Simplicity and Its Effect on a Great Cup of Coffee (Video) - Try Coffee
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Simplicity and Its Effect on a Great Cup of Coffee (Video)

When it comes to everyone’s favorite morning beverage, many people tend toward the complicated. As time has moved on and technology has expanded, it’s no surprise to find that a new multi-step brewing option is available, and everyone is rushing to give it a shot. It’s a whole different world from a time when nearly everyone had a simple coffee brewer and the only ingredients added to a cup of joe were some sugar and milk.

There’s nothing wrong with trying something new or keeping up with trends if that’s something that interests you, don’t get me wrong. However, for many people, simplicity can provide the perfect cup of coffee with a lot less work. Optimizing the ingredients used in coffee, even when they just include water and coffee, is crucial to making the best cup of coffee.

Today, we’re going to be looking at the basic ingredients and equipment associated with coffee and how making certain choices can result in a better brew. Sometimes simply picking the right type of bean can improve a cup of coffee just as much as buying a new brewer that everyone out there is hyping up. Rather than focusing on the high-technology of coffee, let’s get back to basics.

The Optimal Water to Use for Brewing Coffee

You might think that any water is pretty much the same as any other water, but if you’re brewing some coffee, that isn’t the truth. Water is one of the two most important things to take into account when brewing coffee. Everything from the pH level to the amount of minerals in the water will have an effect on the mug of coffee when all is said and done.

Most people will assume that if the water they drink tastes okay, it’s alright to put in coffee, too. That’s true to a certain degree. But if you want the absolute best coffee, that means only using the best water you can get your hands on. We’ll look at a few ways you can make sure that the water you use is the best it can be.

Considering Hard vs. Soft Water

There is a lot of debate about whether hard or soft water is best for brewing coffee. This is a matter of taste and you’ll need to consider that in your decision. If you aren’t familiar with what water hardness is, it relates to the amounts of calcium and magnesium found in the water. Many people believe that hard water, which has more magnesium, helps bring out a better flavor of coffee. When there is less of those minerals, but a higher level of salt, it can leave the coffee tasting flatter.

That said, if you have extremely hard water, this can cause problems to your espresso machine. It can lead to excessive scaling which is a problem with pressurized coffee making. If you use a manual brewer, this is likely not to be a problem. Simple maintenance and descaling will take care of any issue without it being problematic.

Filtered Tap Water

If you aren’t interested in using your natural tap water in your coffee, the simplest solution is to filter it. If you consider the guidelines of the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), you will find that the water used for brewing is expected to be free of chlorine, free of odor, and clean. Any pitcher that includes a filter with activated carbon will help to remove chlorine and chloramine. They’re inexpensive and you can pick them up anywhere. However, they also need replaced on a regular basis for someone who drinks coffee every day.

You can also have a filter mounted to your sink, which makes the process more straightforward and will required fewer filter changes. For those who want to go big, there are even full filtration units that can be connected to your sink so there’s literally no work required to get fresh, clean water. These devices can filter thousands of gallons of water before needed replacement.

Reverse Osmosis Water

Reverse osmosis water is a water that has gone through a process that removes all of the minerals present. This leaves water that has nothing else inside of it. For some people, this might seem like a plus, but it’s actually not a great idea. If you brew a coffee using only reverse osmosis water, what you are going to end up with is a cup of coffee that is flat and bland. That’s generally not something most coffee drinkers are looking for.

The reason for this is because of the lack of calcium and magnesium in the water as these two minerals bring out the flavor of your coffee. However, there are blending reverse osmosis systems that may be less problematic. While these machines remove the minerals, they also mix them back in, so you get the benefits of the minerals. In fact, in many cases the system will let you customize the exact amount of minerals that go back into your water.

As such, straight reverse osmosis is not great for coffee but blended reverse osmosis is wonderful for coffee. Looking at the SCA again, it’s recommended that your water contain 150 mg/L of dissolved solids for the best results. Those who have no reverse osmosis with blending can do the blending on their own. You can try different ratios until you determine the best option for improving the taste of the coffee.

Simple Bottled Water

The two options listed above are the best for brewed coffee, but you can also choose to use bottled water for your coffee. However, this isn’t as simple as grabbing any bottle and using it either. Different bottled waters contain varied amounts of minerals, different pH levels, and other things that relate to how well they will brew a cup of coffee. When buying water that is intended for coffer, you want to choose a water labeled spring or bottled water. If you choose blended jugs of reverse osmosis water, it’s also a good idea to look for magnesium being used as the hardness blending in. However, this may not always be available.

Things to Consider When Purchasing Green Coffee Beans

Before the coffee beans are roasted and turn beige, brown, or black, they start off as a small green bean. Those who appreciate roasting their own beans are probably already aware that there are different grades in terms of coffee beans. When you are in charge of buying the green beans for roasting, there are numerous things that have to be considered to get the best quality coffee. The best beans are considered “exceptional” and “specialty” but even then, there can be variations between two sets of beans.

When choosing green coffee beans, the first thing to watch for are beans that are of almost the same size. You’ll also want them to have a similar shape and a color that is nearly identical. The reason that this matters is because the coffee will roast the most evenly if all the beans are nearly the same. If you have half a batch of small beans and half a batch of large ones, they are going to roast differently and make the taste of the coffee less varied. Beans with different colors can also speak toward problems with drying.

The best way to get quality green coffee beans is by ensuring the producer of the coffee separates the lots by coffee variety as well as the geographic area where it was produced. Experts recommend that the unique lots be harvested, processed, and cupped before they are ever blended together in a silo of coffee beans. When you look at the beans, if they are Arabica and have been washed, they should be bright and even. If you notice a dull color or unevenness, this can mean the beans were processed or dried improperly.

High-quality coffee bean producers will ensure that coffee is dried properly, which leads to the best quality coffee. If the beans are dried incorrectly, this can often be seen when looking at the beans. Drying too quickly may lead to brown or dull coffee beans. It can also lead to a mottled look to the bean. Some coffee producers choose to dry on patios, move them to mechanical dryers, and then bring them back to the patio to finish things off. Others simply dry the beans multiple times while they rest in between to offer the best moisture content.

Another important consideration is how the beans themselves are actually processed. What you want is coffee that it processed as soon as it is removed from the plant. If that doesn’t happen, the beans can begin to ferment nearly immediately. A skilled company will be able to explain if they used fermentation tanks and why, as well as whether the coffer on top of the tank is separated during the fermentation process. If the tanks include coffee pulp while being processed, it can leave a brown residue on the green coffee beans. This often means the beans were too ripe when harvested.

If you are buying green coffee beans, one of the things you should do is take a sniff of them. If there has been any fermentation or smoke damage, that is often very clear right away. Notice if there is any fading or white on the edges of the beans. That may speak to being stored in a humid location or not being dried correctly. You should also pick up and feel the beans. Those that are fragile in feeling may have been dried too much while an extremely pliable bean may not have been dried enough, which may mean mold is present.

Classification Grades of Green Coffee Beans

There are five major classifications when it comes to green coffee beans. You’ll hear them called by a number or a name that corresponds with the number. The best grade of coffee is specialty grade, which is grade one. The next highest quality bean is premium or grade two. The other three are exchange or grade three, below standard or grade 4, and off grade or grade five.

Grade one is considered a specialty coffee bean and can have no more than five defects in 300 grams of coffee. The defects also cannot be primary defects. Going above or below the indicated screen size by 5% is allowed, but no more. In addition, the beans must have a distinctive body, aroma, flavor or acidity. The moisture content is required to be between 9 and 13%.

Premium or grade two can have up to eight defects and some may be primary. Just like the grade one beans, there has to be at least one distinctive attribute and moisture needs to be between 9 and 13%.

Moving down into exchange grade, there can be up to 23 defects in 300 grounds It has the same moisture content requirements as grade one and two but few other requirements.

Grade four can have up to 86 defects while off-grade is coffee that has more than that number of defects.

When we talk about primary defects, those include the following:

  • Full black
  • Full sour
  • Large sticks
  • Large stones
  • Medium sticks
  • Medium stones
  • Pod or cherry

Secondary defects are pretty much anything else including being chipped, having water damage, suffering from insect damage, being partially sour or black, or having small stones or sticks.

Considerations for Roasting Beans to Make the Best Coffee

The coffee bean is simply a seed that becomes mature while in the coffee cherry. This bean is when processed and subsequently dried to make a green coffee bean. All coffee beans are green before roasting. They also have an aroma similar to grass and beans. The bean itself will smell nothing at all like your morning cup of coffee. Roasting the coffee is what leads to the smell and taste of coffee that you know and love.


The Process of Roasting

As beans are roasted, they will change from being green to being some hue or brown. There are several ways to roast beans, but in commercial applications, there are three major stages. The first stage is the drying stage. This is followed by the browning stage. The final stage is the development stage, after which the coffee is ready to be shipped off or turned into a coffee beverage.

During the drying stage, you start with a green coffee bean which has a humidity somewhere between 8 and 12%. The roasting process can not take place until after the beans are dried properly. In most cases, a traditional drum roaster is used for this process. The beans will be dried for around four to eight minutes. At the end of this process, the beans will have a temperature of around 320 degrees Fahrenheit. If a drum roller is being used, it’s important to be aware and watch to be sure the beans do not burn due to the heat being too high.

At this point, the beans are going to have a scent that is similar to hay and toasted bread. This is the start of taking the aroma from the green coffee and turning it into the scent we associate with a cup of coffee. While drying has completed at this point, more drying occurs while the browning goes on. The roast is slowed down during this time to ensure the best development of flavor. Toward the end of the process, there is a pop that happens. This is also known as the first crack and is an important concept in roasting coffee.

During the two stages above, the reaction leads to the coffee cracking. Both drying and browning allow the bean to hold energy which leads to the coffee popping. This time is used to get the proper aroma developing. The roast has to be slowed down to ensure the bean doesn’t acquire a sharp taste or smoky flavor.

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The Importance of the Roast Degree

For those who roast coffee, the degree may be the most important thing to get right. Some roasters measure it by using a color meter while others simply taste the beans. Every roaster is looking for a different flavor which will determine the degree they want. As an example, a light coffee is going to be more acidic while a dark roasted tends to be more bitter. Dark roasts also tend to have a most roasted and nearly burnt flavor while light roasts may be more floral or fruity. In essence, a light roasted coffee often brings out more of the raw coffee than a dark roasted coffee will.

Thinking About Choice of Roasting Time

The next more important thing to consider with roasting is the time a bean is roasted. Roast degree has the highest effect on the flavor of the coffee, but roast time and time in each stage is also essential to understand. A quick roast may give you a better aroma, but it can be easier to burn the beans. You can also expect that the flavor is going to be stronger when a bean is roasted more quickly.

However, that doesn’t mean that fast roasting is right in every single situation. Roasting quickly is going to enhance every flavor of the bean. Sometimes you might not want that, which means making an adjustment. As an example, in many cases acidity is considered a positive when it comes to coffee. However, some espresso blends want a lower acidity. This is best accomplished by slow roasting, rather than ramping up the speed.

The Design of the Roaster

There are various different type of coffee roasters out there. The design of the device will have an effect on the thermodynamics of roasting. In fact, depending on the machine that it used, the coffee can come out tasting much different. Smaller roasters will typically utilize a drum roaster. This involves the coffee beans rotating in a drum while it is heated by an indirect or direct flame. This is one of the most stable options for roasting, but it takes a lot of brain power on the part of the roaster. Drum roasters are most often used in situations where slow roasting is desired, since the beginning of the roast can cause the beans to burn.

Another option is the fluidized bed roaster, which has been in use for ages. When roasting using this method, the beans are heated indirectly using hot air. This also means that roasting beans quickly is a possibility since there is less chance of burning the bean. In addition to this method, there is also a hybrid method for those who are interested in the best of both devices.

Roasting for Brewing or Espresso

You also want to consider whether the beans you buy were roasted to be used as brewed coffee or to be made into espresso. It might seem like something that doesn’t matter, but it can make a real difference in the quality of your cup of coffee. For instance, with a filter extraction, the process is gentle and acidic and aromatic coffee can work well. With espresso, a lot of pressure is used to extract the coffee. This means that much more flavor ends up in the cup. A coffee that is brewed specifically for espresso machines may be a horrible choice for brewing and vice versa.

Most espresso roasts are going to feature larger body, less acidity, and a darker roast than filter coffee. Filter coffee varies based on the country it is roasted in but is often a lighter roast. However, as modern coffee changes, roast styles are becoming more flexibly than ever before. When you’re looking for the right coffee for your own brewing needs, taking these things into consideration can give you a better cup of coffee than you would get simply choosing at random.

Keeping Your Coffee Fresh

Another aspect of simple but tasty coffee is relate to the freshness of your beans or grounds. You may already know that coffee is perishable, but you may not be aware of how that has an impact on your coffee each morning. As soon as a coffee bean has been roasted, it is going to start to lose its freshness. Once that happens, the aroma and flavor of the coffee starts to drop. That means the best time to consume coffee is quickly after it is roasted.

If you store your coffee in the proper way, however, your beans can stay good for around a month after they have been roasted. If you are using ground coffee, this may last only a week or two after roasting. There’s a reason for this difference. With a coffee bean, there is far less surface area compared to ground coffee. As such, ground coffee is going to get the negative effects of light, air, heat, and moisture to a much higher degree.

Those who want to get enjoy the freshest coffee possible will need to decide to purchase your own green coffee beans and roast them on their own. When you have unroasted beans around, those can stay fresh for up to an entire year. You can definitely roast your own coffee at home, but it is going to take quite a bit of time and effort. It’s certainly not the simplest option available, but it is the best way to get fresh coffee.

If roasting your coffee beans isn’t something you are interested in, there are other options that are less time-consuming. The easiest solution is to buy less coffee when you go out but make more frequent purchases. That means each time you get a bag of coffee, you’re started with the freshest possible beans. For the highest level of freshness, you may want to consider a valve sealed bag. This prevents oxygen from reaching the beans, while carbon dioxide is still able to be released.

We recommend that when you buy coffee, you only buy an amount that you will use within the window of freshness. If you buy ground coffee, buy enough for a week or maybe two. If you prefer whole beans, you can buy for an entire month and then only grind what you need for the day’s coffee. This will give you fresh coffee at all times and won’t leave you grinning and bearing it when the coffee has gone a bit stale since you bought a little too much.

Proper Storage of Coffee for Longevity

We mentioned earlier that ground coffee often is exposed to more light, air, heat, and moisture. Those are the four things that you want to keep away from your coffee as much as possible. Each of them can lead to deterioration and cause your coffee to become stale more quickly. There are a few different ways to keep your coffee safe from each of these things, which we’ll go over in a bit more depth below.

To keep air out of your coffee, the first step is to remove coffee from the package it is in as soon as it has been opened. It is a better plan to store your coffee in a container that is air tight. You’ll want to remove as much air as possible for this. Any kitchen canister that can be tightly closed will do the trick. However, there are also special canisters made for holding coffee beans on the market. These has a seal to prevent air from coming in while offering a valve, so carbon dioxide can get out.

Moving on to moisture, you want to make sure your coffee is in a space that is completely dry. Any excessive moisture will cause deterioration to begin. In fact, coffee that has been moistened can have a sour odor and taste. This is also why storing coffee in the freezer or refrigerator is not recommended. The condensation can get to the coffee and cause issues. If you use an air tight container you might get away with it but there is no way to know for sure.

As far as heat goes, you do not want your coffee to get overly warm or hot before you brew it. Keeping it somewhat cool is the best option, since heat will start the breakdown of the flavor of the coffee. While many people store their coffee on a countertop or in a kitchen cabinet, make sure it is not close to the oven or stove. It should also be kept away from areas that are sunny, such as shelves located near a window.

Finally, that’s look at coffee and why it should be kept in a dark place. It’s not uncommon for people to display their coffee beans in a glass canister where guests can see it. When you have several roasts and colors, it can be a beautiful focal point for your kitchen. The problem is that light is not good for fresh coffee. Glass containers are best used for some other purpose, unless you plan to store them in a cabinet or other area with little to no light, which often defeats the purpose of the glass and coffee providing a certain aesthetic to guests in your home.

If you prefer to stick with having your coffee on a countertop or other area with light, try an opaque container instead. This allows you easy access to your favorite coffee beans but without having to stress over how the light is making it lose freshness. By putting all four of these tips together, you can ensure your coffee stays fresh longer than ever and will always offer you a tasty cup of coffee to enjoy.

The Simplest Methods to Brew Coffee

As any coffee lover knows, there are tons of ways to brew coffee. Some types of coffee can take literal days to make, while others can provide you with a cup in only a few minutes. With a look toward simplicity today, we’re going to focus on the absolute easiest ways to make a great cup of java.

Want simple? Try a regular automatic coffee maker. There’s not much to it. You now know how to find the right water and coffee, so all you need is the coffee maker and a filter. The process is probably the simplest thing on earth and requires very little effort. While there are dozens of ways to make coffee in the world today, it says something that many people stick with the old standby and brew up their coffee in an automatic coffee maker each and every morning. You can’t go wrong for simplicity’s sake. Plus, most drip makers have timers, so you can wake up to the delicious scent of coffee wafting into your bedroom.

Another simple option is to pick up some coffee bags the next time you are at the grocery store. All you need is to heat up some water in a kettle or pan or heat your mug in the microwave with water until its boiling. Pop your coffee bag in a mug and slowly pour the boiled water over it. Then all you have to do is wait for three to five minutes before tossing the coffee bag and drinking your beverage. While this might not be the tastiest coffee, it is one of the easiest and can do the job in a pinch. If you have no other choice, give it a shot and see what you think.

If you feel up to getting out the French press, or in the mood to purchase one and give it a shot, it can be a great option for high-quality coffee made fairly quickly. All you need to do is take coarse coffee grounds and place them in the bottom of the carafe. This is then filled with extremely hot water. After that, you can simply let the coffee steep for around five minutes. In order to get your perfect cup of coffee, you will then press down on the plunger, so the grounds are removed from the coffee. At first, this method can seem like it takes longer than expected, but it gets easier with practice. This may be the best simple method for someone who enjoys a bolder coffee than the average person.

The pour over might seem like a modern coffee option that is best provided by a barista, but you can also do it at home. It’s not nearly as complicated as you might think it would be. Basically, you place a filter over a mug or a carafe. You will then add ground coffee to the filter before pouring water slowly in a circular motion around the grounds. This only requires a small amount of water, so the grounds are completely wet. At that point, you can let it sit for a minute or two before adding the rest of the water. Wait for the water to drip through and you  have a great cup of coffee to start your day with.

The Wrap Up

The basics of coffee are more nuanced and in-depth than you might have ever known. Everything from the type of water you use to the selection of green coffee that was produced and then roasted has an effect on how your coffee smells, tastes, and satisfied. Even beyond that, it’s important to be aware of how you store your coffee and what method you use to brew it to get the best caffeinated beverage possible. Now that you have an idea of how all these things go together, you can experiment yourself. Find out what different processes, beans, and brews bring out the flavor and aroma you love the most. Good luck!

Bonus Questions

1. How long do Yeti cups stay hot?

As long as the lid it kept on, the Yeti cup can keep your coffee hot for around six hours when kept in a room temperature location.

2. Which container keeps liquids hotter longer?

When compared with paper, plastic, and ceramic cups, metal cups are capable of keeping a hot drink warmer for a longer period of time.

3. Can I bring coffee on a plane?

While you cannot bring a cup of coffee through airport security, you can purchase a coffee once you are through security and take that with you onto your flight.

4. How long is black coffee good for?

If it’s a simple cup of brewed coffee, it can stand for 12 to 24 hours before going bad. If the coffee is stored in a refrigerator, it can remain good for three or four days.

5. Which coffee maker brews the fastest?

Some of the fastest coffee makers on the market are the AeroPress, Moccamaster KB, Keurig K55, and the French press.

6. Can you use coffee grounds more than once?

In theory, you can use the same grounds to make more than one cup of coffee. In practice, the second and any subsequent cups will have very little caffeine and little of the coffee flavor.

7. What to put in coffee to make it taste good?

There are tons of things that you can add to coffee to intensify the flavor. You might try cinnamon, flavored creamer, coffee syrups, or even ice cubes made out of coffee.

8. What can I used in place of coffee filters?

While it is always best to use a coffee filter, there may be times when you don’t have any on hand. In those instances, you can use napkins, paper towels, butter muslin, or cheesecloth.

9. Is it safe to use tap water for coffee?

Many people use simple tap water for brewing coffee. However, those who have tap water that tastes acidity or metallic may prefer to use either bottled or filtered water instead.

10. How much coffee does it take to make a cup?

The general guideline is to use one or two tablespoons for every six ounces of water. However, you can adapt this based on how strong or weak you prefer your coffee to be.

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