Wednesday, 24 August 2016

How to brew a better cup, for the average Joe

I'm assuming it's pretty well known that I like coffee.
That, would actually, be an understatement.
I really, REALLY like my coffee.
I've made that pretty evident.
on my Facebook page .........
on my Pinterest profile .........
even on instagram  .......

I LIKE coffee.
I like it black.
I like it hot.
And I like it "more".

The thing is, I'm just an average "Joe".
I'm definitely not a "connoisseur" of coffee.
I can't really tell the difference between "dark roast" or "robust", "blonde" or "medium"......
For me, it's really either just "really good!" or "too strong", or "too weak", or "too bitter".
I know what I like,
and what I don't like.

I like McDonald's coffee.
I don't like Tim Horton's.
I know, I know!
Horror of horrors!
How can I not like Tim Horton's coffee?!?
It's Canadian!

I know.
I wish I did like it.
But, I just don't.
It's too bitter.
I'm sorry.
I feel like a traitor.
I really do.
It's kinda like cheering for the United States during the Olympics.
Not that cheering for the United States is a bad thing, people.
If you're from the United States, you should definitely cheer for the United States.....
It's just that I'm from Canada, so, I cheer for Canada.
And I should like Tim Horton's.

But, I don't.
I digress.

I've read many different articles about how to make a really good cup,
but honestly, half the time I didn't even have a clue what they were talking about.
Everything was so complicated!
(Maybe you're smarter than me. This article  has some great tips.....I think. I don't really know. I couldn't understand it.)
Anyway, making coffee should NOT be complicated.
It should not be a chore.
It should be easy.
And fun!
And it should be the best part of your day!
(Well, almost the best part of it. Drinking it should be the BEST part of your day.)

Anyhow, I believe that I've finally mastered my perfect cup.

And I do mean my perfect cup.
My perfect cup may not be your perfect cup.

(Let's face it..... you probably love Tim Horton's!)

But, whether or not my perfect cup is your perfect cup,
I do believe I've discovered a few things that make any cup better.

So, here are 5 tips to a better cup of coffee..... for the average Joe.
(See what I did there?)

  1. Buy a better bean.
I know this probably sounds redundant, but seriously, you get what you pay for. I'm not saying you have to spend a huge amount of money on expensive coffee, but, buying the cheap stuff is going to taste, well, like the cheap stuff. Better grounds make for better coffee. You don't have to go right to the most expensive coffee on the grocery shelves, but, maybe you should try a different, slightly more expensive brand. Experiment a little. Going for coffee at a friends? Really like it? Ask what brand they use. This is what I buy from Costco.

 It's delicious! I love it! And, it leads to my next point....

    2.  Purchase whole beans and grind them fresh.

This makes such a HUGE difference! For years, I opted out of buying a coffee grinder. I'm not sure why. I think it was just because I didn't want to spend money on a coffee grinder when I figured it wouldn't make a big enough difference. I was so wrong! Grinding my coffee fresh, right before I brew it, is the best decision I've ever made! (With regard to coffee.) It really does taste better! Plus, the smell of fresh ground coffee is so fantastic, it would be worth the effort (which is really none at all!) even if it didn't taste better. It's all about the senses, my good people. I read in an article that, "studies show that 75% of emotions are triggered by smell which is linked to pleasure, well-being, emotion and memory...." So, basically what they're saying is, smelling fresh ground coffee = happiness! And really......who couldn't use a little more happiness?

    3.  Try a French Press

I know, I know! It's really hard to give up the convenience of your regular, counter-top coffee maker. Or, perhaps you have a "one cup wonder" machine, where all you have to do is pop a plastic cup into the machine, hit start, and voilĂ ! Instant cup of coffee! I promise you...... these are no comparison to coffee made in a French coffee press. It's just not, fellow coffee lovers. I'm enjoying a fresh ground, French pressed, cup as we speak, (well, technically, as I type.....) and trust me! It's delicious!
Ok. I will admit this one tiny problem with the French press. I don't really enjoy cleaning it out afterward. It would be pretty simple to just add a touch of water to the press, swish and dump into the garbage, but, I keep my coffee grounds for fertilizer. So, I scrape it out with a spoon or mini spatula, into an empty, clean milk carton that I store under my sink. I usually end up with coffee grounds on my hands, (which really bugs me) and it does take a little bit of extra clean up, but, it's still worth it. My taste buds say so! But, if that sounds like to much work for you, you know, because chucking the filter with the grounds right into the garbage can is you preference, (Hey I get!) you could try the pour over method. Basically, you place your filter in a pour over cone, add your coffee, and pour just boiled water over top. This method also makes a delicious cup of coffee. And when you done, you chuck the filter and grounds right into the garbage can! Easy peasy!
Here's why I've heard these two methods make a superior cup..... It's the water temperature. Without getting all technical about specific degrees, coffee tastes better made with water just before it reaches boiling point. So, in terms for us "regular Joes, boil your water, and when it quits boiling, pour it in the press, or over the filter! Yup! That's it! Super easy, right? Water temperature makes a big difference......... which brings me to my next point.

(If you change nothing else, change this!)

    4.  Start with fresh, COLD water.

 Really cold water. Run you tap until it's as cold as it will get, and then start your coffee. This makes a better cup. Honestly. The same holds true for tea. Starting with cold water makes a big difference. This is one of the reasons why I, personally, do not prefer those "one cup wonder" machines. The water sits in the reservoir for too long. You can't start with fresh, cold water. Also, do you even realize how many of those plastic cups end up in the landfill every year? Lots and lots and lots! (Sorry. Again, I digress.)

And lastly,

    5.  Add a pinch of salt.

I see your raised eyebrows. A pinch of salt? Really??? Yes! Really!!! The reason for adding a pinch of salt to your coffee is to reduce bitterness.  I've tried it. It works. I rarely drink coffee in a restaurant without adding a pinch of salt. As I mentioned earlier, I prefer my coffee black, and I often find coffee in restaurants on the bitter side. Often, adding a pinch of salt will salvage it for me. (And when it doesn't, I add cream!) I would also mention, adding a pinch of salt brings out the flavour of your coffee. Why wouldn't it? We add salt to food all the time, to bring out the flavour, so why not coffee?
Try it! Let your taste buds decide!

I must say, I've certainly been enjoying my cup (or three) of coffee while I've been writing.
I've implemented all of the above tips, I might add!
It really is delicious!
Next time you're going to have a coffee, try at least one of these tips and see if it improves your cup!

Two more, slightly odd, things to try if you're feeling brave.
Try adding a dollop of real, good quality butter to your coffee.
Yes, I've done that.
It's interesting.

Also, in the Fall, and at Christmas, I sometimes add a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves to my coffee grounds for a warm, earthy, spicy flavour.
And it smells divine!

Do you have any tips for a better cup?
If so, I'd love to hear what they are!