Friday, January 20, 2012

Fascinating coffee myths

Life in a cup of coffee
Coffee were once drunk in the faith of its medical effect on especially illnesses in the stomach. Since that period a lot of myths have joined the coffee society spreading numerous discussions threads across the world web. Today I am gonna express some of the myths and thereby sorting out some of the topics that the coffee society has busted over the last couple of years. This is particularly interesting because some of these myths once were the commonly accepted knowledge, but overruled by new science statements. You have perhaps heard about some of these myths, but check it out for yourself by the listing below.

1. The best coffees in the world come from Italy
There never has or is being grown coffee in Italy, unless if somebody in growing an indoor coffee plant. The Italian reputation is created by their companies ability to roast and blend for a good espresso shot. What makes the Italian special towards coffee is without doubt the average Italians perception of coffee drink being one of life´s essentials. The Italian also have a strongly passion for the moka pots rather than the espresso machine, which is why the most roasted and ground coffee mainly are designed for the moka pots.

2. Robusta beans are primary in espresso to give the correct body and crema 
Robusta was initially used in Italian espresso blends because of its low price, but the crema and body were a welcome side effect, if you could cope with the rough flavor. In the poorer south of Italy and most of France, people have grown up with robusta blends and are thereby used to the taste. In the northern Italy it is more common to enjoy an espresso from a straight arabica batch, for example sold by the world famous Italian brand Illy. The flavor and body of the cup are actually better off without the robusta beans after my opinion, cause of the significant dark and powerful flavors. The crema will be more present when brewing with the robusta beans, but ask yourself taste vs. crema? Conclusion is that most of the robusta beans are used in the world today because of the same old reason, cheapness.

3. You can judge the freshness of the coffee by looking at it.
In truth, coffee appearance depends on so many factors, including roast lever, bean oil content, storage, conditions etc. that sight is no guide, therefore is taste and smell the only reliable source for judging. 

4. There is only one correct roast point for each coffee variety, where the best flavor is achieved.
This seems to be a myth initially propagated in the USA by Alfred Peet, which Starbuck later on used for on commercial purposes. This myth stated that special beans was roasted right, when they were roasted for full city. This can be disproven by roasting a good quality bean (Kenya AA or Bududa AA) at a variety of levels from light to dark and tasting the results. All the levels will taste different, but they will all be good in their own way. Blending a number of different roasts of a single coffee variety may add some complexity and balance which is otherwise lacking. 

5. French, Italian, Vienna and Espresso roast are terms which actually define roast levels.
Except that you get a pretty wide variety of roasts in France, Italy, Austria and an Espresso roast could be anything. The only industry standard definition of roast level is the Agtron system and that relies on the comparison of ground coffee to standardized color plates. When people ask for French, Italian, Vienna or Espresso roast they are normally mean dark or sometimes dark and oily roasts.

6. You can keep coffee fresh with packaging.
I wish. There is a commonly known 14 rule, which indicates that roasted coffee is best within 14 days, and ground coffee is fresh within 14 min. Also when you roast whole coffee beans the flavors will be intact the following days, but after a period of 14 days, the flavors will have decreased by 50 percent and for ground coffee happens the decreasing within a couple of hours. BUT, yes you can keep coffee fresh a little bit longer by using a C02 value bag, but it also has a limited date of use versus the best before 2 year dates. A coffee channel tip, always remember to storage your coffee at room temperature and outside the reach of the sun.

7. There is a single grind level which suits most brewing methods.
There must be, after all, those pre-ground bricks at he supermarket have pictures of everything from plungers to espresso machines on the side, The truth is that for each brewing process there is a single combination of method, grind, water temperature and coffee which will produce the optimum flavor result.

8. It costs a fortune to be integrated into the world of good coffee on home basis.
Actually, you can spend a lot of money on the latest coffee model within categories such as grinders, roasters, stove tops, moka pots, press pots, espresso machines, tampers, portable espresso machines and of cause good coffee. But buying a proper press pot will not cost you a fortune and you can start buying coffee at your local coffee shop, instead of the supermarket version. If you home roast you can actually save about 25-50 percent and you can use your own oven for it!

9. You can´t beat the skills at the professionals coffee bars.
Oh yes you can! Anything that can be done in a professional coffee environment can be duplicated at home, although some of the more obscure items might take a considerable investment. You can roast, grind and brew coffee better than most professional establishments. What is takes is a combination of knowledge, skill, equipment, practice and above all enthusiasm.

 I have picked the best nine myths that I found relevant, but you can go search the web for more interesting myths, have a great weekend!

// Hendrup

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