The smell of those sweet beans roasting in the early hours can convince even the most snooze-button obsessed sleepy-head to hit the floor running. The commanding sensory power of coffee over the olfactory is enticing, even to those who can’t actually hang with drinking its deliciousness. Thankfully, science has encouraged this most enjoyable addiction, stating that one to two cups of coffee a day has proven to protect against Parkinson’s, type 2 diabetes, liver disease and certain cancers. However, the coffee in your mug matters, and not any caffeine bean will do.
Perhaps like many of you, for years I bought my coffee based on price. This usually landed me in the check-out line with a metal can or plastic tub of coffee beans that were ground and preserved ages ago. I also thought nothing of artificial flavors, and would be the first to grab the latest seasonal flavor on the shelf. Shamefully, those were my ramen noodle days of buying coffee.
Before my “better” coffee conversion (as we’ll call it), I thought expensive coffee was a ridiculous waste of money, achieving nothing more than posh points at the coffee shop. Yet, I also couldn’t understand why the fresh-pressed coffee at the coffee shop always tasted so much better than my morning home brew. Several french presses later, I began my journey to coffee enlightenment. Admittedly, I’m no connoisseur, but when I tasted my first free sample of Cafe Kreyol’s Organic Haitian Hound, I knew the difference. Granted there was nothing posh about the Dixie cup containing my beverage, and yet the gourmet taste had no need of putting on airs. I was a new woman!
Buy Small and Grind
(Besides the very fun legend that coffee was discovered by an Ethiopian shepherd whose insomniac dancing goats were eating the coffee berries) is that coffee beans go stale in only two weeks. Yikes! In the same way that foods without preservatives go bad quickly, coffee should be bought in small amounts and consumed within two weeks. Ground coffee becomes stale in just 20 minutes, putting to rest the mystery of why people insist on grinding their beans each morning before brewing.
Coffee is one of the most heavily treated crops when it comes to toxic chemicals, commonly using chemicals such as petroleum based fertilizers in production. If you can’t afford to go organic with everything, you may want to choose this daily ritual as one of them.
Pressure and Temperature
I would have never guessed that pressure and temperature matter in brewing coffee, but apparently home grinders heat up faster than professional-grade grinders, and the heat negatively affects the coffee’s taste. This information finally justified my claim that coffee always tastes better at the coffee shop. There is no substitute for freshly ground, brewed, and don’t forget made for you!
The Coffee Process:
1. Planting – Coffee seeds are planted in nurseries until sprouting, and then permanently planted during the wet season.
2. Picking – The coffee cherries turn deep red when ripe and are either strip picked or selectively picked; often by hand.
- The Dry Method can take several weeks of laying the cherries in the sun until the moisture content drops.
- The Wet Method takes 12 -48 hours in fermentation tanks filled with water. These beans must then be dried by sun or machine, hulled, and polished.
4. Sorting – Defective beans are removed and remaining beans are sorted by size, and weight.
5. Taste Test – Milled beans or ‘green coffee’ are roasted and immediately tasted by a ‘cupper’ for expert analysis.
6. Roasting – Beans are roasted until reaching 400 degrees, when the caffeol oil is released; producing flavor and aroma.
7. Grinding and Brewing – Beans are ground from course to fine depending on the method of brewing, in order to unlock the most flavor. The finer the grind, the more quickly the coffee should be prepared and consumed.
There is a website that reviews and scores coffee? Does your coffee scream “Caramel, blackberry, night-blooming flowers, a hint of fresh-cut cedar in aroma and cup“? If not, give Mystic Monk a try; their coffee scored in the 90’s with the review board.
* What do you put in your coffee? I often substitute sugar with local honey (which also helps prevent allergies).