Warm up with a better cup of coffee

Staff Writer John Coffelt Didn’t get the latest pod coffeemaker for Christmas, but still want more from your morning cup of coffee? Don’t fret, it is totally possible to get a first rate cup of joe without the expensive coffee-shop price. Local roaster Mike Arnold  of  Raphael’s Roastery in Tullahoma, said that it’s important to start with the best and freshest coffee around.  He recommends his, of course. “Buy coffee in amounts proportional to your drinking habits to ensure freshness (whole bean is always preferred).  (Don’t buy a 5 lbs. bag if it is going to take you 6 months to drink your way through it.),” he added. “Use a ‘burr’ style grinder (not a blade grinder) to grind just what you will need at the time of brewing.  That fresh ground coffee smell will intensify your coffee drinking experience and the burr grinder will help provide consistent flavor extraction from pot to pot. (Do not store ground coffee in the refrigerator or freezer.) “Use filtered water for best results. “Always measure/weigh your coffee.  For the average coffee drinker using an auto-drip coffee maker, we recommend 2 oz. of coffee per 10-12 cup pot (2 oz. of coffee is approximately 8 heaping tablespoons). Additionally, The National Coffee Association of U.S.A., Inc. breaks down the process into equipment, beans, water and time. Get everything right, and theoretically, you should have a perfect cup of coffee. Note: perfection comes in many forms for different people. Keep your equipment clean Whether you’re working with a French press, a pour over filter or a drip-type coffee maker keep it clean. The NCA urges you to “make sure that your tools — from bean grinders and filters to coffee makers— are thoroughly cleaned after each use.” That means rinse down with hot water and pat dry after each use to avoid the buildup of coffee oil (caffeol), which can make future cups of coffee taste bitter and rancid. Get the most you’re your coffee bean Nowhere is the expression “you get what you pay for” more true than with coffee. Some folks like their breakfast blend from a three-pound can. But if you’re looking for more refined cup, you’ll probably want to search for a better bean. The NCA explains that “the quality and flavor of coffee is not only determined by (the) brewing process, but also by the type of coffee you select. There can be a world of difference between roasts. Things to be mindful of, the country and region of origin, the variety of bean – Arabica, Robusta – or a blend, the roast type and the texture of the grind. The soil type, elevation, even the amount of sun affects the flavor of coffee, so be mindful of where your coffee is grown. As for the type of coffee, Arabica is descended from the original coffee trees discovered in Ethiopia. “These trees produce a fine, mild, aromatic coffee and represent approximately 70 percent of the world’s coffee production. The beans are flatter and more elongated than Robusta and lower in caffeine,” according to the NCA. Robusta is primarily used in blends and for instant coffees. Roasting is said to be as much art as science. The NCA explains that roasting causes chemical changes to take place as the beans are rapidly brought to very high temperatures. Burnt beans and perfection can come down to a couple of seconds of roasting time. For the consumer, basically, when you pick coffee, the darker the roast, the lighter the roast, the milder it will be. Darker roasts usually have shinier beans, more oil on the surface of the final brew and a bit more bitterness. Most American roasts are medium, while Italian, espresso and French tend to be darker. The grind of the coffee is usually chosen to match your brew equipment. French press makers require a courser grind, while espresso makers use a fine, almost snuff-like grind. As a general rule, brewing methods with longer contact time require a coarser grind. Freshness is also important. Generally, keep coffee sealed on a dark, dry place at room temperature. Grind your coffee as close to brewing time as you can. The NCA suggests using a burr grinder (something like a large pepper grinder) rather than the more common and less expensive blender-like blade grinder. Extraction: Putting it all together When it comes down to the final product the extraction process can make or break a great cup of coffee. The three key elements that come into play are time, temperature and the ratio of water to coffee. According to the NCA, water should maintain a temperature of 195 to 205 degrees. “Colder water will result in flat, under-extracted coffee, while water that is too hot will also cause a loss of quality in the taste of the coffee,” the site says. This temperature range is difficult for the home drip maker to maintain. For French press or pour over makers, boil water then let it rest for just a few minutes before brewing. Time varies for the type of grind. Course coffee grinds require more time. In a drip system, the contact time should be approximately 5 minutes; a French press, 2-4 minutes or for espresso, the coffee is in contact with the water for only 20-30 seconds. Espresso: the heart of the latte, cappuccino and other fancy drinks Not just a grind and a roast, espresso is central to the barista-inspired drinks. Real espresso is made by forcing essentially steam through coffee powder at pressure. The result is a dark, strong coffee that’s measured by the shot rather than a cup. According to Roasty Coffee blog, the savvy coffee drinker can make a decent shot of espresso-like coffee without spending thousands of dollars on a steam machine. “But with the right coffee grind and the right equipment, you can mimic that pressurized process and get a high quality shot of strong coffee that tastes very close to espresso,” the site explains. The site recommends an Areopress for homemade espresso. The Areopress is an updated version of a French Press, but one that uses more pressure and a paper filter to extract coffee. The Areopress’ finer filter allows for an espresso grind coffee. Use the finest grind and a bit more coffee and seep for about 30 seconds. The site’s second choice is a moka pot, which resembles a smaller, stovetop version of the old percolator coffee makers. Moka pots are a bit tricky to use, accorsing to Roasty. “When the water boils, the pressure will push a stream of coffee through the upper chamber (of the moka pot). Listen for hissing to know when the process is complete. When the top of the pot is full of coffee, remove from stove. Hazel brown foam appears just seconds before the coffee is completely done. Before pouring coffee, stir it in the upper chamber with a small spoon.” The final choice for home espresso maker is the tried and true French press. “The French press is less effective than the other methods, so we consider it a last resort for making espresso at home. But if you don’t have any other equipment handy, it’s an easy way to brew a very strong shot of coffee,” Roasty writes. Make coffee as you normally would, only use very finely ground coffee and about twice as much as normal. Seep coffee for 4 minutes or a bit longer, then plunge. Go halfway to the bottom, reverse to the top before plunging the whole way to the bottom of the cylinder. Where to Buy: If you the national brands aren’t giving you the taste you want, try these local options. Order directly from Raphael’s Roastery online at http://stores.raphaelscoffee.com. Pickup in Tullahoma’s Celtic Cup or spring for shipping and have it delivered straight to your door. Also Coffee Café serves two flavors of Raphael’s coffee daily and offers about a dozen varieties of whole bean bagged to go, which they will grind to order. Harvest Foods on the square offers a selection of Broast Coffees out of Cookeville.