About Coffee: The Process: Brewing

Regardless of the method you choose, try following these essential rules when brewing coffee.

  • Keep the coffee maker clean, and rinse it with hot water before you brew.
  • If you live in an area with alkaline, or hard, water, periodically run a strong solution of vinegar through the works of your brewer to clear out lime deposits, and rinse thoroughly.
  • Use fresh water, as free of impurities and alkalines as possible. Use bottled or filtered water for the best results.
  • Brew with hot water, as opposed to lukewarm or boiling water. Boiling damages coffee flavor because it vaporizes much of the coffee essence while it continues to extract other bitter chemicals. A temperature of 200F is ideal, which means bringing the water to a boil and then waiting a couple of minutes before brewing.
  • Grind the coffee as fine as you can make it without losing any through the holes in the filter of the coffee maker. Never grind to a powder.
  • Use plenty of coffee, at least 2 level tablespoons or 1 standard coffee measure per 12-ounce cup.
  • In filter and drip systems, avoid brewing less than the brewer's full capacity. If the pot is made to brew six cups, the coffee will taste better if you brew the full six.

A few things NOT to do when brewing coffee.

  • Don't boil coffee. This will cook off all of the delicate flavoring essence and leave only the bitter chemicals.
  • Don't percolate or reheat coffee. This has the same effect as boiling, only to a lesser degree.
  • Don't hold coffee for very long on the heat for the same reason.
  • Don't mix old coffee with new. That's like using rotten wood to build a new building.

Drip Brewing Method
Electric and manual drip brewing produces a nice cup of coffee by allowing near boiling water to slowly drip through the coffee grounds. Water should be heated to 195F, so be sure to use a good quality home brewer capable of maintaining this temperature. Transfer the brewed coffee to a thermos. For convenience, you may want to invest in a high quality drip brewer that drips directly into a thermos.

French Press Brewing Method
This method utilizes infusion and pressure to create what many people consider to be the "perfect cup of coffee". Using a plunger pot, place the appropriate amount of coffee into the bottom of the beaker and pour in just boiling water. Allow the coffee to steep for at least 5 minutes (longer for a for intense flavor) and plunge coffee grounds to the bottom of the beaker.

Espresso Brewing Method
In a stovetop espresso maker, heated water is forced up through a filter containing finely ground coffee. From there, liquid is deposited into a separate chamber where it is ready for consumption. The electric, home use espresso maker is similar to those found in our coffee shops. Hot water is forced through the coffee grounds under high pressure creating a heavy, more intense brew.

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