There a few things more rewarding than making yourself that perfect cup of coffee. Coffee connoisseurs may have their favorite blends, and professional barristas might possess tricks and trade secrets, but to most the vast quantity of information about coffee-making can be simply overwhelming. Do you know your Arabica from Robusta? And what is the best way to store your coffee beans and then prepare a fresh cup? Here we'll give you the lowdown on how to create a fantastic brew.
There are two variations of coffee bean to choose from, namely Arabica and Robusta. The latter is the more common variety, and is easier to grow in large quantities, while Arabica is grown at higher altitudes. Unsurprisingly, Arabica is considered the finer bean, and has a more robust flavor. It is also more expensive, of course! Most brands use a blend of both types, but typically with a higher percentage of Robusta.
Arabica beans have a stronger, nuttier flavor, and are also lower in caffeine. However, it is not just the variety that dictates the taste. The way it is roasted will also have a strong influence, just like the flavor of a fine wine depends on the brewing and fermentation process.
Take care of your beans
Whichever variety you prefer, coffee beans are highly perishable, and will be past their best if left open for longer than a few days. They are vacuum packed for a reason, and will soon start to oxidize and lose their flavor when exposed to the air, so only buy in small packs that you will use within a day or two of opening.
When it comes to storage, some people recommend keeping them in the refrigerator, but that can be inadvisable for a couple of reasons. First, it can make them harder and more brittle, affecting the taste and potentially damaging your grinder. And secondly, they can easily become tainted by anything else in your fridge.
Better to store them in an airtight container in a cool, dark cupboard to keep them at their best for longer.
The perfect brew
However good your beans, they will not taste right if you are using an ancient machine with clogged pipes and damaged filters, so it is worth investing in a quality coffee machine. Having done so, take good care of it and make sure you clean it out regularly after every brew.
Also, remember that an equally important ingredient to your cup of coffee is water. Let the cold tap run for a few seconds first, to ensure it is fresh and free from contaminants, and if you are boiling your water separately in a kettle, it should be very hot, but not quite boiling.
Sit back and enjoy
So there you have it, the perfect cup. If you like it sweeter, try experimenting with different types of syrups as a substitute for sugar, and last but not least, remember to drink it within 30 minutes to get the best from the flavor. Enjoy!