Guest Post by Kevin Sinnott
Starting out in married life has enough challenges without having to drink bad coffee in the mornings. The days of stopping off at four-bucks before work may be over too especially if long term goals include saving for a house. Then don’t forget that one of life’s greatest pleasures is lingering over a cup of coffee at your own breakfast table with the love of your life. So perhaps the most important item when registering is finding the perfect coffeemaker.
Much of coffee’s flavor comes from brewing. Coffee improperly brewed cannot begin to produce the sweet subtle taste and aroma. Experts prefer lesser quality coffee properly brewed than a top grade coffee brewed improperly. The vast majority of coffee at home is brewed using automatic drip coffeemakers. These devices are automatic in that the basic parameters are programmed into them. Coffee is brewed by heating water to the desired temperature and placing it in contact with the coffee grounds for a predetermined time period.
Automatic drip brewers require high quality, efficient heating elements to accomplish this and you may have to pay a little more for them. They must have intelligently designed brewing chambers and shower-heads that get all the grounds wet and are able to keep water flowing around the grounds and through the exit below. If the water runs through too quickly, the coffee will be thin and weak. If it runs through too slowly, the coffee will become too strong and bitter.
Read the reviews about the various models before you go to the store. The following are the best tips to get the best from your coffee:
- Brewing Temperature – Coffee is best brewed at between 195°F and 205°F. Many automatic drip makers are designed using cheap heating blocks. These brewers cannot get water hot enough nor can they heat the large quantity of water expected to brew say 12 cups. These brewers often take between 10 and 14 minutes to make a full batch of coffee. The beginning of the brewing the water will be too cool to fully extract the coffee oils and at the end the water may actually be too hot as it becomes steam.
- Contact time – Drip coffee tastes best when brewing contact time between the hot water and grounds does not exceed 6 minutes. After six minutes, ground coffee begins to give off more tannic oils which are far more bitter in taste. Consumers often respond by using less ground coffee next time they brew, which only makes for weaker, but still bitter brew.
- Full coverage shower-head – All coffee grounds should be fully immersed in water to fully extract coffee oils during brewing. Many coffeemakers shower-heads are unable to produce a stream that covers a full bed of coffee grounds. Those grounds near the top and sides often stay dry through the brewing cycle, and are never extracted. It is critical that all of the grounds are submerged in hot water for the entire brewing cycle.
- Buy a brewer that brews the amount you’ll want most of the time. Most coffee brewers brew best at full volume. Most people err on buying as large a brewer as they can find, yet they only need a couple of cups each morning, when coffeemakers get most of their use. This is either wasteful as the consumer makes more coffee than they need, or the coffeemaker does not perform its best, as automatic brewers are optimized for a full batch. It is very difficult to design an automatic drip machine that will make a ½ batch that equals a full batch.
- Permanent filters save money, but some people prefer coffee minus any sediment. A purer cup is possible using paper filters. Permanent filters allow at least some fine grounds through the brewer and into your cup. Whether this is desirable or not is a matter of personal taste. It is a myth that paper filters prevent full flavored coffee. Indeed many professional coffee tasters prefer paper filtered coffee.
- Extra features such as timers, water filters, brew pauses that allow you to grab a cup mid-cycle may add convenience, but not really necessary to properly brew coffee.
- Water filters remove chlorine but do not otherwise soften water. If you use bottled water, onboard water filtration is an unnecessary expense. Water filters must be changed regularly.
- If you keep coffee warm past 20 minutes, consider a thermal carafe rather than a glass carafe as coffee will keep fresh tasting longer, up to an hour or so.
So there you have it. Chose a model that has great brewing specs not extra features. Do this and you’re on your way to a life together filled with great happiness and great flavor. Check out my video coffeemaker reviews at Coffee Companion.
©2011 Kevin Sinnott All rights reserved.