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Coffee Basics


Brewing great coffee is a simple process where flavor is extracted from ground coffee beans using hot water as the catalyst. However, there’s a craft to brewing good coffee; capturing all the color, aroma, body and great taste possible.

So, if brewing coffee is so simple, what’s the big secret? To get the peak of flavor, it’s all in the brewing process–the right combination of ground coffee beans, good water, quality brewing equipment and the right brewing cycle.

  • During the extraction process, up to 70% of the flavoring compounds of coffee (both sweet & bitter) enter the brew water.
  • Coffee stored in a heated, open vessel will increase in strength as water evaporates from the brew. Applied heat from a warmer causes chemical compounds to change coffee flavor.
  • If kept on a warmer fresh brewed coffee will only keep its optimum flavor a maximum of 30 minutes.
  • Water Temperature - A coffee brewer should deliver a steady supply of hot water and maintain a brewing temperature from 195°–205°F.
  • Water Delivery - The brewing equipment should be capable of wetting the entire bed of coffee grounds thoroughly and evenly in the first stages of the brewing process.
  • Brewing Time - The coffee brewer should provide a consistent brewing time for the type of grind used.

The amount of time your coffee will stay fresh after brewing is called the Holding Time. Holding the coffee between 175°–190° (80°– 88° C) will maintain its fresh brewed flavor over a specified period of time.

When a coffee decanter is placed on a warmer, the brew begins to break down with the application of direct heat. After 20-30 minutes the coffee begins to lose its fresh brewed flavor and may no longer be considered acceptable. Beyond 30 minutes, the flavor will deteriorate to the point of being objectionable.

If you keep fresh brewed coffee in an air pot or other closed and insulated container without application of external heat, the coffee will stay fresh longer. Pre-heating the container with hot water will extend the holding time considerably.

How Much Ground Coffee Should I Use?

What the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) has to say:

A cup is defined as 6 ounces of water before brewing. This will produce 5.33 ounces of brewed coffee. The SCAA defines 10 grams or .36 oz per cup as the proper measure for brewed coffee if using the American standards.

What coffee beans you use is a matter of personal taste. But the real secret to great coffee comes in the correct “Coffee-to-Water” ratio–how much water is used relative to how much coffee there is in the filter. As a rule of thumb, remember that too little ground coffee brewed with too much water results in an under-developed, weak-tasting coffee flavor. Whatever brewing device is used, the optimum brewing formula will fall in this recommended coffee to water ratio, using traditional ground roast coffee brewed to your personal taste.

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Did You Know?
That Finland has the highest per capita rate of coffee consumption ?  In 2002, the average Finn consumed 28 pounds of coffee !

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