The specialty coffee beans you purchase from us or any other roastery have been through a long journey, and along the way, much care and dedication has gone into ensuring the end product puts a smile on your face.
- The farmers who grow the coffee plants and patiently wait years for them to bear fruit. They make sure the coffee trees are taken care of all year long.
- The workers responsible for harvesting the coffee cherries, washing, pulping, drying, milling, packaging, and hauling.
- The specialty coffee trader (aka green coffee buyer) who travels to the Coffee Belt to sample roast, cup (coffee cupping), purchase, and import the green beans.
- The coffee roaster who samples the beans again, and creates a custom roast profile to bring out the best flavors and sweetness out of the beans.
And finally you...Yes, you complete the lifecycle of this journey; the responsibility of making a great cup of coffee ends with you.
Many variables that could make or break your coffee:
1. Coffee storage and freshness: Hours after roasting, carbon dioxide begins to escape the beans, and they start to oxidize. This slow degradation process is caused by environmental factors such as oxygen, moisture, temperature, and light. Coffee beans will eventually go stale and rancid, but you can improve your coffee shelf-life.
- Always buy whole beans, not ground coffee.
- Check the roasting date on the package is not older than a month. If there is no roast date, do not buy. If you're buying in person, ensure the packaging is air-tight.
- Grind right before brewing. Ground coffee goes stale at a much faster rate.
- Once you open the bag, store the beans in an air-tight container at room temperature. Vacuum containers are ideal for storing.
2. Grinding: This is perhaps the most important and overlooked part. Why? Control and Consistency; you want to be able to control the coarseness of the grind, and produce the most consistent grind possible. If you're using a "coffee grinder" with a blade, throw it out. It's terrible at both, and those are meant for herbs and spices. Start with an entry-level burr grinder. This is where you get what you pay for, and honestly 80%-90% of your coffee equipment budget should go toward a good grinder.
3. Water Quality: Water is responsible for extracting the flavors, oils, and many compounds from the coffee. If your water is bad (too hard or not enough minerals, too much chlorine, sodium, etc.), it will affect your coffee. It's best to use filtered or purified water.
4. Water Temperature: The ideal water temperature for extraction is between 196°F-205°F or 91°C-96°C. If you don't have a kettle with a thermometer, just boil the water, then let it rest for 5 minutes. Do not use boiling water.
5. Coffee to Water Ratio: Start with a coffee to water ratio of 1:17 for better extraction, then adjust as needed. For example, for every 1 gram of coffee, use 17 grams of water. If you like stronger coffee, try a 1:16 ratio. A good scale could be a very useful accessory in your daily brews.
6. Time: Depending on your brew method and grind size, the time it takes to brew the perfect coffee should be between 2-4 minutes (except for cold brew). Too short of a brewing time, your coffee will be under-extracted (sour, salty, lack sweetness), and too long, it will be over-extracted (bitter, astringent, dry). A perfectly extracted brew should be sweet, fruity, a bit acidic (not sour), and balanced without the need to add sugar or cream.
Each of the last five variables above will affect your brew quality. Experiment with one variable at a time to dial in the perfect cup. Cheers!
More to come: Brew Methods...