Seven Tips to Ensure that Your Coffee Rocks
It saddens me when high-quality coffee beans are roasted to the best possible spot on the roast scale and then poorly brewed. It’s like running the 100 meters at a record pace, only to trip in the last ten with the finish line in sight. If you invest in good coffee and are hoping for it to shine in the cup, here are some tips for making sure the experience is the best possible.
The first step in becoming familiar with the world of coffee is to take a whirlwind tour of the “coffee belt,” a geographic belt straddling the equator to about 30° North and South (or the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn at 23.5° by some reckonings), at altitudes up to about 6,500 ft. Coffee just doesn’t grow well outside that belt. Then, there are other geographical considerations (altitude, climate) and cultural/historical ones as well. Once those are factored in, the coffee regions providing most specialty arabica coffee today are highlighted below:
NOTE: You are entering a no-judgment zone for this post.
One of my friends told me the other day that she was resorting to (gasp!) instant coffee in the morning because she didn’t have time to make the good stuff. Reading elsewhere on the interweb, I see that there is a common impression that it takes too long to make good coffee in the morning. So, help me figure out what “too long” means. How long do you have to make coffee in the morning? What are the trade-offs in your equation?
About four months ago, I attended a cupping at a well-known coffee roaster in Baguio City. I asked about the roast level of one of the samples: “Full City or Full City+?" I asked.
The man running the cupping sniffed, “Oh, those terms are really meaningless. Our roastmaster roasts each coffee to its optimal roast level. Period. That’s the only roast we do.”
Short Answer: Coffee flavors differ according to roast level, even in the same bean. To illustrate, we used a high-quality, very versatile arabica coffee, roasted it four ways and described the flavors.