Coffee and Espresso:
The Full Disclosure
In our previous article, we introduced some coffee basics which included different beans, types of coffee and the different roasts. This helped you understand some of the history behind coffee and how the different roasts can affect flavor. In your culinary journey, this becomes important as it allows you to pair proper foods with the right coffee.
Today we will discuss the different methods in which coffee and espresso are prepared. We will go over the types of brewing, including drip brewing and espresso brewing. As avid coffee drinkers, we have also chosen some of our favorite products that we use to prepare coffee and espresso. If you are interested in these products, please feel free to go through our links as it goes to support more great content.
Grinding the Coffee Beans
Unlike roasting, which is best left to the experts, the grinding of coffee beans is best left to the consumer or restaurant. Whole coffee beans stay fresh much longer than pre-ground coffee. Ground coffee kept in an airtight container away from heat and light will stay fresh for three or four days. Whole beans will stay fresh for a few weeks and may be frozen for several months, as long as they are dry and protected from other invasive flavors. Frozen coffee beans do not need to be thawed before grinding and brewing. As a rule, do not refrigerate your coffee.
Frozen coffee beans do not need to be thawed before grinding and brewing.
The fineness of the grind depends entirely on the type of coffee maker being used. The grind determines the length of time it takes to achieve the perfect (19%) extraction from the beans. There is no “perfect grind”, and the optimum grind is the one that allows that extraction to occur in the time that coffee maker takes to complete its brewing cycle. A good general rule is the finer the grind, the more quickly the coffee should be prepared.
Recommended Burr Mill
Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill
Coffee is brewed by one of two methods: decoction or infusion. Decoction means boiling something until its flavor is removed. Think of this as similar to making stock. Boiling is the oldest method for making coffee but is no longer used except in preparing extremely strong Turkish coffee. Infusion refers to the extraction of flavors at temperatures
Infusion refers to the extraction of flavors at temperatures below boiling. Infusion include steeping (mixing hot water and ground coffee), filtering (pouring water slowly over a cloth or filter), and dripping (pouring water over a strainer and allowing liquid to run through. Percolating is not recommended as the continuous boil ruins the coffee’s flavor.
The secrets to brewing a good cup of coffee are knowing the exact proportion of coffee to water as well as the amount of time to maintain contact between both. This various depending on the equipment and type of coffee.
Drip coffee is commonly made from a machine that allows water to slowly be released over coffee grounds.
For drip coffee, the best results are usually achieved by using 55g (2oz) of ground coffee per liter (quart) of filtered water. This yields approx. 5.5 cups of coffee, a cup being 175 mL (6 fl oz). The brewing temperature should be between 90’C to 93’C (195’F to 205’F). The best coffee is brewed in a French press coffee maker.
Best French Press ( Bar None )
AeroPress — The top total immersion/French-press coffee maker on the market.
If a strong coffee is desired, use more coffee per cup of water, not a longer brewing time. For weaker coffee, prepare regular-strength coffee and dilute it with hot water. Never reuse old coffee grounds.
Espresso is derived from the Latin word exprimo, “to press out” and is made with a pump-driven machine that forces hot water through a compressed, finely ground coffee. An espresso machine also has a steaming rod to froth milk for espresso-based beverages.
Lightly roasted and finely ground coffee make the best espresso. It is best ground fresh with a conical burr grinder. A single serving of espresso uses 7 to 8 g (1/4oz) of coffee for 25 to 30 mL (1 fl oz) of purified water at 88’C to 95’C (190’F to 203’F). It is forced through the grounds at high pressure (9 to 10 atmospheres of pressure for 22-30 seconds. The pressure creates the crema or foam on top of the espresso.
Espresso machine showing the crema or foam.
It is important that the espresso is made quickly, as if the machine pumps water for too long, too much water will be added and the intense flavor will be ruined. Because a single or double shot of espresso forms the foundation for so many coffee beverages, this is an important consideration.
Reccomended Espresso Machine
Breville BES870XL — Mid-range but top quality and top rated. Must-have.
Serving Coffee and Espresso
Coffee can be made with specific additions. The most common ways of serving coffee are detailed here.
Drip or Filtered Coffee
Drip or filtered coffee is the most common style of coffee served in North America.
- Black: A plain cup of unsweetened coffee with no milk or cream added.
- Cafe au lait: The French version of the Italian caffe latte, cafe au lait is made with strong coffee instead of espresso and hot, not steamed, milk.
- Demitasse: A small cup of strong black coffee or espresso.
- Iced coffee: Strong coffee served over ice. Best to add the sweetener before adding the coffee. In Australia, a dollop of vanilla ice cream is often added. Vietnamese coffee is made with a small Vietnamese filter pot using condensed milk as a sweetener. Left over coffee should never be used for iced coffee
- Espresso: A single or double serving, black.
- Espresso macchiato: Espresso marked with a tiny portion of steamed milk.
- Cappuccino: One-third espresso, one-third steamed milk, one-third foamed milk.
- Caffe latte: One-third espresso and two-thirds steamed milk without foam.
- Caffe mocha: one-third espresso and two-thirds steamed milk, flavored with chocolate syrup and usually topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings/cocoa
- Espresso con panna: Espresso with a dollop of whipped cream
- Espresso corretto: A shot of espresso “corrected” with the addition of liquor such as brandy of liqueur.
- Espresso ristretto: Espresso made with half the water normally used for a regular espresso
Any type of milk can be used to make cappuccino, latte and other espresso drinks. Milk with higher fat content will produce a creamier tasting drink.
How to Froth Milk
To froth the milk for these drinks, pour the milk into a jug, then position it under the steam spout of your espresso machine. Activate the steam control only when the head of the spout is under the surface of the milk. Moving the jug around while keeping the spout submerged helps the steam aerate the milk, giving it a consistency resembling frothed cream.