News Column

Coffee Experts Offer Tips for Best Brew

Oct. 21, 2012

Darin Fenger, The Sun, Yuma, Ariz.

coffee, coffee brewing, tips

Oct. 21--As a true coffee fanatic, touring a roasting facility in Costa Rica felt like being shown around heaven.

The smell was fantastic.

On top of that, learning the history of coffee and all about the roasting process ended up being pretty fascinating. But it was amazing how many things we do wrong as coffee lovers. Take keeping ground coffee in the freezer, for example. That's the right thing to do, right?

Well, it turns out that the coffee experts have lots to teach us. I recently contacted those experts at and offered up a few questions. What they had to say is very enlightening. I hope their tips help make your morning coffee even tastier.

SUN: What is the biggest mistake people make when brewing coffee?

BRITT: I'd say the biggest mistake is overheating. When people make coffee in a coffee maker and leave it on for more than 10 minutes, the coffee overheats and burns.

Other aspects to keep in mind are:

--Adequate coffee/water ratio per cup.

--Water temperature. Water must not come to a boil. The ideal brewing temperature is just below boiling point.

--Water quality.

--Coffee equipment used (avoid percolators at all cost).

--Grinder quality (burr-style grinders are recommended).

--Grind size (fine, coarse, depending on brewing equipment requirements).

SUN: What is the best machine or technique for making the most delicious coffee?

BRITT: It really depends on taste. If you love espresso, find a high-quality espresso machine and make sure the grinder produces fine, even-sized particles.

If you like brewed coffee, use a drip coffee maker or a chorreador (see Yuma Foodie column for a description).

For coffee lovers, Britt recommends the French press. It's very easy to use, and you can really adjust the coffee to suit your taste. This method produces an intermediate brew somewhere between that of a coffee maker and that of an espresso machine.

Here are some suggestions for preparing one cup of coffee:

--Use 1 tablespoon of ground coffee for each 6 oz. (180 ml) of cold, clear water.

--Heat the water to just before the boiling point.

--If you use whole-bean coffee, grind your coffee just before brewing it.

SUN: I was surprised to learn on the tour that freezing coffee can sometimes be a bad idea. How should we store our coffee?

BRITT: If you have whole-bean coffee, store the unopened bags in the freezer. Once you open a bag, put it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Sealed bags of ground coffee should be stored in a dark, cool place, like a pantry. As with whole bean, place open bags in an airtight container in the refrigerator. In both cases, never take the coffee out of the opened bag. Put the whole thing in the airtight container.

SUN: What do people need to know about the water they use for making coffee?

BRITT: Here are some tips:

--Use potable, clean and fresh water to avoid altering the taste and aroma of the beverage.

--If using water from the tap, let it run for a few seconds before filling the container.

--If water is hard, or contains traces of chlorine, use the proper filter system or turn to bottled water.

SUN: What should people look for when purchasing coffee? If you don't have the reputation of a company like Britt to go by, how do you find quality coffee when shopping at a store or online?

BRITT: Look for a well-packed, gourmet 100 percent Arabica coffee from a well-known country of origin, such as Costa Rica.

SUN: Which facts should we research about where a coffee is grown? Would altitude be one of the factors, for example?

BRITT: Origin, region, blend, altitude, type of soil, coffee variety and harvesting method would all be good facts to consider.



(c)2012 The Sun (Yuma, Ariz.)

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