Author: Sandrea Lee

Magical Flavor of Gourmet Coffee Beans

If you drink coffee and have ever stopped to look at the different types of gourmet coffee beans, you might want to actually give some a try next time you’re shopping for coffee. Instead of grabbing that huge tube of ground coffee, the same brand you’ve been purchasing and drinking for years, or instead of grabbing that more expensive, smaller tub of “gourmet” ground coffee, break out of your coffee rut and give beans a try.

Some people already own a coffee grinder, or remember when their parents used to purchase beans and grind them at home. Some stores still have a grinder right in the coffee aisle. The beans our parents purchased and ground were usually not gourmet coffee beans, it was simply cheaper to buy the beans and grind them yourself. If you don’t have a grinder at home, coffee grinders aren’t expensive. You’ll enjoy the smell of freshly ground coffee beans. While some savor that rich smell when they open a tub or brick or pre-ground coffee, once you’ve inhaled the aroma of freshly ground beans, that tub coffee won’t ever smell quite the same to you.

Some people are who are very choosy when it comes to coffee purchase several different types of beans and combine them in certain combinations to get the coffee taste they want. Most of us probably aren’t going to take the time to do that. We know what we like when we drink coffee, and we know what we don’t like. In that case, gourmet coffee beans can be ideal because they’re already specially chosen and designed to offer up a richer, more complex taste that that bag of coffee beans you can purchase at your local A & P.

You don’t have to purchase the same old beans or ground coffee from your supermarket. You can break out of that habit a little with gourmet coffee beans you can buy online. You’ll find blends of different beans like the almighty Arabica, Jamaican, Columbian and many others, as well as beans that are infused with different flavors. You can find beans that will give your coffee a chocolate flavor, or hint at fruit or vanilla, or almost anything you can imagine.

When you’re looking at gourmet coffee beans, you literally hundreds of choices, and that choice can seem almost overwhelming. Most places that offer this many choices have information about different types of coffee beans, roasting times, flavors and hints of flavor and general coffee information to help you choose which type of coffee beans to purchase.

And don’t forget the people you buy for. Coffee lovers can truly appreciate a thoughtful gift of gourmet coffee beans. If you’re unsure whether they grind their own beans, you can purchase the beans whole and grind them just before gift-giving. While gourmet pre-ground coffee can also be a thoughtful gift, whole beans will give the person on your gift lift the freshest coffee experience possible, and put you at the top of their list.

Coffee Brewing Methods

For most of us, brewing up our morning cup of coffee is more than just a necessity, it is a matter of convenience. Each night, millions of us coffee lovers pile heaping tablespoons of our favorite gourmet coffees into those paper filters, fill the tank of our coffee makers with water and set the timer so that our coffee is ready and waiting first thing in the morning.

But why would anyone spend good money on the finest gourmet coffee beans or fresh ground gourmet coffees and use just any home coffee maker.

So if you are like me and you enjoy the finest gourmet and specialty coffees available, then you must also believe that they deserve the best and most reliable coffee brewing equipment available.

Here is a quick list of the most popular coffee brewing methods & equipment starting from the best:

French Press
The French press coffee maker (or press pot) is universally recognized as the best brewing method, allowing for the truest coffee taste and aroma. This method actually brews the coffee in the hot water (as opposed to drip machines which only pass the water through the coffee and a filter). After a few minutes of brewing, a metal filter is pressed through the brew catching the coffee grinds and then trapping them at the bottom of the carafe. What is left over is full-bodied coffee with all its aroma and essences.

One of the main advantages to using a French press, other than great coffee taste, is the amount of control you have. You can control the water temperature (which incidentally should be around 190 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature that drip makers do not achieve), you can control the amount of coffee you want to add, and you can control the brew time. Four minutes of brew time and 30 seconds of “plunging” time is considered best.

Another great feature about the French press is that it is extremely portable and only requires hot water. You can take it camping or use it in places with limited kitchen space, like a boat or an RV. Some press pots can also be used to brew loose leaf teas in the same manner.

As an aside, you shouldn’t leave your brewed coffee in the press-pot with the grounds after you brew it! Either consume it or transfer it to a carafe, preferably a thermal carafe.

Vacuum Brewer
Vacuum brewers aren’t very common, but they make coffee just about as well as a French press since the coffee and water are brewing together. A vacuum brewer has an upper and a lower chamber connected by a tube with a small filter inside. Coffee grounds are placed in the upper chamber, and water is placed in the lower chamber. As the lower chamber is heated, the water rises up to meet the coffee in the upper chamber where the brewing begins. After brewing, the water (now coffee) cools and seeps back down into the lower chamber leaving the used coffee grinds behind in the upper chamber. Ideally, the upper chamber is removed and the lower chamber is used as a decanter for the finished coffee.

Vacuum brewers can be electric, stovetop, or even used over a sterno can for dramatic tabletop brewing!

The Toddy Maker
The toddy maker or Cold-Brew Coffee Maker uses an unusual cold-brewing method that creates a coffee concentrate. This concentrate is then mixed with hot water to make coffee. The concentrate can be stored in a refrigerator and used to make one cup at a time if you so desire. This method produces a low-acid coffee, which is doctor recommended for coffee drinkers with stomach conditions.

Although this method of coffee brewing is sounds a bit odd, the result in taste is pleasantly surprising. One drawback is the amount of time it takes to brew. A good idea is to brew the coffee overnight. Once brewed, the concentrate can produce more than just one pot of coffee, so it’s not a nightly event for a great cup of morning coffee!

Drip Grind Coffee Makers
Drip Grind coffee makers are the most common and usual coffee brewing method that we are familiar with.
In this method, water is dripped over and passes through the coffee grinds and a filter and is caught by the coffee pot below. Despite being the most common brew method it also happens to be the one which produces a coffee brew with the least amount of flavor and aroma.

There are generally 2 filter options for the drip grind coffee makers.

Permanent filters: are just what they say, permanent. They are usually gold-plated so they don’t add any unwanted metallic taste to your coffee, resistant to corrosion so they are dishwasher safe and economical because they don‘t need replacing. Permanent filters are preferred because they allow for better coffee taste as opposed to the second filter option, paper filters.

Paper filters are the most common filter choice for the drip grind coffee makers. Unfortunately, paper filters can filter out more than just coffee grinds. Flavorful oils can be left behind in the filter and not make it to the finished coffee brew resulting in less coffee flavor and aroma. Since permanent filters allow for more liquid to pass through, the end result is a more flavorful cup.

As you can see, the most common brew method happens to be the one which produces the least amount of coffee flavor and aroma. Since, mornings usually need to be made quick and simple, most people have never had their coffee brewed any other way. If you are one of these people, don‘t just splurge on gourmet coffee’s, get a small French press maker, start experimenting and experience the truest coffee flavor & aroma in each cup.

Coffee Makers Need Well Grown Beans

As you prepare your morning coffee every morning in your kitchen, how much time have you spent thinking of where that coffee bean came from? Coffee has a rich and colorful past, and is now grown all around the world. Although it was first grown in what is known today as Ethiopia, coffee production soon began to be grown in many other parts of the world, on almost every continent. In fact, coffee is now grown in over 70 countries.

To grow great tasting coffee, you need a region with a combination of long periods of sunshine and times with heavy rain. Because of this, most coffee beans will only grow in tropical parts of the world, the most notable of which is South America. South American coffee growers, in countries such as Brazil and Columbia, now boast the largest coffee growing areas and with more than 400 billion cups of coffee consumed every year around the world, the coffee growing business is quite lucrative.

Most people, when they think of coffee growers, immediately remember Juan Valdez, the fictional coffee grower from Columbia. Yet, Brazil is the winner in the coffee growing business, with a market share of 28% of the total coffee harvest. Almost 6 million people in Brazil are involved cultivating and harvesting coffee beans. Amazing! Other countries, such as Columbia, Indonesia and Mexico make up the remaining top coffee producing countries. In the United States, Hawaii leads the way, with its Kona coffee becoming a popular choice among java drinkers.

The terrain is just as important as the climate when growing coffee. Areas with high altitudes are popular, as the sun will beat down during the day, and tropical rainstorms will keep the crop moist at night. Each of the highest coffee-producing countries has uniqueness that, somehow, works to create a taste that differentiates it from competing Brazil has sprawling plantations. Columbia and its mountainous landscape serves as the perfect backdrop for coffee. Indonesia, located in a tropical island paradise, has grown coffee since the 1800’s. Mexican coffee growers plant on small farms, but there are lots of them! Interestingly, Hawaii’s natural volcanic soil provides terrific growing conditions.

Many people think of Africa as an area of high coffee production, and this part of the world, especially Kenya and the Ivory Coast, is heavy producers, but do not compare – in market share or dollars – to the South American regions.

Many people enjoy expresso, which is a relatively new way to make coffee. The French and Italians have made this type of coffee their specialty, and expresso machines and makers are now a big business in the United States and in other parts of the world.

Coffee has become an extraordinarily lucrative business, and coffee connoisseurs the world over have their individual favorite regions and tastes. But no matter where coffee is grown – there is a market for it!