The holidays are coming up soon. If you’re a coffee lover, I encourage you to stake your claim to the coffee maker and take charge of the brewing process, wherever you may be! You’ll be doing yourself and those around you a tremendous service.
Picture a warm slice of fresh pumpkin or pecan pie served alongside a fresh, well-brewed cup of steaming coffee and you get the idea.
In fishing camp I insist on taking charge of the morning coffee ritual. It is simply too important to leave to chance. Sure, the guys give me a hard time, but I am secure in the comforting thought that they’d be lost without me ;)
The same can be said for coffee preparation during important holiday gatherings. Too often the coffee service becomes an afterthought--a random dose here, a dirty coffee pot there, a worn out spice grinder that hasn’t been cleaned since Nixon was president.
Now’s your opportunity to step in and be a hero! Here are a few suggestions to get your holiday coffee program running smooth (and rich, and full bodied).
When brewing for a crowd, let’s assume you have access to a standard auto drip coffee maker.
Over time, hard water minerals build up in your machine's inner workings. This affects the heating mechanism, slowing down the brewing time, which has a negative impact on flavor. To get things running efficiently, you need to clean and decalcify the machine. White vinegar is cheap and readily available for this job.
Fill the reservoir with equal parts vinegar and water, and place a paper filter into the machine's empty basket. Position the pot in place, and "brew" the solution halfway. Turn off the machine, and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then, turn the coffee maker back on, finish the brewing, and dump the full pot of vinegar and water. Rinse everything out by putting in a new paper filter and brewing a full pot of clean water. Run one more pot of clean water to rid the machine of any residual vinegar taste, and you’re good to go.
The Technivorm Moccamaster is the finest auto drip coffee maker on the market.
Grinders get dirty over time, too. Especially if you’re a fan of darker roasted coffees. Oils and old coffee particles build up and negatively affect flavor in the cup.
To clean your grinder, measure a half cup of Minute Rice into the grinder and grind it up just as you would with coffee beans. The Minute Rice will grab onto those accumulated oils and purge them from the grind chamber. Next, grind a half cup of coffee and discard. This will purge will remove the remaining Minute Rice powder from your grinder. (Avoid regular long grain rice as it is too hard and may damage your grinder’s motor).
With a newly cleaned brewer and grinder, we’re now ready to make a pot of coffee!
For auto drip brewing, we want a medium grind. If your grinder has a settings dial, shoot for the middle setting. If using a blade grinder, try for grounds that look similar in particle size to kosher salt.
Coffee that is too strong can be diluted with hot water and still taste great. If you’ve ever had an Americano at a cafe you’ve seen this in action. However, coffee that is brewed too weak cannot be saved. If you’re going to err, err on the side of too strong.
The most accurate way to dose coffee is by weight, using a kitchen scale. Shoot for a ratio of coffee to water in the range of 1:15 for very strong coffee, up to 1:18 for moderate strength. For reference, we like to brew with a 1:16 ratio, finding coffee at the strength to be full and flavorful without being harsh or obnoxious.
To make a full pot, we need to know the weight of the water. Don’t trust the markings on the side of the carafe; they vary widely among manufacturers. 1) Place the empty pot on the scale and then zero out the scale. 2) fill the pot with fresh clean water and place it on the scale again. This is your water weight for a full pot of coffee. 3) divide that number by 16. That gives you the weight of coffee to use. 4) Weigh out the correct amount of coffee and then place it into an empty grinder. Grind and brew.
If that feels like overkill to you, you can still brew good-tasting coffee by referring to the volume measurements that we print in the side of our retail bags.
Handy brew strength suggestions are printed on the sides of our bags.
These simple steps can work wonders to get your coffee brewing process in great shape.
Try this and become a Coffee Hero at your next gathering, and please be sure to let us know how it went in the comments section below!