Quick Tip: Brewing the Perfect Cup of Coffee
While making a cup of coffee today is as easy as inserting a pre-measured cartridge and hitting a button, crafting a real soul-soothing ambrosia takes a bit more effort. From choosing the right beans, to securing the ideal commercial coffee maker, to selecting the perfect coffee cup, putting a little extra effort and thought into the ritual will undoubtedly yield magnificent results. Whether you’re opening a café, enhancing the coffee line of your restaurant, or introducing a coffee station at your convenient store, crafting the perfect cup of coffee has never been easier.
The most important component to a great cup of coffee is the beans from which it’s made. Today, getting the very best coffee beans in the world is as simple as a trip to the local market or a click of the mouse. From roasted dark Arabica beans to green beans that can be roasted in home or locally, the sky is the limit on the variety of beans available in today’s market.
Specific beans have distinct flavor signatures, depending on where they’re grown and how they’re processed and roasted. The following is a quick, and by no means exhaustive, reference to help you know what to expect from your beans:
- Central and South America produce beans with light to medium body and medium to high acidity. These beans are bright with tangy notes, and pair well with breakfast breads, blueberries, and nuts.
- African and Middle Eastern beans have berry and wine characteristics. They may also have spice, cocoa, and floral undertones, making them an ideal match for chocolate, cardamom, and citrus fruits. They tend to be medium to full in body and medium in acidity.
- Asian and Pacific beans are robust and earthy. Due to their herbal notes and low acidity, their full-bodied flavor stands up well with cheese, butter, caramel, and herbs.
Now that you’ve secured the correct beans to suit your coffee program needs, those beans must be freshly ground if you want truly inspired coffee. Whether you’re looking for a small, portion-controlled blade type or want to all-out splurge on the precision burr variety, you really will get the results that you pay for when choosing a coffee grinder. It is important to grind your own beans because coffee begins to go stale the second it meets a grinder; therefore, pre-ground coffee will never taste as fresh as when you grind it immediately before brewing.
- Blade grinders are suitable for small batches of coffee and tend to be more economical.
- Burr grinders, while more expensive, will give a more consistent and finer result. If you’re going for an espresso or Turkish blend, you may benefit greatly from the additional expense.
The grind will affect how much surface area the bean has, which in turn will impact the extraction process. Too little extraction and the coffee will be weak and lifeless. Too much, and your brew will be bitter. An even grind will help create uniform pieces and a more even blend of flavors and aromas.
Water quality will have a significant impact on the flavor as well. Pure, filtered water will go a long way in crafting a better brew. Once that water is filtered, it should reach and maintain a consistent temperature of 195- to 205-degrees Fahrenheit while brewing. Ideally, the serving temperatures should be between 155- and 175-degrees Fahrenheit. Coffee should be held between 175- and 185-degrees Fahrenheit and only for about 20 minutes in an open container. A closed container can hold coffee for up to an hour, but be aware that it will start to lose its sweet, complex flavor and begin to taste scorched and bitter if left on a burner too long. Airpot and thermal carafes will keep coffee tasting fresher longer. A pocket coffee thermometer will help ensure that your water stays at the optimum temperature throughout the process.
Once the prime beans and pure water have been secured, the science of the brewer comes into play. Whether you choose an automatic coffee maker, a percolator, a French press, or an espresso machine, It is important to understand the essential elements of controlling the brewing process. Those are wetting, extraction, and hydrolysis.
- Wetting: Coffee grounds absorb hot water from the spray head and release gasses. The entire bed of coffee grounds must be wet during the first 10 percent of the brew cycle time; therefore, when choosing an machine, you’ll want to ensure that it meets this requirement.
- Extraction: During the beginning of the brewing process, the water-soluble materials dissolve, moving out of the grounds and into the water. The best flavors are extracted during the first few minutes of the brewing process. You’ll also want to choose a commercial coffee brewer that has a filter that will allow the grounds to move around a bit, to maximize extraction.
- Hydrolysis: Hydrolysis occurs when a chemical compound is broken down by the reaction with water. In relation to coffee, the materials created during the extraction process break down further into water soluble proteins and sugars. You’ll want to choose a machine that will allow you to customize the air pressure and time needed to reach your desired strength.
Because everyone has their own opinions when it comes to the strength the perfect cup of coffee should be, the ideal ratio of coffee to water can vary greatly. A good rule of thumb to follow is two tablespoons of ground coffee to six ounces of water. People also differ in whether they use paper or mesh filters while some do without when using a French press or percolator. The cleanliness of the brewer can also significantly affect the taste of coffee. Make sure your brewer is free from lime and hard water deposits.
The Finishing Touch
A number of coffee maker accessories are available to round out your coffee experience. A large selection of airpots, decanters, and whipped cream dispensers are available to help making serving your perfect brew a simple process, while adding a beverage cart will easily allow customers and employees to serve customize their coffee to their own specifications.