In the world of coffee, the beans seem to get all the credit, but the preparation of those beans make a big difference in how your cup of coffee tastes too. All great baristas are schooled in consistency. Every detail of the coffee making process is engineered to be consistent and precise. We would like to share with you some of our favorite, tried and true brewing methods and practices to make the perfect cup of coffee.
QUALITY & FRESHNESS
Purchasing fresh, quality coffee is always the first step. Our coffee is roasted to order from only the best, hand-picked, Single-Estate, 100% Kona coffee. In choosing Kona Coffee & Tea you have already taken that valuable first step towards an elevated coffee experience.
Purchase enough coffee for the next two weeks to one month for optimal freshness. You also want Whole Bean Coffee whenever possible. The freshness and quality are greatly enhanced when you buy your coffee whole bean and grind to order.
We know that buying whole bean is not always practical, like when you are traveling. Here is a helpful graphic for ordering pre-ground Coffee:
Water has rightly become a major issue of discussion and research of late in the specialty coffee industry. Most of that delicious cup of coffee you love is water. Using quality water is essential for a good cup of coffee. Quality water is water that is free of chemical or metallic odors and flavors. The water should have a balanced amount of minerals. When considering a water source look for water that is neither too “hard” (mineral rich) nor “soft” (water softening units salts that may leave a salty taste in your water). Never use distilled water. Distilled water has been cleared of all minerals and if you brew coffee with it, it ends up pulling many unwanted flavors from the coffee. A simple carbon filter like those offered through Brita or Pur will take away most of the off flavors from your municipal water supply. Bottled or delivered water can also be a good alternative.
When we talk ratios in coffee we are talking about the amount of water to coffee. If you want to be precise, we recommend that you purchase a scale. What you need is a scale that measures in grams or ounces up to say a few pounds and can withstand small amounts of water on or around it. We recommend a ratio of water:coffee of 18:1, so 18 parts water to one part coffee. Meaning, if you have 10 grams of coffee you will need 180 grams of water. Bear in mind, the 18:1 ratio is a good starting point.
As you start to get to know your coffee and brew methods better you are encouraged to alter these ratios to suit your taste. Heads up though, if the coffee is too “strong” tasting for you it is best to add hot water to dilute after the brew than to add much more water during the brewing process (which over-extracts the coffee and pulls out bitter flavors)
Don’t have a scale? Try 2 TABLESPOONS of coffee to 8oz/cup of water.
Even when you are buying your coffee fresh and in smaller quantities you will need to store it in between brew cycles. We recommend leaving the coffee in the bag it came in. Kona Coffee & Tea uses airtight, resealable bags that keep light and odor out. The bags have a one-way valve that allows freshly roasted coffee to “gas out” but prevents air from entering the bag. Simply roll down the lip of the bag, press out any excess air and seal the bag tightly when finished. Store the coffee in an area that is room temperature, dark, dry and scent-free. Do not store coffee in the freezer or fridge (condensation will build every time you remove and return the coffee) and do not store coffee near anything that has a strong scent.
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
Over time we recommend that you make investments to better your coffee experience with tools of the trade. We already mentioned water filters and scales. One other important investment to investigate is a quality burr grinder. Burr grinders create coffee particles that are consistent in size, unlike blade grinders where particle sizes may greatly vary. This is important when brewing because it allows for a more consistent brew.
We cannot talk about investment in quality tools without talking brew methods. The following is a brief description of our favorite brew methods. We recommend you try more than one and have more than one vessel available so you can brew to your taste daily.
Malitta, Chemex, and V60 are popular pour-over methods. Ground coffee is placed in a filter and hot water is poured, usually in a circular motion, into the filter to saturate the coffee as it drips out the bottom of the filter. This method generally yields a clean, crisp cup of coffee and is great for bringing out subtle fruit flavors in the coffee.
For a pour-over use a finer grind and water just off boil (immediately after water comes to a boil).
Bodum is probably the most popular producer of the french-press, but there are countless other producers as well. The french-press is an immersion brew process, meaning the coffee is fully immersed in water during the brewing process. French-press coffee contains more coffee oils and grit than filtered coffee. The process really highlights the more robust flavors of the coffee you are brewing such as chocolate and roast notes.
For a french-press use a coarse grind and water just off boil.
The aero-press is a category of its own. Produced by Aerobie (of Frisbee fame), the aero-press combines the full immersion style of the french-press with the smooth filtered taste of the pour-over.
For the Aero-press, use a fine grind and water about 180F (off boil and wait about 3 minutes).
Click here for our recipes using different brew methods. Happy brewing!
Brew up something beautiful and share it with the world. Aloha...
CONTRIBUTOR: MIKE CUBBAGE
HOW I LIKE MY COFFEE: Medium Roast Black
FAVORITE HOMEBREW METHOD: Chemex
I've been involved in the coffee industry for about 16 years. I've been a barista for many years, then a trainer and consultant. I am big on sharing relevant knowledge that will help coffee lovers have the optimal coffee experience. Working with The Kona Coffee and Tea Company is like a dream come true. I can't say how rewarding it is to work with such a great product from seed to cup. From the very beginning, being part of the team here, I've felt like family and have been treated like family. The spirit of Aloha is strong as is their dedication to community and quality.