© 2003 The George Howell Coffee Company
The proper kind of brewing equipment is essential to get all of the flavor and aroma from a cup of coffee. There is a vast array of brewing devices available on the market. About 99% of them produce coffee in one of the seven brewing principles outlined here. Some of these brewing methods—such as the percolator—produce a poor cup of coffee. Most, however, yield coffee ranging from good to superior. There is no single correct or best way to brew a cup of coffee. You are the best judge of what particular brewing method is most likely to produce the kind of coffee most pleasing to your taste buds.
Extraction and Grind
No more than 23% of the coffee bean should be dissolved in hot water during the brewing process. Extracting more than this produces bitterness and other harsh flavors. The longer the coffee is in contact with water, the larger the grind required (to slow the extraction rate). The theory behind this is rather simple: The more coffee surface area exposed, the faster the extraction. An espresso takes seconds, and therefore requires a fine grind, whereas a French press, which takes minutes, requires a moderately coarse grind. For quality results, choose the correct grind to match your method of brewing.
- Regular Drip
- Cold Water
The 'original' way to brew coffee, Turkish brewing is the only method in which coffee and water are in contact throughout the entire process. This brewing method is ubiquitous throughout the Middle East. Pulverized coffee—with a texture resembling talcum powder—is placed into an Ibrik along with water. Sugar can be added at this time. This mixture should be brought to a light boil three times, removing the Ibrik from the flame quickly as foam begins to rise. When the grounds have had a moment to settle, serve in very small cups, holding back foam with a spoon. After pouring, spoon a little foam on top of the brew. Turkish coffee yields a thick, muddy brew that is quite delicious.
The percolator relies on steam pressure to force water through the coffee grounds. Brewing hap pens when the water—and later the partially brewed coffee—is brought to and kept at boiling temperature. This has several adverse effects: Much of the less soluble, bitter-tasting material in coffee is extracted, unlike better brewing methods that keep the water temperature well under boiling. As coffee is recycled again and again, the aromatic components of the coffee are overheated and then vaporize. Some of the more delicate flavors are broken down and changed into an unpleasant caramelized taste.
3. REGULAR DRIP
CONE/WEDGE FILTER: MEDIUM
MEDIUM BASKET FILTER: MEDIUM
NEAPOLITAN: MEDIUM COARSE
FRENCH DOUBLE DRIP: COARSE
Perhaps the most popular method of brewing coffee in the United States today, drip brewing is by far the simplest. Water at 195º to 205° F is poured slowly through the grounds once. The resulting cup is clear and smooth. The hotter the water within the stated range, the brighter the coffee.
The filtering devices are diverse—wedges or baskets, which may be made from paper, cloth, metal, plastic, or coated plastic. Paper filters also vary widely. We strongly recommend a medium grind for all drip brewers other than the ones listed above. We do not agree with European brewer instructions to use a fine grind (Mellita, Braun, Krups, etc.). The scoop they provide is likewise too small. Brew their way for the economics only (you will use less)! We recommend using our scoop (one scoop per cup as measured in their tank or carafe).
Drip makers come either in manual or electric versions. Electric versions are excellent in that they can control the temperature and/or speed of brewing, but most models have a warmer plate. Direct application of heat to brewed coffee quickly destroys it. Do not use!
The Neapolitan Flip-Drip is one of the more unique devices available. Coffee is placed inside a metal filter between a water tank and a collection tank, and the apparatus is placed on a stove. When the water comes to a boil, the device is removed from the stove. After the water cools for a second, it is flipped over, and the hot water slowly drips through into the collection tank. The resulting cup is very smooth. For this method to work properly, the grind must be exact. This may take a little trial and error.
GRIND: MEDIUM COARSE
Also known as the French press, this brewing method works by the infusion process. The French press produces a hardier cup and is quite easy to use. Use the two tablespoons per six ounces of water. Hot water (195º–205° F) is then added. After three minutes, stir lightly. Assuming you are using fresh coffee, you will see the coffee grounds drop (when you first add water, a huge head of foam is created due to carbon dioxide escaping the grounds). Add more hot water. Wait three more minutes, then plunge; the grounds are pressed down to the bottom of the beaker, separating them from the brewed beverage above. The resulting beverage is a rich, dense brew, highlighting the full range of a coffee's character and flavor. An alternative way is to stir vigorously immediately after pouring the first batch of hot water. Add more hot water, wait three minutes and plunge. This will produce a livelier cup than the first method.
The vacuum method is for the true coffee lover. Ground coffee is placed in the funnel (top bowl). Water is brought to a near boil in the carafe and then forced to the top into the funnel by steam pressure. After most of the water is in the funnel, the coffee should be stirred (very carefully around the glass stopper, if you have a Cona coffeemaker). After one to three minutes, the flame should be extinguished. As the unit begins to cool, a vacuum is formed which sucks the brewed coffee back down into the carafe and leaves the grounds above in the funnel. The funnel can then be separated from the carafe. The resulting beverage is smooth, with all the delicate and complex flavors intact.
6. COLD WATER
This brewing method requires a pound of ground coffee to be placed into a bucket apparatus along with a half gallon of cold water. The mixture should sit at room temperature for approximately six to ten hours. After this time, the plug is removed from the bottom of the receptacle and the extract, separated from the grounds by a large felt filter, is drained into a pitcher. This extract should be refrigerated. To prepare a cup of coffee, place one to two ounces of the extract into a cup and add six to eight ounces of hot water.
The resulting cup is light bodied and bland since all acidity and many aromatics, which require hot water for the right chemical reactions, are never formed. Aficionados of the cold water process claim the danger of stomach upset caused by coffee acids is eliminated with this method.
STOVE TOP: DRIP TO FINE
One of the most common coffee misconceptions is that espresso refers to a type of coffee or dark roasted coffee. See our comments by clicking espresso.
There are two ways to make espresso. The first is only a weak approximation, using a stove top “espresso” maker. These are made of either aluminum or stainless steel. Water is brought to a near boil in a tank and forced via steam pressure through a bed of finely packed coffee contained in a filter in the middle of the brewer, up through a narrow stem, and into an upper receptacle. Use a low flame. You know the coffee is ready when liquid ceases to spurt through the stem.
It is a good idea to remove the coffee from the stove as soon as the coffee is brewed, as this method exposes brewed coffee to extreme heat. The resulting brew is textured and strong. Aluminum espresso makers, since they conduct heat more quickly than stainless steel, are prone to burn the coffee faster. They may also impart a slight metallic flavor to the coffee.
The second and far superior way to brew espresso is with an electric espresso machine modeled on professional ones. Hot water is injected through the coffee grounds directly into the cup, either via steam pressure—using a pump—or by piston. The grind and tamp pressure need to be combined in such a way that brew time is 20 to 25 seconds. The result ing textured beverage is covered with a golden foam, called crema. This is the real espresso.
How To Grind for Drip Coffee
Just print at 100% and compare your grinds with the ones on the sheet.
Click Here to download the PDF.
Other Grinds Coming Soon!