Making Iced Coffee Drinks at Home

Making Iced Coffee Drinks at Home

Iced coffee beverages continue to grow in popularity. According to the National Coffee Association, between 2009 and the first quarter of 2013 iced beverage sales increased from 19% of menu items to 24%. Following the popularity of cappuccinos and mocha lattes, consumers are discovering that coffee is just as tasty – and even more refreshing – when served cold.

The percentage of American adults who drink iced coffee is 2%, but a much higher number (38%) of young Americans between 18 and 24 drink iced beverages.

Iced coffee can be as easy to prepare as iced tea. A variety of options, such as flavoring syrups, cold milk, chocolate and spices, allow you to create personalized coffee concoctions that are just as delicious as those served in your favorite coffeehouse.

The first office-quality iced coffee machine was released in 2008. In 2010, Keurig introduced the brew-over-ice theme. Major brands are creating products for the vending machine industry.

Increasingly popular beverages such as iced vanilla mocha, iced rum coffee and iced latte are easy to make at home.

Here are some tips for refreshing iced coffee drinks.

  • Don’t let your iced drinks become watered down. Fill an ice tray with fresh-brewed coffee instead of water, and use the frozen coffee cubes to cool your iced coffee drink without losing any flavor.
  • Pour the flavoring syrup into the cup first. To complete the drink, pour in espresso or coffee, then the ice, and top it off with cold milk.
  • Use a machine that produces a high quality coffee or espresso for your foundational coffee. Some coffee machines, for example, grind coffee beans right before brewing and allow you to control the strength of your coffee.
  • Be creative. Add a personalized touch to your iced coffee beverages with whipped cream, chocolate shavings, nutmeg or cinnamon. It is easy to make fancy chocolate curls from a chocolate bar using a vegetable peeler.
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Try A Thermal Coffee Machine For Your Home

Try A Thermal Coffee Machine For Your Home

For many of us, coffee is an essential part of the day.  A day without coffee is a bad day and a day without good coffee is just not the same, so your choice of home coffeemakers is important. You need to learn about and then select from the assortment of coffee makers to find the best one for your home.  May coffee lovers advise that you choose a thermal coffee machine for your kitchen.  If a thermal coffeemaker is your choice as well, you should make sure to check out the ratings on them before you buy.  Then you will know the best price for your machine and what features you want to purchase before you buy.

Of course, thermal coffeemakers are not the only option on the market in terms of brewing machines.  You can still get an old-fashioned drip machine or even a French cold press.  If you want something more newfangled, you can try the pod machines that shoot steaming water through a coffee-filled pad like coffee is make in a European coffee house.  You might also buy an home espresso maker if you are a real connoisseur.  Just make sure to search online for ratings and comparisons on any type of machine before you buy.

Thermal coffeemakers might win you over, though, because these keep your coffee hot for hours at a time.  You can preserve your coffee’s flavor and keep it from burning while it still stays warm and ready for you.  You can get a small one-cup-at-a-time thermal coffeemaker or a large thermal coffeemaker that holds 8-10 cups of coffee at a time, great for a large family or for your office.  Usually the carafes are made from stainless steel.  If they are double-walled then they can operate alone or together.  The double-wall carafe will keep your coffee tasting great at the perfect temperature all day long.

Some  thermal coffeemakers have 24-hour digital timers that you can program.  They may have other features like easy to change filters, auto shutoff, and gold or platinum permanent filters.  You can buy one that allows you to pour your coffee even if the whole thing isn’t done brewing.  You can also buy them with different color lids on the carafes so you can remind your office if the coffee is regular or decaf.

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Coffee-maker Basics

Coffee-maker Basics

The first thing many people do when they wake up in the morning is to fire up the old coffee maker. Most models today are very easy to use, all you need is a filter, some coffee, and running water. Hit the button and you can have a pot of steaming hot coffee in just a few minutes. Today, almost every home has a coffee maker of some type in the kitchen.

There are many variations on the coffee maker. The basic model is nothing special, it brews you a cup of coffee and that’s it. However, some advanced models offer much more. Many brands of coffee makers offer automatic shutoff mechanisms. That means that if you leave your coffee maker on for an extended period of time, or forget to turn it off before you leave the house, the machine will shut off automatically after a while. This automatic shutoff mechanism is designed to prevent the coffee maker from burning the coffee or even starting a fire if left for too long.

Then, there are  more advanced versions of the coffee maker that offer more features. Some advanced models sport timers, which are great for ensuring that you have a pot of steaming coffee ready before you even wake up in the morning. Prepare all of the ingredients, set the timer the night before, and when you wake up your coffee will already be made. You can shave ten to fifteen minutes off your morning prep time just by having a timer on your coffee maker.

In the early days of coffee drinking in the West, coffee was a special treat, consumed in special coffee shops. But people can now enjoy all the coffee they want in the comfort of their own homes. Some people probably thought that with more and more coffee shops opening up, coffee makers at home would disappear. However, even though coffee shops are springing up everywhere and are more popular than ever, it will probably be a long time before people throw out their coffee makers.

That is especially true with the arrival on the scene of specialty coffeemakers that make individual cups for instantly fresh coffee, and even home custom coffee roasters and home coffeemakers that grind the beans, brew the coffee, and keep it warm for you.

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Coffee Houses Have Always Offered Much More Than Coffee

Coffee Houses Have Always Offered Much More Than Coffee

When many people in the world want to go somewhere to exchange news, share ideas and get advice, they often go to a coffee shop. It has been that way for quite some time. Coffee shops have been places of learning; of making business deals; scientific, literary, political, philosophical, and economic discussions; and even the oh-so-common gossip.

In the earliest part of their history, coffee houses were already so popular that ideas born from there have been a source for political forums and discussions ever since. The inspiration of brilliant, coffee-inspired thinking is to the point that, at times, kings and nobility used it as a method of determining public opinion.

When coffee was introduced to Europe, during the 17th century, the popularity of cafés followed the same pattern as most coffee houses around the world still do today. The café quickly became a venue for people to congregate, exchange views, write poems, plays, and political testaments, conduct business transactions, participate in cultural exchange and often relax with a good book. In those earlier days when were the were no postal addresses, the popularity of coffee shops also served well as a mailing address, because so many people were regulars.

A typical coffeehouse shares common characteristics with bars or restaurants. They differ in that a coffeehouse focuses on serving just coffee, teas and snacks. In some countries, however, coffeehouses do serve hot meals, deserts, sandwiches, soups, and alcohol, as well as from bakery products.

Today, coffeehouses continue the tradition set by coffeehouses of the past. They still remain a very popular venue for people who want a relaxed and calm atmosphere where they can talk, read, catch up on the day’s event, meet with people and have excellent quality coffee. This desire is evidenced by popular coffeehouses with franchises around the globe such as Starbucks, Seattle’s Best Coffee, Peet’s, Cup O’ Joe, The Second Cup and the Coffee Bean.

Depending on the country and region, coffeehouses have adopted variations. In the United States, coffeehouses or cafes may offer a variety of coffee styles, hot chocolate and teas, as well as light snacks, while others serve full menus. Alcoholic beverages may even also be offered. One of my favorite types of coffeehouse also offers cases of books that may be read as you slowly enjoy your coffee.

Cafes in France almost always serve alcoholic drinks. Like most cafes anywhere in the world, they also serve light snacks. Other coffeehouses may have a restaurant area where the guests could be served from the full menus. The popularity of cafes in France, especially Paris, gave way to subtle coffeehouse variations like the brasserie where single dish meals are typically served, and the bistro.

The café experience in Europe spawned other variations of coffeehouses around the world. Some of these coffeehouses offer curb-side seating and others outdoor seating in places like the sidewalk, pavement or terraces. The seating is usually clustered along busy streets and operated by private local establishments and the activities often very closely resemble parties, especially on weekends.

These patio coffeehouses provide more open public spaces commonly preferred by customers wanting an airy and very casual atmosphere for relaxation and conversation.

Recently, a new type of coffeehouse entered the industry: the Internet café. Internet cafes may not appear to be your typical coffeehouse like the bistro, brasserie, cafeteria and the coffee chain establishments but they certainly share the same basic characteristics. Coffee, tea and chocolate are served together with light snacks and chatter. The chatting, though, is done online.

The Internet coffeehouse may not replace the traditional coffee shops, but nevertheless, Internet cafes are also a hub for political exchange, learning, and journalistic, literary and commercial enterprise. Only the styles of coffee shops have changed over the centuries, but in respect to why people frequent them, nothing has really changed.

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The Perfect Cup of Coffee Boils Down to Four Factors

The Perfect Cup of Coffee Boils Down to Four Factors
This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Chemistry of Coffee

By Don Brushett

Welcome to the second instalment in our series Chemistry of Coffee, where we unravel the delicious secrets of one of the most widely consumed drinks in the world. Here we look at how tweaking variables can make the difference between a velvety smooth coffee or a scalding, bitter mess.


It’s hard to get a bad coffee these days. Plenty of baristas have fine-tuned the process of making espresso, but really there are only a handful of variables they can control:

  1. coarseness of the grind
  2. temperature of the extraction
  3. extraction time
  4. the all-important coffee-to-water ratio.

Coffee roasters and barista schools have produced many impressively complex charts plotting grams of coffee against volume of water overlaid with concentration and yield. In the middle is the ideal weight/ volume/ concentration yield target for the perfect cup of coffee.

(Of course, if you prefer a latte, cappuccino or flat white, the milk is a whole other story.)

Here is a little graphic of my own that I will use to describe what happens when we change our four variables.

 

On the horizontal axis we have relative time, on the vertical axis the numbers represent amount. The curves are extraction profiles.

Caffeine is very water soluble and the vast majority of the caffeine is extracted early. The volatile oils, which give coffee its complex flavour and aroma, extract more slowly. The organic acids, which make coffee taste bitter, are extracted the most slowly of all.

So let’s go through each of our four variables in turn.

1. Grind

The coarseness of the grind and the extraction time are inextricably linked. The finer a coffee is ground, the more surface area there is. Conversely, the larger the grind, the smaller the surface area.

Let’s consider the two ends of the extreme. If we grind coffee as fine as talcum powder we have maximised the surface area available for extraction. Therefore, we can very quickly extract the target compounds – but perhaps too quickly for some people’s tastes.

Mark/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

Turkish coffee is very finely ground and boiled. This produces a coffee which is very strong and bitter and because of the fineness of the grind often contains a lot of suspended solids (muddy). The finely ground material may block filters too, causing the extraction to go on for too long – or not allow the water to pass through at all.

At the other end of the spectrum, let’s consider whole coffee beans. Of course, given enough time, we can extract unground coffee. This is quite wasteful of the coffee beans because the hot water may not penetrate all the way to the interior of the bean, so we throw away unextracted material.

Obviously, the optimum grind (coarseness) is somewhere between these two extremes, where we match the residence time of the hot water (flow rate) across the ground coffee beans with our ideal caffeine/ volatile oil/ organic acid ratio.

If you get a cup of coffee produced from a quality bean but it is too weak and insipid, the coffee may have been ground too coarsely. If the coffee is unacceptably bitter, perhaps the grind is too fine, with too-high levels of organic acids being extracted.

2. Temperature

Let’s hold all of our variables except temperature constant and see what happens. As with our coarseness experiment let’s consider the two ends of the extremes.

Temperature strongly influences solubility and rates of extraction. Yes, you can extract coffee with ice water. The three curves on our graph above get pulled to the right, so given enough time we can extract a decent cup of coffee. Cold brew coffee is made this way – ground beans are placed in cold water and allowed to “brew” in the fridge for up to a day.

Coffee can be extracted in the fridge overnight.
jodimichelle/flickr, CC BY-SA

The solubility of caffeine is moderately affected by temperature and the solubility of the organic acids is strongly affected by temperature. We would expect that a coffee brewed using this method would be lower in caffeine and much lower in bitterness than a coffee brewed using hot water.

Now, let’s extract our coffee using boiling water. The curves on our graph get scrunched up on the left-hand side. Everything gets extracted much quicker and the margin for error becomes much smaller if we try to limit bitter organic acid content.

Another complicating factor is that our volatile oils are just that – volatile. If we boil coffee, our flavour and aroma compounds get carried away in the steam. This can produce a coffee that is weak in taste, yet high in caffeine and organic acids.

3. Time

Let us keep our coarseness, temperature and water-to-coffee ratio variables constant and only consider the time variable. If we consider the ideal cup of coffee is one that has maximum caffeine and maximum volatile oils while limiting the bitter organic acids, we would consider 4 on our arbitrary timescale to be just about perfect.

If we only extract to 2 on the timescale we will have a coffee high in caffeine but weak, or underdeveloped, in flavour, aroma and bitterness. If we extract for too long, say to 8 on our timescale, our coffee will contain high amounts of organic acids, which can make it unacceptably bitter.

mckln/flickr

4. Coffee-to-water ratio

This brings us to our coffee-to-water ratio – perhaps the most subjective of all our tests. Too little coffee and even with all our variables optimised the coffee will taste weak. Too much coffee and the resulting brew will be too strong and overpowering.

This ratio depends on choice of extraction method:

  • for a French press, or plunger, where the temperature of the water drops quickly, we need to have more coffee per unit of water
  • if using a drip filter, the water temperature is higher than that in a plunger so a lower ratio is needed
  • in modern espresso machines the volume of water can be changed to taste.
    Generally, the water temperature is maintained within the machine at around 97C. Too little water and the coffee is weak and underdeveloped; too much water and the coffee is bitter.

The generally accepted rule of thumb for the coffee-to-water ratio is approximately 10g of coffee to 200mL of hot water. One heaping tablespoon is about 15g, give or take a gram or two.

So there you have it. Optimise the coarseness of the grind, match this with the water temperature and the extraction time and make sure your coffee-to-water ratio is in the right ballpark. Or you can go down and visit your friendly local barista, have a chat, and let them do the thinking for you.


Further reading: Wake up and smell the coffee … it’s why your cuppa tastes so good

The Conversation

Don Brushett does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

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How to Make World Class Gourmet Coffee Every Time

How to Make World Class Gourmet Coffee Every Time

Did you know that you can make a nice cup of gourmet coffee on your own at home? Here are some simple steps to brewing the perfect cup of coffee every time.

Start with Quality Beans.

One of the most critical aspects of brewing satisfying gourmet coffee is the grade of the coffee you start with. If you have a favorite flavor, purchase whole beans in that flavor. If you do this, it will allow you to start with the freshest, most flavor-filled coffee possible.

Grind Away.

Purchase a quality coffee grinder. The best grinders available today are fairly low cost, easy to use and easy to clean up. By grinding your own coffee beans, you’ll be able to only grind what you need, meaning that you will have complete freshness in your coffee.

Store It Right and Tight.

It is very fundamental to store your coffee tightly sealed. Air oxidizes the coffee and can make it turn bitter quickly. Metal canisters may also impart a metal taste to into the coffee, making it taste bad.The best solution is to use a plastic or ceramic airtight container for your coffee and coffee beans.

Also, store the coffee at room temperature because the moisture in the fridge or freezer can make it go bad faster. But if you think you won’t be using all the beans soon, freezing them is fine and will help them keep fresh-tasting longer.

The Maker Is Crucial.

The coffee maker that you choose to use, and its condition, is also critical to that gourmet cuppa. No matter what style of coffeemaker that you choose, you can get a good cup of coffee out of it if you take the essential steps to keeping it working at its best.

For example, you should ensure that the coffee maker is cleaned after each use. In fact, you’ll need to detail clean it, with the assistance of vinegar water, every so often as well. Your preferences can determine which style of coffee maker you will use. A coffee maker with a permanent filter in it is a good idea.

It’s the Water.

Even the water that you use is central to the quality of the coffee you will make with it. It is essential that you use water that is free from chlorine and too many minerals. Often, using bottled water rather than tap water will augment the quality of the coffee. Also, keep the water nice and hot. A good temperature for the water when it hits the coffee is about 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93.3 Celsius).

Use the Right Amount of Coffee.

It is also of utmost importance for you to use the right quantity of coffee grounds in the coffeemaker. Too much ground coffee and you will have a very strong cup of coffee and too few will make it to be too weak. Follow the directions provided by the coffee producer for the best cup of coffee.

Lastly, and probably the most vital aspect, of getting a great cup of gourmet coffee is to make sure to enjoy your coffee when it is hot and fresh. Most restaurants are told to keep coffee for less than thirty minutes, but at home, the best tasting coffee is the coffee that was just brewed, or at least that hasn’t sat for more than twenty minutes since it was brewed.

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