If you thought finding a great bottle of wine was challenging, chances are you haven’t truly dove into discovering the best type and way to brew coffee at home. There are a crazy amount of variables when it comes to coffee. This is part two of a five-part series on getting the best coffee brewed at home for you and your partner. The series starts with an understanding of the importance of ritual in a partnership, next an outline of how to create a taste test, an understanding of some of the science and research behind coffee consumption, moving along to decipher what excites you about the beans and what’s the best home brewing process for your specific tastes.
As with wine, there is the terroir, which affects the taste of your beans. Terroir is said to be all the environmental characteristics that have an impact on the character of a crop. There is a presumption that the land that the beans are grown on imparts a unique quality on the end product. The three main growing regions and their flavor profiles are as follows: The Americas have brighter, more mild flavors. From Africa and Arabia, beans tend to lean toward more exotic, fruit essences and more depth of character. Throughout the Pacific growing regions, beans exhibit a richer, savory and earthy taste.
Let’s start with learning a thing or two about the beans and making an educated decision on what beans to call your favorite. All coffee beans stem from two main varieties: Arabica and Robusta. Arabica is known as “the king of coffee” and accounts for nearly 70% of all beans on the market.
These coffee trees are found in mild climates with high altitude. They are descendants of the original Ethiopian coffee trees. Their qualities tend to be mild and aromatic compared to Robusta beans, which produce a bitter-tasting coffee with approximately 50% more caffeine than Arabica beans. The shape of these beans are found to be smaller and rounder.
To begin the search for your favorite flavors in coffee, start to experiment tasting single origin coffee beans. Once you have an idea of the characteristics you prefer, to describe your coffee use the following expert lingo ways of describing your coffee – aroma, flavor, body and acidity - then you can take your notes on that information to an expert at your local gourmet grocery or coffee roaster and ask for suggestions on what blends might appeal to you. Once you have gained a flavor profile on single origin beans, you are ready to move onto understanding the nuances of which roasts are best for your taste buds. If you don't already know the names of the primary roasts, then here are the basics to explore and enjoy - find one producer and try these roasts one at a time: Full City, Vienna, Espresso, French Roast and Extra Dark French.
After you have a full flavor profile of what appeals to you in origin, roasts and blends use the following guidelines to ensure each cup will be the best you can brew at home. Choose your beans based on freshness and don't grind until right before you are about to use them. Use filtered water, if possible, or at least make sure your tap or bottled water tastes excellent on its own.
As the biggest component of your coffee, it's key to start with the best water possible. Now that you underway to perfecting how to brew you and your partners' best cup of coffee! In the next article, we'll explore which method will best suit your home brewing needs and taste preferences.