Brewing is the typical method of preparing roasted coffee beans for drinking. While there are several methods for brewing coffee, nearly all involve infusing ground coffee beans with water over a period of time. Coffee brewers can range in complexity from a vessel in which coffee grounds and hot water are combined for several minutes to an espresso machine which "presses" hot water through a puck of coffee at a high pressure to produce a highly concentrated coffee.
Top 5 best ways to brew your coffee
- Siphon Coffee Maker
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In the early history of coffee, the beans were dried and then eaten. By the 16th century, coffee was roasted before being ground and boiled in water. The entire resulting mixture of liquid and grounds would be consumed. The invention of the Ibrik allowed for a more skillful technique of brewing that did not involve out and out boiling the coffee.
In the 18th century, the French developed the drip brewing technique using a cloth bag as a filter allowing the coffee grounds to be kept separate from the resulting liquid coffee. This technique allowed for steeping the coffee at a lower temperature as it was not brewed while constantly adding heat. Additionally, by not leaving the grounds in the coffee until consumption, it reduced the period of extraction and the resulting bitterness. The technique of steeping coffee at a temperature below boiling did not become widespread until the 19th and into the 20th centuries. Today most Western brewing methods use water below boiling point.
There are several ways to brew coffee, making it difficult to describe the correct method. However, there are four factors that are consistent across all brewing methods:
- Amount of coffee
- Type of grind
- Water (type and temperature)
- Extraction time
Amount of Coffee
The ratio of coffee to water determines the strength and flavor of the coffee (and the caffeine content). When preparing good coffee, it will generally taste better when it is brewed stronger, with the more subtle flavors becoming more apparent. The generally recommended measure is two tablespoons for every five to six ounces of water.
Type of Grind
Coffee should be ground as finely as possible, so long as it does not interfere with the brewer. By having a finer grind, more surface area of the coffee is exposed, thereby allowing more flavor to be extracted into the coffee without causing a bitter overextration. However, if the coffee is ground too fine, it may work to clog up the filters on certain types of brewers, stalling the brewing process. Additionally, grinding coffee too fine can result in heating up the coffee to a point at which the more subtle flavors are lost. The exception to this rule of thumb are unfiltered coffees such as Turkish coffee, for which the coffee is ground into a fine powder before brewing.
While it is often overlooked as a factor in brewing coffee, ninety-nine percent of coffee is water. Both the type of water and the temperature of the water at time of brewing are essential factors in brewing coffee. If the water used to brew coffee has a particular taste, it will likely be passed on to the coffee itself. Hard water will tend to mute the more subtle flavors in most coffees, with water softeners making the situation worse.
Spring water or filtered water generally add no flavors to coffee, and are often recommended for brewing coffee. However, distilled water is often too clean, not allowing for full infusion of the coffee. The Specialty Coffee Association of America recommends between 50 to 100 parts per million of minerals disolved in water used to brew coffee.
The temperature of the water used to brew coffee determines the extraction of the coffee oils contributing to the flavors in the cup. The rate at which coffee is extracted into the water is directly related to the temperature of the water. The hotter the water, the quicker the extraction. At a higher temperature, desirable flavors are extracted to the cup, however at a lower temperature, a longer extraction time is required, resulting in more astringent and bitter flavors in the resulting coffee. Still, too high of a temperature will also result in a bitter cup of coffee. A water temperature of between 195 and 205 degrees (just below boiling) is considered to be ideal for brewing coffee.
- ↑ Joel Schapira (1996). Book of Coffee and Tea: A Guide to the Appreciation of Fine Coffees, Teas and Herbal Beverages, 6-7. ISBN 0312140991.
- ↑ Harold J. McGee (2004). Book On Food and Cooking: the science and lore of the kitchen, 441. ISBN 0684800012.
- ↑ Kenneth Davids (2001). Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing & Enjoying, Fifth Edition, 123. ISBN 031224665X.
- ↑ Kenneth Davids (2001). Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing & Enjoying, Fifth Edition, 136. ISBN 031224665X.
- ↑ Kenneth Davids (2001). Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing & Enjoying, Fifth Edition, 119-120. ISBN 031224665X.
- ↑ Kenneth Davids (2001). Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing & Enjoying, Fifth Edition, 126. ISBN 031224665X.
- ↑ Specialty Coffee Association of America - Brewing
- ↑ William H. Ukers (1922). “Preparing the Beverage”, All about Coffee, 719. ISBN 0810340925.
- ↑ | Equal Exchange - Brewing Tips