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a coffee guide

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“ nescafe no es cafe”

instant coffee is not coffee -mexican saying


it begins with a bean There is something inexplicable about our relationship with coffee. It percolates through our day from the moment we wake, enlivening our senses and galvanizing us into action. It’s an affair that’s been going on for over 500 years, since the first cafés set up tables in the Middle East. And it’s now gathering steam as quality-obsessed kiosks add conviviality and connoisseurship to the psychoactive substance for America’s chronic ally sleep - deprived hordes, more used to medicinally gulping down a cup on the go than stopping to savor the experience. The new, more appreciative approach to the coffee bean and its handling-fresh-roasting, on-site grinding, custom-brewing, and sipping at communal tables-comes just as a whole new array of scientific findings turn coffee, especially in its darkest, most aromatic roasts, into something of a health food. Once demonized for its stimulant powers, coffee has also long been appreciated for its ability to improve alertness, enhance concentration, and ameliorate the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance. But stopping to savor the brew and transform it into a social tool was left to the kaveh kanes of Arabia and, starting in the 17th century, Europe. Fanning out from the West Coast, the new reverence for coffee bears a striking resemblance to appreciation of wine and cheese. And, as with wine connoisseurship, it starts with terroir, the land the coffee is grown on. “Specialty” coffee purveyorsas distinguished from mass-marketed brands using beans of unspecified provenance and age-pride themselves on an artisanal approach and seek out small, sometimes family-run, farms where each hand that plucks a raw coffee berry could belong to a relative or community member. With their small

crops, such farms can maintain a high standard of quality control-and provide a “coffee story” about the cultivation and craftsmanship that goes into the beans. But unlike wine or cheese, java does not improve with age. Once the ripe, red, grape-size “coffee cherry” is plucked from the bush-like tree, the skin and pulp removed, and the inner bean soaked, dried, rested-yes, rested!-shipped, and roasted, decomposition begins. James Freeman, owner of San Francisco’s noted Blue Bottle (named for Central Europe’s first coffeehouse), prints the roast date on each bag so consumers can avoid beans gone stale by oxidation. Grown in 50 countries, coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world, after oil. And although specialty coffee makes up only 10 percent of java consumed, it’s still an $8 billion business. Depending on the country, coffee is harvested once or twice a year, although in countries like Kenya, straddling the equator, growers harvest coffee year-round. Farms cultivate either the Arabica or Robusta species of bean. Most specialty coffee utilizes the finer Arabica, while mass-produced brands favor the slightly bitter Robusta, which is less selective about its habitat and can be harvested large-scale. It also has more caffeine. Part science, part art, coffee roasting takes the green coffee beans and caramelizes them to varying degrees, releasing their natural oils and aroma. And then they are ground and ready for brewing. A pressurized brewing process like espresso (the basis for cappucino and latte, as well) concentrates the flavors and extracts all the beneficial compounds in coffee. It has more caffeine per ounce than any other beverage, but it takes a doppio-a double shot, to you,


3 grazie--to supply you with as much caffeine as a cup of drip-brewed coffee. It’s no secret that caffeine boosts mental performance. It keeps attention focused and elevates mood. Studies conducted by the military show that it improves reaction time, vigilance, and logical reasoning, especially when you’re tired. Neuroscientists attribute caffeine’s effect on alertness to its ability to bind to adenosine receptors and to stimulate dopamine release. But there’s much more to coffee than caffeine. Researchers have found that coffee boosts a sense of well-being independent of its caffeine content, and that there are many other pharmacologically active substances in the brew. Coffee is the number one source of cellprotecting antioxidants in the U.S. diet. Green coffee beans contain about a thousand antioxidants; roasting adds some 300 more, most of them unique to coffee. Many of the compounds have biological effects, from minimizing inflammation to favorably affecting glucose metabolism. The health effects of antioxidants cover a broad range, as oxidation is a major factor in brain aging, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and many other diseases. Coffee compounds also deter Parkinson’s disease and offset Alzheimer’s disease. In a recent study of nearly 70,000 French women-conducted by scientists at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil-researchers probed the ability of coffee to deter diabetes. They looked at the impact of coffee on insulin metabolism in relation to the amount of coffee and the time of day it was consumed. Consumption of both regular and decaffeinated coffee with meals, and especially with lunch, was inversely related to diabetes ‘incidence.

Only black coffee had an effect, not coffee with milk. Coffee inhibits iron absorption, and body iron stores are known to increase the risk of diabetes, but, the researchers found, the inhibition of iron absorption occurs only when coffee and the iron source are consumed at the same time, as at lunch or dinner. Having coffee at dinner does not have an additional benefit beyond that provided by sipping at lunch. But coffee delivers at least a one-two punch against diabetes. While the polyphenol antioxidants in coffee block iron absorption, researchers found that other antioxidants in coffee-like chlorogenic acid-slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream after a meal. So sit back, relax, chat with the other folks nearby, and down that coffee with impunity. Just skip the latte.


before you brew A burr or mill grinder is preferable because all of the coffee is ground to a consistent size. A blade grinder is less preferable because some coffee will be ground more finely than the rest. If you normally grind your coffee at home with a blade grinder, try having it ground at the store with

The ideal water temperature is 195205 f, since water is a better solvent at near-boiling temperature. Also, use fresh, clean water. If your water does not taste good, your coffee won’t either.


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To prevent under- or overextracting the flavor from the beans, you must match the right particle size (grind) with the right brewing time. In general, longer brewing times should be paired with larger particles and shorter brewing times with smaller particles.

Often brewing mechanisms require filters. Pre-rinse your paper filter to remove any loose paper fibers that can end up in your brew and make your coffee taste papery.


the french press Using a Press Pot (aka French Press) is the easiest and best way to get truly excellent coffee at home. The keys to getting good results are: using high quality, fresh beans; grinding the coffee correctly; using clean equipment and filtered water; timing the process. You’ll need a Press Pot, coffee, a grinder, a spoon, a time and cups (thermal carafe if preparing more than fits in the cups). It is important that the coffee be ground coarse and that it be ground with a quality burr (rather than blade) grinder. By grinding the coffee coarse, you’re allowing for a slower and more even extraction, which results in a fuller bodied and more nuanced cup. Blade grinders chop the coffee rather than grinding it, resulting in uneven and unpredictable particle size. This leads to an uneven extraction, creating increased bitterness. In addition, the lack of consistency in particle size results in inconsistent and unpredictable results from pot to pot. You’ll need one tablespoon (7 grams) of coffee for every 4 oz of water. in other words, if you have a 34 oz (8 cup) Press Pot, you’ll want to use 8 tablespoons of coffee. Feel free to adjust this amount based on your own personal tastes. Make sure the pot is clean and dry. You should bring the water just to a boil (electric kettles are great at this). Pour it aggressively into the pot so that it saturates the grounds. The key is to saturate all the grounds evenly. You should move the stream around as you pour to facilitate this. Do not fill the pot entirely.

7 With many fresh coffees you will see significant expansion of the coffee in a sort of foam at the top of the liquid once you add water. This is known as bloom and is the result of the off-gassing of CO2 from the coffee. Adding too much water can result in a very messy countertop. You’re going to want to have a timer that counts down from 4 minutes and has an alarm at 4 minutes. It’s very important that you use a timer to guarantee high quality coffee. After 1 minute, you should stir the grounds in the pot. If you need to add water to top off the pot, make sure it is right below boiling. Stirring the pot guarantees even and optimal extraction of all the coffee. In addition, it breaks down the bloom and allows you to combine the correct amount of water and coffee without spilling all over the place. Make sure you line up the spout and the corresponding opening in the lid. At exactly 4 minutes, you should push the press (slowly) into the pot to force all grounds to the bottom. You might have to press and then release and repeat to do this. Do not crush it with all your might – use some finesse. You need to do this as soon as you’ve pressed the pot. If you’re making more coffee than you can fit into a cup and want to hold some for later, pour the coffee into a thermal carafe. Do not simply leave the coffee in the Press Pot — it will get nasty quickly. If you want to avoid any stray grounds and sediment, you can pour the coffee through a mesh basket filter.


the chemex Using a Chemex is an easy and convenient way to brew excellent coffee at home. The keys to getting good results are: using high quality, fresh beans; grinding the coffee correctly; using clean equipment; pouring correctly; using the right amount and temperature of water. You’ll need a Chemex brewer, coffee, a Chemex filter, a grinder, and a mug for your coffee. It is important that the coffee be ground mediumcourse with a quality burr (rather than blade) grinder. By grinding the coffee this way, you are allowing for a more even extraction resulting in a fuller bodied and more nuanced cup. Blade grinders chop the coffee rather than grinding it, resulting in uneven and unpredictable particle size. This results in uneven extraction, leading to coffee with increased bitterness which is less true to the flavor profile of the coffee. In addition, the lack of uniformity in particle size results in inconsistent results from cup to cup. Place the folded chemex filter inside the cone with the multiple folds toward the spout. Run hot water through the filter to rinse out any residual paper flavor and preheat the brewer. Allow the water to drain out completely before pouring it out of the brewer using the pouring channel. Do your best to keep the filter sealed against the walls of the brewer. We recommend 42 grams (1.5 oz or about six rounded tablespoons) of fresh ground coffee to make 20 oz of coffee. You should bring the water just to a boil (electric kettles are great at this). For 20 oz. of brewed coffee you will want to use quite a bit more hot water total

9 for the three pours. First, pour just enough into the cone so that it saturates the grounds and very little is dripping into the brewer. The key is to saturate all the grounds evenly by moving the stream around as you pour. After about 30 seconds it is time to pour more water. Pour at an even rate in a spiral and/or backand-forth pattern in order to break down the bloom and saturate all grounds evenly. Raise the water level up to about a 1/4 inch below the rim of the brewer. The color of the surface should be even with as few dark or blond spots as possible. Once you can see about an inch of dry coffee, it is time to pour more water. Pour first around the rim to re-submerge the dry grounds, then continue at an even rate in a spiral and/or back-and-forth pattern. Raise the water level up to the rim of the brewer. The color of the surface should still be even with as few dark or blond spots as possible. Once you have 20 oz. of brewed coffee in the vessel, quickly move the filter to your sink where it will drain completely.


the vacuum pot Vacuum Pots are an old and established method of preparing great coffee. In the opinion of many aficionados they are, in fact, the best possible way to brew a cup of coffee. The keys to getting good coffee from a Vacuum Pot are: using high quality, fresh coffee; using the correct grind and grinding with a high quality burr grinder; paying close attention to the brewing process (i.e. not walking away); and keeping the equipment clean. Vacuum Pots are not entirely simple to use and tend to be fragile, but if you’re careful and enjoy tinkering, the results can be stunning. You’ll need a vacuum pot, coffee, a grinder, a spoon, hot pads, and a heat source. You need to grind the coffee with a quality burr grinder. The grind should be reasonably fine. How fine? This is different with each Vacuum Pot. You’ll need to experiment. Start by grinding as you would for auto-drip. If the water rushes through the coffee and the coffee is thin and weak, grind finer. If the coffee clogs the brewer, grind coarser. We recommend 8 grams (0.28 oz or about one rounded tablespoon) coffee per 4 oz of water. If you’re using an alcohol burner (or the like) you should preheat the water in an electric kettle (or something similar) to decrease boiling time. If you do this, be very careful when handling the brewer as it will become very hot quite quickly. When the water starts to near a boil (forming small bubbles) put the top globe onto the bottom globe. Fairly quickly after you have sealed the brewer, water should start making its way to the top vessel.

11 Allow this to continue till vapor starts to escape the bottom vessel and the brewer begins to gurgle. Add your coffee and stir until there are no dry grounds. This step should take approximately 10 seconds. Allow the coffee to brew for 30 seconds then gently re-submerge the grounds. Remove the brewer from the heat source and turn off (or extinguish) the source. This should be about 50 seconds to a minute after you initially added the coffee. Be careful and use hot pads. You will see coffee begin to extract back through the filter into the bottom globe as the brewer cools. After the draw-down begins, give the coffee one gentle stir to create a whirlpool in the brewer. Once the water stops pulling back through the coffee and the filter, remove the top globe and pour the coffee into cups. Again… be careful and use hot pads. Pour into cups and enjoy.


the stovetop espresso maker A Moka Pot (sometimes called a stovetop espresso maker) can be an excellent way to prepare coffee (though it actually does not, in fact, make espresso). Keys to good coffee using a Moka Pot are: using high quality, fresh coffee; pre-heating the water; removing the pot from the heat at the right moment; proper grind of coffee; and using clean equipment. You’ll need a Moka Pot, an electric kettle or other device to boil water in, coffee, a good quality burr grinder, a heat source (electric or gas stove), and hot pads. You’ll want to bring water to a boil and then either stop it or remove it from the heat. It is incredibly important to pre-heat the water. If you don’t do this, the entire moka pot will get very hot and two bad things will happen. First — you will cook the coffee, which results in a bitter and thin brew. Second — your coffee will develop a harsh and noticeable metallic note. If you’re going to be using an electric stove or hotplate for the moka pot, you should start it at this time to allow it to get to temperature in time. You should grind coarser than you would for espresso — about what you would for drip coffee in fact. Over time you can experiment and find the ideal grind for your tastes. You’ll need enough coffee to fill the filter basket. Fill to the indicator line inside the brewer bottom. Insert the filter basket into the brewer bottom. You should fill the basket, slightly mounded, and then level the surface off using your finger. Apply downwards pressure with your finger while doing this. Some people like to tap the filter basket down

a few times to settle the grounds – this is optional. Make sure you brush away any loose grounds on the top edge of the filter basket. You should use moderate heat, and make sure that (if you’re using a gas stove) the handle is not being subjected to heat or it will be damaged. Leave the top lid open for now. You should see some coffee begin to emerge and then suddenly should see a cough (or perhaps sneeze) of coffee with a puffing sound that goes along with it. Soon after this, coffee will begin to come out in a stream. The stream should begin as a rich redbrown and progressively get lighter in color. Once the stream has become the color of yellow honey the brewer should be removed from the heat source and the lid closed. Use hot pads to avoid getting burned! Wrap the bottom of the pot in a chilled bar towel or run it under cold tap water. This will stop extraction, resulting in coffee that is sweeter and more full bodied. It will also decrease the odds of the coffee developing a metallic taste. The idea is to get a relatively small amount of coffee which has very concentrated and rich flavors.

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the pleasures + pains of coffee

Coffee is a great power in my life; I have observed its effects on an epic scale. Coffee roasts your insides. Many people claim coffee inspires them, but, as everybody knows, coffee only makes boring people even more boring. Think about it: although more grocery stores in Paris are staying open until midnight, few writers are actually becoming more spiritual. But as Brillat-Savarin has correctly observed, coffee sets the blood in motion and stimulates the muscles; it accelerates the digestive processes, chases

away sleep, and gives us the capacity to engage a little longer in the exercise of our intellects. It is on this last point, in particular, that I want to add my personal experience to Brillat-Savarin’s observations. Coffee affects the diaphragm and the plexus of the stomach, from which it reaches the brain by barely perceptible radiations that escape complete analysis; that aside, we may surmise that our primary nervous flux conducts an electricity emitted by coffee when we drink it. Coffee’s power changes


over time. [Italian composer Gioacchino] Rossini has personally experienced some of these effects as, of course, have I. “Coffee,” Rossini told me, “is an affair of fifteen or twenty days; just the right amount of time, fortunately, to write an opera.” This is true. But the length of time during which one can enjoy the benefits of coffee can be extended. For a while - for a week or two at most - you can obtain the right amount of stimulation with one, then two cups of coffee brewed from beans that have been crushed with gradually increasing force and infused with hot water. For another week, by decreasing the amount of water used, by pulverizing the coffee even more finely, and by infusing the grounds with cold water, you can continue to obtain the same cerebral power. When you have produced the finest grind with the least water possible, you double the dose by drinking two cups at a time; particularly vigorous constitutions can tolerate three cups. In this manner one can continue working for several more days. Finally, I have discovered a horrible, rather brutal method that I recommend only to men of excessive vigor, men with thick black hair and skin covered with liver spots, men with big square hands and legs shaped like bowling pins. It is a question of using finely pulverized, dense coffee, cold and anhydrous, consumed on an empty stomach. This coffee falls into your stomach, a sack whose velvety interior is lined with tapestries of suckers and papillae. The coffee finds nothing else in the sack, and so it attacks these delicate and voluptuous linings; it acts like a food and demands digestive juices; it wrings and twists the stomach for these juices, appealing as a pythoness appeals to her god; it brutalizes these beautiful stomach linings as a wagon master abuses ponies; the plexus becomes inflamed; sparks shoot all the way up to the brain. From that moment on, everything becomes agitated. Ideas quick-march into motion like battalions of a grand army to its legendary fighting ground, and the battle rages. Memories charge in, bright flags on high; the cavalry of metaphor deploys with a magnificent gallop; the artillery of logic rushes up with clattering wagons and cartridges; on imagination’s orders, sharpshooters sight and fire; forms and shapes and characters rear up; the paper is spread with ink for the nightly labor begins and ends with torrents

of this black water, as a battle opens and concludes with black powder. I recommended this way of drinking coffee to a friend of mine, who absolutely wanted to finish a job promised for the next day: he thoughthe’d been poisoned and took to his bed, which he guarded like a married man. He was tall, blond, slender and had thinning hair; he apparently had a stomach of papier-mache. There has been, on my part, a failure of observation. When you have reached the point of consuming this kind of coffee, then become exhausted and decide that you really must have more, even though you make it of the finest ingredients and take it perfectly fresh, you will fall into horrible sweats, suffer feebleness of the nerves, and undergo episodes of severe drowsiness. I don’t know what would happen if you kept at it then: a sensible nature counseled me to stop at this point, seeing that immediate death was not otherwise my fate. To be restored, one must begin with recipes made with milk and chicken and other white meats: finally the tension on the harp strings eases, and one returns to the relaxed, meandering, simple-minded, and cryptogamous life of the retired bourgeoisie. The state coffee puts one in when it is drunk on an empty stomach under these magisterial conditions produces a kind of animation that looks like anger: one’s voice rises, one’s gestures suggest unhealthy impatience: one wants everything to proceed with the speed of ideas; one becomes brusque, ill-tempered about nothing. One actually becomes that fickle character, The Poet, condemned by grocers and their like. One assumes that everyone is equally lucid. A man of spirit must therefore avoid going out in public. I discovered this singular state through a series of accidents that made me lose, without any effort, the ecstasy I had been feeling. Some friends, with whom I had gone out to the country, witnessed me arguing about everything, haranguing with monumental bad faith. The following day I recognized my wrongdoing and we searched the cause. My friends were wise men of the first rank, and we found the problem soon enough: coffee wanted its victim.

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honore de balzac


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bibliography special thanks

Parliment, Thomas H., and Howard D. Stahl. "What Makes That Coffee Smell So Good?." Chemtech 25.8 (1995): 38. Academic Search Premier. Web. 16 Dec. 2012. “Brew Guides.” Stumptown Coffee. Web. 5 Dec. 2012. “The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee.” Blissbat. Honore de Balzac. Web. 18 Nov. 2012 Uncommonmuse. “Brilliant.” Photograph. Flickr. Web. 11 Dec. 2012. Emil Trolklint. “Coffee cupping spoon.” Photograph. Flickr. Web. 16 Dec. 2012. Photo/graphic. “Hangover.” Photograph. Flickr. Web. 13 Dec. 2012. Unplugged SRB. “Untitled.” Photograph. Flickr. Web. 16 Dec. 2012. Thanks to coffee for keeping me awake during this process.


Brew Book  

A brief introduction to brewing methods and the world of coffee.

Brew Book  

A brief introduction to brewing methods and the world of coffee.

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