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Avoid "Poppy raking with snakes" ...err... "Coffee making mistakes."
23 November 2009


This is my chair.  I sit here and food magically appears in front of me.  That's good because I am helpless in the kitchen.  I know that big cold box is called a refrigerator and usually has food in it but it's beyond me how to get that food onto my plate in a form that is palatable.  I'm very grateful for my wife and daughters because I'm pretty sure they're the ones responsible for making the food magically appear on my plate.

I don't know if it's related but I'm also not a big fan of cooking shows.  When channel surfing I usually skip right past the Food Network.  There is one show however that I will occasionally watch and enjoy.  That's Alton Brown's "Good Eats."  I think he does an excellent job of being both informative and entertaining.

Alton Brown I was extra pleased to discover that Alton has an entire episode about coffee.  Of course I'd prefer if he concentrated on Kona coffee, specifically Kona Earth coffee, but you can't have everything.  Nevertheless, the show and accompanying recipe article, both titled True Brew, are entertaining and informative in typical Alton Brown style.

The very first sentence of the recipe article is "Buy quality whole beans from a reliable purveyor."  Of course I couldn't agree more!  Is there any better purveyance than buying directly from the coffee farmer?  Especially a farmer as charming, honest, intelligent, hard-working and modest as myself?  Ok, maybe I'm lost in the kitchen but I do know a thing or two about growing Kona coffee.

Bag Alton's next point is all about freshness.  Again, a great reason to purchase directly from the coffee farm.  He advocates purchasing in small, sealed foil bags with one way valves.  At this point in the video, Alton held up a bag just like ours (too bad it didn't have a Kona Earth logo on it.)  I've always claimed those bags keep the coffee fresh for at least two months.  Alton says three months so who am I to argue.

Alton also says:
"Grind coffee as close to brewing time as possible. For drip method, grind in blade style grinder for 15 to 20 seconds. For French presses, grind for only 10 to 12 seconds."

Yup.  A fancy burr grinder can give you more accurate grinding but a cheap blade grinder is fine for most of us.

"Regardless of method, brew using 2 heaping tablespoons of coffee for each 6 ounces of clean (filtered or bottled), cool water. If you prefer a milder cup, brew to full strength, and then dilute with hot water. Brewing with too little coffee will result in over-extraction, and that means bitterness."

Exactly!  What he said.

"When purchasing a coffee maker (either manual or electric), look for a model that brews into a thermal carafe rather than a glass pot designed to sit on a heating element. Continuous heating of coffee leads to bitterness."

See, I'm not totally helpless in the kitchen, I already knew all that stuff.  Although I would have also added a bit about how most coffees are over roasted.  Many large corporate "coffee purveyors" roast the heck out of their beans to hide the bitterness and inferior quality of their low cost coffee beans.  Hence, most Americans are used to over-roasted coffee.  It would be like eating nothing but burnt toast.  A dark roast can be good but a milder roast lets you taste the underlying coffee better.  Of course tasting the underlying coffee means you need to start with good coffee.

Now where could you possibly find a reliable coffee purveyor with good Kona coffee beans?  Hmm, let me think for a second...  <BAM!>

Kona Earth

I know Alton Brown doesn't do that "<BAM>" thing, that's the other cooking show dude.  I wonder if he's ever done an entire episode on coffee.

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