Posted on


Coffee 101

Coffee: What You Need to Know

In recent years the coffee game has been taken up a notch. The brewing. The grinding. The farming – it’s a science.

The days of picking between regular are decaf are done. The world of Coffee has gotten a much needed facelift, no longer just the the choice of stock traders on tenterhooks – now it about culture, the process; the concept.

While we are not complaining – it has made everything a whole lot harder for the average Joe just to get a cup of coffee.

You have to worry about bean “indigenousness”, brewing style, fair trade status, foam or not; where and how you are drinking it.

Drip Coffee

Coffee: the Basics

Coffee is brewed: the brewing can be done in one of three ways; drip filter, French press or an espresso machine.

All coffee drinks are based on either coffee or espresso. All-slow brewing methods generally result in a coffee; fast brew in a machine result in an espresso.

Drip of Filtered Coffee:

A hipster would not be seen dead with this, unless it becomes so uncool – it’s actually cool again.

Drip brewing or filtered: where hot water passes slowly over roasted ground beans. The water then seeps through the ground coffee, absorbing its oils and essences, solely under gravity, then passes through the bottom of the filter.

The used coffee grounds are retained in the filter with the liquid falling (dripping) into a collecting vessel. Not for the connoisseurs.

Grind Coffee

French Press

Also known as a coffee plunger requires courser round, a fine ground will seep through the filter.

You must boil water and leave it to settle with the round for approximately 4 minutes. At which point you can pull the plunger and separate the coffee from the water.

Espresso Machine

Does exactly as it says on the tin. Forcing a small amount of nearly boiling water under pressure through finely ground beans.

The leaves a highly concentrated, small dosage off coffee – an espresso.

The Beans

The first rule there are two varieties of Coffee tree, Arabica and Robusta – Arabica are the divas of the partnership – generally needing more pampering and costing more to maintain and coting more to buy.

Robusta on the other hand is high yield low maintenance – these contain a lot of caffeine and little flavor, these are used as inexpensive fillers in soft drink and powders.

If you are going uber hipster, and fancy a shot at growing your own – you’re going to need a throw a ton of shade on those bad boys. The slower the bloom the better the taste.

Coffee grows on a shrubs as a cherry-like fruit with a bean in the center. It’s a crop, like a fruit and grows on trees. The cherries, when mature, are picked, sorted and processed. Processing methods include sun drying (natural); partially pulping then sun drying (honey processing) or wet fermentation.

What is Coffee Bean Roasting?

We don’t really know who first roasted beans. All we do know is that we think, it’s a really, really, good idea.

Roasting a coffee bean is in fancy terms – chemically breaking down green coffee beans by heating.  

Things are both lost and created during the coffee roasting process. A green coffee bean changes in 3 ways during heating or the three cracks. Maliard reactionstreckers degradations and caramelization.

The Maillard is a browning reaction – it’s what makes toast taste different than stale bread.
Caramelization is the breakdown of sugar molecules under high heat, which unearths an array of sweet bitter and nutty flavor molecules.

Typically you should roast for between 7 and 20 minutes.

There several Roasting Levels:

Roasting Grades

Cinnamon Roast: light roast, light cinnamon tone a nut-like flavor, high coffee and acidity
American Roast: Medium roast, chestnut hue, pronounced caramel like flavor
City Roast: Medium roast, medium roast, medium brown with no surface oils, Full coffee flavor, with some loss of acidity.
Full City Roast: Chestnut brown, lightly darker than the City Roast, Full coffee flavor, good balance of acidity and sugar.
Vienna: Dark brown, with traces of oil on the surface, Dark roast flavor.
French Roast: Dark brown, nearly black, oily on the surface, bitter smoky taste ad pungent aroma.
Italian: Dark chocolate brown, oils on the surface, burnt flavor
Espresso: Dark roast, used specifically for espresso machines, burnt flavor that is strong and sweet.

What is the Grind?

Coffee Grinder

The grind is another critical element of the brewing process, this is where you break the beans down before boiling.

Fresher is always better: freshly ground coffee is unparalleled. The minute you grind your coffee it starts to oxidize and accelerates – you must grind within 15 minutes to get the best results. If you wait too long the coffee becomes stale and bitter.

You need the burr.

Burr grinders chop the beans more evenly, giving you a more even grind and a more balanced brew. Having a range of element sizes will lead to a wide variation in flavor in both over and under extraction.

Grind sizes influences the surface area of coffee that is exposed to water – we use the term “extraction”: to describe this. Smaller particle will have more contact with water, and thus extract more quickly. Basically, if you extract too much from the coffee (grind too fine or brew too long), the coffee may taste bitter and chalky, like aspirin. Extract too little (grind too coarse or too little brew time) and you’ll get a sour taste.

Your choices:

Affogato: Literally means “drowned” – a delicious combo of a single shot espresso poured over vanilla ice cream or gelato.

Americano: The Lungo or the Long back – dilute two shots of espresso with hot water to the texture and density of drip coffee.

Breve: An Italian espresso made with half and half light ream instead of full fat.

Cappuccino: One  of the most popular espresso drinks, a cappuccinos should be equal arts milk, espresso, steamed  milk and foamed milk. Traditionally a stronger drink with a small layer of foam on top. Typically similar to a latte or white coffee, with a thicker layer of micro foam.

Cappuccino is a coffee drink which today is composed of espresso and hot milk, with the surface topped with foamed milk. Cappuccinos are most often prepared with an espresso machine.

Mocha: With 60 ml of espresso, 60 ml of chocolate and 30 ml of steamed milk, a mocha is a the right choice if you want something sweet.

Latte: Traditionally a combination of espresso and milk – a premium milk coffee experience usually without steamed milk and served in a tall glass. 

Café Noisette: The noisette is on step between the macchiato and the latte. It’s a big shot of espresso with about half that amount in milk.

Macchiato: With a macchiato you get a shot of espresso, with a dot of A ristretto is the coffee choice for those who like to get straight to the pint. It’s a very concentrated  espresso shot – only 22 ml.