Bitter Taste of Over-extraction

Coffee culture like so many things is inate - somehow over the centuries a nation intuitively knows how best to capture the flavour of a particular product that they have consumed for generations.

For instance the British understand tea and can't understand why such an apparanetly simple product can be destroyed by so many of her European neighbours. Our European neighbours would I suggest in turn wonder how the average British person struggles so much to make a decent cup of coffee and 8 times out of 10 resorts to instant coffee.

I put it down to cultural differences, the different routes our histories took. So what am I getting at in the blog?

Well there is a tradition in the British Isles to make Cappuccinos in 12 oz cups, a reflection of the influence of the US. Which in itself isn't a problem, however what isn't understood is that to make large drinks like these, you need to use a decent amount of coffee. So why do so many places try to stretch the ground coffee to try and get an acceptable strength?

7g of coffee is simply not enough coffee, you can run all the water you like through it and you still won't achieve anything that remotely resembles a decent cup of coffee. The interesting thing is that if you go over to continental Europe and ask for a cappuccino you'll struggle to find a cup that's larger than 5 ozs. Why? because they inately know that any more volume of liquid will dillute the fine flavour of the coffee.

So if you are a coffee shop owner or making cappuccinos for fun at home please remember the following rules of thumb.

A 12oz cup needs a double shot of espresso coffee - that a minimum of 14g of ground coffee. You should only run a maximum of 2 flozs (60ml) of water through the coffee. After this the rough proportions of milk are a 1/3rd milk, and 1/3rd foam. Personally I prefer to "free pour" my milk onto the coffee following the texturing/stretching process as I believe that this will give you the wonderful mouth feel of a great beverage.

If you really do want to weaken the drink just add some hot water, or if you really can only cope with one shot of coffee (7g grounds), still only run 1 floz of liquid through the coffee. But please never run water through your coffee for much longer, you will destroy what may well have once been outstanding coffee.

If you're from continental Europe please ignore this blog as you're probably already doing the above without even thinking about it!

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