What makes a great cup of coffee is different for everyone – some coffee enthusiasts drink nothing else but short and strong ristrettos and prefer their beverage black, without any milk or sugar, while others love to drink their light coffee from a large mug, sweetened and with lots of milk. However, what all amateur and professional baristas agree upon is that the perfect cup of coffee uses coffee beans of the highest quality and roasted to deliver the perfect taste, good quality, tasty water and the most suitable brewing method – here are some thoughts about all these factors.
The Coffee Beans
Beans of the highest quality come from the Coffee Belt, the area that runs along the Equator and includes countries, such as Brazil, Colombia, Kenya and Ethiopia. After being harvested, the beans undergo a roasting process either in large pans or in drums to crack the shell of the coffee beans open and to reveal their aromas. The best results are obtained at temperatures ranging between 180 and 250 degrees Celsius, the different roast profiles – light, medium or dark – being achieved by adjusting the duration of the roasting process.
Another thing that most coffee enthusiasts owners, agree on is that great coffee can be made only with fresh, whole beans – the pre-ground, packaged products available in supermarkets have lost a lot of flavor during the manufacturing and the packaging process.
The roasted, unground coffee beans are at their best between the 9th and 14th day from the roasting, so for the best brew, make sure your beans were roasted not more than two weeks before you buy them. How you store the beans and when you grind them is also important – the best way is to keep the beans in air-tight jars and to grind them right before the brewing.
The quality of the water used is also very important for the quality of the brew – what makes a great cup of coffee is not only the beans, but the fresh, pure and tasty water as well.
The Brewing Method
There are many ways to brew your own beverage. Different types of coffee makers deliver beverages of different strength and flavor intensity:
- Traditional, stovetop brewers are appreciated by many for the flavorful, medium-strength beverages that they make;
- Most automatic drip machines produce longer coffee, especially the ones that work with a filter;
- Espresso machines use the power of pressurized water to extract the flavor of the freshly ground coffee beans and they can be adjusted to use smaller or larger quantities of water for stronger or longer cups;
- French presses are popular for the easy usage and the quick access to the drink and if the grounds used are of high quality, the resulting beverage will be great as well.
Telling what makes a great cup of coffee is almost impossible as the answer is purely a matter of tastes, but one thing is sure: to get a great quality brew, you need great ingredients and a controlled brewing process.