Folks stopping by our retail shops over the years have heard me explain what variables influence a cup of coffee. To summarize, let’s start with the green beans. The growing and processing of green coffee beans is such a complex industry in itself. Weather, soil, harvesting and many other factors determine the coffee’s complex make-up and taste.
Growing and processing aside, selection of the green bean most directly affects the taste of a brewed cup. Brightness, depth, aroma, finish, all begin here. Different grading and classifications will greatly impact the quality and flavor of coffee. This is a very important step in the process.
Roasting comes next: the type of roast equipment (heat transfer speeds, etc.); skill and experience of the operator (they are not titled ‘roast master’ for nothing!); degree of roast –medium, dark; all change the way a coffee will taste.
Our experience suggests coffee beans perform best from two days (time for the bean to develop flavor and aroma) to twelve days after roasting. Dark roasts age slightly faster than medium roasts, because of the physical changes on the bean created by high heat. Room temperatures will speed up or slow this down. And packaging techniques alter freshness times as well.
Now for what affects the brewing process: fineness or coarseness of grind; amount of ground coffee; amount of water; water quality; water temperature; brewer engineering; cleanliness of all surfaces, including the brew cone, inside the boiler of the brewer, both the vessel brewed into and the cup poured into; and holding times. This is true for drip brewing and espresso brewing, by the way.
Even with all of this control, we have to marvel when a resulting cup of coffee puts us close to heaven.
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