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Coffee Crazed

A few months ago, I wrote a post bearing the same title as this one. My aim there was to display my love for coffee, making clear that I'm not merely obsessed. Well, I think it turned out to be quite helpful, and as such, figured I'd follow that one up with another series of thoughts along the same lines. Without further ado, here goes.

Serious coffee junkies who employ a French Press as one of their primary coffee-brewing methods will be able to tell you, without much thinking, that such a brewing method generally requires a very course grind. Well, I'll be quite honest: I love using a fairly fine grind in a press. The reason? I think it generally results in a silkier, fuller-flavored cup, one that I really go for. Mind you, not everyone enjoys this, especially if those individuals are already averse toward brewing in a press, but for those who wouldn't mind a cup with a denser, more rounded mouthfeel, they may be pleased with a finer grind. It does help to have an extra nylon filter when doing this, and as always, it's important to have an even grind! Also, use a shorter brewing period; over-extraction is a nasty thing!

I love seeing a barista get excited about their work. They produce a product that is designed to be savored and mused upon, not guzzled down like a Mountain Dew or Gatorade. Unfortunately, most baristas never get to work with a product -- high-quality, freshly-roasted coffees -- that can truly showcase their abilities. Even more unfortunate is the fact that the vast majority of their customers never realize this.

Speaking of the barista, pulling shots of espresso truly is an art. Sure, there's a science to it, but once those objective rules -- appropriate grind, even dosing and distribution, proper tamping pressure -- are acknowledged and obeyed, there's still so much room left for feel. Said differently, one can be technically correct, yet the nose, mouth, and eyes can still unanimously declare the shot all wrong...and be utterly right in doing so.

Pay attention to the beans you're buying. They should be fresh, so by all means, ask when they were roasted. If they're older than a week, know that you may be buying a batch of beans that has already entered its peak flavor period and may, in fact, be past it. Don't be fooled into thinking a name has anything to do with how good a bag of coffee is; some of the best batches of coffee I've ever had have had names as innocuous as "Auction Lot #643". In other words, good coffee doesn't need some made-up mumbo-jumbo to make it just is good. And, just like the name, don't think that shiny, oily beans is a sign of a good roast. In fact, shiny, oily beans may be a sign of an old roast, one well past its prime. Light roasts will show virtually no signs of oil on the surface of the bean when fresh out of the roaster, but may produce light oil spots over the course of the next week or so after roasting. Dark roasts, on the other hand, may have oil spots immediately. The point to this comparison? My original one: ask when the beans were roasted. You wouldn't expect to pay the full price for a cut of steak that's been sitting out for weeks, would you? Nor should your coffee roaster expect you to do the same for beans that aren't fresh.

posted by Bolo | 9:30 PM
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