In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been a tad awol lately. Now, it’s not because I haven’t been cooking and taking pictures, but to be brutally honest with you, I kind of forgot how to blog. You think it’s easy being a world renowned blogger? Well, it’s not. Truth is, I started feeling a lot of pressure to have these super awesome posts, that I ended up not posting anything…and that’s how I found coffee.
Ok that’s not true, but I wasn’t really sure how to end our little therapy session, and I’m still a little rusty in the intro part…gimme some time to get back into the thick of things.
Also, as I’m sure you no doubt noticed, this is part of this month’s Kosher Connection Link Up, on the Best Food I Ever Ate…I know, coffee? The best food you ever ate? Totally weak sauce, but to be honest, I’ve never had a “best” food. I always hated that question. I like everything, and I especially like coffee, so coffee it is.
Anyway, on to coffee.
I am crazy about my coffee. It’s the one thing that I consider myself a real snob about. When people start to tell me about how passionate they are about their coffee also, all I have to say is “I grind my coffee every morning, and I weigh the beans and water out, on a scale.” Now, iI’m not necessarily proud of my weird obsession, and it’s not like it’s a competition of who’s the craziest about their coffee (although if it was, I would win some weird pretentious hipster prize, like a handle-bar moustache, or maybe a gift card to urban outfitters, or something like that), but that’s how much I love my coffee. There really is a difference between bad, mediocre, good, and great coffee, and I’m here to tell you that you can learn to love your coffee too.
Let’s start from the beginning. Coffee starts out as a fruit that kind of resembles a cherry, with a “seed” on the inside. That seed is then fermented (in one particular weird example, this takes place in the stomach of a small animal known as the civet, and the seeds are then harvested from the fecal matter of the civet…yay science!), then they’re dried, and finally roasted. Depending on how long they’re roasted for, the beans go from light to medium to dark. As the beans roast, they darken with a little help from the Maillard reaction (remember Monsieur Maillard from famous applications such as Toast – a lifelong obsession with coloring bread, and of course who could forget: Browning Meat – making meat taste better, and NOT because I seal in juices!) and will start to develop it’s characteristic flavors. Generally speaking, medium roasts are the best full flavored, combining coffee and roast flavors well; Whereas with dark roasts, you only taste the roast, and not the actual coffee.
There’s also the whole thing about where your beans come from. There are a whole bunch of places that grow coffee (Fun Fact – Hawaii is the only US state that grows coffee), and it’s hard to say which one is better, but famous coffees to name just two from the many are Blue Mountain from Jamaica and Kona from Hawaii. That being said, it’s pretty rare to get these coffees without it being a blend with other varieties, or without costing a ton of money. And to be honest with you, I think it’s better to buy fresh coffee, and grind it yourself daily, than to buy a fancy pre-ground coffee…but that’s just my opinion, man.
Ok so now that you’ve procured your coffee, you want to brew it, so you can get it into your gluttonous face correct? Well, we have to talk science for just one second, k? Your cup o` joe is what it is because it extracts all of it’s super goodness out of the ground beans, and the whole process of extraction is about a few things 1) time 2) temperature 3) particle size, and each one is dependant on the other, so if we increase one we decrease the other.
To get the right particle size, we need to grind up the coffee beans. There are two ways to grind up the beans. You can either use a spice grinder, which is like a mini food processor, and has a blade whirring around on the bottom. Or you can use what’s called a burr grinder, which is like two cones inverted into one another, and you can control the amount of space in between. The main difference between the two is a burr grinder has much better control over the size of the grind.
When does this matter? Well the size of the grind is what determines the surface area of the coffee that’s in contact with the water, which will extract the goodness out of the coffee, and that gets into the two other components, time and temperature.
Let’s say you wanted to make your coffee in about 15 seconds, you would need a really small grind so there is more surface area in contact with the water, so you would need a really really small grind, and a very high temperature; so high in fact, you would need to boil the water under a lot of pressure, so the temperature of the water can be higher than a measly 212 (-ish depending on where you are), so you can really get the water hotter, and by doing all this you would have espresso (which is also why a really good espresso machine costs a lot of money). Now on the other end of the spectrum, what if you wanted to make coffee that would sit over night, and brew for a really long time. Well you have to use a really large grind, and cooler temperature; and there you have cold brewed coffee.
Ok, so now that we’ve covered the basics, and pretty much lost any semblance of an audience (Hi mom and dad!), let’s get into how I make coffee pretty much every day; The drip method. It’s a really simple way to make one cup of awesome coffee (and not a whole pot of crappy coffee).
It starts with grinding your beans, to a medium consistency (not the smallest, but also not the biggest), a scale (yes, a scale for making coffee…I know you think I’m weird, but you’re weird also), water that’s just under a boil (optimum temperature for making coffee is 195-205, and water boils at 212, so boil your water, and let it sit uncovered for a 2 minutes or so). The rest is pretty simple.
Gather your drip cone, and paper filter, and wash it out with some water (there might be dirt and particles in the paper, that if you’re going through the trouble of making awesome coffee, what’s another few seconds to make sure it really is awesome). Then place it on your cup, on the scale, and tare (zero) the scale.
Place you coffee grind, and since we’ve established I’m a certified weirdo, I have a chart that I wrote down exactly how much water correlates to how much coffee grind. (In case you’re wondering, by weight the ratio of coffee to water is 1:22.26…did y’all know I was this OCD?)
I then pour a little of the water just to moisten the beans, and let it sit for 30 seconds or so. This is called “blooming” the coffee, and starts the process of releasing the essential oils from the beans.
Then I pour the remainder of the water, stir with a spoon, and allow it to finish dripping.
I then pour in a splash of whole milk (sometimes I even go for an even smaller splash of half and half), and that’s it. I know it sounds complicated, but it really is a simple process.
Questions? Comments? Just miss me so much, that you want to chat? Well I’m back baby, and the phone lines are open, so comment away, let’s talk food.
I know there’s a lot more to talk about in regards to coffee. Like, what’s the deal with a French press? The newfangled aero press? What about the chemex system? Well, it’s too much to get into, but ask away, and I can pretend like I know what I’m talking about.
Are you really still reading? You must be super bored at work, well since you’re so bored, as usual check out the other posts as part of the Link Up, by clicking on the funny frog guy on the bottom here.