Asic Principles of Coffee Making

Coffee is made by extracting flavors from ground coffee beans by dissolving them in hot water. The essence of making good coffee is to extract enough of these solids to make a flavorful beverage, but not to brew so long as to extract those solids that make the coffee bitter. With this principle in mind, study the following guidelines for making good coffee. The list is long, and every item is important. Use fresh coffee.

Once it is ground, coffee loses flavor and aroma rapidly. To maintain freshness, store coffee, tightly sealed, in a cool, dry place. Even with the best storage, however, you should not use coffee more than a week old. Vacuum-packed coffee keeps longer, but it too deteriorates as soon as it is opened. If you can't grind your own coffee daily (some restaurants do), at least you can arrange for frequent delivery.

Use the right grind and the right brewing time.

A coarse grind requires more time for extraction than a fine grind. You must use the grind that is suited to your equipment. Grind Extraction Time

Fine or vacuum 2 to 4 minutes Drip or urn 4 to 6 minutes

Regular (percolator) 6 to 8 minutes Use the right proportions.

Always measure. Recommended proportions are 1 pound of coffee and 1% to 21/2 gallons of water, or 500 grams of coffee and 7.5 to 10.5 liters of water, depending on the strength desired.

To make weaker coffee, add more hot water after removing the used grounds. Using more water while actually making the coffee extends the brewing time, resulting in overextraction and bitterness. In fact, many experts feel that passing no more than 2 gallons of water through 1 pound of ground coffee (8 liters to 500 grams) and then diluting to taste is the surest way to avoid bitterness.

Coffee strength is a matter of customer preference and varies from region to region. For example, people in New York generally prefer stronger coffee than people in Chicago. In some areas, the preferred ratio is 1 pound (500 g) coffee to 3 gallons (12 liters) water.

4. Use fresh water.

Fresh, cold water brought to a boil contains dissolved air. Water that has been kept hot for a long time does not, so it tastes flat, and it makes flat-tasting coffee.

Tap water is usually best to use. Special filtration systems are available for tap water that has off flavors or is heavily chlorinated. Do not use chemically softened water.

5. Use water at the right brewing temperature: 195° to 200°F (90° to 93°C). Water that is too hot extracts bitter solids. Water that is too cold does not extract enough flavor and yields coffee that is too cool for serving.

6. Use a good brewing procedure.

Most operations use either urns, for large volume, or automatic drip makers, which make one pot at a time, as shown in the photograph. These machines can make excellent coffee because water passes through the grounds only once.

Percolator-type coffee makers should not be used. They boil the coffee as it is being brewed and pass it through the grounds repeatedly.

7. Use clean equipment. Urns and coffee makers must be cleaned every day. Coffee leaves oily deposits that quickly turn rancid or bitter and that can ruin the next batch of coffee.

8. Use good filters.

Good filters are the only way to ensure sparkling, clear coffee. Most operations use paper filters, which are discarded after use. If cloth filters are used, they must be perfectly clean and free from odors.

9. Use proper holding procedures. Proper holding temperature is 185° to 190°F (85° to 88°C). Higher temperatures decompose the coffee quickly. Lower temperatures mean the customer gets cold coffee. Coffee made in carafe-type coffee makers is usually kept warm over electric burners. Do not hold brewed coffee over heat longer than 30 minutes. After this time, loss of quality is considerable. If it must be held longer, transfer it as soon as it is brewed to preheated thermos containers. Plan production so that coffee is always fresh. Discard old coffee.

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