Coffee Knowledge

 

Proper brewing is essential to creating a satisfying cup of coffee.

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Here are tips to ensure quality brewing:

 

Water

Coffee is 98% water, so great tasting water is an essential part of great tasting coffee. You may need a water filter or other water treatment equipment to purify your water. You may consider using bottled water as well.
Coffee Freshness

It is best to purchase your coffee whole bean and grind just before brewing. Roasted whole bean coffee will remain fresh for about two weeks if handled properly. Keep it sealed in an airtight container (the zip seal from Christian Andre Coffee is perfect) and protect the coffee from heat and moisture.

Grind

Coffee that is ground too finely will result in over-extraction and bitterness, coffee too coarsely ground will be under-extracted and lack the full flavor potential.

For a cone shaped filter the grind should be like fine sand, not powdery. For flat bottom filters just slightly more coarse than cone is great. For a French Press, use a coarse grind, similar to that used in a percolator..

Recommended Brewing Ratio

The incorrect ratio of water to ground coffee will result in coffee brewed too weak or too strong. We recommend two tablespoons of ground coffee for every 8 ounces of water for a full flavored extraction.

 

Tasting Terms

Acidity
Acidity is an important characteristic that is often misunderstood.  It is used to describe the bright, sharp or vibrant quality that an individual senses on the back sides of the tongue.  Neither acidic nor sour, an acidic coffee is bright and brisk.

Body
Body is the sensation of heaviness, thickness, richness or viscosity perceived by the tongue.  Body is a perception of mouth-feel, not a measurable element, yet can be confirmed by an experienced cupper.  A good example of body would be the feeling of whole milk as compared to water.
Typically, Indonesian coffees will have a fuller body whereas Central American coffees have a lighter body.

Aroma
Aroma is a major part of our sense of flavor, without it, it would be impossible to describe the subtle nuances such as winy or floral.   
Professional cuppers often say some characteristics are more evident in the aroma than the taste.

Complexity
Complexity is defined as the coexistence of certain characteristics such as full body and high acidity or acidity and sweetness which would normally not be present in a single origin coffee.  Quality roasters create blends for this purpose (not to save money or disguise poor quality).

Flavor
Flavor is the overall perception that the taster perceives in the coffee.  Acidity, body, aroma and complexity are all components of flavor.  The following terms are used to describe aspects of coffee:

Richness- describes body
Balance- perceived equal levels of the elements that come together to create the profile or taste of a coffee
Bright, sharp, brisk or dry- terms that describe acidity in coffees
Delicate- a subtle flavor perceived on the tip of the tongue
Chocolaty- aftertaste similar to unsweetened chocolate
Caramelly- candy like or syrupy
Earthy- like a soil type characteristic (typical of Sumatran coffees)
Nutty- like roasted nuts
Fruity- an aromatic characteristic similar to berries or citrus
Sweet- free from a harsh flavor
Winy- the aftertaste reminiscent of wine (typical of certain African coffee)