Coffee Brewing

Prepare coffee grounds for brewing
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Coffee Brewing

Brewing coffee is as much of an art as it is a science. The history of coffee brewing equipment is rich, and methods of brewing are culturally dependent. Of the thousands of coffee machines and coffee brewing devices invented since the advent of coffee consumption, only a few have gained worldwide popularity. The coffee brewing methods discussed below are recommended since they have been found to maximize the extraction of the beneficial flavors of coffee, while minimizing the extraction of bitter coffee compounds a nd undesirable components.

Procedure of Making Coffee: Directions

The following general rules apply to each coffee making process discussed. Coffee should be brewed for 4.5-5 minutes using a ratio of 55 grams of ground coffee per liter of filtered water (195-205°F). It is convenient to use 2 tablespoons of coffee per 6 ounces of filtered water. Filtered water and spring water are recommended. Tap water imparts off flavors to the coffee and some minerals are essential to coffee flavor. Distilled water is not recommended for brewing coffee as it lacks the minerals to bring out the natural flavors of the coffee.

Coffee Maker Reviews

French Press: The best way to control the time and temperature is to use a French press coffee maker. The French press offers unparalleled flavor due to perfect extraction time and delivery of the volatile oils that are often trapped in paper filters. A French press is also the least expensive coffee brewer available. To make coffee in a French press: boil the correct amount of water, freshly grind the coffee beans using a course setting, remove the plunger, place the coffee grounds at the bottom of the glass, add the hot water, stir by shaking, and after 4-5 minutes press the plunger down to separate the grounds from the extracted coffee.  The best French presses are made by Bodum and come in sizes of 3 and 12 cups. An insulated version is also available. Note: You do not want to pour boiling water directly onto the coffee. The goal is to brew coffee at a temperature between 195-205°F.

Unfortunately, French press coffee makers are not quite as convenient as a drip coffee makers due to preparation time and cleaning time. The French press also loses heat faster than some other methods, but extraction at slightly varying temperatures will promote a more dynamic and complex cup of coffee. To minimize heat loss effects, Bodum has developed an insulated coffee press.  This press is highly recommended for both design and attention to coffee brewing details.

A novel integrated electric water heater-French press is available from Chef’s Choice. This French press minimizes the complexity of using multiple devices to boil and then brew the coffee. We use it daily at the Coffee Research Institute and highly recommend it for those who want to simplify the brewing process without sacrificing quality.

Vacuum Coffee Pot: The vacuum coffee pot is a clever device invented by Robert Napier in 1840 that prepares an exceptional cup of coffee with a potent aroma. This is an appropriate alternative for those who have an aversion to the taste of the paper filters from drip brewers or for people who dislike the sediment in the bottom of the cup from the French press method.

To brew coffee in a vacuum pot, add the proper amount of filtered water to the bottom bulb, attach the filter to the upper bulb and fit the upper glass bulb tightly over the bottom glass bulb. Place the vacuum coffee pot on the stove, making sure that the bottom bulb is completely dry on the outside. Use a medium grind and add the grounds when the water begins to fill the upper chamber. Leave the pot on the stove for 3.5 minutes and then place on a hot pad. Within 30 seconds the lower pot will cool enough to form a vacuum to pull the brewing coffee into the lower chamber, thereby separating it from the grounds. Experiment with the heating and cooling cycles until the total extraction time is between 4-5 minutes. A great and inexpensive vacuum coffee pot available is the Bodum pot (pictured to the left).  An electric vacuum pot (pictured to the right) is also available from Bodum.

Automatic Drip Coffee Maker: The easiest way to brew coffee is by using an automatic drip coffee brewer. Unfortunately, few coffee machines brew at the right temperature for the correct amount of time. The best drip coffee makers currently available are produced by Techni Vorm and distributed by Boyd’s coffee and Sweet Maria’s Coffee. Of the available models, the MoccaMaster Clubline KB 741 with the insulated carafe is probably the best drip brewer available on the market.

To brew coffee in a drip brewer, place a thick paper filter in the brewing cone (basket) and thoroughly wet with water. This helps remove the paper taste from the filter. Then freshly grind the coffee using a medium grinder setting. As the water begins to boil, pour the coffee into the coffee filter. Now as the water pours over the coffee, shake the basket (removable in the Technivorm) to ensure an even extraction. Brew time and temperature are taken care of automatically. If your brewer has a hot plate under a glass carafe, remove the carafe after the coffee is fully brewed to prevent the coffee from burning.

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