Making the most of that special coffee and tea you bought this Christmas
A question we get asked a lot at this time of year is; “which is the best way to make coffee?”, and like all questions of this nature is almost impossible to answer as it really does depend upon individual taste. In our cafés for instance we make cappuccinos with ½ a shot of coffee through to 2 shots. Milk can be either “dry” or “wet”, super hot or just warm, chocolate topping or none, and that is just one drink.
So it’s easier to give a few simple pointers and then adapt to taste. Here goes:
- Make sure the coffee is fresh and ground correctly for your coffee maker. Once a bag is opened, espresso coffee deteriorates significantly within 24 hours. Filter and Cafetière ground coffee will last a little longer, but use within a week. Best of all, grind your own coffee beans as you use the coffee. This will allow you to squeeze 4 weeks out of the coffee before it becomes too stale to use
- Store your coffee in an airtight container. Oxygen is the enemy. Personally I believe in storing in the fridge, the cooler the better; others will say that the coffee will pick up flavours within the fridge. It won’t if properly sealed.
- When making the coffee, use freshly drawn water. Well oxygenated water reacts well with fresh coffee. Electric filter coffee machines need to be flushed through with water prior to use as the little boiler will always have some residual water from the last time it was used. Any other coffee makers should either be rinsed or flushed prior to use. Also by warming the container / machine the coffee will hold its temperature for longer.
- Don’t skimp on the amount of coffee you use. Too little and the coffee will taste watery, obviously the opposite is true. However you can always add more hot water if you’ve made the drink too strong, the opposite is not true. As a rule of thumb use 8g for a cup of espresso coffee, 80g per litre of filter or cafetière coffee.
- Take it easy with water temperature, the maximum you need is 90 degrees centigrade. A gentle extraction gives a far better balanced flavour.
- If you like milk, don’t overheat. It’s a whole different subject matter but at lower temperature it retains its sweetness. The higher the fat content the sweeter the drink will taste.
- Black, Oolong, Green or White all require freshly drawn water as do all other infusions. You need the water to be alive.
- Black tea loves freshly boiled water to open up the leaves, green and white teas do not. Infusions, that is herbal and tisanes aren’t as impacted.
- As a rule of thumb the smaller the leaf size the quicker the infusion. Tea bags infuse incredibly quickly, whereas leaf teas even small leaf require an additional couple of minutes. They also won’t become as astringent as tea bag tea. So be patient.
- Green and white teas can be re-infused 2 or 3 times. Flavoured tisanes can usually only take one hit.
- Tea bags are obviously pre-dosed; for loose tea around 3g per cup is about right. Bear in mind that 3g of white tea can appear like a vast amount of tea and therefore a little less is probably appropriate.
- Tea and infusions will last a long time if kept in a dark dry cupboard. Always helpful to keep the oxygen levels down within the bag.
- If you have one, try to drink tea from a fine china cup or mug, it always tastes better.
Keeping this blog simple has been extremely challenging so I apologise if I haven’t answered every permutation. All I can say is that a well-made cup of tea or coffee is one of life’s true pleasures.