The joy of making a morning brew (October 21, 2011)

James Kilbourn

This is an original blog post which I wrote towards the beginning of my coffee journey. I have left it unedited and republished it here for your reading pleasure.

As my passion and interest in coffee grow, I have become more geeky in how I store, measure, grind, brew and drink my morning coffee. Or any of my daily brews - morning, noon or night. 

Whenever I have the chance to talk about brewing coffee with my friends and customers, I share the importance of all the factors that will make their daily fix taste as wonderful as the roastmaster intended. 

So how do you keep your coffee fresh? How do you keep the aromas as rich and exciting as the first day you opened the bag and made your first cup? And, most importantly, how do you get each brew of your favourite single origin or blend to taste the same every time you make a pot? 

This is where the geeky part begins. But trust me, it's not as hard as you may think and shouldn't take you longer than being less geeky. And even if it does, the result is worth it. Every time. 

Like most coffee consumers making coffee at home, I started with the instructions on the bag : *7g per cup or, as it is often translated, one tablespoon per cup. Herein lies the problem. Cups vary in sizes and most South Africans prefer a mug, which is larger than a cup. What about the tablespoon? Well there is the next problem. Tablespoons vary in size too. When referring to cups and tablespoons, we’re not referring to baking measures. Also, ignore those cup markings on your filter machine. There is no consistency and can change from one manufacturer to another. 

So, using the terms cup and tablespoon can be very misleading and in my opinion would not result in the cup quality that the roastmaster was intending for you to taste, appreciate and love. What is the correct brew ratio of coffee to water? I explain this in my blog post **How Much Coffee Makes Coffee which you can read here. For now, forget about cups and tablespoons and those cup markings on your filter machine. Focus on quantity of water and weight of coffee.

It's all about measurements. My morning brew of two mugs which I have determined equals 500ml requires 27-28g of ground coffee. I weigh the amount of beans on my digital kitchen scale, add them to my burr grinder (which is set to a setting that I know gives me the best extraction/brewing time of five minutes). While the grinder is busy, I measure half a litre of water and add it to my filter machine. I place the paper filter in my brew basket, add the freshly ground coffee and switch my machine on. At the same time I monitor the brewing time by using a digital kitchen timer to ensure that it stays as close to five minutes as possible. 

Once the brew is done, I serve it. For my wife, I put it in a thermos which she can take to work. I, however, enjoy mine fresh from the pot. It may seem like too much effort. It may sound unnecessary. But try it and you will realise the difference. That coffee which you have been spooning into your coffee machine might just taste better than you can remember. I can assure you that that is the taste the roastmaster wanted you to appreciate.

In the next post, I deal with storing your coffee - another important factor to ensure your coffee tastes fantastic, every time.

* The 7g refers to a cup measuring of only 127ml - using the international standard 55g/L ratio

** I've lost the text of the original How Much Coffee Makes Coffee blog post. I will write a new one and post it soon.



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