Brewing a Perfect Cup of Coffee - The Basics
Brewing a great cup of coffee depends on a number of things such as the quality of the coffee bean, the quality of the water being used, the type of brewing being done, and the grind of the coffee.
Now quality of bean and water is something you can easily take care of. Just use good quality beans and pure water. However the relationship between the grind of the coffee and the type of brewing being done is more detailed and could use a little explanation. Now we all know that we make coffee by passing hot water over crushed coffee beans. However for it to really work well we need to understand just how long the water should be passing over the beans. The purpose of this article is to help you understand how to match your coffee's grind to the type of brewing you are doing in order to make the best coffee possible.
Generally speaking, the 'soaking' time relates directly to how coarse the coffee is ground. This means that smaller coffee grinds need less contact with the water, and coarser grinds need longer contact. Espresso coffee is only exposed to water for 20-40 seconds and as a result is made using extremely fine grind coffee. A French press coffee maker can take as much as 4 minutes and uses an extremely coarse grind. If coffee is left contacting water for too long for its grind size, unwanted extracts emerge and make the coffee taste bitter. Of course if the grind is too large and the water passes very quickly (like using french press grind in an espresso maker), very little of the caffeine and flavors extracted and will have poor flavor.
Of course, filters play an important role in managing the balance between over and under brewing your coffee. Not only do they keep the grind out of your cup, but they also control how fast the water passes over the grinds. Paper filters are the most common, but many people are also using metal varieties. Paper filters are quite good. However they can absorb some of the coffee flavor, and some people claim they can taste the paper in the final coffee. Metal filters are normally made from stainless steel or gold plated mesh. They have very fine weave and filter out the coffee grinds very well. They also have the added benefit of not altering the taste of the coffee going for them. Metal filters are also more environmentally friendly than the paper alternative.
Whichever you choose though, be sure to buy good quality. Cheap filters often clog or not allow the coffee to brew properly. A decent quality metal filter will last years and save you money in the end.
Brewing a cup of coffee is not hard. But brewing a great cup takes more understanding and experimentation for your tastes. Start with fresh beans and good clean water, then match your brewing style to the proper grind. Be sure to play around with the exact proportions to your taste and pretty soon you'll be brewing killer coffee every time!