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How to make great pour-over coffee


Chemex 1Using a Chemex or any other pour-over brewing method is one of the most honest and rewarding ways of enjoying a good cup of coffee at home. Many of these brewing methods have been around for decades, but in the last 5 years or so they have once again enjoyed a great increase in popularity.

Here are a few easy, simple tips for ensuring you are brewing only the best pour-over coffee:

1. Always rinse the paper filter with hot water before brewing the coffee. Try it, and you'll discover your coffee won't take on papery flavours.

2. Use a timer. To extract the maximum amount of flavour from the coffee, aim for your pour-over to take you between 3 - 4 minutes.

3. Aerate your coffee. You can do this by swirling it in your Chemex (if you have one) or pouring the brewed coffee between two mugs a couple of times after brewing. The power of oxygen really does round out the coffee and release beautiful flavour notes.

4. Always use the "correct dosage". As a guideline, work on 50g - 60g of dry coffee for every 1 litre of water. This is just a starting point for you. Thereafter you can adjust your dosage according to taste and brewing method.

5. Always use freshly ground coffee. Invest in a good grinder and get the most out of your coffee experience! Coffee releases a large percentage of aroma and flavour compounds within a few minutes after being ground. You want to capture this in the cup, so fresh is best!

Coffee Flavour Wheel


Coffee Flavour Wheel - NewCoffee, like wine, can be hard to characterize. Sure, it’s easy enough to identify bitter, or sweet, or even herbal flavors—but professionals in the coffee biz rely on a more nuanced lexicon to classify beans. It’s not enough to characterize a coffee’s taste as “green”; terms like “peapod,” “hay-like,” and “fresh” are all preferred descriptors. And to further complicate the already complicated task of classifying taste, those professionals all need to agree on what each word in that lexicon means, palate-wise.

That’s where the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) comes in. For 20 years it’s published the Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel, a color-coded guide to identifying and discussing flavors found in coffee. Everyone on the coffee supply chain—from farmers to roasters to baristas—treats the terms on the wheel as a shared vocabulary. Last month, in collaboration with World Coffee Research, a not-for-profit research organization, the association updated its Flavor Wheel for the first time.

“It’s more descriptive and less jargon-y,” says Peter Giuliano, senior director at the SCAA. World Coffee Research developed a new “Sensory Lexicon” in collaboration with researchers at Kansas State University’s Sensory Analysis Center. The goal of that lexicon, its authors write,  “is to use for the first time the tools and technologies of sensory science to understand and name coffee’s primary sensory qualities, and to create a replicable way of measuring those qualities.” That’s important, says Giuliano, because a lot has changed in the two decades since the inception of the original Flavor Wheel. Climate change has forced farmers to develop heat-, drought-, and disease-resistant coffee varieties. At the other end of the supply chain, the success of boutique coffee roasters like Blue Bottle and Intelligentsia suggests consumer tastes have become more diverse.

Between farmers and consumers, there’s been another shift in the coffee industry; professional coffee tasters have begun embracing a growing field of research known as descriptive sensory analysis. The Sensory Analysis Center at Kansas State University is largely devoted to developing a standard set of flavor descriptors that can be applied across all food and beverage sectors. Panels of professionals who taste according to this lexicon “taste dispassionately,” and “can work on wine one minute, chocolate the next minute, Saltine crackers the next minute,” Giuliano says.

Those professionals work on coffee, too. In order for the sensory panels to be effective, however, the SCAA needed to do away with coffee jargon left over from the 1990s, in favor of a language that’s replicable, no matter where or when you’re drinking. Consider this: there used to be a term for a certain harsh flavor found in coffee, called “Rioy.” Rioy isn’t a compliment: beans from Rio de Janeiro were often overly fermented, leading to an iodine-like taste. No one outside of the coffee world would know that, so “now we would call that medicinal,” Giuliano says.

In this way, the updated chart draws on the bank of research that’s being compiled at the Sensory Analysis Center. Like its predecessor, it’s rainbow-hued—but these colors were chosen very carefully. Once the new lexicon and its hierarchy had been put in place, Giuliano and his colleagues asked London design studio One Darnley Road to revitalize the color palette. Lots of charts use color to organize information, Giuliano says the team at One Darnley Road went the extra mile to see that these colors corresponded as closely as possible to specific flavors. To do that, the designers studied photographs of different foods, elements, and objects, and distilled each item into a specific color; when selecting a color to connote malt, or jasmine, or molasses, they based that color one the hue of actual malt, jasmine, and molasses. Giuliano makes their process sound painstaking: “They studied all the colors that oranges [i.e. the fruits] can take, and they found the average orange [i.e. the color].”  The chart’s hues, then, like the new lexicon, have been defined as quantitatively as possible.

Source:  www.wired.com

Coffee Shops Around the World


Coffee is a huge industry in many countries around the world. But the ways in which people enjoy coffee can vary greatly. Take a look at some of the coffee shops and other businesses that serve coffee beverages in different countries. Here’s just a sampling of coffee shops around the world.

Coffee Shops in the UK

Coffee shops in the U.K. are very similar to coffee shops in the U.S. Many of them cater mainly to professionals looking for an early caffeine fix on the way to work. But there’s something for pretty much everyone, whether you go to major chains like Starbucks, independent shops or even small outdoor carts.

Cat Cafés in Japan?

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Japan. Coffee shops in Tokyo and some other cities through Japan don’t try to keep things simple. Instead, many Japanese coffee shops look for ways to make their businesses stand out from the rest. For example, “cat cafés,” where visitors can enjoy their coffee among actual cats, have become common there.


Coffee Culture in Italy

Italy is a country that’s truly known for its coffee culture. Whether you go to an outdoor café or a fancy restaurant, you’re likely to find several varieties of coffee beverages on the menu. In different parts of the country, there are also different regional specialties that coffee shops, bars and other restaurants serve.

Specialty Cafés in Argentina

You’ll find a huge variety of specialty cafés and coffee shops in Argentina. The South American country has certainly seen its share of large chains like Starbucks. But even before the coffee giant made its way to Argentina, Buenos Aires and other big cities had a pretty large array of independent coffee shops to choose from.

Coffee Community in Turkey

Coffee has traditionally been a very important part of Turkish culture, and it remains so today. In fact, Turkey even has its own method of brewing coffee, leaving it unfiltered and allowing the grounds to settle. And Turkish coffee houses are considered important meeting places.

Kaffeehauser in Austria

Austria has a rich history related to its coffee shops, or “kaffeehauser.” Many of them serve coffee and specialty beverages along with cakes and other sweets. And some even offer added features like music or interesting historical architecture.

CubaCoffee Heritage in Cuba

Cuba actually grows a fair amount of coffee. So it’s a pretty big part of the culture there. You can find it in cafés, restaurants, cigar shops and more. And the country has some various specialty coffee drinks that include sugar and other ingredients as well.

Thinking of a way to upgrade your own coffee shop or coffee related business? We’re hoping this look at coffee shops around the world will start some ideas brewing.

A Chemistry teacher's guide to the perfect cup of coffee


Sometimes you just want a caffeine hit to wake you up, but if you appreciate the finer points of a cup of coffee, it’s worth going right down to the chemistry of the water, milk, sugar – and salt.

As a chemistry teacher, I’m inevitably fascinated by chemistry in general, but especially by the chemistry we come across on a daily basis. Rather than only sharing this with my students, I started a website, Compound Interest, where I create illustrated explanations of chemical concepts for anyone who’s interested to gain a better insight into the chemistry that pervades our lives.

So what can chemistry do for you? Well, for starters, it can help you make a better cup of coffee.

ChemexAny coffee connoisseur will tell you that good coffee should never taste bitter. However, in the less-than-ideal coffee world that the majority of us inhabit, bad, bitter-tasting coffee is much more common than we’d like. Luckily, there are plenty of tips out there on how to improve this, including the odd-sounding suggestions that adding a pinch of salt to coffee can improve the flavour. Science can help us explain how these suggestions might work – and how to make the perfect cup of coffee.

What makes coffee taste bitter?

Surprisingly, we still don’t know exactly what it is that makes some coffee taste bitter. Although the caffeine that’s present has a mildly bitter taste, it isn’t the main bitter component. Compounds called chlorogenic acid lactones and phenylindanes are thought to contribute; the former are in high levels in light- to medium-roast coffee, whereas the latter are found in darker roasts, and have a harsher taste.

Does adding salt to coffee temper bitterness?

Adding a pinch of salt might seem an unusual way to counter bitterness, but the science checks out. Researchers back in 1997 put it to the test by mixing salt into solutions of a bitter-tasting chemical and getting subjects to judge the bitterness. The volunteers consistently rated the solutions containing salt as being less bitter, despite the fact that the concentration of the bitter chemical in both solutions was identical.

The coffee-water balance

Remedying bad coffee-making with salt is a solution of sorts, but it’s better to tackle the problem closer to the cause. Extraction is a precise chemical process that can be tweaked in order to improve the flavour of your coffee. One important aspect is the ratio of coffee to water during the brewing process. Around 60g of coffee to a litre of water is recommended; in slightly more useful terms, that works out as a single gram of coffee for every 16ml of water, or around 7g for a single espresso shot.

The coffee-water balance is important because too much coffee can lead to greater extraction of bitter compounds, as the water is in contact with the coffee for longer. On the other hand, too much water will lead to a dilute, weak-tasting coffee.

Brewing time and bitterness

Brewing time is another important factor. At a simple level, there are three stages of compounds extracted from coffee. Acidic, fruity-flavoured compounds are the first to be extracted, followed by more earthy, caramel-like compounds, and finally the bitter-tasting compounds. Short brew times lead to only the first group of compounds being extracted, whereas over-brewing can lead to an excess of the bitter, astringent flavours.

For the best coffee, we have to aim between these two extremes. Different coffees come with different recommendations. For an espresso coffee, the water should only be in contact with the coffee for 20-30 seconds; in a plunger pot, this increases to 2-4 minutes.

Temperature and bitterness

Water temperature also affects the bitterness. The ideal temperature is between 91-96˚C – higher than this, and you’re likely to burn the coffee, increasing the concentration of astringent compounds. Lower temperatures lead to poor overall extraction of compounds from the coffee. Conversely, the much lower temperature of cold-brew coffee does lead to lower dissolved levels of the compounds causing bitterness, though it comes with the trade-off of a much-elongated brewing time.

Type of coffee and grinding

Even the best extraction technique in the world can be thwarted by poor-quality coffee. There are two primary types, arabica and robusta, with arabica widely considered to have the finer flavour. Robusta coffee contains higher concentrations of phenols, pyrroles, and sulfur compounds, leading to a flavour unflatteringly described as harsh and rubbery.

The size of the particles in your coffee grounds can also help or hinder. Too large, and the compounds will be extracted ineffectively, leading to weak-tasting coffee. Too fine, and the compounds, including the bitter-tasting ones, will be extracted too quickly. Again, it’s the case of finding that perfect balance.

Milk, sugar and coffee

If the honing of your extraction method fails miserably, you can always remedy your bitter coffee in a more traditional manner. Milk simply masks the taste, but it also contains the sugar lactose which can impart a degree of sweetness. Sugar, on the other hand, causes caffeine molecules to clump together, which along with its taste-masking ability helps to reduce the perception of bitterness.

It’s clear that a good cup of coffee is harder to create than you might have expected. Still, there are bound to be times when the quality of the coffee isn’t of primary importance – I know that, as a teacher, starting the day at six in the morning, I’m more concerned with getting the caffeine hit than I am with the finer points of coffee flavour. Nonetheless, equipped with the knowledge of the science behind the extraction process, a better morning coffee is within your grasp.

Source:  theguardian.com

Coffee: World's Biggest Source of Antioxidants


Coffee 123Some believe it is healthy and energizing, while others claim it is addictive and harmful. When you look at the evidence, the majority of studies on coffee and health actually show that it is good for you. For example, coffee has been linked to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, liver diseases, Alzheimer’s and more.

The reason for this may be the impressive amount of powerful antioxidants found in coffee. In fact, studies show that coffee provides more antioxidants in the diet than any food group.

Coffee is Loaded with Several Powerful Antioxidants

Our bodies are under constant attack by reactive molecules called “free radicals.” These molecules have unpaired electrons that can damage important cell structures like proteins and DNA. This is where antioxidants step in. They donate electrons to the free radicals, effectively disarming them. This is believed to be protective against aging and many diseases that are partly caused by oxidative stress, including cancer.

Additionally, antioxidants can have various other biological effects and are considered to be very important for overall health. Interestingly, coffee contains very large amounts of several powerful antioxidants. These include hydrocinnamic acids and polyphenols, to name a few.

Hydrocinnamic acids are very effective at neutralizing free radicals and preventing oxidative stress. Additionally, the polyphenols found in coffee may help prevent a number of diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.

Bottom line: Coffee contains very large amounts of antioxidants, including polyphenols and hydrocinnamic acids. These antioxidants may improve health and help reduce the risk of several diseases.

Dietary Sources of Antioxidants

Most people consume about 1–2 grams of antioxidants per day. The majority comes from beverages like coffee and tea. Beverages are actually a much larger source of antioxidants in the Western diet than food. In fact, 79 percent of dietary antioxidants come from beverages, while only 21 percent come from food.

Bottom line: Most antioxidants in the Western diet come from beverages such as coffee and tea. Only 21 percent of dietary antioxidants come from food.

Source:  www.ecowatch.com