Artisan Coffee: Creating the Perfect Cup
The first coffee beans were grown in Africa and there are indigenous tribes who still drink the beverage today. Coffee is also one of the most traded commodities on earth, with more than 100 billion cups consumed each year! And because we love our caffeine so much, it has become a cultural icon. From seasonal specialty drinks to latte art, coffee has become more than just a drink: It's an aesthetic. The following blog post will explore how this came to be and what you can do to make your coffees as aesthetically pleasing as possible.
Brewing techniques have evolved over time with different cultures developing their own processes for making coffee, but all essentially follow these five steps: Grinding & Dosing (or Scooping) Properly Ground Beans; Water Temperature; Brewing Time; Using Filtered or Cleaned Cold Water, and Storing Leftover Coffee in Airtight Container. However, there are additional steps and techniques for making a truly perfect cup of coffee, which we will discuss in the next section.
The first step to brewing is having freshly roasted beans that have been ground into fine particles right before being brewed. While grinding can be done at home with most traditional stovetop percolators or drip machines, there has been a recent resurgence in manual hand grinders as well as electric burr grinder brands such as Baratza (see our review here) who focus on quality rather than price point. There is also an increase in small-batch premium-priced roasters and marketers who sell single-origin green coffees by bean type. (We're a little biased and think Salty Sailor has the best single-origins.)
In addition, there has been a recent surge in popularity for cold brew coffee that is brewed by steeping coarsely ground beans at room temperature with water overnight and then filtered before serving over ice; this process produces up to 65% less acidity than hot-brewed methods such as French press or pour-over while still retaining many of the antioxidant benefits inherent in all types of coffees including anti-inflammatory properties which reduce the risk for chronic disease like diabetes. Cold brewing can be done using an inexpensive toddy product, however, we have found a beautiful pitcher that works well for steeping but is also presentable if you have guests over for a cold coffee.
There are also many techniques for making specialty drinks that have grown in popularity such as espresso and latte art which requires you to know how to steam milk properly while not allowing it to scald by choosing the proper temperature of milk (ideally between 160-180F), frothing until stiff peaks form, then pouring into a shot of espresso with even distribution across all layers. Artisans practice for years to perfect their craft. Most baristas start with a simple heart but can move onto much more complicated, full art. The winner of the 2014 World Latte Art Championship won with an artistic rendering of a turtle.
No matter how you choose to spice up your coffee routine, coffee has become a lifestyle.