is not too fine and not too coarse. Either under- or over-extraction will ruin the unique flavors of the coffee that have been carefully prepared during the roasting process.
The Technicalities of the Brewing Process
The actual brewing process is fairly simple. The classic pour-over method involves a kettle full of water, set to boil. Place a dripper lined with a paper filter on top of your carafe or mug, rinse the filter with hot water to preheat the cone, then place the ground coffee in the dampened filter.
Wait 10 seconds after the water boils for it to settle, thus creating a smoother beverage. Slowly pour the hot water through the coffee grounds, waiting for it to trickle through the dripper. Repeat until you have a full cup of coffee, then pour another for your friend or loved one and enjoy!