This aired on Sat. night on the Food TV show Good Eats. Good advice for the
most part for non coffee geek CSA friends and family. Will be airing again
later on this month, see below.
Guidelines courtesy of Alton Brown
Brewing a simply perfect cup of Joe can be perfectly simple, if you stick to
some basic guidelines:
Buy quality whole beans from a reliable purveyor (preferably a roaster). If
you dont have a grinder at home, ask a salesperson to grind whole beans for
you rather than settling for pre-ground.
Purchasing bulk (unpackaged) beans from a specialty shop is okay as long as
the bins or jars are relatively small and refilled regularly. Large vats
hold a lot of beans and therefore dont need frequent filling. That means
that beans can hang around for a long time being exposed to light and air.
That can mean stale beans, and staleness is not a desirable attribute.
Purchase pre-packaged whole beans only when sealed in a foil-style bag
featuring a one-way valve. The dime-shaped plastic valve is usually
integrated into the packaging so that it will be as unobtrusive as possible,
so check carefully. The absence of a valve means that the coffee probably
sat and "gassed out" before it was packaged. That means it could be stale.
Stale, again, is not a good thing. And remember: paper bags with twist tops
are temporary transportation vessels, not storage devices.
Try to purchase only a weeks worth of beans at a time. If you live where
this is impractical, purchase several small sealed packages rather than one
large one. Unopened one-way valve bags will keep coffee fresh for
approximately three months. If you buy bulk coffee (not sealed with one-way
valves) in large amounts, divide into weekly batches, seal in Mason-style
jars and freeze. Transfer these small batches to counter top storage as
needed (see below) .
Store opened or bulk coffee in an airtight, opaque container and store at
room temperature for up to a week.
Grind coffee as close to brewing time as possible. For drip method, grind in
blade style grinder for 15 to 20 seconds. For French presses, grind for only
10 to 12 seconds.
Regardless of method, brew using 2 heaping tablespoons of coffee for each 6
ounces of clean (filtered or bottled), cool water. If you prefer a milder
cup, brew to full strength, and then dilute with hot water. Brewing with too
little coffee will result in over-extraction, and that means bitterness.
If you really want to taste the subtle nuances of regional coffees, consider
a gold mesh filter.
When purchasing a coffee maker (either manual or electric), look for a model
that brews into a thermal carafe rather than a glass pot designed to sit on
a heating element. Continuous heating of coffee leads to bitterness.
Quality decaffeinated coffees usually cost more than regular beans.
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