|Principles of Brewing Coffee|
© 2007 The George Howell Coffee Company
There are many quality decision points on the road to producing great coffee. Preparing the beverage is the last stage, as critical as any other. Unlike wine, one can take a coffee masterpiece home and destroy it in the kitchen in seconds flat, resulting in warped and ugly expressions of that coffee's overall flavor profile.
Four keys: The four keys to getting excellent results, no matter what brewing method you use, are:
1. Water: use clear-tasting water - but not distilled. To get this you may have to buy spring water or filter your water. Tap water often has chlorine and other off-flavors while distilled water has no minerals, important for developing all the coffee's flavors.
2. Temperature: Sufficiently hot water is required to produce all the required chemical reactions: this should be no lower than 195 F and no higher than 205F. Most automatic coffeemakers do not achieve this temperature. The Technivorm, available on our website, does.
3. Grind: You want to extract only approximately 20% of the beans' soluble solids. Greater extraction leads to harsh flavors and less extraction to underdeveloped ones. Drip machines take minutes to brew, and so the grind should be fairly granular, in order to release its contents more slowly while in contact with the hot water, while espresso is produced in seconds, requiring a very fine grind. I have created a PDF file, which you can print, to match your grind for drip coffee brewing. It is the exact grind I use for my Technivorm for maximum sweetness. Personal preference may result in your wanting a slightly finer or coarser grind, but it is a good starting point. The coarser the grind the more must be used per cup.
4. Proportion of coffee to water. The rule of thumb is two tablespoons per six liquid ounces. The ridiculous thing is, however, that it is just about impossible to find a coffeemaker with “cup” markings of 6 liquid ounces.
Strength is very personal. Greater strength should be made with more coffee not with a finer grind (over-extraction). Some like “strong” coffee that would make others' teeth dissolve. Too much water to coffee results in a dilute non-descript drink, while too little water to coffee erases the amazing marriage of mouthfeel and flavor of Terroir Coffee brewed just right and replaces it with harshness. Perception of strength rises dramatically as beverage temperature cools. Heat closes our taste buds, desensitizing our perception. I prefer a drip coffee which, when hot, is aromatic but may seem a bit weak. As the coffee cools it reveals itself, reaching wine-like intensity as it nears room temperature. This is the classic European drip-style coffee.
There are seven ways to brew coffee : For a review of these click here.
If you own an automatic drip machine click here.