This is the first in a series of blog posts that will help teach you how to confidently brew exceptional coffee at home.
Although there are only two main ingredients in making coffee, there are dozens of variables that can have an effect on the final cup. Over the next few posts, I will dive into some of these factors that can be adjusted to help you brew some great coffee in your own home.
The first thing we have to consider is the coffee you are using to brew your cup. As with most things in life, there are endless choices when it comes to selecting your coffee. Coffees range from pre-ground commercial mass production to rare small batch specialties.
If you want a coffee that is full of flavor but doesn’t cost $80+ for an 8oz bag, then you are probably going to be looking for what the coffee industry calls “Specialty Coffee.” This is a term that is used to describe a coffee that is a cut above the rest. You wont find that term on any of your typical well known brands on the supermarket shelves.
Thankfully, there is another way. There is a whole world within the coffee industry that only deals with “Specialty Coffee.”
What is specialty coffee? 90% of the coffee beans grown and consumed are considered ‘commercial grade.’ This means that they are just average, and targeted to the consumer that only wants caffeine in a cup. That other 10% of coffee is something special. It is carefully selected from the entire crop and put aside for purchase by a more selective consumer.
So we have eliminated the problem of using commercial grade coffee. But, not so fast; there is one more factor that we need to look at.
Roasting is the process of changing the green, or natural coffee bean, into the brown and delicious drink we all love. Anyone can roast coffee, but it takes someone with special knowledge and training to do it well. There are many factors along the way that can either make a coffee amazing and full of flavor, or flat and unimpressive. Even worse, it could taste baked or burned. No one wants a boring cup of coffee, or a mouth full of ash.
Not only does it have to be expertly roasted to ensure the flavor and unique characteristics are preserved and accentuated, but it needs to be fresh to really impress.
Once a coffee is roasted, it begins a process called ‘degassing.’ Degassing is the bean releasing carbon dioxide, and opening up flavors within the bean. Most coffees are best when they have rested for a day or two after roasting. If they are not protected from oxygen and temperature changes, it will quickly go stale and lose all of that incredible flavor we worked so hard to find. Look for a “Roasted On” date on the bag. If you can’t find one, you have no idea how long that bag has been sitting on the shelf.
By buying from a local roaster you are taking the first step to ensure that you are going to be brewing high quality, fresh coffee at home.
Ask to taste the coffee you will be buying. A reputable roaster will be more than happy to brew a cup for you, and let you make it how you see fit. Add your own milk add sugar if that is how you drink your coffee. Make it how you would enjoy it at home, and see if you want to commit to a whole bag.
Talk to your barista about the coffee. Your barista should be knowledgeable about all of the coffee they are serving, and they should be able to guide you to a coffee you will love. Tell them the flavor traits you love, and let them find a coffee that will fit your needs. Your local roaster should have a wide variety to help you find your way.
At Branch Street Coffee Roasters we are committed to the whole process, from bean to bag. All of our coffee is roasted as we need it, and packaged in sealed bags with one-way valves (to allow CO2 to escape, and keep oxygen out). The beans are kept in a temperature-controlled room out of the sun until it is sold to you. We do not sell or serve any coffee that is past our date standards, so you can be confident that you are bringing home exceptional, fresh coffee.
Home Coffee Brewing: The Water