This month we are going to cover some Food Myths, and maybe squeeze in a tip or two and possibly a recipe or three. As to the first Myth well, let me put it this way Mom loves Coffee and drinks it all of the time. In fact, you could say Mom lives on COFFEE. Mom has one important rule if you want to remain Mom’s Friend, don’t call before Mom has had at least one cup of coffee. Please don’t ask Mom what happened to those people that didn’t follow that rule!
Coffee is called by many names, Joe, Dirt, Mud, Java, Brew, Cuppa, Go Juice, and Rocket Fuel, just to name a few. Of course, people like Mom refer to it as Nectar of the Gods! The only name that I know the history behind is Java, and that was one of the earliest islands that coffee was planted on by the Dutch. I have heard coffee called Mud because it was made thick and brown, or because it had set on the heat for so long it looked like mud. (Personally I call that stuff TAR.) Now in my house, my Dad made the coffee and he always said it wasn’t coffee until a spoon would stand up in it, also known as Navy Coffee!
The most famous Coffee Myth, the darker the Coffee Roast the stronger the flavour and the more caffeine:
Well, that Myth is half-right the darker the roast the stronger the flavour, that part is true. The other part couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the exact opposite is true, the lighter the roast the more caffeine per cup. To further compound the issue there are several different main coffee roast types and of course, manufacturers had to confuse that by breaking down those classifications with their own terms, terms that aren’t worldwide. Mom, originally knew only three roasting types Light, Medium, and Dark. Now there is Medium Dark as well, along with their associated subtypes . Roasting removes caffeine so the darker the roast. Hold on to your horses, you are going to tell me that Espresso which is a very dark roast has lots of caffeine, that is only partially true as well, the drink Espresso does the Coffee Beans (actually fruit) don’t! The drink has a lot of caffeine because the steam or high-pressure water used to produce that creamy topped drink literally forces all of the caffeine out of the ground beans. While the Darker Roasts have a richer and deeper flavour, they also have less caffeine and more bitterness; that is what a lot of coffee blends add Light Roast and or Medium Roast to their Dark Roasted Beans. By doing that they add a bit more caffeine and tone down the bitterness.
Coffee Myth #2
The finer you grind your coffee beans the better your coffee. False, Mom used to believe this 🙁
Now, this is where things get tricky the finer you grind the coffee the bitterer it gets. We will get into the choice of grinding coarseness a bit later.
According to history, we not only have the Dutch to thank for Chocolate (more about that in another article) but Coffee as well. The Dutch helped the worldwide spread of Coffee by taking seedlings from their Yemen Colony and transplanting them to Bali, Sumatra, and Java just to name a few. It is the general consensus that Coffee originated in Ethiopia and migrated to Yemen. Coffee is now grown in Africa, Indonesia, Central and South America, Hawaii, Mexico, and the Caribbean and many others. Mom personally likes Sumatra, Celebes Kalossi, Guatemalan Antigua, Mocha Java, Kona, Tanzanian Peaberry, Colombian, and Jamaican Blue Mountain just to name a few. Before Mom forgets there are two major quality types of Coffee Beans, Robusta and Arabica. Trust Mom you want only Arabica Beans.
CROCK-POT IRISH CREAM COFFEE by the Crock-Pot Ladies a receipt. Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.
Brewing & Grinding Coffee:
First of all, Mom believes that coffee in a can isn’t coffee it is something masquerading as coffee. There is nothing better than freshly brewed coffee from freshly ground beans. It isn’t that hard and takes a few minutes, you can use a Spice Grinder aka Blade Grinder, however, a Burr Coffee Grinder is preferred. These aren’t too expensive, however, if you really have $$$$ to throw away you can always buy a Coffeemaker with a Built-in Grinder. If you can afford one of those fan dangled machines please send one to Mom.
Most folks and most manufactures recommend using a medium grind for everyday coffee, Mom uses a slightly coarser grind like her coffee to be slightly chewy. The finer grinds are usually used in making Espresso or Turkish Coffees. Coarser Grounds are usually in the French Press Method and some Pour Over Methods.
The Six Common Methods of Coffee Brewing in Mom’s preferred order:
- Pour Over
- French Press
- Drip Coffee Maker
- Espresso Machine
- Electric Percolator (Antique)
- Single Cup aka Pod System
Mom will now give a quick breakdown of these systems, with their pros and cons. Some of these will be Mom’s own opinions, and trust me you will be able to tell those.
Pour Over Brewing Method:
While it is technically true you can brew a whole Carafe with this method, it is only good if you are going to drink the whole Carafe/Pot immediately that is unless you like drinking lukewarm or cold coffee. This method works by ‘Slowly and Evenly’ pouring near-boiling 195º F to 205º F (90.5º C to 96.1º C) water over ground coffee, most folks use a coarser grind of coffee in your pour-over setup. These can be flat bottomed type using a Basket Filter or V-shaped type using a Cone Type Filter. While some people say this makes the best tasting coffee, Mom thinks this method is messy, dangerous (Near Boiling Water!) and time-consuming. Pour water, wait, pour more water, well you get the idea. Be careful that you don’t pour too quickly or the water will overflow and or the setup will fall overs Dangerous and very messy. We will discuss the use of filters and types at a later time.
A benefit of using a French press compared to a drip coffee maker is that you’re able to regulate the temperature of the water so your beans reach the maximum potential flavour possible when brewing. Also, filters aren’t needed since a pressing screen is used at the very end to separate the grounds from the liquid coffee. We will discuss the use of filters and types at a later time.
- Pour your coarsely ground coffee into the bottom of your French press carafe. Use a ratio of 1 tablespoon ground coffee to 4 oz. of water.
- Bring water a boil (about 195 degrees Fahrenheit or 90.5º C) and add to the French Press Carafe. Stir to mix with the coffee grounds.
- Place the lid and filter on top of the press and steep 90 seconds to 4 minutes depending on your desired flavour. The longer you let your coffee steep, the stronger the flavour will be.
- Press down on the French press “plunger” with a firm, yet slow motion to strain the beans from the liquid brew.
A lot of Coffee Connoisseurs aka Coffee Snobs prefer this method of coffee making, however, there are some caveats. The coarseness of the grind and the strength of coffee you prefer determines the length of steeping/brewing. Plus if you not careful you can make a mess plunging or removing the plunger.
Drip Coffee Maker:
Coffee that comes from a drip coffee maker is brewed through a filter containing the ground, coarse coffee beans as boiling water is “dripped” on top. The filter leaves behind the ground coffee beans as the liquid passes through and into a decanter or coffee pot that is then used for serving. Drip Coffee Makers also come in two types of ground coffee holders, Basket or Flat Bottomed, or V or Cone Shaped. The Cone Shaped used to have the advantage over the Basket Type in flavour because the hot water had to travel a longer distance through the coffee, therefore extracting more flavour. That was because most Basket Type Drip Coffee Makers had a very small nozzle off to one side, that only let a small amount of water onto the coffee grounds and didn’t begin to get the full extraction until the basket was nearly full of water. However, the majority of the newer Drip Coffee Makers now use a nozzle with more spouts over the center of the grounds that showers a much larger area of grounds with hot water. Therefore negating those earlier issues.
Generic Directions On How to Use a Drip Coffee Maker:
- Fill the water container
- Fill the Coffee Basket with the appropriate filter with Medium Ground Coffee. A fine grind will slow your coffeemaker down and make muddy and bitter coffee.
- Turn on wait until Carafe/Pot is full and Coffeemaker turns off. Drink.
Pros, no handling boiling water, simple and easy to use.
Cons, most Drip Coffee Makers don’t use hot enough water to get the full flavour out of the coffee grounds. Plus a messy/wet filter and grounds to handle. The heating element on some units can literally ‘cook’ your coffee in its carafe. Thermal Carafes don’t let you see inside them. Mom after several hours of research chose the second-best model of Drip Coffee Makers that met her exacting specifications. Mom’s first choice had sold out in town, and it was far more expensive online. Mom purchased the model Mom is now using over three years ago and is very happy with it. Mom bought one that uses a round shower type nozzle, 250º F or 96.1º C, and has a Thermal Carafe. It brews a full Ten Cup Carafe, in the same time as others take to brew Eight Cups. The Thermal Carafe keeps the coffee hot for a good two hours. We will discuss the use of filters and types at a later time.
Espresso beans are ground much finer than drip and French pressed coffee, and resemble the consistency of powdered sugar, which are then brewed using an espresso machine. The ground coffee beans are placed into a portafilter, which is the handled part of an espresso machine that attaches to the machine’s gasket. Next, the brewing process begins when water is pressurized through the beans to produce a liquid.
Espresso machines are designed to force a small amount of hot water through the coffee grounds at a very fast speed, and a single shot of espresso can take as little as 20 seconds to brew. Espresso is stronger in taste than the other two brewing methods, and is also creamier due to the creamy froth called crema that is produced.
Generic Directions On How To Use An Espresso Machine:
- Grind coffee beans to a consistency of powdered sugar.
- Pour filtered water into the espresso machine’s water chamber. Use 1 oz. of water for every shot of espresso desired.
- Add espresso grounds to the portafilter.
- Use a tamping tool to pack the grounds into the portafilter.
- Place an espresso cup underneath the espresso machine’s spout to catch the liquid.
- Place the portafilter into its holder and lock it into position.
- Press the “start” button and espresso will be extracted in as little as 20 seconds.
Pros, makes a very strong small cup of coffee very quickly.
Cons, Expensive wasteful if you need a pot of coffee, however, some $$$$ machines will do both.
Mom does have a small Espresso Machine that Mom uses on weekends (okay sometimes weekdays too) Mom adds the Espresso to her mug before adding her coffee for an ‘Eye-Opener’. We will discuss the use of filters and types at a later time.
Electric Percolator (Antique):
Not wanting to give up her age but Mom grew up on coffee made with one of these, and since Mom’s Dad made the coffee yes Navy Coffee, Mom didn’t drink coffee at home.
A coffee percolator is a type of pot used for the brewing of coffee by continually cycling the boiling or nearly boiling brew through the grounds using gravity until the required strength is reached. Coffee percolators once enjoyed great popularity but were supplanted in the early 1970s by automatic drip coffee makers. If you still use one of these antiques use the coarsest coffee grind possible, and let it perk for no more than three minutes at the absolute most five minutes. That is unless you like drinking Navy Coffee, Mud, or Liquified Tar, then perk till the cows come home.
Generic Directions On How to Use an Electric Percolator (Antique):
- Remove the lid, the tube, and the upper chamber.
- Fill the lower chamber with clean water, and make sure it doesn’t exceed the maximum fill.
- Fill the coffee basket with ground coffee (one-two tablespoons per cup).
- Remember, if your grind is not coarse, you should get a coffee filter because it’ll prevent sediments from finding their way into your coffee.
- Fit the tube and the coffee basket together.
- The coffee basket (upper chamber) has a round hole in the middle, and that is where the tube passes through.
- The perforated top should be on the upper chamber.
- Now put the lid on the Percolator.
- Now plug in the cord.
- Next turn on the Percolator.
Mom doesn’t have much more to say about this type of coffee brewing other than this, Mom was one of the reasons that a lot of appliances like Electric Percolators now have such short cords. When Mom was just knee-high to a grasshopper Mom pulled an Electric Percolator off the counter and spilled hot coffee all over herself. Mom never did that again.We will discuss the use of filters and types at a later time.
Single Cup aka Pod System:
Okay, folks, this one is going to be mostly Mom’s opinions and no instructions!
Mom has absolutely no use at all for these machines that are absotivley posilutely abominations. Mom believes that they are environmentally dangerous due to all of the plastics that they produce, which then sendup in Landfills. In order for those machines to make you a halfway decent cup of coffee in under a minute, they use a fair amount of ground coffee to which they then add instant coffee to the pod. Otherwise, the resulting coffee would taste like dishwater. Before you ask, yes Mom, unfortunately, has had several cups of supposed coffee out of the so-called time savers. Mom will stick with her Drip Coffee Maker, thank you. We will discuss the use of filters and types at a later time.
We will discuss the use of filters and types at a later time:
Okay, folks, it’s that later time 🙂
For several reasons using Paper Filters especially unbleached ones are better for you.
- Paper Filters don’t need cleaning with soap and water after every use. Reusable Filters Do.
- Paper Filters keep sediment out of your coffee. Reusable Filters Do.
- Reusable filters allow more oils through the filter which can lead to more flavour.
- However, depending on your coffee some of those oils can add more bitterness.
- Paper Filters trap Cafestol, Reusable Filters Don’t.
- Cafestol, a compound found in coffee, elevates cholesterol by hijacking a receptor in an intestinal pathway critical to its regulation.
- Decaffeinating Coffee doesn’t remove Cafestol.
- Consuming five cups of French press coffee per day (30 milligrams of cafestol) for four weeks raises cholesterol in the blood 6 to 8 percent.
Mom uses Unbleached Paper Filters, however, Mom doesn’t rinse hers first like you are supposed to rinse either type of Paper Filter.
Mom does like her coffee Big and Bold like her Red Wine, however, Mom does like rich coffee, so in most cases, Mom does use Half & Half. Mom doesn’t use sugar though.
Well, that’s it for this month, next month Mom will have a bit more about the Nectar of the Gods called Coffee. More recipes and tips. Until then here is a bit of advice;