In Search of the Perfect Cup
To grind or not to grind?
Does it really matter that much that you grind the coffee right before you brew it? There are folks who swear to this. In our experience, if you drink a lot of coffee, like a bag every 5 days, you might want to pre-grind your coffee. But if you’re a moderate coffee user, it’s probably best to grind as you go. Here’s why:
Coffee begins to lose its flavor about 10 days after roasting. When you pre-grind with a commercial grinder, you’ll get a more uniform particle size, which translates to a better, more consistent taste from cup to cup. But pre-grinding also exposes the bean to exponentially more surface area, and the process of oxidation begins to break down the flavor.
So, if you drink it quickly (within 5-7 days) you’ll get a better tasting cup if you pre-grind, because you can take advantage of a better grinder. But if you go through a bag every 10-14 days, it’s probably best to grind it yourself.
Get yourself a good ceramic burr grinder if you plan on grinding it yourself. Particle consistency is the key, and a burr grinder will deliver that. It’s impossible for a blade grinder to achieve a consistent grind size with the same precision as a burr grinder. And inconsistent grind size equals inconsistent tasting brews.
Start with fresh roasted beans and distilled or filtered water.
The fresher the beans, the better the coffee. Find out what you like best, dark roast, medium roast or light roast. Light roast coffee, like our Tanzania Peaberry, is a very flavorful coffee, and will have more caffeine than the dark roasts. Contrary to what you might think, the lighter roasts deliver the most caffeine.
And, good filtered or distilled water will deliver a better tasting brew.
Water temperature. How hot is too hot?
In England, you always bring the water to a rolling boil before brewing the tea. But we’re not making tea. So don’t do that with coffee. Believe it or not, you can burn the beans. There was a time when we thought, the hotter the better. The trick is to get the water hot enough to enjoy, yet not so hot that it burns your beans (not to mention your tongue).
The best brewing temperature is between 195 F (91 C) and 205 F (96 C). If you don’t have a kettle with a temperature setting, just bring the water to a boil, and remove it from the heat for about 30 seconds before brewing.
The French press is a popular way to brew. Depending how strong you like it, start with about 1/8 cup of beans to each cup of coffee. You can adjust the amount for your personal taste. Below are directions for that. If you’re only brewing one cup, check out the Aeropress. It’s portable, easy to use and clean-up is a snap. There are many resources online for how to brew with Aeropress.
1. Grind your coffee
If you’re grinding your beans, grind them MEDIUM COARSE. If it’s little bitter or too strong, it could be too fine a grind, or if it’s too watery, it could be too coarse.
If you’re using a 3-cup French press, use about 7 grams (2-3 tbsp) of coffee to about 275 ml of water. For an 8-cup press, 54 grams (8-10 tbsp) and 860 ml of water.
2. Preheat your French press
Boil your water, then remove from heat. Pre-heat the French press for about 30 seconds or a minute by pouring the boiling water into the press.
3. Add the coffee, and pour in the water
Dry it out, then add the coffee, and pour in just enough water to cover the grounds. Gently stir the grounds and water to mix it well, cover it and let it sit for 30 seconds. Then pour in the rest of the coffee, stir slightly once again, cover it with the plunger, and let it sit for 3 and half minutes.
You can use the timer on your phone, or another timer to precisely measure the time. If you let it sit too long, it will become bitter.
4. Press the plunger
Now you’re ready to press down the plunger. There should be some slight resistance. You can tell if you’ve ground the coffee too much if it’s difficult to press down. If it’s easy to press, the coffee was most likely ground too coarse.
Now pour the wonderful elixir into your favorite ceramic cup and enjoy!
One other thing: if you don’t serve it right away, put it into a decanter, because if you let it sit, it will continue to extract, and other cups will be bitter.