Everything you need to impress your guests or hosts!
It's all about the beans
Coffee selection is similar to wine selection: if you pour Two-Buck Chuck into a decanter, you're still drinking Two-Buck Chuck. Now, that's totally cool, the decanter might make a small difference. BUT, if you are trying to impress during this Thanksgiving gathering, why not splurge a little.
Here is what you should look for at the store:
- A trusted roaster. I would suggest a roaster who is transparent on their label. If they take the time to show you it usually means they take good care in the roasting process. SK Coffee, perhaps? ;-)
- Freshly roasted coffee. Light or dark roasted, doesn't quite matter, just try and drink it fresh. 3-21 days is ideal, but you can stretch to 50-60 days.
- For the sake of our "brew to impress," find something from a single origin (usually country), or maybe, if you can, coffee from a small farm or cooperative.
- Finally, find something with realistic and understandable "tasting notes."
You've got the beans, now you gotta brew
Once you've got the beans you want to show off, you will need to demonstrate your amazing brewing skills. Here are a few suggestions for you:
- Ratio. Consider ratio while you are brewing. I like a 1/15 or 1/16 ratio (coffee/water). Here is a video I made.
- Chemex. This is a great classic brewing method. It's been an American icon since 1941. Here is a video I made.
- French Press. If you love your French Press, I would suggest changing up the typical 8-minute steep. I have a different approach where you grind it finer and steep it for ~2 minutes. Here is a video.
- Bonavita Auto Drip. If you have time and money to upgrade your auto-brew system, the Bonavita is by far the best I've found. Local to the Twin Cities, I think you can get it at Sur la Table and potentially Kitchen Window or William Sonoma.
Now that you've got your favorite coffee (SK Coffee, I assume) and you're a World Champ Barista, you need some talking points to throw in while your guests ooh and aah over the quality. Here are a few fun facts:
- Coffee's origin story. It is widely held that coffee originated in Ethiopia. It is the only place that coffee still grows wildly; like weeds on the side of roads and stuff.
- Coffee beans are actually the dense pit of a tropical cherry. It's true. Perhaps this is something you already know, but many people don't know this.
- Coffee only grows between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. This is by and large true with some exceptions.
- All coffee goes through some level of fermentation. Fermentation is an extremely important part of processing coffee. It is either used as a pathway to get the cherry rind off the pit/bean or in order to impart various flavor profiles.
- Dark VS light roast, neither has more caffeine. MIC DROP! Seriously?! Yes, but it's complicated. Generally, caffeine as a molecule doesn't manipulate at the temperatures in which we roast. However, there might be trace differences if you brew by volume (light roast has more), or by weight (dark roast has more). This is because caffeine is related to the density of the bean.
- Email me if you'd like more facts!