You may think that good coffee starts with getting it in your cup and down your throat. You’d be wrong. That is indeed the end.
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Coffee starts long before you ever get it. Many of you know that it grows in the regions of the earth within about 1500 miles of the equator. I will not delve into the specifics of how coffee is grown or harvested, I have done that here.
Coffee has to be roasted right. It has to be done, but not over done. Coffee can be roasted to a number of degrees of done, from light to dark, from cinnamon to full city to vienna I wrote about that here.
What you need to understand is that there are a ton, a ton of factors that go into your coffee. We aren’t even done yet. The beans should be used within a couple of weeks, three on the outside. Buy small, buy locally roasted. Besides this will give you a chance to stop by more often and get to know your local coffee roaster.
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So at this point your coffee might have sat from a few days to a few weeks to a few seasons has likely traveled several thousand miles so that it can be roasted. Your roaster is your friend. They have to pour the love into the bean. If they are not passionate, your coffee cannot be saved. The quality will be off, uneven, horrible. You can tell. Now there is one exception to this rule (there always is one), Starbucks. This cold heartless soul-less coffee giant produces consistent coffee day in day out. Consistently burnt.
So now let us say you got your coffee from Buona Caffe, Batdorf & Bronson, Grass Roots Coffee, Simple Joe or Frankly Good Coffee (get the point there ARE good local roasters) and you are the proud owner of freshly roasted greatness. Ok congrats, now what? So if you go to a coffee house for this you need to make sure that you go to a place that grinds the coffee fresh PER CUP. Failing that certainly per pot. Hopefully you will have a place that will do a french press or a clever or hario or whatever.
Well you’re a nerd and you don’t go to a coffee place, you brew at home. W00t you! GO!!! Bust out your clever, or your preferred method (see above but don’t see Mr. Coffee). Start with your grinder, get it ground and get it in your cup. Is it that simple? HA! Of course not. You need to watch this all carefully. You have to have a grinder that can get you a consistent ground. This is important. An inconsistent grind will give you dissimilar chunks which will give you an uneven flavor profile. Do the best you can with what you have. You can get some reasonably decent grinders for not too much. Just shop smart (shop s-mart (those of you that got it will be laughing)).
So, how about some water? Yep water is easily as crucial or more so than even the coffee itself. If you don’t believe me know that water is 98% of your coffee. Yep, wrote an article about that one too. Clue, if your water smells like sulfure or if you are on a well and you have particulates or iron in the water, well, it isn’t going to help your coffee, at all. If you take coffee beans from plant to grinder and into your filter perfectly, and you put some nasty ol’ city water in it, you have ruined the efforts of hundreds of people that moved it along the Coffee Chain Reaction before you even touch it.
All of this to get to the perfect cup of coffee for you. This is determined by choices made all along the way. People you don’t even know have had something to do with how good your cup of coffee is. But in the end, it will be up to you to determine your cup of coffee. When you do drink it and its great, thank everyone that put effort into that cup. There were a lot of people involved.