Monday, July 06, 2009

How to make coffee #1 Raw ingredients

Kenco promise that they use the same coffee beans for their instant and ground coffee products. That may be true enough, but that's more of an insult to the name of coffee than an enhancement of their instant brand. Instant coffee is to ground coffee what a McDonalds burger is to a steak. It makes a lot of difference.

Once you have binned all your instant coffee the next step is to acquire some ground coffee. This takes a bit of experimenting. To be honest most of the quality of a good cup is to do with the making more than the coffee, but there is some variation in the market.

It's fairly standardly sold by strength of coffee on a scale of 1-5, three is fine though the occasional 4-5 is worth it especially after dinner with some dark chocolate.

I drink for the taste more than the caffeine so you can go for decaf if you want. Grounds like Tesco's own brand are perfectly fine. A bag of Starbuck's Verona will serve you well. A good coffee drinker will get through bags of coffee fairly swiftly so you can afford to experiment a bit, go with the deals, go with what sounds interesting until you find some that you like. It feels more expensive, but compare the price at home with the price in a coffee shop and it's bargainous to drink good coffee at home (not to mention business-genius by Mr Starbucks and co to get us paying so much per cup in their shops... ).

update: I overlooked the question of Fair Trade coffee, see comment from Tom.

The other option is to buy beans and get either a hand grinder or an electric one. This certainly adds freshness but does add effort. With a hand grinder you'll be immersed in coffee aromas before you even boil the water. Once bought, store in the fridge, or in a sealed container - I use a couple of air tight tins, one for decaf and one for caffeinated.

13 comments:

  1. Hey Daddy Bish

    I enjoyed this post. It makes your blog feel a little more human.

    I use an electric grinder and love the aroma that is released. I've found that it takes quite a bit of whizzing to get it fine enough.

    Why no mention of fair trade though? It's a ground rule for me for tea and coffee. And if there isn't any on the shelf, I try and spot the manager and ask them to come and help me look for it. During the search, there is often the opportunity say something to encourage them to stock it.

    While we are on the subject I'd love to see fairtrade being expanded into high street clothes shops more too. It's hard to tell what the conditions and situations are for the people that made the clothes. Though with Primark etc. you don't even have the luxury of that excuse.

    Anyway, why no mention of it Dave?

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  2. It's a fair point, and the coffee I'm drinking today is fair trade.

    Could be:
    a) An oversight in the writing
    b) My lack of ethics exposed

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  3. Sainsbury's new fairtrade range is pretty good, the Costa Rican stuff is pretty much the bomb. I always liked Tesco's fairtrade Colombian stuff, though I can't find it so often now. I quite like Central American coffee it has to be said.

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  4. Cool!

    I'm loving Nespresso and Dolce Gusto at the moment - easy espresso with no mess...

    However, did you know in Sri Lanka, if you went to a house as a guest you would most likely be given instant coffee, while the rest of the family drinks freshly picked, freshly roasted, freshly ground, freshly brewed coffee. It's seen as a privilege to be given instant! My dad even prefers the flavour of instant over fresh coffee, for this reason, something I can't quite fathom.

    Tim

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  5. Hm, Tim that might explain why my pastor's wife, who's Sri Lankan, is happy with instant, while my pastor wants the excuse of a guest wanting proper coffee to make some! Favourite at the moment is Cafe Direct Palenque Mexico blend, if ground. I rarely use my grinder - but much more satisfying when I do!

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  6. I have to say, since knowing you Bish I now dislike instant coffee. Once you taste the real stuff, you can't go back!! Its a shame we live in this part of the world - when I was in Peru, we grew our own coffee beans, picked them, roast them, grind them and then have them for breakfast. It was so good. I will try to remember to send you some next year :O)

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  7. A) A bean to cup coffee maker removes any effort, Bish, but you may have to wait until your forties for this luxury.

    B) Interesting to think about fair trade tea and coffee. I've looked hard and I've never found fair trade tea (proper loose leaves), only ground down stuff. Of course, if anyone can direct me somewhere.... (to see what real tea looks like, take a sneak at www.fine-t.co.uk).

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  8. I remember the absolute worst cup of coffee I ever tasted was on a train from Ely to Cambridge. Don't think I even managed to finish it, despite having paid over the odds for it. What made it a learning excperience, coffee-wise, was travelling with a theology postgrad (always a good demographic for obtaining caffeine-related knowledge) who claimed that coffee beans only begin to lose their flavour three years after being picked; but three months after being roasted and three minutes after being ground. Don't know if anyone can verify this factoid, but it could be true and, furthermore, could provide a pseudo-scientific justification for anyone looking to invest in a coffee grinder.

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  9. I do know that coffee definitely changes flavour after it's been ground... and is certainly freshest and at its best within 24 hours. It can be quite interesting though to taste the difference in flavour in coffee after it's been allowed to react with the coffee... but ultimately, it will degrade the flavour.

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  10. Adrian, if you want some lovely loose leaf fair trade tea check out www.theteahouse.co.uk

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  11. Enjoyed these posts on coffee - thanks!

    Seeing as the issue of fairtrade has been raised...

    I'm becoming increasingly convinced that fairtrade is actually unfairtrade. Some research for an essay on fairtrade got me thinking in this direction (see, e.g. http://bit.ly/2sDTRE) and reading Jay W. Richard's new book "Money, Greed and God: Why Capitalism is the Solution and not the Problem" was pretty much the last nail in the coffin of fairtrade for me.

    One of Richard's greatest concerns is that Christians and churches very quickly buy in to things like fairtrade assuming it's a good way to help the poor, without having a clue about basic economics. I was certainly in this position and would thoroughly recommend Richards' book as a solid introduction to global economics and approaching it as a Christian. See http://bit.ly/ilgSI

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  12. James - I share the concern, on a bigger picture, I guess fair trade is good on a localised level but whether it really helps... but then does a pure free market help either... inevitably these things are complex! :)

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  13. Thanks Dave - I've read a few folk arguing that fairtrade can help some individuals on a localised level, but actually at the expense of other poor farmers and even also of their own descendants.

    Jay Richards does a good job of defining 'free market' at its best, showing how it can work, however it is indeed very complex in reality!

    Came across this article today, which I was surprised to find on a coffee retailers website - perhaps you've come across them? http://bit.ly/itN3zD

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