Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Weird, Twitchy, Semi-OCD Way to Brew The Perfect Mug Of Coffee

You got your Care Package.  Your box of random stuff.  Thank you.  I wish I could have done more.  I really do appreciate your support and help over the years. 

Inside you'll find some of my home roasted coffee.  You said you wanted a challenge and you wanted to experience all sorts of different brews and blends.   You wanted to see what the stuff looked like before it was roasted, and what it would look like at a very dark roast.

Remember this is all about what You Like.  Not what I like.  What I like is irrelevant.  When you find a roast you like, let me know and I'll make that for you from now on out.  If you like it all, then I'll just make a selection.  Some people know what good is and it's all arbitrary.

I gave you that.  There are some green beans in a little jar.  That's more of a "souvenir" or a coffee table trinket than something to drink.  I've drank green coffee beans before.  The result is a weird witches' brew that tastes grassy and like the cream and sugar you put into it.

It's also chock full of caffeine unlike anything you ever drank before.

Why?  The shorter the roast time, the less that you actually expose the beans to the heat, the more caffeine is "retained" in the beans.  That's the "science content" of making a cup.

You have some "First Crack" - that's the light tan stuff that the hipsters are drinking now.  Think Red Bull with a coffee taste.  I only gave you a little of this because it's kind of harsh to me.

You have some Second Crack.  That looks "normal brown" with no oil on the outside of the beans.  This is what I shoot for on a regular roast.  It's called "Full City" and it is where the stuff starts to taste good with a slight edge to it.

You have some Second Crack plus 30 seconds.  Just the barest beginning of a hint of oil on the outside of the beans.  If I roast this far, I'm happy but I don't like it personally when the beans get roasted longer.

You also have some Second Crack plus 2 minutes.  Deep and oily, this is French Roast.  That's what people tend to think they want for dark coffee.

The thing is that what people are drinking is the actual "Roast" of the coffee - that is where coffee taste comes from.   Caffeine drops the longer you roast.

They're all unground so you can take your own time to drink this stuff.   The reason is that once you grind your beans, they begin to oxidize within two weeks.   Never grind more than 2 weeks worth of beans.   In fact, I only roast what I will drink within a week.

Roast today, Drink tomorrow.  There is a lot of Carbon Dioxide to "off-gas" from the beans when you roast, and it can take three days for some beans to off-gas.   Once the off gassing has finished, the best flavor can occur. 

I have heard of freshly roasted beans off gassing enough to burst a glass jar.   I haven't seen it, but it is kind of a neat experiment!

That's today.  It took 2 days to get there and it took me a day to pack, so these are 4 days old.  Enjoy them, I can always roast more.

Ok, that OCD thing?  Yeah you can go nuts.  People pay hundreds of dollars for a burr grinder, thousands for a roaster, and $50 a pound for Jamaica Blue Mountain is common.  Kopi Luwak is beastly expensive which is appropriate for a coffee that came out of a cat's butt.

I'm not fond of Jamaica Blue, that's just marketing and that the Japanese have cornered the market.   Let them enjoy.

My favorite is Guatemalan.  Hard to wreck those beans, they're almost always sweet, almost always wonderful.  This is what you got.  The last of my Guatemalan coffee.  I'm now on a Nicaraguan that is about as good, but slightly different taste.

Now that brewing OCD?  Here we go...

Get a 20 ounce French Press.   Forget the K Cups - that is just Green Mountain Coffee trying to corner the market and their coffee is barely drinkable.   Green Mountain Coffee is one step above instant.

Weigh out between 25 grams and 30 grams of beans.  29 grams is an ounce.  I usually go either 27 or 28 grams.

Yes. Grams.  Get a gram scale.  You need it for baking anyway.   Scoops are random and inaccurate - this is between 3 and 5 scoops of unground beans.

Grind your beans around 30 seconds.   A burr grinder is nice but unnecessary.  Mine is a blade grinder and a bit coarse.  I grind to a near espresso powder.  The reason is that it is surface area that influences how much of the coffee oil gets into your brew.   You want coffee with oil.  Really, you do.  Mediocre coffee that has been on the shelf at the market for two weeks has coffee oil that has begun to spoil by oxidizing.  This is peak now.  Their coffee was roasted as much as months ago.   Blah.

Water.   Fill your whistling tea kettle.  Old school, yes, but effective.   Wait for the water to begin to make the kettle whistle.  This will give you water just shy of 212F.  Pour the water into a large glass container.  I use a 4 cup pyrex measuring cup made of nice thick glass.  You will want 20 ounces of water in that measuring cup.

Take the water's temperature and wait for it to come down to 190F.   This should take about a minute, more likely less.  It may even pour into the measuring cup at 190F.  It takes a little time to walk across the kitchen anyway, right?

Why all this nonsense?  The hotter the water, the more bitter the coffee.   If you want a more bitter coffee, then don't wait, pour immediately over the grounds.   If you don't just take the time, pet the dog, look out the kitchen window at the back yard for a minute and check the "Instant Read Thermometer".  Remember, 190F. 

Pour the water over grounds and stir.   It will "bloom".  The grounds that still haven't off gassed will float to the top.  You can break that up, it won't have too much of an effect on the taste.  Just stir occasionally for up to about 5 minutes.  I've forgotten and let it sit for 15 minutes and while I can taste the difference, most would just shrug.

Add your cream or creamer, and your sugar or sweetener.   I use all that artificial crap which sounds ironic since I take so much effort and time with the brew.   Ok, I'm not perfect, but this is how I do it.

Like I said semi-OCD, not fully OCD.

All this crap that I said you need?  The Pyrex Measuring cup, instant read thermometer, grinder, and even the French Press can be found at a thrift store for under $20 total.  The roaster is a hot air popcorn popper.  I paid $4 plus tax.   Want to pay retail?  Probably can be done for less than $50 but you really don't need to spend all that.  It's basic.  Your grandparents might have gone through this "back in the day" before corporate coffee came around and they would have done it by eye.  Basically that is how I do it now - by eye.  You wanted to hear how I did it and now I'm chuckling that I did as much fiddling as I have to get it right.

But "Right" for coffee... yeah, it's really about what you think is right.  Go ahead and fill the Mr. Coffee, if that is how you like it, enjoy!

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