Coffee How To

Coffee Roasting Secrets: How to Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee

It’s 6.a.m. The alarm goes off. And the first thing on your mind is your favourite cup of coffee. At least, that’s what over 70% of Brits think*. It's undeniable we're a nation of coffee drinkers, so we paid Extract Coffee Roasters a visit to learn about the coffee making process and how you can make a great cuppa at home.

Get to Know Your Local Coffee Roaster

Extract Coffee Roasters is found in the heart of our hometown Bristol. But they travel all over the world in search of great coffee farms. Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Peru. You name it. They’ve been there building relationships with coffee farmers, learning their skills and soaking up their knowledge.

Visiting your local coffee roasters gives you the opportunity to learn all about the origins of the coffee beans. The coffee roasters will help you decide what grind you need for your chosen brewing method. And most importantly, you can buy fresh coffee there and then.

How is Coffee Roasted?

Have you ever seen a coffee bean before it’s been roasted? They’re actually a pale greeny white colour. And it’s at this stage the beans are transported from the coffee farms to the coffee roasters so the quality and flavour of the bean doesn’t diminish. But what happens to the coffee beans once they reach the roasters?

Roasting uses intense heat to create a chemical change within the coffee bean. Sounds very scientific but it’s actually quite simple…

Step 1 The coffee beans are weighed and dropped into the drum of the coffee roaster. The drum slowly rotates over a gas burner to gently and evenly roast the beans.

Step 2 The drum gets as hot as 195°C. And as the beans get hotter the sugars and oils inside the bean develop. When the bean reaches a certain temperature it cracks, a bit like popcorn in the microwave. And it’s at this point the flavour's at its best.

Step 3 The time spent in the coffee roaster depends on the kind of roast you want. Light roasts take less time than dark roasts. And dark roasts, like espresso coffee, are tougher so they can stand up to the harshness of the espresso brewing method.

Step 4 The coffee beans are poured out of the hot drum and quickly cooled down by a rotating arm to stop them from overcooking. Once they’ve cooled down the Coffee Roaster looks for any beans that aren’t suitable to sell.

Types of Coffee Grind

Once you’ve got your coffee beans from your local coffee roaster it’s time to grind them. But how do you know what grind you want?

The ideal fineness or coarseness of your ground coffee depends mainly on your ideal brewing method. We’ve highlighted the three main grind types – there are a lot more but it just gives you an idea of the characteristics of each grind.

Coarse You’ll see distinct, chunky pieces of coffee bean in this grind.
Ideal brewing method: French Press.

Medium It has a gritty texture with some visible flakes.
Ideal brewing method: Drip Coffee.

Fine A much smoother texture than the other two grinds. It looks a lot like table salt.
Ideal brewing method: Espresso.

Under Extraction Your coffee is under extracted if it tastes sour and acidic. The grounds may be too coarse or the brew time too short. Or maybe even both.

Over Extraction Bitter coffee has been over extracted. The grind may be too fine and the brew time too long. Just tweak it slightly by using a coarser grind and cut down the brew time.

It’s all about tweaking your coffee to find what’s right for you. You won’t get it right first time. And if you do I take my hat off to you. But for those who need to experiment a bit more, take time to perfect your brewing method.

Coffee Brewing Methods

As a rule of thumb you should use 60-80g of ground coffee for every litre of water. This type of precision gives you the power to brew a great coffee every time. Yes, it may seem laborious but once you master this you’ll be waving bye-bye to mediocre coffees.

French Press 
Also known as a Cafetiere. This immersion brewer steeps your coffee for several minutes before you gently strain the coffee grounds. See below for a simple guide on how to use your French Press.

  • Warm the vessel by pouring hot water into an Olympia Cafetiere. Leave for 10 seconds then pour the water out.
  • Add 36g of coarse ground coffee to the Cafetiere.
  • Measure 500ml of water heated to 93°C. Or boil the kettle and leave it for a minute or so.
  • Pour half of the hot water into the Cafetiere and gently stir the ground coffee. 
  • Pour the remaining water into the Cafetiere and steep for 4 minutes.
  • Slowly push down on the lid, just stopping shy of all the coffee grounds gathering at the bottom. 
Uses steam pressure to force water upwards through a filter basket full of coffee grounds. The short contact time calls for a medium grind.

This single-cup coffee maker uses a simple push and pour technique. The AeroPress quickly presses hot water through the coffee grounds and filter paper to give you a very clean cup of coffee. You’ll need a medium and fine grind depending on the steep time.

Filter Coffee
Filter Coffee Machines do all the hard work for you. Simply add water, filter paper and your coffee grounds then just press a button and away you go. Use a medium grind for filter coffee machines.

Bean to Cup
Bean to Cup Coffee Machines grind the beans as you use them, giving you the freshest coffee. They’re an investment. But if you’re a keen coffee drinker…what are you waiting for? One thing to remember though, as with any machine, more parts equals more maintenance.

This method gives you complete control over brewing extraction. It takes about four minutes from start to finish if you use a 285ml mug. It uses a cone and filter to encourage water to flow to the centre, extending the contact time. You’ll need a medium grind suitable for this filtering method.

Of all the brewing methods available to us, over a quarter Brits chose Espresso as their favourite method*. Espresso Machines use pressure to force water through compacted coffee grounds. You’ll need a fine grind because contact time with the coffee is very short.

5 Top Coffee Making Tips

1) Buy Fresh Coffee

Supermarkets want to keep coffee on the shelf for as long as possible. And to do that they pick ‘use by’ dates well outside the ideal conditions. So what do you do? Buy fresh. Build a relationship with your local coffee roasters so you can get exactly what you want, when you need it.

2) Grind Only What You Need

Coffee beans can last up to six months. But once you grind them they start to lose their magic. So only grind what you need for the day. Or you can store your ground coffee in a Zyliss Airtight Container and leave it in a cool, dry place.

3) Don’t Freeze It

Roasted coffee beans become porous. So storing them next to something smelly in the fridge is only going to leak into the flavour of your coffee. Same goes for the freezer too. The moisture molecules in the coffee will increase and expand and cause tiny fractures in the bean. The result? A disappointing cuppa.

4) Start Again

There’s so many little tips to salvage a coffee that’s too bitter. And one of them is to add a pinch of salt to your brew. But what did the coffee experts say? Slowly step away from the salt and start your coffee from scratch.

5) Filter your Water

Water filtration is really important. A magnesium filter extracts all the unusual tastes and odours found in tap water. It protects your coffee machine from limescale build up too, which means you won’t have to maintain it as much. But most importantly, it dramatically improves the quality of your coffee. Win win.

Visit Extract Coffee Roasters to get your hands on 100% specialty grade Arabica coffee.

By Briony Cook
Copy Editor at Home Chef.
It's no secret Briony's passionate about food. She's always talking about it. And if she's not talking it's because she's eating. Briony knows a thing or two about baking and her colleagues love it when she brings in her latest creation.
*Based on a survey of 540 UK adults between 22nd February–7th March 2017.

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