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Coffee Connoisseur's Secrets

Coffee is far more than simply the brew that wakes people up in the morning. Coffee shops dot the city streets around the world with specialty coffee drinks drawing lines of customers. We will share the nuances of coffee from how to select the roast that suits your palate, to secret recipes of your favorite specialty drinks. We even have some marvelous recipes using coffee as a flavoring or spice to add a very special touch. If you love coffee, you will love these secrets. affiliate

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The Coffee Connoisseur's Secrets

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Brewing Espresso that is Just Right; Espresso Instructions

How To Make Espresso; Espresso Instructions
By Jonathan J., Jun 28, 2005

Brewing espresso is extremely dependent on the steps followed and the skill of the maker more so than any other method of brewing coffee. There are three important variables that are more difficult to control while producing espresso than with other methods. The three variables are:

Extraction length

With many other brewing methods these variables are controlled for you. However with espresso, the barista must be in complete control of these the variables to ensure a quality cup. There are several important steps to keep in mind when making espresso.

Grind coffee beans immediately before brewing.

Obviously the fresher the coffee the more full flavored the resulting cup will be. This is extremely important when brewing espresso.

Use a grind that is neither too coarse nor too fine.

As outlined in our article Espresso: Extraction Notes, a grind that is too coarse will not allow the water to remain in contact with the coffee long enough to produce quality flavor. A grind that is too fine will cause the water to remain in contact too long with the coffee resulting in flavor that is unevenly robust. Use a burr grinder which is better capable to produce a consistent grind than a blade version. If you do not own a grinder or prefer to have it ground at your coffee store, be sure to let them know the exact type of espresso machine you will be using so they can fine tune the grind for you. In addition make sure they write down which grind setting they used for future experimentation or to duplicate a grind that was just right. Keep in mind that if you visit different stores, these numerical settings may not equate to the same grind.

Use the correct amount of freshly roasted, ground coffee.

Using a small spoon place enough copy in the portafileter so that the amount in the middle is slightly higher than the rim amount. Using the backside of a butter knife or similar straightedge plane the coffee in the portafilter to a flat surface.

Correctly pack the coffee into the portafilter.

Using a tamper, gently push down on the coffee. Try to create a two to three millimeter space between the surface of the packed coffee and the top rim of the portafilter. Now gently tap the bottom of the portafilter against a hard surface to remove any coffee that has stuck to the inside walls of the portafilter basket. The coffee must then be packed again using more force, about fifteen pounds of pressure for home units and up to twenty-five pounds of pressure for commercial units. These are only guides and you should adjust based on experimentation with the result obtained. You should turn the tamper in a circular motion after pressing down on the coffee. This will help to ensure an even coffee surface for the water to penetrate.

NOTE ON PRESSURE: One method to get a feel for the correct amount of pressure is to press down on a bathroom scale with your tamper and adjusting based on the readout and desired amount of pressure to be obtained.

Brewing the Espresso

The desired volume of espresso to be produced in an ideal shot is 1 ounce. This is accomplished by a brew cycle of approximately twenty-five seconds. The brew cycle is defined as the length of time water comes in contact with the coffee. Here is a breakdown of happens after you activate the switch to turn the espresso machine on:

There is a brief two-three second pause before you begin to see espresso emerge as a light drip, during this time water is slowly moving through the densely packed espresso.
Seconds five through fifteen may continue to be a drip albeit faster than the initial three and the color should be reddish-brown.

The crema will begin to develop during seconds sixteen through about twenty-two and will progressively thicken.

After about twenty-two seconds, the espresso may begin to flow more quickly and you should look closely at the color of the crema which should be a light to a golden brown color. As soon as this color is achieved the brewing should be stopped.
This occurs at about twenty-five seconds, and there should be about one ounce of espresso in the cup. Any continuance after twenty-five seconds risks turning the espresso to a bitter, thin and watery tasting espresso.

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Monday, December 26, 2005

Coffee Shortage Worldwide Looms Two Years From Now

A world coffee shortage is looming two years from now as yields from Brazilian trees dwindle and a global surplus in 2006-07 fails to replenish stockpiles in producer countries, commodity analysts F.O. Licht forecast.

“In 2007-08, stocks could be at a critically low level,” F.O. Licht Man- aging Director Helmut Ahlfeld said Fri-day in a telephone interview from its head office in Ratzeburg, Germany.

Costs have risen for producers in Brazil, the world’s biggest grower and exporter of coffee, while the strengthening real has hurt earnings. The Brazilian currency has gained 53 percent versus the dollar since the beginning of 2003.

“This makes it difficult to embark on renewing billions of trees, which are now beginning to age and are past their prime,” F.O. Licht said in a report today. “Without replanting, yields will begin to slip back in the years to come.”

Yields from Brazilian trees will naturally fall in 2007-08 after a big harvest the previous year. Abundant coffee crops are typically followed by smaller ones as the trees require about one year to recover.

Brazil’s coffee production in 2006-07 will increase to between 40 million and 48 million bags, each weighing 60 kilograms (132 pounds), F.O. Licht predicts.
The Brazilian government has lowered its estimate for the 2005/06 harvest to 33.3 million bags from 39.3 million bags. Coffee traders estimate the crop will be between 34 million and 36 million bags, the report said.

Production probably will increase next year in Vietnam, the second-biggest coffee grower, according to the report.

“After this year’s drought, water reserves are now good, with the trees green, and a bumper crop is expected for 2006-07,” F.O. Licht said. Still “stocks in producing countries should be extremely low. Any surplus in 2006-07 may not be high enough to allow producers to replenish depleted stocks.”

Prices of Robusta, bitter-tasting beans used by Nestle S.A. and Kraft Foods Inc. for instant coffee, have gained 54 percent this year on the Liffe exchange in London. Vietnam is the biggest grower of Robusta. Milder Arabica beans, which account for most of Brazil’s crop, have fallen 1.4 percent this year on the New York Board of Trade. “Stock figures are notoriously unreliable and levels will only be known to have ‘hit bottom’ if prices make a sharp upward jump, prompting producers to sweep their warehouses.”

By Peter McGill
Bloomberg News