Coffee is one of The most popular beverages in the world, mainly because of its stimulant effect and because of its simplicity to make. It is true that preparing coffee seems simple, but once we immerse ourselves in a world where preparing a delicious cup is more than just mixing coffee with water, we begin to discover where the real secret lies.
In this guide, we will detail the basic guidelines that you need to know in order to prepare a good coffee at home without the need to be an expert.
What is coffee?
Coffee is a very popular beverage obtained from the seed of a shrub called a Coffee tree. This seed is ground and roasted to obtain the powder that is used for the elaboration of the beverage.
It is generally consumed hot but also in cold drinks. For its growth, it is necessary to have a specific type of climate that is stable and where there is a lot of humidity and warmth.
Coffee possesses a substance called caffeine, which is its main active ingredient. Caffeine works as a strong stimulant that reduces fatigue and drowsiness, while it provides well-being and euphoria to the organism allowing the body to remain more alert physically and mentally.
The coffee tree where the coffee beans come from can reach a height of 10 meters in the wild. However, in commercial cultivation, they are only allowed to grow up to 3 meters. Its origin is can be located in Ethiopia and Yemen.
It is a type of plant that requires particular climatic conditions; specifically, it requires places with high humidity and stable temperatures. That is why it is generally found in the wild in the highlands and mountains. In addition, many of the commercial crops also use these locations. These conditions will considerably lower the places where it can be produced, leaving countries close to the equator as the only option.
The number one reason why man became interested in its cultivation was to consume its seeds. These are commonly roasted to improve their conservation and to facilitate their later milling. At the moment in which coffee is prepared, it will be absolutely necessary to pulverize these grains by using coffee grinders to obtain the powder that, after mixing it with hot water, will result in the typical coffee infusion.
Types of coffee beans
In the world, there are two large groups of seeds, Arabica and Robusta. In addition, ever since its discovery, numerous variations have arisen adapted to local crops in countries with their own plantations.
This is, among all the types of coffee beans, the one that monopolizes all the cups of coffee in the world. It currently represents between 70 and 80% of world production. It originates from the mountains of southern Ethiopia. It was the first type of coffee to be cultivated.
Initially, only its leaves were used to prepare tea. However, this form of consumption evolved to the currently prepared infusions. Nowadays, pulverized beans are used in filters through which hot water is passed.
The arabica coffee variety (light and large seed) contains little caffeine, between 1% and 1.5%, While the robusta (dark and small) offers an amount between 2 and 3 times greater.
There is a multitude of variants, whose main difference is the location of cultivation. And it is curious because most of them are located at altitudes between 1.200 and 1.800 meters, and with many temperatures ranging between 15 and 25C
What is its flavor?
It is mainly characterized by a mild and pleasant taste. Along with this, it is usually associated with wild aromas and dried fruits, complemented with a sweet and acid touch at the same time.
Like it is in the world of wine, there are tasting championships. It is quite interesting to know the opinion of these coffee conersouirs because it defintely allows us to widen the perspective of coffee flavors. In example, the 2012 world champion also identified caramel and chocolate tints.
Evidently, such detailed nuances will depend on many factors, such as the water, the bean, and any process that is involved in the preparation of a single cup. So it is normal for it to vary. What is certain is that its flavor is much more complex than robusta.
This variety originates from the Democratic Republic of Congo. This seed has important differences and similarities with respect to the Arabica. It is a much more resistant and strong type of bush and therefore accepts a greater variety of soils.
It is usually found at altitudes of 200m and above as long as the temperature is constant and there is sufficient humidity.
This property presents a great advantage for its cultivation since at these heights, there are flatter lands which facilitate its care and harvesting. This increases the yield of these plantations and ends up translating into higher harvests, i.e., lower prices.
However, it does not manage to surpass Arabica in world consumption Both its aroma and flavor are inferior. Another very important difference is that its caffeine concentration is between 2 and 3 times higher than that of Arabica. in a considerably smaller bean.
Due to its low cost of all the types of coffee beans, this is the ideal one for the production of soluble blends and low-quality coffees. Currently, however, its organoleptic properties have improved considerably, which is why it is beginning to be filtered in more demanding markets.
What is its flavor?
The sensations produced by this bean in our palate are quite different from its Arabica brother. Robusta has a rather bitter and less acid taste, which is combined with hints of nuts and wood.
But this is not the main reason why it has been displaced from the most demanding palates. The fact is that it is not very perfumed and, together with a rougher and creamier texture, makes it unattractive to the finest tastes. However, just because of this texture, it is usually a very appreciated variety in the preparation of espresso coffees.
Due to the great differences present between Arabica coffee and its derivatives and Robusta, the idea of blends between the two emerged. The number one objective was to obtain coffees with combined properties.
This opened the many doors to a wide universe with a multitude of opportunities that ended up generating an important parallel industry. Its clients are many of the large coffee companies, hotel chains, or even well-known restaurants that are looking for their own coffee.
These needs could only be covered through the combination of certain varieties of seeds in very measured quantities. In order to obtain a balanced and high-quality recipe, a great deal of research and testing is required. That is why this information is kept with great zeal and secrecy.
Different ways of preparing coffee
Usually, coffee is served with sugar, which counteracts its bitter taste, and with milk. In addition, in some preparations, chocolate spices (cinnamon, cardamom, or nutmeg), lemon alcoholic beverages, cream, and even ice are added. These are the most common ways of preparing coffee:
• Espresso: This preparation of Italian origin is obtained with an espresso coffee maker. A small amount of coffee is served (about 30 ml) in a small cup with a characteristic layer of cream on the surface due to the pressure. This coffee has an intense aroma and flavor.
• Cut coffee or macchiato: This is an espresso coffee to which a little hot milk or milk foam is added
• Cappuccino: It is an espresso coffee to which milk with foam is added and can be decorated with cocoa or cinnamon sprinkled on top. It is served in a large cup, and the coffee, milk, and milk foam should be equal parts, that is to say. 1 /3 of the cup for each one In Italy, it is mainly consumed as breakfast.
• Coffee with milk: Cafe latte, or Cafe au lait It is an espresso coffee to which hot milk is added, the proportions being 1/3 coffee and 2/3 milk, although they may vary depending on the country.
• Latte macchiato or spotted milk: It is a cup of hot milk to which a small amount of espresso coffee is added as opposed to macchiato coffee. The coffee should be poured over the milk. It is usually served in a tall glass cup
• Bonbon Coffee: It is a black coffee to which condensed milk is added, and it is usually served in a glass cup where the contrast of colors can be appreciated. Although this preparation has its origin in Alicante, it is currently known throughout the Iberian Peninsula
• Americano: It is an espresso coffee to which hot water and sugar are added, thus obtaining a smoother coffee. This drink is very popular in Venezuela.
• Mocha coffee: It is an espresso coffee with chocolate and milk in equal parts (1 /3 of each). K has a layer of foam on the surface on which cinnamon or cocoa is sprinkled
• Viennese coffee: It is a cup of long espresso coffee to which hot milk with cream is added and garnished with grated chocolate.
• Irish coffee: In a glass, Irish whiskey is poured, sugar is added, and hot strong coffee up to 2 centimeters below the rim. Stir well and very slowly add cold, slightly whipped cream, which should remain floating in the coffee. It is drunk without stirring any more.
• Gaelic coffee: In a glass, pour previously heated Scotch whisky and add hot coffee. Then add sugar and whipped cream on top of which grated chocolate is sprinkled
• Scottish coffee: It is prepared in the same way as Irish coffee but replacing the cream with vanilla ice cream.
• Frappi coffee: It is a whipped soluble coffee to which milk is added and served very cold. This drink is very popular in Greece and Cyprus, especially during the summer.
• Turkish coffee: This coffee is very popular in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Balkan countries. It is prepared by boiling ground coffee directly in water until it acquires the consistency of flour. It is a very concentrated and thick coffee that is served in small cups
Things to bear in mind to start drinking coffee
If you visit some pages related to the world of specialty coffee, you will surely realize that baristas use many items when preparing coffee, and many times these items tend to be a little expensive.
One of the main items you will need is a scale; we recommend that you start with a kitchen scale that allows you to tare.
The idea is that you can weigh the amount of coffee that you are using as well as the amount of water, this way you can repeat the recipe if it turned out well or know what not to do in case you don’t get good results. You can also calculate the time with the timer of your cell phone.
Remember that 90% of your cup of coffee is water, so it must be of good quality. We recommend mineral or filtered water because if it does not taste good on its own. It will not taste as good with coffee.
The Coffee Beans
It never hurts to say that we have to pay close attention to the coffee beans we are consuming. Make sure they are specialty beans so you can get a great result, and we remind you to keep the beans in a dry and dark place.
It is also preferable to grind what you are going to use at the time to maintain its freshness. When it comes to getting your caffeine fix, instant coffee will do, but you will be missing out a lot on flavor.
This is a very important point because here we do recommend you to invest a little bit. We recommend that you start with a manual conical-blade grinder that will allow you to maintain a more standardized grind until you can get a more professional one to obtain an adequate grind when preparing your coffee.
On the other hand, if, for the moment, you do not have a grinder, you can order ground beans and buy small quantities to maintain freshness.
This is the starting point of all the recipes; it is the proportion between the coffee and the water you will need. It serves to regulate the intensity of the coffee you are going to prepare.
If the ratio is lower (1 2) like that of espresso, the result will be more intense as opposed to the higher ratio (1:15) like that of filtered coffees. This can be read as follows: for each gram of coffee, 15 grams of water will be used.
If you have a cup with a capacity of 300 ml. how many grams of coffee do I need? All you have to do is divide the 300 ml of water with the 15 of the ratio, and you will obtain the necessary amount of coffee.
300ml /15 = 20 grams of coffee
On the contrary, if you only have 16 grams of coffee left and you want to make yourself a cup of coffee, and you don’t know how much water to use, the only thing you have to do is multiply it by 15 of the ratio.
16 gr of coffee x 15 = 240 ml
Who knew you’d need math to make coffee?
The Brewing Methods
This brewing method yields a much thicker coffee than others; however, the final result doesn’t feel muddy. It is made by exposing the coffee grounds to a small amount of water and high-pressure steam through an espresso machine.
Since it gives a strong coffee, for many, it’s the base for different coffee drinks such as the ones described above (cappuccino, mocha Americano, etc.) Also, for the same reason, its serving size is considerably smaller than other brewing methods and preparations, only comparable to Turkish coffee.
The French press is a very simple device comprised of a filter screen and a plunger In it. The coffee grounds are exposed to hot water; then the plunger must be pressed to separate the grounds from the infusion; the extraction time will depend on the bean type and how fine are the coffee grounds (coarsely ground coffee works best with it).
It is a quite convenient device as it only requires hot water and ifs portable. The result is a very smooth coffee, albeit softer than an Espresso. For this reason, a French press is a great starter choice.
A Moka pot is an unmistakable coffee maker, an all-time favorite because of its portability, its simplicity, and its aesthetics. It brews coffee by pressurizing boiling water through its three chambers: one for the water, the second for your precious ground beans, and the last one for the result, which tends to be a rich, creamy drink that is sometimes foamy.
These can be electric or stove-top. making them quite affordable and portable.
The Extraction Time
This is a point where we have to put together everything we have reviewed before, the water, the coffee beans, the grinding, the temperature, and the ratios. For practical purposes, we are going to focus mainly on the grinding.
The finer the grind, the more surface area it will have in contact with the water, so it will need less time for extraction, and the coarser the grind, the less surface area it will have in contact with the water, so it will take longer for the water to extract the soluble solids from the coffee.
The Temperature Of Consumption
Normally it is difficult to perceive the flavors when something is very hot, so we recommend that you wait for a little until it cools down so that you can perceive the flavors well. A suitable temperature would be between 60C – 70C. If you are used to drinking very hot coffee, it may be a little difficult at first, but we assure you that it is worth the wait.
Coffee is a wonderful beverage. It can prevent serious illnesses, stimulate your mind and muscles, and even help you lose weight. Remember to enjoy a good coffee; it’s all about moderation and attention to detail. If you’ve taken the time to read this entire article, thank you! Please share it so your friends can know more about coffee and en|oy it better.