Ah, coffee. For most of us, our mornings wouldn't be the same (or wouldn't even start) without it. But enjoying a cup of joe comes with an understanding of how to respect the bean. Here are ten facts and hacks every coffee drinker needs
1) You should always try to grind your own beans
“Even grinding by hand, with an inferior grinder, is better than pre-ground." says Jeremy Challender, co-director of Prufrock Coffee and head judge of the UK Barista Championship. (Yes, there is a barista championship)
The aroma, the flavour and the texture is always better with hand ground beans.
2) Soy milk is chemically predisposed to curdle in coffee
Soy milk reacts badly to the acidity and texture of coffee. Deluding the beverage a little bit can prevent curdling from taking place. You can also look for 'barista soy' labeled milks that are engineered to be curdle-proof.
3) Avoid civet coffee
This breed of bean is cruel to animals as it is linked to battery farming and force-feeding. And it's really, ridiculously pricey. And it's also just plain not-very-tasty.
4) Look for the roast date of the coffee you’re buying
“When I think a bag of coffee looks enticing, it tells me the roast date and the harvest date and these dates are not more than three weeks and one year ago respectively,” Jeremy says.
Also, take a close look at the information on the bag and find out where the coffee originates from and how it was processed.
5) The term French roast and Italian roast – they’re more traditional guidelines
It sounds sophisticated to order one of these cultured roasts, but really their names mean how dark or light they are. French roasts are light, and Italian are much darker. Light roasts are fruity, herby and flowery. Darker roasts are smokey and carbon-like.
6) Keep your beans in the bag that they came in
This will preserve their freshness and flavour. You don't have to get fancy about storage and definitely don't put your coffee in the fridge.
“In many ways, the bag that you buy the coffee in is appropriate, as long as you can seal it properly. Because it has a one-way valve in the top, air can’t come in. Inside roasted coffee there’s loads and loads of carbon dioxide, which is quite a good preservative." says Jeremy.
7) Know what flavours you like when you’re shopping for coffee
Do you like bitter or toasty coffee? Look for fruity coffees that are far from a level 5 if you don't care for bitterness. Scorch marks on the beans will ensure a smokier flavour. Get to know what you really like by sampling plenty of roasts before buying a bag.
8) You don’t need to buy a fancy machine to make good coffee at home
"You don’t have to spend crazy amounts of money on your machine though. You can get a better cup with a cheap espresso machine and a really nice grinder. If someone is thinking of making an investment, before you upgrade your machine, you should upgrade the grinder." explains Jeremy.
9) Different places tend to prefer different roasts
For example, trendy coffee shops in London like light roasts. But chains like Starbucks haven't caught up to the differences in preferences around the world yet, as they shelf more dark roasts than light.
10) Enjoy getting to know new roasters.
Jeremy recommends many unique brands that will satisfy your caffeine needs, including: Has Bean, Square Mile, Roundhill, Workshop, and Climpson and Sons, The Barn and 5 Elephant, Drop Coffee, Koppi, and Johan & Nyström There are literally thousands of roasters both local and international that make amazing cups of joe!
What are your favourite coffee roasters? Share your secrets to the perfect brew with us!
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