From Bean Business Basics

Brewing coffee is basically a process of flavoring water with roasted, ground coffee beans. There are many methods that will produce a desirable end result. The most common method is the filter-drip brewing method.

Use fresh, high quality coffee
Always start with fresh, quality, whole bean, Arabica coffees. Remember that your coffee beans will be at their best if used within two to ten days after roasting. The whole bean is the optimal "natural packaging" to hold and maintain the freshness and flavor of the coffee oil, which is trapped inside of these beans. The Arabica species of coffee beans possess superior flavor and aroma as compared to beans of the Robusta species. But less than 15 percent of Arabica production meets specialty coffee standards, so it is critical that you purchase your beans from a roaster who sources only the highest quality beans.

Grind your coffee just prior to brewing, with proper amount/ time
Grind only as much whole bean coffee as you will need for immediate brewing purposes. Coffee begins to loose flavor and aroma within one hour after being ground. Match the grind to the specifications of the brewing method you will be using. For drip brewing, a grind similar to the consistency of granulated sugar will usually achieve a good result.

The goal is to achieve the entire brew cycle within four to six minutes. If the brew cycle occurs in less than four minutes, adjust the grind to a finer consistency. If the brewing cycle takes longer than six minutes, adjust thegrind to a coarser consistency.

You should use approximately 2 level tablespoons of ground coffee for each 6-ounce cup. Since most cups designed for brewed coffee hold approximately 8 ounces, you should increase the amount of ground coffee being used to 2 1/2 to 3 level tablespoons for an individual 8 ounce cup. Brewed coffee that tastes bitter is usually a result of not using enough coffee. The more water that is poured through a portion of ground coffee, the more likely the chance that the bitter elements contained within that coffee will be extracted. Increasing the amount of coffee used reduces the chances of over extraction. If a less concentrated coffee flavor is desired, hot water should be added to the finished brew.

• Remember, the longer the brew time, the stronger the coffee. Also, the finer the grind, the stronger the coffee.
• Beware: brewing too long, or with too fine a grind, may cause the coffee to become bitter.

Always use good quality, cold water. Brewed coffee is approximately 98% water...good water quality is essential.

• Charcoal filtering devices will filter out chlorine residues and some chemicals that produce negative taste characteristics.
• Never use softened water for brewing coffee. It will slow down the extraction/dilution process, resulting in the over extraction of your coffee.

The coffee brewer should produce a brew water temperature of 200 degrees F (+ or - 5 degrees).

• Too low a temperature = under extraction = weak coffee
• Too high a temperature = scalded and/or bitter flavor characteristics

Coffee brewer turbulence
Turbulence refers to the amount of agitation the water produces when it comes in contact with the coffee grounds. The force of the water and the pattern of the spray from the brewer's spray head, and how this spray interacts with the shape of the brew basket, create this turbulence. To make sure your brewer is producing the necessary turbulence, check for the following:

• The spray head is installed in the coffee brewer, and is not clogged or obstructed by coffee or water residues.
• The appropriate brew basket for your particular brewing equipment is being used.

Holding coffee
The principle cause of flavor loss after brewing is continuous heating. Once brewed, coffee held in uncovered, heated containers (a glass pot on a warming burner) will retain optimal freshness for no longer than 20 to 30 minutes. Continuous heat will break apart the organic materials, and the coffee will develop a sour or bitter taste with smoky overtones. Heat will evaporate the water, condensing and cooking the flavoring compounds that remain.

Thermal containers are a better way to hold coffee. They are insulated and airtight, preventing evaporation, and will retain the aromatic compounds of the coffee. Because the coffee is not subjected to continuous heating, the coffee can be held for as long as 45 minutes before flavor characteristics will begin to change and dissipate. If your brewing equipment cannot brew directly into a thermal pot, immediately transfer the brewed coffee to a thermal container.

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