<![CDATA[Blog]]> http://caffeforte.com/blog/ Sun, 23 Nov 2014 12:00:32 +0000 Zend_Feed http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss <![CDATA[How to Choose the Best Coffee Maker]]> http://caffeforte.com/blog/how-to-choose-the-best-coffee-maker/  

(Image Credit: http://northcoastcafe.net/)

Coffee being an instant energy-booster is used by millions around the world as a stimulant. For some making coffee is a morning ritual. Their morning cup gives them the ‘kick’ they need to start the day. And then there are those who spend hundreds of dollars a year at expensive coffee shops. Fortunately, it is now possible to skip such overpriced coffee, thanks to the modern coffee machines. A quality coffee maker is all you need to brew a perfect cup of coffee at home.

Evolution of the Coffee Machine

Though the discovery of coffee is generally attributed to an Ethiopian shepherd, the first coffee maker was made by one Mr. Laurens of Paris, France in 1818. Much of its history has been lost to the ages. This machine was a rudimentary percolator-type coffee maker in which water was boiled in a lower chamber until it reached the desired flavor and color. The percolator was patented in the late 19th century.

Electronic coffee makers came on the scene in the early 20th century and remained popular until the 1970s when automatic drip coffee machines began dominating the world of coffee-brewing equipment.

Selecting a coffee maker is often like sorting through a morass. There are a myriad of machines and tools available, and each has its pros and cons. While shopping for a coffee maker this is the first thing you need to keep in mind. In addition, consider flavor as well as other features you need along with your budget.

Types of Coffee Makers

A large variety of coffee makers are available in the market to choose from. From single-serve coffee machines to drip coffee makers, the options are numerous. You need to first consider these features when shopping for the perfect coffee maker.

Percolator

Percolator coffee machines are making a comeback; the variety, however, is limited especially in the electric models. Stove-top percolators are popular with campers, while electric percolator coffee machines are common for home use.

Pros: Electric percolators have an easy-to-use keep-warm setting. Besides, these machines are durable. The stove-top variety comes with no counter clutter and users can regulate the brewing time, though constant monitoring is required.

Cons: The coffee turns bitter and takes a lot of time to brew. Stove-top percolators need electric cooktop or gas and it is difficult to keep the machine warm.

French Press

Made of glass or stainless steel receptacle, a French Press coffee maker is more popular in European countries. It includes a lid with a plunger as well as a screen filter. Coffee purists are in favor of French Press because of its supreme quality coffee. But the flavor generally depends on the skill of the brewer.

Pros: It allows total control over brewing time and temperature and produces richer, fuller flavor.

Cons: The flavor depends on the brewer’s skills as this coffee maker is non-programmable and not automatic. It needs constant monitoring.

Automatic Drip Coffee Maker

Widely used by Americans, automatic drip coffee makers come with a built-in heater that keeps the coffee warm. Some of these machines also have brew timers, which means you can wake up to a fresh cup of coffee every morning.

Pros: With convenient features, drip coffee makers require less monitoring. They are programmable and fast.

Cons: The price range varies greatly depending on the features and you will also need to purchase filters. There is no option to regulate water temperature, a major issue when brewing different types of beans.

Note: Stove-top drip coffee makers are good options for campers. They have a 12-cup capacity, but are only made by the Coleman brand.

Single Serve

These one-cup coffee makers are known for quick and clean serving but require more patience on the user’s part. Use pre-measured ready-to-use pods, coffee capsules, or K-cups.

Pros: They are convenient and produce great flavor.

Cons: The prices are on the higher side and they are also expensive to operate. Besides, K-cups or pods are harder to find.

Espresso Machine

If you prefer highly concentrated, dark and rich coffee, go for an Espresso machine. This is the secret of an Italian café that serves highly caffeinated experience and the finest flavor and aroma in a cup of coffee.

Pros: Ideal for gourmet coffee and brings out the full potential of the coffee beans.

Cons: They are time-consuming to use and are more expensive than other coffee makers.

Other Factors

Capacity: Consider your family size while buying a coffee machine. If you want to make lots of espressos, go for one with a larger water tank. Single spouts are better for those staying alone and who only need one cup of coffee at a time.

Size and weight: This is an important factor to consider. Decide where you will keep this appliance. If you are planning to travel with your coffee machine, opt for one that is light in weight, smaller in size and easier to carry.

Brand: Being a luxury lifestyle product, it is advisable to choose a premium brand when shopping for a coffee maker. If you are on budget, high street and supermarket brands can also be a good choice as long as you know their features.

Ease of use: This is another important factor you need to consider. We often decide on a particular brand or a product seeing it in a coffee shop. It might look easy to operate there because they have skilled staff handling them. In reality it is often challenging to get to grips with a coffee maker. Go for one that is easy to operate and don’t forget the star rating.

Making Your Decision

To buy the perfect coffee maker it is important to consider the time and effort it would take to brew a cup of hot and flavorful coffee. Price is another important factor. Speciality and drip coffee makers are good options though expensive. You must also consider the maintenance and operation cost of the machine. Finally, remember that sipping on a delicious cup of coffee is a luxury; do not compromise on the features just to save a few bucks.

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Wed, 12 Nov 2014 14:08:33 +0000
<![CDATA[5 Tips for Brewing Coffee Using a Manual Coffee Maker]]> http://caffeforte.com/blog/5-tips-for-brewing-coffee-using-a-manual-coffee-maker/

(http://www.pinterest.com/pin/39828777929031627/)

If the art of brewing a perfect cup of coffee every day entices you more than the thought of having to simply push a button to relish your cuppa right after you wake up, a manual coffee maker is definitely the way to go. You'll miss out on the convenience of an automatic coffee machine, but a manual one will make up for that in more ways than one.

A manual coffee machine allows you to brew your coffee with more control and precision. As such, you’ll get coffee just the way you like it. Your cup of manually brewed coffee will also be more flavorful and aromatic than any you've ever had.

Here are a few tips that will help you brew better manually.

Brew Only with the Freshest

Coffee, whether beans or ground, needs to be fresh so you can get the best out of it. Exposure to air, light, and heat can greatly affect the quality of coffee.

You can get freshly roasted coffee beans from your local roaster or specialty shops in your area. Remember to only purchase an amount that will last for a week or two. Coffee beans can be considered fresh even if they were roasted six months back but packed in a vacuum-sealed or nitrogen-flushed bag that you haven't yet opened.

While coffee that has been freshly ground is preferable, you can store a small quantity of ground coffee in an air-tight container in a cool place for a short time. Store coffee beans in the same way.

Always prefer coffee beans to ground coffee as the oxidization process begins the moment the beans are ground. The natural oils and flavor of the beans are released to the surrounding air the moment they are ground.

Grind Beans Evenly

You can choose to buy a blade grinder for your coffee beans. Blade grinders look like food processors and have a flat blade at the bottom that cuts through the beans in a circular motion. They can be used to grind coffee beans if you don't want to spend a lot of money on a grinder.

However, blade grinders are unable to grind beans evenly which can lead to the finer grains of coffee to be over-extracted and the coarse grains to be under-extracted. It is useless to go on grinding the coffee to achieve an even grain as the heat build-up during the process will destroy the flavor of the coffee.

Mill grinders or burr grinders can grind coffee beans evenly and you should definitely get one for yourself. The burrs may slightly shift over time so instead of relying on the numbered dial controls, rub coffee between your thumb and fingers to feel the grind and adjust settings accordingly.

Decide on the Best Size of Coffee Grain

Depending on the manual filter method you use to brew your coffee, you’ll need to decide the size of the coffee grind. If you are using a Chemex filter, a medium grind of about 0.5mm should suffice to prevent hot water flowing through the filter too quickly. This grind size also works for other manual filter methods. For a press pot, start with a coarse grind of 1mm to prevent coffee from passing through the sieve.

You can always adjust the size of the grind depending on the taste of brewed coffee. Assess your coffee- if it is bitter, it is possible the coffee grains are being over-extracted and you’ll need to keep the coffee grains coarse. On the other hand, if the coffee is flat in taste, it might be because the coffee grains are under-extracted. Grinding the coffee fine will help in this case.

Pay Attention to the Water

Filtered water is the best you can use to brew your coffee. Avoid using distilled water as the minerals found in water can actually enhance the flavor of your coffee. As such, you can use tap water but do taste it first. If the water straight from your tap tastes of too much chlorine or other chemicals, avoid it.

Use a kettle that can give you fine control over water as you pour it over the coffee during the extraction process. Furthermore, use the kettle specifically to heat water; you don't want other residue in it that can affect the flavor of your brew.

The temperature of water also plays an important role when it comes to brewing amazing coffee. Cold water will not be able to extract the goodness of the coffee, while very hot water will cause the coffee to lose taste. A temperature of 195°F to 205°F is optimal for brewing coffee. You can boil water and leave it aside for a minute before pouring it over the coffee for best results.

Never use water that has been previously boiled and cooled to brew coffee.

Enjoy Immediately!

Brewed coffee is meant to be enjoyed right away so brew only as much as you will consume immediately. You can pour the coffee into a warmed mug or cup to maintain its temperature. Pour it into a warmed thermos if you intend to consume it about 30 minutes later.

Never leave coffee on the burner for longer than 15 minutes or re-heat it. Doing so imparts a burnt taste to your coffee.

Smell the aroma, sip slowly, and savor the taste of your artwork. Note how it tastes a lot better, and also compare tastes when using different coffee beans, or making minor changes while brewing.

Measure out quantities of coffee and water for your reference every time until you find what excites your taste-buds the most.

Happy brewing!

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Mon, 10 Nov 2014 13:17:26 +0000