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Uses for Coffee Grounds
Storing Tea & Coffee Steeping Tea
Types of Tea
ou know the grades and the flavour profiles from the various places of origin. You’ve stocked up on different types and
bought the gear. But now you actually have to figure out how to make a cappuccino at home. The baristas make it look so easy, deftly grinding the beans, steaming milk and whipping together a long line of coffee drinks without a moment’s hesitation. Making coffee at home, however—even a simple cup from your electric machine—requires knowing a few things beforehand. Throughout the following pages you’ll find various tutorials, tips and tricks to master the art of home brewing and ensure you never end up with another substandard cup of joe. For the avid enthusiast, the guide will also explore unconventional brewing techniques and creating latte art, as well as unusual types of coffee, the health benefits of your morning cuppa and other interesting bits of java trivia. Non-coffee drinkers need not fret, as this guide also contains a section on tea that will teach you about the basic types of tea and how to properly brew each one. It is my sincere hope that you find the guide useful and, above all, entertaining. —Mel Priestley
rinding your own coffee beans will
immediately improve the taste of your homebrewed coffee. Because grinding exposes more of the bean to oxygen, the coffee will go stale much more quickly. Ideally, you should only grind your beans immediately prior to brewing; purchasing pre-ground coffee almost ensures a substandard cup. There are two main types of home coffee grinders: the whirly blade and the burr grinder. The whirly blade is most common and inexpensive. It features a metal blade attached to a motor that spins and breaks the coffee apart. Blade grinders are adequate for casual coffee drinkers but far from ideal, as they smash the coffee unevenly: some pieces are large, contributing sourness to the coffee, while others are very fine, quickly adding bitterness to the brew. Burr grinders are by far the superior choice, as they feature two cutting discs that grind the beans into very even, uniform pieces. While more expensive, they are worth the investment for even semi-serious coffee drinkers—and they are absolutely mandatory for brewing espresso. Grind size is one of the easiest ways to change the flavour of coffee. If you’re unsatisfied with a cup’s flavour but the strength is to your liking, try altering the grind size before adjusting the brewing method.
o matter the brewing method, the following key principles apply to every cup of coffee.
Roast vs. Strength The strength of a cup of coffee actually refers to the amount of dissolved coffee grounds in the hot water. However, strength is also often used somewhat erroneously in coffee packaging and marketing to refer to the roast of a coffee and its corresponding bitterness. Generally, darker coffees taste more bitter than lighter roasts, and are therefore referred to as stronger, though this isnâ€™t technically correct. Two factors affect a coffeeâ€™s strength: the ratio of coffee to water (the higher this is, the stronger the cup) and the level of extraction. Extraction is determined by brewing method, many of which will be covered in later pages of this guide.
Ratio Using precise measurements is key to brewing a perfect cup and definitely worth the bit of extra time. Use a liquid measuring cup to ensure you are pouring the precise amount of water, and a dry measuring cup to portion out your coffee grounds. Note: this guide lists the generic ratio of coffee to water and then a specific ratio of ground coffee beans per one litre of water (g/l). Adjust your measurements accordingly, and remember that one gram equals one millilitre.
Water Noticeable flavours in water (chlorine, for example) will carry through to your coffee. Filtered watered is better than straight tap water, even from a simple water filter jug containing active carbon (such as a Brita filter).
lectric filter machines have one major advantage over all the other brewing methods: sheer
convenience. This is why they are by far the most common method of home coffee brewing. Not all electric coffee machines are built the same, however: most produce pretty mediocre coffee, and the cheapest models make pretty bad stuff indeed. If you’ve spent the money on quality coffee beans but don’t want to use a more involved brewing method every day, it’s very worthwhile to invest in a good electric machine. The first thing you should avoid is a machine with a hot plate, for these quickly cook the coffee and produce unpleasant, burned and bitter flavours. Instead, choose one that stores the coffee in a thermal carafe. Second, seek out a machine that is certified to reach suitable temperatures—many coffee machines produce poor coffee because they simply cannot heat the water to the correct temperature.
GRIND: medium for half a pot, coarse for a
RATIO: 1:17 or 60g/l METHOD: • Grind the beans. • Place a filter into the brewing basket and rinse briefly with hot tap water. • Measure the coffee grounds into the basket and place in the machine, then add water to the machine. • Switch on the machine and check the coffee during the first minute—if some grounds are not getting wet, quickly stir with a spoon. • Allow brew to finish.
he French Press is possibly the most reliable and underrated method of brewing coffee:
it’s easy to master and gives consistent results time and again, plus presses are widely available and inexpensive. The French press was patented in 1852 by French designers Mayer and Delforge, though the most familiar version was invented in 1929 by an Italian, Attilio Calimani. A cylindrical beaker with a mesh plunger, the French Press is an infusion brewer, meaning that the water and coffee steep together (just as in making tea). Its one drawback is that it leaves some silty sludge at the bottom, which is highly unpleasant if accidentally drunk. Using a medium grind (as opposed to a coarse grind, which is typically recommended for the French press) and proper brewing technique (don’t plunge!) is key to avoiding this. GRIND: medium RATIO: 1:14 or 75g/l METHOD: • Boil a kettle of water, grind the beans and measure the grounds into the press, then pour in the correct amount of water. • Let the coffee steep for four minutes, then take a large spoon and stir the crust-like layer of grounds that form at the top. Most of the coffee will fall to the bottom of the pot. Scoop off the foam and few floating grounds remaining on the surface. • Wait another five minutes. • Place the mesh plunger in the top of the beaker, but DO NOT plunge—this creates turbulence, which stirs up all the silty coffee at the bottom of the pot. It seems counterintuitive, given the name and design of this device, but plunging is the major cause of sludgy French Press coffee. • Pour the coffee slowly through the mesh into the cup. Stop before you reach the last bit of coffee, which has the majority of the silt in it.
he term “pour-over” describes a coffee brewer that comes in a vast array of styles, all of which brew by
percolation: the water extracts flavour from the beans by passing through a bed of coffee. Pour-over brewers are also known as filter brewers, drip brewers, pour-over drippers, drip cones or coffee cones. A common style is made out of ceramic and resembles a coffee cup sitting on a saucer, with a hole in the bottom; many other styles also exist. The brewer is lined with a filter (usually paper or cloth) and placed over a receptacle, often a glass jug or cup with a pour spout, that catches the coffee as it drips through the filter. The key to brewing a good cup of pour-over coffee is to maintain a steady, even pouring speed: pouring too fast results in less extraction and weaker coffee, while pouring too slowly creates an overly extracted, bitter cup. Special pouring kettles (both stovetop and electric) have been developed for this purpose, as they have a narrow spout that makes it much easier to pour from than a standard kettle. Experimenting with different grinds is also necessary to determine your own personal preference. GRIND: fine (if brewing a single cup) or medium-coarse (if brewing a larger amount) RATIO: 1:17 or 60g/l METHOD: • Boil a kettle of water and grind the beans. • Place a filter into the brewer and rinse briefly with hot tap water. • Add the coffee to the brewer and place on top of the cup or jug. • Pour a little water from the kettle on to the coffee (just enough to get it completely wet) and wait 30 seconds for the coffee to “bloom” (the grounds release trapped carbon dioxide and swell like rising dough). • Slowly and evenly pour the remaining water on to the coffee, making sure to keep the stream on the grounds and not the walls of the brewer. • Gently swirl the brewer (to prevent coffee from sticking to the walls) and then let it drip through until the coffee bed looks dry and flat. 12
o Italian household is without a moka pot,
as it brews the alternative to espresso: the moka
pot produces very strong, bitter coffee. Invented by Alfonso Bialetti in 1933, the moka pot works by steam-pressure percolation: water is boiled in a lower chamber and the buildup of steam pressure forces the water up through a tube, where it passes through the coffee grounds and continues into an upper chamber. Moka pots come in both stove-top and electric versions; stove-top is the original and by far the most popular. Those who eschew bitterness should avoid the moka pot, as it will always produce a bitter brew. Avoiding dark roasts and a very fine grind size will reduce this bitterness, as will starting with boiling hot water rather than cold water straight from the tap—the less time the pot spends on the heat, the less time it has to extract bitter compounds from the beans. GRIND: fine (but not as fine as for espresso) RATIO: 1:5 or 200g/l METHOD: • Boil a kettle of water and grind the beans. • Fill the coffee basket until it is level but do not tamp it down. • Fill the bottom section of the brewer with the boiled water to just below the valve. (Do not cover: this is safety valve that prevents too much pressure from building up.) • Put the coffee basket in place and assemble the brewer, making sure it is properly sealed. • Put the pot on the stove over medium heat. • Listen for a gurgling sound, which indicates most of the water has been pushed into the upper chamber. • Remove the pot from heat and put the base of the brewer under cold running water. This temperature drop causes the steam to condense the pressure to dissipate. • Let the brewer cool to a safe temperature before cleaning. 14
urkish coffee is an ancient method of coffee brewing; indeed, this very well might be the
oldest form of coffee. It is also the simplest method: finely ground coffee (even finer than is used in espresso) is boiled in a small, narrow-mouthed pot (traditionally made of copper) called a cezve, jezve or ibrik; sugar and/or cardamom are often added. The grounds are not filtered but rather the entire mixture is poured into a cup and allowed to settle for a couple of minutes before drinking. This leaves a large amount of silty grounds in the bottom of the cup (which should not be drunk) and makes for a very strong, bitter cup of coffee. These grounds can be used for fortune-telling, much like reading tea leaves. As the name implies, Turkish coffee hails from the area around modern-day Turkey and is actually a UNESCOdesignated Intangible Cultural Heritage of Turks. This method of coffee preparation is common throughout Eastern Europe as well as the Middle East and North Africa.
GRIND: extremely fine RATIO: 1:12 or 85g/l METHOD: • Measure cold water, coffee grounds and one teaspoon of sugar into a Turkish coffee pot and heat on the stove over medium-high heat. • When the grounds start to sink and the water is warm enough to dissolve the sugar, vigorously stir several times until the brew starts to foam. Turn heat to low. • When a bubble ring forms on the surface and the foam rises, indicating that it’s about to boil, remove from heat. It should be very foamy. It is critical to ensure the coffee never boils, as this will destroy the foam. • Let cool for 30 seconds and then return to low heat. Allow the foam to rise again, just below the boiling point, and then remove from heat. • Pour into cups, spooning some of the foam into each. • Wait about a minute before drinking to allow the grounds to settle. 15
he vacuum pot is a brewing technique that feels more like a school science experiment than a
way of making coffee. Currently very popular in Japan, the vacuum pot is actually a very old brewing method that dates back to a patent issued in Germany in 1838. The apparatus resembles beakers in a chemistry laboratory: a lower chamber is filled with water and heated to the boiling point, building up steam pressure that pushes the water from the bottom chamber up through a tube and filter into an upper chamber filled with coffee grounds. After steeping and being removed from heat, the steam cools and condenses, creating a vacuum that sucks the coffee from the upper chamber through the filter and into the bottom chamber. The heat source can be a kitchen stove, an alcohol-burning candle, a small butane camping stove or a halogen lamp; the latter is the preferred choice in Japan, and very pretty. GRIND: medium to coarse RATIO: 1:14 or 75g/l METHOD: • Boil a kettle of water and grind the beans. • Put the filter flush against the walls of the upper chamber. • Pour the correct amount of hot water from the kettle into the bottom chamber and put it on the heat source. • Place the upper chamber on top and wait for the water to start boiling before sealing it. • Once the bubbles in the top chamber become smaller (they will start out quite large), add the coffee grounds and stir until it is saturated. • After 30 seconds, gently stir the crust that has formed on top. • After another 30 seconds, turn off the heat source. • Once the coffee begins to be sucked down into the lower chamber, stir it gently once clockwise and then counterclockwise. • After the coffee has been completely drawn into the lower chamber, pour the coffee into a separate container. (Leaving the coffee in the hot carafe makes it taste cooked.) • Let the coffee cool—this method makes a very hot cup! 16
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aking espresso at home is not for the casual coffee drinker—or for anyone who doesn’t like cleaning up big messes in the kitchen. However, brewing espresso at home is
very rewarding once you’ve mastered the technique, and it is well worth the time for serious coffee lovers. Espresso is the heart and soul of Italian coffee culture. The first machine was patented in 1884 by Angelo Moriondo; an improved design, patented in 1901, was purchased by the founder of the famous La Pavoni company, which has produced commercial espresso machines since 1905. Many different espresso machine designs exist today, ranging from small and relatively simple home models to complex, large-scale commercial machines. Espresso machines work by pumping very hot water through finely ground, tamped coffee (the “puck”), which produces a very small, extracted cup of coffee. Espresso is very finicky, and it takes some practice to find the right balance of grind size, coffee-to-water ratio and length
of brewing time. The longer it takes the water to pass through the coffee, the higher the level of extraction and the stronger the cup (and vice versa); this can be altered by changing the amount of coffee used and the grind size. Additionally, even a few seconds shorter or longer can have a significant impact in the taste of the coffee, so precise measurements and timing are key. To improve a poor cup of coffee, only change one variable at a time, starting with the grind size and proceeding from there—this will allow you to isolate and solve the problem.
GRIND: very fine RATIO: 1:2 or 500g/l (try 1:1.5 or 667g/l for a stronger cup; 1:2.5 or 400g/l for a weaker cup) METHOD: • Fill the reservoir in the machine with water and turn machine on to heat the water. • Grind the beans. Many espresso machines come with a built-in grinder. • Measure the proper amount of ground coffee into the basket. It is helpful to use a digital kitchen scale to ensure the exact right amount; though this may seem fussy, it’s better to be precise than careless. • Tamp the coffee flat in the basket to ensure the coffee bed is even. Hold the tamper like a flashlight, with your thumb pointing straight down and your wrist straight. • Turn on the machine to flush some water through the grouphead (the receiver for the removable group handle/portafilter), rinsing off any grounds remaining from the previous brew. • Carefully lock the portafilter into the machine and arrange the coffee cups in place to receive the coffee. • Prepare your timing device: if the machine doesn’t have a time display, use a kitchen timer or your cell phone. • Start the brew and your timer at the same time. Brew for the length of time recommended by the roaster; if you don’t have a recommendation then aim for 27 to 29 seconds. • When the brew time is up, stop the machine and wait for the handle to finish dripping before removing the cups. 19
teamed milk is an essential component of many types of espresso drinks, so learning
how to properly make it at home is a must. The goal of steaming milk is twofold: to create tiny bubbles (microfoam) and to heat it up. Milk should never be overheated, as once it reaches 68C its proteins start to denature and it develops nasty, cooked flavours. Most home espresso machines come with a builtin steaming wand. Some also come with an array of attachments or automatic frothing capabilities. The following technique is for a traditional steam wand.
METHOD: • Point the wand over the drip tray or into a cloth and briefly open the valve. This is called purging, and will get rid of any condensation inside the wand. • Pour cold milk into a clean stainless steel steaming pitcher. Never fill more than 60 percent full. • Dip the wand’s tip just under the surface of the milk. • Open the valve to full flow and gently lower the pitcher until the wand is almost out of the milk. Listen carefully: you should hear a slurping sound as the steam starts to whip air into the milk. • As the milk expands, lower the pitcher a little more to bring it back to the surface. • When you have the desired amount of foam, submerge the wand tip again, just under the surface and slightly to one side. The milk will start to spin and churn, and should be much quieter than when you were creating foam. • To test the temperature, place your free hand on the bottom of the jug and heat until it becomes uncomfortable to touch. Remove your hand and continue to steam for another three to five seconds. • Close the steam valve fully and set the pitcher down. Wipe the steam wand with a clean, damp cloth and purge the wand into the cloth to remove any leftover milk from inside the wand.
• Tap the side of the pitcher to pop any large bubbles, then vigorously swirl the milk and foam together (just like swirling a glass of wine). Stop when the milk has a glossy sheen, then pour into your drink.
The Aeropress is a unique brewer invented in 2005 by Alan Adler and takes its name from another of Adler’s inventions: the Aerobie throwing ring. This unique brewer allows for a vast array of specific techniques as it combines different brewing methods: the coffee and water steep together as in a French press, then a piston pushes the water through the grounds and a paper filter—a combination of espresso and pour-over coffee. You’ll need to experiment with the different variables (grind size, brew time, coffee-to-water ratio, technique) to determine your personal preference. The Aeropress even has its own annual international competition called the World Aeropress Championships; the top three methods each year are published on the competition’s website.
GRIND: fine to medium RATIO: 1:14 or 75 g/l for a regular cup of coffee; 1:10 or 100g/l for a short, strong cup METHOD: • Boil a kettle of water and grind the beans. • Place a filter paper into the filter holder and lock it into the body of the brewer. • Run hot tap water through the brewer to rinse the filter. • Measure the coffee grounds into the press, then pour in the correct amount of water. • Stir the coffee, then seal the piston in place (don’t push down yet). This creates a vacuum that prevents the liquid from dripping out of the bottom of the brewer. • After the brewing time elapses (start with one minute), slowly push down the plunger until all liquid has been expelled. • Pull the piston back up a couple of centimetres to stop the brewer from dripping when you discard the used coffee and filter. • Remove the filter holder and hold the brewer over the trash bin while pushing the plunger to clean out the grounds. • Clean the brewer immediately after use. 21
The basis for many different coffee drinks, espresso is a small, strong drink made using finely ground coffee under high water pressure. Generally, the ratio of ground coffee to the weight of the finished beverage is about 1:2. Espresso also has a crema: the natural head of foam that forms on top of the coffee (just like the head on a pint of beer).
Hailing from 19th-century Vienna, the cappuccino was originally called the kapuziner. Cappuccinos are commonly made with equal amounts each of espresso, steamed milk and foam, though some are made using a ratio of 1:2:2 instead. Often the customer will be asked if they prefer their cappuccino dry (more foam than milk) or wet (more milk than foam).
Think of a latte like a cappuccino, only with about double the amount of steamed milk. If you visit Italy, be sure to call it a caffè latte—ordering just a “latte” will net you a glass of plain milk.
Caffè macchiato means “stained coffee” in Italian; it is an espresso to which the barista adds a small amount of milk. Nowadays, macchiatos are usually made with a dollop of foamed milk instead of just steamed milk.
Supposedly a drink invented by American soldiers stationed in Italy during the Second World War after they found the local espresso too strong, Americano is simply an espresso that has been diluted with hot water roughly half-and-half.
Australasians have had the flat white for much longer than North Americans, where the Australia-born beverage was just recently introduced to mass coffee chains. Essentially a small, strong latte, the flat white usually has double espresso topped with hot milk and a tiny bit of foam. Milk 22
atte art refers to creating a design on a cup of espresso with steamed milk. Originally developed
in Italy, latte art in North America hails from Seattle in the 1980s and 1990s, and it was popularized by Seattle coffee shop owner David Schomer. Latte art is most commonly created by free pouring the steamed milk into the espresso, though it can also be done by etching: using various tools to create a pattern after the pour. It takes some practice to master latte art, especially the particularly advanced designs—some people can create swans and scorpions! The following free-pour latte art techniques aren’t too tricky. (Tip: you can find many videos of latte art techniques on YouTube.)
Heart • Pour the milk into the centre of the cup, holding the milk pitcher a few inches away from the cup. • When the cup is about three-quarters full, lower the pitcher closer to the cup, which will cause the foam to rise to the surface. • When you see the foam rise, slowly wiggle the pitcher back and forth a few times. • Quickly lift the pitcher up and move it forwards, cutting through the centre of the foam to create the tip of the heart.
Rosetta / Fern • Pour the milk into the centre of the cup, holding the milk pitcher a few inches away from the cup. • When the cup is about half full, lower the pitcher closer to the cup, causing the foam to rise to the surface, and move the stream of milk to the edge of the cup. • Gently rock the pitcher back and forth while slowly moving it backwards down the cup. • Once you reach the other edge, quickly lift the pitcher up and move it forwards, cutting through the centre of the foam.
old brewing is exactly what it sounds like: brewing coffee with cold water instead of hot.
Also called cold press coffee, the method involves steeping coffee in cold water for a long period of time (typically between 12 and 24 hours). Cold brew coffee is very smooth, mild and low in acidity, as cold water does not extract the coffee bean’s oils as thoroughly as hot water does; this causes it to taste sweeter than coffee brewed with hot water. It is also very concentrated, therefore, it usually needs to be diluted with either water or milk. Cold brew coffee can be served hot or cold. Don’t confuse cold brew coffee with iced coffee, which is coffee brewed hot and then chilled by pouring over ice. Because it is already very concentrated, when drinking it cold you can simply pour it over ice; it doesn’t need to be brewed at the higher ratio of coffee to water that you would use to make iced coffee using a hot brew method. When serving cold brew coffee hot, simply add it to hot water using a ratio of one-third cup of cold brew concentrate to one cup of hot water.
GRIND: very coarse RATIO: 1:4 or 250g/l METHOD: • Grind the beans and measure the grounds into a large container. • Fill the container with the correct amount of cold water. • Taste it after 12 hours to determine if you would like a stronger brew. • Continue steeping up to 24 hours total if desired. • Line a funnel or pour-over brewer with a filter and rinse with cold water. • Pour the coffee through the filter into a clean carafe. • Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
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ced coffee is also called Japanese-style iced coffee, as it has been consumed in Japanese coffeehouses since
the 1920s. It was usually mixed with milk and gum syrup (a syrup made from sugar, water and gum arabic). Don’t confuse iced coffee with cold brew coffee, which is made using cold water: iced coffee is brewed with hot water over ice, which immediately chills it. Iced coffee also tastes very different from cold brew coffee, as cold water is not able to extract the same aromatic compounds as hot water. The easiest way to make iced coffee is with the pour-over drip method, with the only change being that a cup or vessel of ice is placed underneath the cone. The real trick to making tasty iced coffee is to use the proper amount of ice, as all of it should melt during the brewing process, immediately cooling the coffee and contributing to the total volume of the cup without diluting it. GRIND: medium RATIO: 1:17 or 60g/l METHOD: • Boil a kettle of water and grind the beans. • Place a filter into the brewer and rinse briefly with hot tap water. • Measure the ice: it should be about one-third of the total amount of water you use. So, if you were brewing one litre of coffee, you would want around 330 grams of ice and 670 millilitres of hot water. (Remember that one gram equals one millilitre.) • Add the coffee to the brewer and place on top of the cup or jug containing the ice. • Pour a little water from the kettle on to the coffee (just enough to get it completely wet) and wait 30 seconds for the coffee to “bloom” (the grounds release trapped carbon dioxide and swell like rising dough). • Slowly and evenly pour the remaining water on to the coffee, making sure to keep the stream on the grounds and not the walls of the brewer. • Gently swirl the brewer (to prevent coffee from sticking to the walls) and then let it drip through until the coffee bed looks dry and flat. 26
lways clean your brewing equipment immediately after use. Dirty brewing equipment is the primary
reason for a bad-tasting cup of coffee, as the buildup of oils causes rancid, sour tastes. For daily cleaning of all brewing equipment, disassemble before scrubbing with hot soapy water and a scourer. Be sure to rinse the equipment well. Never put any brewing equipment in the dishwasher. Hard water can quickly cause buildup of mineral deposits in brewing equipment. Cleaning after every use will help avoid this, but it is also useful to use white vinegar regularly to scour away mineral depositsâ€”especially in electric filter machines. Simply run a pot of vinegar through the machine to flush it out. Be sure to rinse the machine with another couple pots of plain water afterwards. Vinegar is also useful in cleaning French press screens and Aeropress brewers; simply soak in vinegar for an hour and then rinse well. For home espresso machines, be sure to follow the cleaning instructions provided by the manufacturer: failure to follow those correctly can void the warranty. Rather than white vinegar, commercial espresso machine cleaners (Cafiza is a common brand) should be used to clean the equipment. If you use cloth rather than paper filters, always ensure that you clean the filter thoroughly after every useâ€”never allow coffee grounds to sit in a cloth filter. After use, rinse the cloth filter with hot water and then dry it quickly; if it dries too slowly, it will cause off flavours in your coffee. Alternatively, if you use the filter regularly, rinse it well and then store it wet in a glass of water in the refrigerator, changing the water daily. Stains can be removed from cloth filters by soaking in a mixture of hot water and small amount of Cafiza. Coffee grinders also need to be cleaned regularly. Whirly-blade grinders can be simply wiped out with a paper towel; scrub with hot soapy water if there is a fair bit of coffee buildup. Burr grinders should also be wiped out after every use with a paper towel, and they should be disassembled weekly and scrubbed (an old toothbrush is useful) with hot soapy water.
Garden helper Toss coffee grounds into your compost bin with your other kitchen scraps to further enrich your garden soil. Alternatively, add grounds to the watering can to give your greens a nitrogen boost. Make rings of coffee grounds around the base of garden plants to repel slugs and snails that can chew through all your hard work. Bonus: cats don’t like strong smells like coffee, so it might deter them from using your garden plot as a litter box.
Deodorize the fridge A box of baking soda isn’t the only way to freshen up your fridge or freezer. Let spent coffee grounds dry out and then place them in your refrigerator to neutralize funky smells.
Homemade body scrubs Coffee is a great natural exfoliator that helps slough off dead skin. Mix three parts coffee grounds to one part olive or coconut oil and use as a full body scrub in the shower. (Don’t use it on your face though—it’s too abrasive.) Make a great foot scrub from a mixture of equal parts coffee grounds, oatmeal, Epsom salt and olive oil.
Melt snow Rather than salt (which is damaging to lawns and plants), sprinkle coffee grounds on icy sidewalks. You’ll need to save up quite a lot, but they provide good traction plus their acid makes the ice melt quicker.
Cure smelly skin Rub a handful of coffee grounds on your hands after chopping garlic to rid your digits of the lingering pungent odour. 28
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HOW TO MAKE BAD COFFEE TASTE GOOD (or at least drinkable) In a perfect world you’d always be able to make a perfect cup of coffee every single time. But, sadly, sometimes you have to drink the mediocre stuff: on trips where you didn’t bring the necessary gear, at work where you’ve only got a single-serve machine or when you simply run out of the good stuff.
cleaned it? The first way to improve the taste of coffee is to make sure you’re brewing it with clean equipment. Run a pot or two of white vinegar through the machine to flush out the build-up of minerals from water and oil/grit from old coffee. Just be sure to run through a couple pots of plain water to fully rinse it out before making a cup.
There’s no way to transform a terrible cup of coffee into an amazing one, but there are ways to mask off-putting characteristics and render it drinkable—other than a triple dose of cream and sugar.
A PINCH OF SALT It may sound strange, but adding a pinch of salt to a cup of overly bitter coffee will make it taste a lot more palatable: salt tricks your tongue into thinking something is less bitter than it actually is, because sodium interferes
CLEAN THE MACHINE When was the last time anyone wiped down the coffee maker at work, let alone actually
with the transduction of bitter flavours. Sprinkling a bit of salt in with the coffee grounds before brewing is even a tradition in Scandinavia, Turkey and Hungary.
CINNAMON AND SPICES ARE NICE A dusting of cinnamon or nutmeg is probably the easiest and cheapest way to disguise the flavours of a poor cup of coffee. Adding the spices to the grounds before brewing infuses the flavour even deeper. Just remember not to use too much: these spices are bitter (especially cinnamon) and so is cheap coffee, so you don’t want to exacerbate the effect.
FLAVOUR SYRUPS Torani produces the most common and familiar line of flavoured syrups for coffee; you can easily find many other brands in a vast array of flavours. Only one or two squirts are needed to easily disguise a subpar cup of coffee. 30
nyone who has had a cup of coffee knows the primary reason why it is so widely consumed by
billions of people around the world: it wakes you up. Coffee is high in caffeine, so drinking it causes a “rush” of increased alertness and mental acuity as well as enhanced energy and mood. The good news for coffee junkies is that, aside from the immediate stimulating effects of its caffeine content, moderate consumption of coffee (between three and five cups a day) also has proven long-term health benefits.
Brain boost and Alzheimer’s prevention Numerous studies have shown caffeine intake causes an immediate and significant boost in brain function and memory, both short and long term. Even more encouraging is caffeine’s effect on Alzheimer’s: studies have shown that caffeine significantly reduces inflammation in the brain, which is directly related to Alzheimer’s and dementia. In a study of adults over the age of 65, individuals who had higher levels of caffeine in their blood also experienced either a significant delay or a total avoidance of developing Alzheimer’s.
Exercise easier Drinking a cup of coffee before working out or engaging in other physical activity makes the exertion seem easier and reduces muscle pain. This effect is most pronounced with aerobic endurance activities like walking or cycling, as opposed to short-term, high-intensity workouts like weight lifting. However, be sure to drink extra water, as caffeine is also a diuretic and increases dehydration.
Lower risk of diabetes and cancer Consuming higher amounts of coffee has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. However, scientists warn that this is dependent upon an individual’s tolerance for caffeine: some people do not respond well to caffeine and experience increased heart rate and blood pressure as well as sleeplessness—which could actually increase your risk of developing diabetes. Coffee consumption has also been linked to reducing the development of some types of cancer, including prostate, endometrial and liver. 31
GREEN Green tea leaves are kept green by being heated, which prevents oxidation that would normally turn the leaves black. Different methods of heating (pan firing is traditional in China, whereas the Japanese use steam) result in different flavours in the final tea. There are many types of green tea which vary wildly in flavour. Here are some of the most common types of green teas: • DRAGON WELL: Chinese tea; fresh and floral with a toasty finish. • GUNPOWDER: Chinese tea; smooth, mildly sweet flavour with a smoky finish. • SENCHA: Japanese tea; slightly grassy. • GYOKURO: Japanese tea and one of the most expensive types; rich and sweet with very little astringency and no bitterness. • MATCHA: Japanese tea that has been stone-ground to a fine powder; sweet and vegetal.
WHITE The most lightly processed of all teas, white
Here are some of the most common types of black teas:
tea is made from the freshly plucked buds
• ASSAM: Indian tea; bold and malty.
(and sometimes leaves) of the tea bush.
Ceylon: Sri Lankan tea; flavours range from
The buds are briefly withered, causing
bold and strong when grown at low elevation
them to turn grey-green or grey-brown, and
to delicate and floral at high elevations.
then carefully dried. White tea is all about subtlety, with mild sweetness and light floral complexity.
• DARJEELING: Indian tea, often called the Champagne of tea; complex flavours ranging from honey and peachy to citrus and ripe fruit.
YELLOW Yellow tea is very rare, due to its short harvest time and complex processing method. Traditionally made from leaf buds plucked
• KEEMUN: Chinese tea often called the Burgundy of tea; smooth and smoky. • YUNNAN: Chinese tea; rich and spicy with chocolate and raisin flavours.
in early spring, yellow tea undergoes an unusual process: after pan firing, the leaves are wrapped in thick paper or a damp cloth and left to cool in a dark place. Some tea makers repeat this process one or more times before proceeding to the final drying stage. Yellow tea has unique apple and sweet honeysuckle flavours.
OOLONG Making oolong tea is a laborious process. During the withering stage, the tea leaves are lightly bruised by shaking or rolling. The leaves are then alternately rolled and pan fired, a process that is repeated many times to develop layers of flavour. The most famous oolongs come from China and Taiwan, and
BLACK Black tea is named for its dark colour, which
they can range in flavour from fresh and fruity to toasty and rich.
is the result of allowing the withered tea leaves to dry out and fully oxidize. There are many different types and grades of black tea produced in many different countries. Black tea has been the most common tea in the West since it was introduced to the British many centuries ago, mainly because it fares better on long journeys than any other type of tea.
PU-ERH Also called dark or black tea, pu-erh tea follows a similar process as Chinese green tea, with an added microbial fermentation and oxidation stage after the leaves are dried and rolled. This fermentation transforms the tea’s bitter astringency into a round earthiness. Pu-erh tea is usually sold in a flattened disc or rounded ball.
ea can be made in almost anything:
and bitter, while a too-short steep time
means the tea won’t be full-flavoured.
countless shapes and sizes, so the choice is up to you. Just make sure the container is big enough to allow the tea leaves to unfurl completely (if they are rolled) while they steep.
of tea and adjust according to taste: you may prefer to use less quantity of compact teas, whereas you will probably need to use a greater amount of bulky teas.
The most important factor in properly brewing tea is water temperature: too hot and the tea will be scorched, too cold and the tea will not infuse properly. Steep time is also very important, as steeping for too long will cause the tea to be astringent
Start with one rounded teaspoon per cup
Unlike brewing coffee, steeping tea is largely a matter of personal preference. The
temperatures are only guidelines, not rules—experiment to discover your own perfect cup of tea.
30 seconds—1.5 minutes
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offee and tea taste
beans and tea leaves look
best when fresh:
nice on the counter, this is
stale coffee loses its nice
a terrible storage choice.
aromatics and gains unpleasant cardboardlike flavours, while tea slowly loses its flavour and becomes quite neutral. Coffee manufacturers typically set the best-before date at 12 to 24 months after it was roasted, but ideally you should consume it within a month of roasting; try to buy coffee with a clear roast date on the label. The darker the roast, the quicker
KEEP THEM SEPARATE Tea is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture from the air as well as odours from the surrounding area. Storing tea in the same place as coffee is therefore a very bad idea! Keep tea stored on its own, away from anything with a strong fragrance—coffee, spices and even other teas, if they are strongly flavoured.
it will go stale. Tea should be consumed within a year of purchase, though this time varies depending on how fresh the tea was when it was bought. The exception is matcha green tea, which should be used within three months of opening.
If you won’t be using coffee or tea for quite some time, store it in an airtight container in the freezer. Freezing will slow down the staling process a bit. Be sure to defrost the coffee or tea fully before brewing (don’t grind frozen coffee
DARK & AIRTIGHT
beans or pour hot water
Store both coffee and tea
over frozen tea leaves), and
in airtight containers in a
only take out the amount
dark place. Fully reseal the
you need at that time.
bag they are in; if that’s not
Don’t store coffee or tea in
possible, store in a different
the fridge, however—this
airtight canister. Light,
doesn’t actually extend
especially sunlight, rapidly
freshness at all, plus the
accelerates the staling
coffee/tea might pick up
process—so even though
strange aromas from food.
clear glass jars of coffee 36
FREEZE IT (only coffee)
Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts and Hooks Us Murray Carpenter The World Atlas of Coffee: From Beans to Brewingâ€”Coffees Explored, Explained and Enjoyed James Hoffman The Birth of Coffee Daniel Lorenzetti & Linda Rice Lorenzetti Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How it Transformed our World Mark Pendergrast Everything But Espresso: Professional Coffee Brewing Techniques Scott Rao Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul Howard Schultz God in a Cup: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Cup of Coffee Michaele Weissman Coffee Life in Japan Merry White Modern Tea: A Fresh Look at an Ancient Beverage Lisa Boalt Richardson 38
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