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    The Daily Grind

    The Daily Grind

    It takes three things to make great coffee; the coffee machine, the grinder and the coffee maker. Different brewing methods need different grind. All elements of coffee beans start to dissipate as soon as they’re ground, so to get the best from the beans, grind them just before brewing. Think of it as part of the coffee making process.

    Grinders are distinguished by:

    Consistency: The same size particle, every time.

    Granularity: Ranges from fine to coarse.

    Low Temperature: Heat alters the flavour and character of coffee. Speed generates heat, so preference low-speed grinders or a motorised grinder with reduction gears.

    Low-noise operation: Because if it sounds like there’s a plane landing in your kitchen every time you grind, that just ain’t right.

    Two Golden Rules of Roasting

    Two Golden Rules of Roasting

    Do you want to impress that significant other you just invited in for coffee? Follow these two golden rules and they’ll be leaving thinking you’re a professional coffee roaster!

    Record your roasts:  Keep a table close to your roasting equipment and try to note any changes to temperature, time and technique. Then when you brew it a few days later, you’ll know how to get that flavour again. It means that one perfect cup you created won’t be lost forever.

    Make only one change at a time: Did you get an exciting hint of cinnamon in your latest roast? Well, if you changed bean volume, temperature and time all in one go, then you’ll never know which one gave you that flavour. Be patient and go one step at a time.

    The Roasting Process

    The Roasting Process

    You don’t have to be a roaster to be able to create a perfect latte but knowing a bit about how your coffee is roasted can give you a new understanding of the power of the bean.

    It’s easier to monitor quality when you’re producing something in smaller batches and small-scale roasters are becoming more and more common, experimenting away in backyards and café storage rooms.

    The roaster controls the transfer of heat to the beans by adjusting airflow, gas levels, drum speed, charge weight and the most important, time. Each tiny adjustment can make a huge difference to the final flavour. Roasters use sight, sound and smell to judge how the coffee is coming along, watching it change colour, listening out for the loud noises and inhaling all that lovely coffee smoke.

    There are many ways to describe the roasting process, but it goes roughly along these lines:

    Drying: The beans steam, changing from green to brownish yellow and might start smelling a bit grassy or like bread.

    Primary Development: Beans start to give off that familiar coffee smell, turn light brown and begin to smoke.

    First Crack: Beans make a loud crackling noise, the sign that the bean fibres are splitting and they’ve started to roast.

    Secondary development: From here, the beans start to expand and darken as they caramelise. Depending on taste, the roast can be stopped at any time after the first crack reaches its crescendo and most single origin roasts are best stopped between this stage and the first few rustles of the second crack.

    Second Crack: The second crack is like a last warning, where timing becomes essential. It’s quitter than the first crack, more like the sound of crinkling paper. As the second crack gets louder and smoke fills the air, the beans become very dark.

    STOP! The beans are burnt. Any coffee made from these will taste a bit like rubbery charcoal. Back to the drawing board.

    The Discovery of Coffee

    The Discovery of Coffee

    A Goat first discovered coffee, apparently.

    Legend describes a ninth-century, Ethiopian goatherd named Kaldi finding his flock up on their hind legs dancing after eating coffee cherries. Or, as is more likely (though less colourful), he noticed they were perkier than usual and didn’t sleep that night.

    Kaldi reported his findings to the local abbot (‘those blasted goats annoyed the bejesus out of me last night’). The abbot then boiled the berries and noticed he was more alert for that evening’s prayer. He then made a few more cups to share with the rest of the monastery and the good word about coffee spread.

    Can coffee make you live longer?

    Can coffee make you live longer?

    Your coffee addiction may have some down sides (caffeine overdose, anyone?), but it may also be helping you to live longer.

    Two significant studies have found that drinking coffee was associated with a lower risk of death in both men (20 percent lower risk) and women (26 percent lower risk). There could be plenty of reasons for that – coffee is the biggest source of antioxidants in the Western diet and it can lower the risk of getting type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s even been found that drinking coffee decreases the risk of Cirrhosis, an alcohol related liver disease – excellent news for all the Irish coffee drinkers out there.