Italian Lifestyle: How to make the perfect cup of coffee

The perfect cup of coffee every time

BUY FRESH BEANS Without question, coffee is best when used within days of being roasted. Buying from a local roaster (or roasting your own) is the surest way to get the absolute freshest beans. Be wary of buying bulk coffee from supermarket display bins. Oxygen and bright light are the worst flavour busters for roasted beans, so unless the store is conscientious about selling fresh coffee, the storage tubes get coated with coffee oils, which turn rancid. Coffee beans packaged by quality-conscious roasters and sold in sturdy, vacuum-sealed bags are often a better bet. KEEP COFFEE BEANS FRESH Always store opened coffee beans in an airtight container. Glass canning jars or ceramic storage crocks with rubber-gasket seals are good choices. Never refrigerate (roasted beans are porous and readily take up moisture and food odours). Flavour experts strongly advise against ever freezing coffee, especially dark roasts. Optimally, buy a 5- to 7-day supply of fresh beans at a time and keep at room temperature. CHOOSE GOOD COFFEE Snobbism among coffee drinkers can rival that of wine drinkers, but the fact is that an astonishing world of coffee tastes awaits anyone willing to venture beyond mass-marketed commercial brands. Specialty coffees that clearly state the country, region or estate of origin can provide a lifetime of tasting experiences. By all means look for 100% pure Arabica beans. GRIND YOUR OWN Coffee starts losing quality almost immediately upon grinding. The best-tasting brews are made from beans ground just before brewing. Coffee connoisseurs prefer to grind in expensive burr mills, but affordable electric “whirly blade” grinders will do a serviceable job, especially if the mill is rocked during grinding to get a fine, even particle size. USE GOOD WATER Nothing can ruin a pot of coffee more surely than tap water with chlorine or off flavoUrs. Serious coffee lovers use bottled spring water or activated-charcoal/carbon filters on their taps. Note: Softened or distilled water makes terrible coffee—the minerals in good water are essential. AVOID CHEAP FILTERS Bargain-priced paper coffee filters yield inferior coffee, according to the experts. Look for “oxygen-bleached” or “dioxin-free” paper filters. DON’T SKIMP ON THE COFFEE The standard measure for brewing coffee of proper strength is 2 level tablespoons per 180 ml cup or about 2 3/4 tablespoons per 240 ml cup. Tricks like using less coffee and hotter water to extract more cups per pound tend to make for bitter brews. BEWARE THE HEAT Water that is too hot will extract compounds in the coffee that are bitter rather than pleasant. Find the proper brewing for your machine. KEEP YOUR EQUIPMENT CLEAN Clean storage containers and grinders every few weeks to remove any oily buildup. At least monthly, run a strong solution of vinegar or specialty coffee-equipment cleaner through your coffeemaker to dissolve away any mineral deposits. Rinse thoroughly before reuse. For morning, noon and night – the perfect cup of coffee awaits you.  

Tips first published on Eating Well Contact: Italian Lifestyle


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