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Old 09-04-2004, 07:11 PM   #1
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Help needed brewing coffee...

My daughter just bought me an electric percolator (at my request!) and I need some advice on how to brew really good coffee.

Everyone has a different idea on how many tablespoons of ground coffee to how many cups of water, and I know it's a matter of personal preference, but I have a few questions.


First of all, I'm grinding my own beans with my spice/coffee mill and want to know is it best to keep my coffee beans in the fridge in the original bag I buy it in? or is it best in a cupboard. I've heard that if you keep it in the fridge that it keeps longer, but I've also heard that it gets bitter there.

Next question......when it tells you so many tablespoons or scoops to so many cups.....are they referring to the cup measurements on the different coffee carafes, or actual 8 oz cup measurements.

The reason I ask this is because the measurements are definitely not the same. For instance, this new Westinghouse percolator has markings on the outside up to 10 cups. When I measured the water up to this point it was only 5 and 1/2 of my 8 oz measuring cups.

So, I'm counting on you ladies to fill me in....explain to me the best way to make that delicious coffee!

Jovin

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Old 09-04-2004, 08:34 PM   #2
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SELECTING BEANS
You can taste the whole world at The Coffee Beanery, one sample at a time. As your palate develops, you'll be able to fully appreciate the flavors, complexities, and nuances of each varietal or custom blend. Hint: buy small quantities more often, for maximum freshness.

STORAGE
Air is a coffee bean's worst enemy. Store ground or whole beans in an airtight container in a cool, dark place - but not in the refrigerator. Do not store next to onions, garlic, or strongly aromatic foods. (Coffee absorbs odors.) Freezing protects flavor integrity, so you may freeze excess beans over longer periods of time. There is no need to thaw before grinding.


GRINDING
The fresher the grind, the more flavorful and aromatic the brew. Ground coffee loses its integrity rapidly, so grind only the beans you need. Consult a member of The Coffee Beanery staff about the proper grind for your coffee maker.

WATER
Use only clean, cold tap water, or quality bottled spring water. Do not use mineral water, distilled water, or tap water with an odor. If you are using a manual brewer, use water just off the boil.





EQUIPMENT
Whatever brewing method you choose, keep equipment clean, inside and out. A good soak in baking soda and water followed by a thorough cleaning is helpful for glass pots. There are also cleansing solutions made especially for automatic drip brewers.

PROPORTIONS
The Coffee Beanery recommends a 1:1 ratio. Meaning, 1 tablespoon of freshly ground coffee per 1-cup measure on the coffee maker. (For most coffee makers, a 1-cup measure equals 5 ounces.) For stronger coffee, increase the ratio of coffee to water. Experiment to find your preference, but note that ratios may vary for different coffees.


SERVING
To prevent coffee from burning or staling, we recommend leaving it on a warmer no longer than 20 minutes. Use a carafe or thermos to keep coffee warm. Unlike commercial coffees served scalding hot to mask bitterness, the subtle flavors of our arabica coffees actually grow more distinct as the coffee cools. Try re-warming your cup, not the coffee.

FLAVORING
The flavoring of coffees is an ancient tradition dating back to 13th century nomadic Arab tribesmen who added a pinch of cardamom before brewing. Experiment with spices (nutmeg, cinnamon) and flavorings (vanilla, almond) to create your own signature coffees. Or enjoy any of the Coffee Beanery's delicious blends, hand-flavored still warm from the roaster.
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Old 09-04-2004, 08:36 PM   #3
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There is no single best way to make coffee; each of us prefers one method to the rest. Coffee is an everyday part of our lives and it must above all fit our lifestyles and our pockets. Making coffee is both a ritual and a practical part of life. Unlike tea or cocoa, coffee lends itself readily to many different ways of making the infusion. All these methods share the basic principle which is to use hot water, to extract from the ground beans the natural essential oils, the caffeol, that give coffee its wonderful aroma and flavor. The resulting brew, or liquor, is a coffee infusion.


Arab or Turkish Coffee
Although the coffee bean spread from Arabia to the rest of the world, the Arab method of making coffee did not. There is a fundamental difference between the Arab and other methods: the Arabs boil their coffee, traditionally, three times. Boiling coffee boils away the most delicate flavors, but it is a romantic way to make strong-tasting coffee. Arab coffee is made in an ibrik, a small copper pot with a long handle. Two teaspoons of finely ground coffee plus one of sugar are added to a cup of water and the mixture is brought to the boil. The ibrik is taken off the heat as it comes to the boil, usually three times, and then it is poured out and drunk. A cardamom seed can also be added for flavor.





The Filter Method
The drip or filter method is possibly the most widely used method today. Finely ground coffee is placed in a paper or reusable cone-shaped unit and nearly boiling water poured on top. For best results, a small quantity of water should be poured on first to wet the grounds and speed up the release of caffeol. The resulting brew filters through the unit into a pot or mug and is ready to drink. The coffee grounds remain in the cone. There are electric versions which automate this process, including heating the water, and in general make a better or more consistent cup of coffee than the manual version. The filter method is used especially in Germany and the USA.


A Word About Filters
Coffee filters come in many shapes and sizes. Most are made of paper of some sort. I believe that paper filters impart some of their taste to the coffee, just as do paper and foam cups. I use a gold anodized permanent filter. You never change it, just empty, rinse in cold water, and your ready to go again. And it imparts no flavor to ruin your coffee. You paid good money for your coffee. Don't ruin it and make it taste like paper.

The plunger method, said to have been invented in 1933, extracts the most flavor from the ground beans. The pot is warmed, coarsely ground coffee is placed in the bottom, hot water is added to the grounds and stirred, then it is allowed to steep for three to five minutes, before the plunger is pushed down to separate the coffee grounds from the coffee infusion. This method is only slightly less convenient than the filter method and is today one of the two fastest growing ways to make fresh ground coffee. Cheaper pot models have nylon rather than stainless steel mesh to separate the grounds from the infusion, but they do not last as long.



The Jug
The jug method of making coffee is the simplest of all. The coffee should be quite coarsely ground and then the hot water added. It is somewhat like the cafetiere method, but without the convenience of the cafetiere's plunger to separate the coffee grounds from the infusion. The jug is not now widely used, although it is always a serviceable stopgap method.


Vacuum
Water is placed in the lower of two glass globes connected by a glass tube. The coffee grounds are placed in the upper globe. Water is brought to a boil in the lower of two glass globes. Steam forces the hot water into the upper globe. After steeping for a few minutes, the pot is removed from the heat. As the temperature drops in the bottom globe a vacuum forms. The coffee is then sucked back into the lower globe through a screen. You then detach the lower globe for serving.


Dutch Coffee Concentrate/Cold Water Method
Mix coffee grounds and water in a glass and let the grounds soak for 12 to 24 hours according to the strength you prefer. Line a funnel with cheesecloth and set the funnel in a glass jar. Pour coffee and water mixture through the cheesecloth into the jar, letting it drain completely. Cover the mixture and refrigerate. To make a cup of coffee, put boiling water into a cup and stir in 1 to 1 ½ tablespoons of the mixture.


Espresso and Cappuccino
Today, espresso and cappuccino, which were invented in Italy, are the fastest growing methods of making coffee. All the other methods involve a 'natural' form of infusion, and for a small cost you can have a system that will make acceptable coffee. But not with espresso. Espresso machines force the hot water through very finely and compacted coffee and then into the cups below. Good espresso is expensive to make because in order to extract the greatest amount of flavor from the coffee, a high level of pressure is required and thus a high specification machine. Yet when ranking espresso, it is important not to over-extract the coffee, which means the machine should be switched off sooner, rather than later. While the coffee is still coming out as a golden brown liquid, it is perfect. This liquid is the 'crema', which lies on top of the black coffee underneath. The crema will dissipate a few minutes after the coffee is made, but in those few minutes it will tell you everything about the quality of the espresso. Too light, or too thick or too thin: all mean that the espresso is sub standard. Espresso can become like a religion to some people. And there certainly is a big difference between a really good espresso and a not so good one. How much we spend in terms of money or energy in seeking out the best is one of those lifestyle choices we all make for ourselves.


Espresso is the foundation of cappuccino; it is the coffee upon which a luxuriant structure of frothed and foamed milk is ladled and poured. A good espresso is less obvious under its head of frothed milk, but the quality of the coffee underneath is still an important factor. The milk, ideally semi-skimmed, is poured into a jug, into which a steam spout is placed. The steam control should not be turned on until the nozzle of the steam spout is under the surface of the milk. Once the steam is gurgling and bubbling under the milk, the jug should be moved around, or the milk will spoil. The aim is to aerate the milk and give it the consistency of whipped cream without burning it. It is essential that the cups are warm when the milk is poured in or the froth will deflate. They are normally stored upside-down on top of the espresso machine. The combination of frothed and steamed milk is then poured and ladled onto the coffee in the cup, gently as though folding it in. The small amount of remaining milk is poured in also. And there we have the perfect cappuccino.





The Moka-Napoletana
No Italian home is without one or more mocha jugs of varying sizes, and no matter what you think of the coffee, their visual appeal is undeniable.


Wonderfully designed double beaded stovetop pots; they combine the characteristics of espresso and percolator coffee. They force the water, which has come to the boil in the lower chamber, up through a tube and then down through the finely ground coffee. Handled expertly they can satisfy coffee cravings and produce an adequate 'espresso type' coffee in under a minute.


The Percolater
The coffee percolator was a civilizing influence in the American Wild West; it was certainly widely used throughout the USA, where, until the recent coffee 'revolution', it was a standard piece of equipment in most homes. The percolator heats the coarsely ground coffee and cold water so that it boils and bubbles up into the top of the unit. It is an excellent way to have the relaxing sound of the coffee liquid burbling and gurgling, and to waft the aroma of coffee through the home, as all the volatile wonderful flavors go out of the percolator and into the air! There is possibly no worse way to make fresh coffee than this.



Soluble or Instant Coffee
The first soluble "instant" coffee was invented in 1901 by Japanese-American chemist Satori Kato of Chicago. It was not marketed commercially until the launch of Nescafe in 1938. The quality and diversity of instant coffee has grown dramatically over the years, and some think we can make a good cup of coffee from today's products. Instant coffee has a number of advantages over fresh brewed coffee, including ease and convenience. It stays fresher longer, it is hard to damage the flavor, however hard you try, and most of all it is fast, cheap and clean. Instant coffee is manufactured, just like any other coffee, from ground beans. The first stage involves the preparation of a coffee concentrate from which the water is removed, either by heat, known as spray dried, or by freezing, to produce a soluble powder or granules. During the process of dehydration, the coffee essences may be lost, but these are captured and returned to the processed coffee.


Flavored Coffees
An interesting and fast growing area of the market is flavored coffee. Today there are over 100 different flavored varieties available. While coffee connoisseurs may turn up their noses at the idea of spoiling the flavor of their sacred brew, there are definitely moments when a chocolate or cinnamon flavored coffee is just right. Coffee is a wonderful taste itself, but also acts very well as the platform for many other flavors. Flavoring coffee is actually an old trick. In the Middle East it is traditional to add cardamom to coffee, while the practice of adding cinnamon has been widespread in Mexico for many years.


The growth in popularity of flavored coffee is proof of coffee's versatility and strength. The flavors are added directly to the beans by roasting them, then spraying them with a carrier oil and then the particular flavoring. Another way to make a cup of flavored coffee is to add a syrup to hot brewed coffee. This makes an ideal summer coffee drink, which can be served cold, as can iced coffee: pre-made coffee which has been chilled with either ice cubes or crushed ice added. By far the most important flavoring added to coffee over the world is milk. Although milk is not added to Arabian coffee, and coffee purists tend not to add milk, most people find coffee more palatable with it's addition.


Fresh Roast
The difference between Fresh Roast and Stale Roast is Flavor. There are lots of flavors in coffee that you have not experienced. These flavors are not "subtle" these are big Grand flavors. Coffee as it goes stale loses to the air lots of volatiles and these volatiles are what give coffee its flavor in the first place. There are over 800 known substances in roasted coffee. Most develop during the roasting process, but none of these alone has an affect on the aroma or taste all by itself. As you lose them you lose the flavor. When the bean testers go to select and grade green coffee beans, they roast them and grind them on the spot, they know that only Fresh Roasted coffee gives you all the flavor you paid for


Good Water
Coffee like tea needs good water. You likely have heard the saying great chefs use, "never cook with a wine that you would not drink by its self". This goes for water and coffee. If you have a water filter use it, if you don't get one. If you only make coffee on special occasions, use a store brand drinking or distilled water. You want to keep your coffee maker clean of course and that should include the filter basket on drip type of coffee makers.
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Old 09-04-2004, 08:37 PM   #4
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here is a link to Starbucks where they tell you how to brew a great cup of coffee...

The Four Fundamentals

I would go by your measuring cup not the coffee maker.

Grind as you brew - don't pregrind.

Store beans in an airtight container (think ceramic is best).

And as Starbucks recommends, 2 tbls. of ground coffee for each 6 ozs. of water. If coffee brewed this way is too strong for your taste, you can add a little hot water to your cup of brewed coffee.

Happy Java!
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Old 09-04-2004, 08:48 PM   #5
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Wow! thanks alot guys for all this coffee info, and I guess I'll just have to play it by ear about the ratio. I'm glad though that you specified the 5oz cup size as opposed to an actual 8oz measuring cup....this helps me alot.

Thanks again,
Jovin

ETA: I just realized something. I'm using an electric percolator, and I ground the beans in my little mill, but maybe this is too fine for a percolator. I know that in the stores, there's a different setting for this type of coffeemaker. Any suggestions?
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Old 09-05-2004, 01:42 PM   #6
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Can you grind them for less time? I do mine kinda chunky for the percolator.

HOLY CRAP Raine! When you give out the info you don't stint.

I was just going to say that I do 5 scoops for my percolator and it works great...I add two scoops for my sister from NJ when she visits because she likes to chew her coffee. Good luck.
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Old 09-05-2004, 02:10 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alix
Can you grind them for less time? I do mine kinda chunky for the percolator.

HOLY CRAP Raine! When you give out the info you don't stint.

I was just going to say that I do 5 scoops for my percolator and it works great...I add two scoops for my sister from NJ when she visits because she likes to chew her coffee. Good luck.
You must have read my mind, Alix....although with the size of MY mind, that wouldn't take long!

I was just trying to figure out if I should go look up my old cookbooks to see how they told you to brew coffee then..ratio I mean.

I know...it's so much info..now I'm more confused. Then I realized last night that even though I ground the beans myself...maybe they're too fine...now I want to go to the supermarket and see if I can get them ground for "percolators" just too see the difference.

My daughter says that she doesn't think they give you that option anymore on the machines there.

Also...when you say you use so many scoops...what size scoops are you talking about? I have a "Mr. Coffee" scoop from my old coffeemaker, and it holds a tablespoon and a half. Also, when you say "scoops" are you referring to heaping, or level or what? and then JUST WHAT SIZE are the scoops?


Do I ask too many questions? Also, what is your percolator...electric or on the stove? What size as far as ounces does it hold?
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Old 09-06-2004, 01:00 PM   #8
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Whew! Electric percolator...melitta scoop...can be found in the coffee aisle. NOT a Mr Coffee size. It is about a tablespoon. The grinder at my store has a setting to do it "chunkier" but I do it at home in my own little grinder. Braun...ancient and still working fine. Only about $20 but well worth the investment.
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Old 09-06-2004, 01:40 PM   #9
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I'm glad to get this message right now...have only used the percolator once so far, and I've been going through all my cookbooks to get an average idea of ratio. Unbelievable...anywhere from 2 tsps (yes teaspoons!) to 2 tblsp per 8 oz cup!

I guess I'll just have to keep trying. The first and only potful was fine for me, but I'm sure it would probably be too weak for anyone else.

I did go to the grocery store yesterday and had a lb of coffee ground on one of their percolator settings (they had two!) decisions, decisions. I wanted to compare it to the way I'd ground my beans. Mine were alot finer.

My Mr. Coffee scoop is just a bit over 1 and 1/2 tblsp...measured it with sugar to see...So you're saying that you can buy a melitta scoop? I've never noticed that, but I live in Canada...maybe not here. Do you round your scoops or level them? Sorry, but I HAVE to know!

Also, I wonder if your percolator is the same size as mine. Mine has markings that say to 10 cups on the outside, but I measured 5 and 1/2 (8oz cups) to the bottom of the basket.

Thanks for tolerating me, Alix! I know my daughter who bought me the percolator is going to show up here today probably for a "good cup of perked coffee!" I've been telling her how great the coffee was MANY years ago when I had an electric percolator that my brother bought for my Mom.


Jovin
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Old 09-07-2004, 11:20 AM   #10
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Jovin...I am in Canada...remember? I round my scoops. Mine is pretty worn...but I think I go up to 10 cups too. And the cup size is smaller...not 8 oz. Ugh...too early...need more coffee to think!!
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