In the early days of the coffee craze, before the first
Starbucks arrived in my town, I owned a tea and coffee
house for several years. At the time, espresso was
something new for most people, and a lot of my customers
had questions. I decided to teach a class on coffee at the
shop, and learned in the process that there are several
misunderstandings about buying, storing, and grinding
coffee that when corrected can lead to a much more
enjoyable cup of coffee.
True coffee connoisseurs know that buying coffee beans in
small amounts that allow you to brew your coffee within a
day or two of being roasted will result in the closest to a
perfect cup of java. If you keep the beans in an air-tight
container the flavor will remain strong for seven to ten
days. Contrary to popular belief, storing beans in your
refrigerator or freezer will actually diminish the flavor.
There are two reasons for this. First, the beans will soak
up the flavors of other stored items. Secondly, moisture
affects the oils in the roast. Better to store that
container on the counter (in a dark, cool place, if
possible). If you can’t smell an aroma or it’s unpleasant,
the beans are past their prime.
Soapy water can leave a residue, so when cleaning your
coffee storage, use a dry cloth or paper towel to soak up
the oil. Clean the container regularly because oil can get
rancid over time. Also, frequently clean the equipment you
use for brewing. Again, don’t use soap because of the
residue. Instead use vinegar and salt and rinse
Always grind only the amount you will use immediately.
Once exposed, the oils in the beans disperse, affecting the
coffee flavor. If you grind your beans the night before you
brew your morning cup, you will be losing flavor. Switch to
grinding in the morning, unless you don’t want to wake your
sweetheart with the noise from the grinder. How fine or
coarse the grind should be depends on how long the hot
water will be in contact with the coffee grinds. The
shorter the length of time, the finer the grind so that the
surface area is maximized. Here are the consistencies you
will want for the different methods of brewing:
Drip Brew: Grind to a character similar to table sugar if
the drip cycles range from four to six minutes. Grind to a
finer consistency if less.
French Press: Use an extremely coarse grind.
Espresso: Very fine, powder-like. The extraction time of
espresso should be between 25 and 30 seconds. If a one
ounce extraction takes longer, use a coarser grind; if it
takes less time, grind finer.
How much coffee do you grind? For brewed (and French
Press) coffee, three tablespoons for eight ounces of water.
For espresso, an ounce (7 grams) for a single shot. Double
that for a double shot.
Time and again I heard from my customers that they had no
idea what a good cup of coffee really tasted like until
after they had followed these easy guidelines. Try it. It’s
the small things that will make your coffee drinking