What is Espresso?

What is Espresso?
http://www.nationalespressoday.com/

Anatomy of Espresso
What is Espresso?

Contrary to popular belief, espresso is not a specific bean or roast level. Any bean or roast level can be used to make espresso. What makes espresso espresso is its brewing method, which is made by forcing pressurized hot water through finely ground coffee to create a concentrated coffee topped with a delicate foam, called a crema.

The crema should be thin and foamy with a golden-brown and sometimes slightly reddish color. The crema has a sweet flavor as it contains the espresso’s concentrated sugars and oils. The body is the middle layer and it is typically caramel-brown in color. The bottom of an espresso, known as the heart, should have a deep brown tone. The heart contains the bitterness that provides a balance to the sweetness of the crema.

While there is no universal standard in how to make the perfect espresso, it is often thought that the quality of the ultimate espresso comes from the four Ms:
Macinazione – correct grinding of the coffee bean
Macchina – the espresso machine
Miscela – the coffee blend
Mano – the skilled hand of the person making the coffee

 

The Origins of Espresso

Espresso made its debut in Italy in the early 20th century, at a time when coffee had already been a staple of Italian life for hundreds of years. Espresso lovers owe a debt of gratitude to Italy’s Luigi Bezzera, the owner of a manufacturing plant who set out to shorten the length of time it took to make a cup of coffee. It’s unclear whether he was motivated to speed up the brewing process out of frustration over how long it took for him to make his morning coffee or whether he was motivated by a desire to shorten  his employees’ coffee breaks.

In any case, Bezzera discovered that adding steam pressure to the process produced a stronger and more robust cup of coffee. The machine used in this new quick-brew process was named the Fast Coffee Machine. The beverage produced by this machine would become known as espresso – or “fast” in Italian. In the end, Signore Bezzera wasn’t nearly as talented at marketing and sales as he was at engineering. In 1905, Desidero Pavoni purchased the rights to the machine from Bezzera and took out a patent on it. It is largely due to Pavoni’s marketing expertise that espresso grew in popularity.

In the early 1940s, Achille Gaggia’s piston-based machine greatly enhanced the quality of espresso by eliminating the burnt flavor and making it  thicker. Used commercially at first, Gaggia’s and other espresso machines gradually became available for use at home.

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How Good is the Bodum Electric French Press

—Ed Perratore

This is a review of the Bodum Electric French Press

In the ongoing quest to brew a perfect cup of coffee at home, some manufacturers are making electric coffeemakers that mimic the manual French press machines preferred by many aficionados. But leave it to Bodum—a long-time player in traditional French presses—to come out with a true electric French-press coffeemaker, complete with the popular plunger. We just added it to our Ratings of coffeemakers of this type.

Cleverly, the Bodum Bistro Electric French Press 11462, $60, doesn’t automate the entire process. It leaves the important last step, pushing down the plunger, for purists.  Here’s how it works: Fill the reservoir on the right-side of the machine with up to 17 ounces of water, then add ground coffee to the carafe on the left and snap on the lid. Once the hot water has soaked the grounds, remove the carafe from the warming plate and replace the lid with another that includes a built-in plunger. After four minutes of steeping time, gently push the plunger down to trap the grounds prior to pouring.

You might like the way the coffee tastes, and we found the pitcher balanced and easy to hold. But we weren’t enamored with the rest of the process. Both lids required aligning tabs with slots to keep them in place and we needed to wiggle the pitcher around to get it off the warming plate. And it’s not exactly a cinch to clean. The Bodum comes in a number of bright colors including the lime green one we tested, red, white, and black.

Read more at http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2013/12/bodum-bistro-is-a-true-electric-french-press-coffeemaker/index.htm

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Arabica versus Robusta the Conversation Continues

 

Arabica vs. Robusta the conversation continues

by Kenneth Davids
posted in coffeereview.com

Need a quick hit of caffeine? Then make your next cup of coffee Robusta. It has twice as much caffeine as Arabica! Arabica beans are the Champagne of  coffee, and are in danger today because of global warming. They do best in sub-tropical conditions and need more altitude than their hardier cousins in Robusta Land. Arabica bushes are quite sensitive to climate and pests and give off a much more delicate aroma than Robusta beans. Supermarket coffees go heavy on Robusta, while Arabica is the stuff of gourmet blends. Arabica is sweet and fruity, Robusta is…well, robusta! Here is an article that contains interesting information about the Arabica versus Robusta issue.

. I’m here in El Salvador for “Let’s Talk Coffee,” a yearly meeting of mostly small-holding coffee producers, roasters, importer and exporters, and development agencies. It’s sponsored by Sustainable Harvest, a long-time pioneering American importer of cooperative and small-producer coffees.

I came here in part to deliver a presentation on Robusta coffees. It was part of a string of presentations and cuppings focused on exploring Robusta in a specialty coffee context. Conversations on Robusta are increasingly urgent in specialty coffee events for several reasons, all of them at bottom pushed by anxiety about the impact of global warming on Arabica production, particularly production of lower elevation Arabicas. Arabica is a very fussy plant in respect to temperatures, and as global temperatures rise more and more regions of Arabica production are being stressed by changes in rainfall patterns, higher temperatures, and intensified pest infestations like the latest leaf rust outbreak here in Central America. Robusta, of course, grows at a much wider range of elevations (though it cups best when grown at higher elevations) and is much hardier than Arabica.

Read more at

 

 

Arabica vs. Robusta: the conversation continues

by Kenneth Davids

Need a quick hit of caffeine? Then make your next cup of coffee Robusta. It has twice as much caffeine as Arabica! Arabica beans are the Champagne of  coffee, and are in danger today because of global warming. They do best in sub-tropical conditions and need more altitude than their hardier cousins in Robusta Land. Arabica bushes are quite sensitive to climate and pests and give off a much more delicate aroma than Robusta beans. Supermarket coffees go heavy on Robusta, while Arabica is the stuff of gourmet blends. Arabica is sweet and fruity, Robusta is…well, robusta!

. I’m here in El Salvador for “Let’s Talk Coffee,” a yearly meeting of mostly small-holding coffee producers, roasters, importer and exporters, and development agencies. It’s sponsored by Sustainable Harvest, a long-time pioneering American importer of cooperative and small-producer coffees.

 I came here in part to deliver a presentation on Robusta coffees. It was part of a string of presentations and cuppings focused on exploring Robusta in a specialty coffee context. Conversations on Robusta are increasingly urgent in specialty coffee events for several reasons, all of them at bottom pushed by anxiety about the impact of global warming on Arabica production, particularly production of lower elevation Arabicas. Arabica is a very fussy plant in respect to temperatures, and as global temperatures rise more and more regions of Arabica production are being stressed by changes in rainfall patterns, higher temperatures, and intensified pest infestations like the latest leaf rust outbreak here in Central America. Robusta, of course, grows at a much wider range of elevations (though it cups best when grown at higher elevations) and is much hardier than Arabica.

Read more at

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The Moka Pot

Home Coffee Makers…the Moka Pot

From Italy…the Moka Pot brings you great almost-espresso coffee for the home con amore

From America’s Test Kitchen

I first used a moka pot almost 20 years ago, and have found no other relatively inexpensive home coffee makers that delivered as strong and as good a cup of coffee if you like your daily java to be espresso-like in strength.
Certain things to keep in mind when using this coffee maker are the ground that you’re using and the amount of brewing time you allow.
You’ll want to use an espresso grind. A coarser grind will not allow for the right steam-coffee mixture to effectively permeate the coffee and those extra-fine, middle-eastern-type grounds will also be ineffective.

ALSO this pot is not “burner-independent” as are the famous French Press and Swiss Gold filter cup.It only takes a few minutes for the smaller sizes of moka pot to brew so don’t leave your stove burner unattended or you will end up with a badly scorched coffee maker and a burner that is encrusted with metal from the bottom of the coffee pot. I have lost two moka pots this way.

Overview:

Often referred to as poor-man’s espresso machines, Italian moka pots are small, inexpensive (under $100) coffee makers that use steam pressure to force hot water from a bottom chamber up through coffee grounds. That pressure isn’t high enough for true espresso extraction, but the coffee they make is stronger and more complex than anything brewed in a drip machine.

Of the eight pots we tested—three traditional 3-cup stovetop designs and five electric models with capacities twice as large—the electric mokas were universally disappointing, as they failed to deliver enough power and produced flat, characterless coffee. Conversely, two out of three of the stovetop devices, including our favorite, brewed rich, full-bodied coffee—once we mastered subtle techniques like gently tamping the grinds and immediately removing the pot from the heat.

 

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A few facts about coffee

Here are a few facts about coffee…

Orginally it was eaten by African tribes.
They mixed the coffee berries with fat to make energy balls.

 

All coffee grows in the Bean Belt. The Bean Belt is located between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, basically around the equator line.

King Charles II ofEngland banned coffee shops in 1675.
He was paranoid that people met there to conspire against him.

A man named George Washington invented instant coffee.
Not the president. It was a Guatemalan man in 1906.

Coffee grows on trees.

Coffee trees naturally grow to 30+ feet tall! Farmers keep them around 10ft for easy cultivation.

From www.lannacoffee.org, the  nonprofit coffee roasting company  website that offers  coffee delivered to your home every month to club members.

 

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Best Coffee Roasters in America?

  • …the following is a list of those considered to be the best coffee roasters in America by a panel of professionals:

    By Dan Gentile at Thrillist

    The history of American coffee’s broken down into three distinct waves: Folgers in your cup, Starbucks on your block (whose caffeine content is graphed here), and a new crop of artisan roasters building brands based on sustainability, quality, and really, really cute packaging.

Read on for a coffee industry jury’s list of the best coffee roasters in America…?

“So to pick the crema (coffee term, not a typo) of the crop, we pulled together a cast of the nation’s most notable coffee writers and shop owners to pick their 11 favorite roasters and tell us why they’re so buzzed about them. The illustrious cast includes Bill Walsh (Pure Coffee Blog), Jordan Michelman (Sprudge.com), Brian Jones (Dear Coffee I Love You), Kelly Stewart (Roast Magazine), Chris Cusack (Down House), Sean Henry (Houndstooth), Sarah Allen (Barista Magazine), Joshua McNeilly (Black Black Coffee), and Greg Martin (Urban Bean).

Once the ballots had been cast, we tallied the votes (10 points for #1, 9 for #2…) and ranked the roasters to decide once and for all which brand is The Best Part Of Wakin’ Up.

To see the results go to http://www.thrillist.com/drink/nation/best-coffee-roasters-in-america?utm_content=feature&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Thrillist%20Weekender&utm_campaign=10.27.13%20WKNDR:%20The%20top%2011%20coffee%20roasters%20in%20the%20nation,%20as%20voted%20by%20coffee%20nerds

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Cooking in the Caymans

tropical beach

Cooking in the Caymans…

Today the Cayman Islands loom large as a holiday destination. Long beaches of white sand, glorious accommodations, and an impressive array of restaurants cater to a broad cross section of travelers seeking out relaxation and a slower pace of life, if only for a few days. Not surprisingly, many people make the move to these island destination with that same thought in mind, a slower life and a place to enjoy while living. The truth of the matter is that doing a great job and what one does requires a devotion that often interferes with these best intentions, case in point Chef Keith Griffin .

With over 30 years in the Hospitality Industry, Executive Chef Keith Griffin is one of Cayman’s most renowned chefs. As the Past President of Cayman Culinary Society and Director of the Caribbean Culinary Federation, Keith is the Manager of the Cayman Islands National Culinary Team. He is certified as a Culinary Judge for International Competition and Vice Consular Culinaire of the Chaine des Rotisseures (Cayman). After ten successful years as a popular local Restaurateur, Keith is now focusing on teaching, cooking demonstrations and Personal Chef Services.

After being introduced to Chef Keith at Snooth’s People Voice Awards Grand Tasting, where he worked in tandem with Chef Vidyadhara Shetty preparing a lovely seared salmon in coconut foam topped with a mango slaw to the appreciation of all in attendance, I recently was able to catch up with Chef to ask him a few questions about life on the islands, and the people he currently is cooking for. With a successful professional Chef service, Chef Keith is now catering to regular customer and returning visitors to the islands, though his services are not reserved for the rich and famous. next time you are sitting back on island time somewhere, say somewhere like the Cayman islands for example, ask yourself if another restaurant meal is really what you want. You just might find that your answer is no, and you might be even more surprised to find out that having a professional chef come to you is often only a little more than the complete night out, and you don’t even have to put on your shoes, though the Chef would appreciate it if you could find your pants!
-September 27, 2013 By Gregory Dal Piaz / Snooth.com
Read more at  http://eat.snooth.com/articles/life-on-the-cayman-islands-in-words-and-recipes/?viewall=1#ixzz2g85sXGCP

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A few facts and statistics about coffee

“With the coming of coffee to Venice in 1615, the local clergy condemned it. The controversy was so great that Pope Clement VIII was asked to intervene. Before making a decision however, he decided to taste the beverage for himself. He found the drink so satisfying that he gave it Papal approval.”
– From the history of coffee article on the National Coffee Association’s website.
– Today, 54% of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee on a daily basis
– Statistic Brain / statisticbrain.com

According to legend, coffee was discovered by an Ethiopian goatherd who noticed that his goats were extra-energetic after eating berries from a certain highland bush. He took these wonderful fruit to a local abbot, who after brewing the beverage noticed that it allowed him to stay through the long period of evening prayer.
Word quickly spread across Ethiopia and over the Horn of Africa into the Arabian Peninsula.
Coffee soon became the beverage of choice all over the ear- and Middle East, since the majority-Muslim population was forbidden to drink alcohol. Coffee houses sprouted like mushrooms after a spring rain, and became important social and entertainment centers as well as dispensaries of coffee and tea. With the age of European wanderlust and the speedy acceleration of trade with the East, coffee houses became a commonplace in 17th century Europe.

Here are some statistics:
America:
$4 billion is spent importing coffee to U.S. each year, and $164.71 is spent on drinking coffee by the average American coffee consumer. Almost a quarter of same drinks more than 13 cups of coffee per week. In addition, 30 million of the total 100 million U.S. coffee drinkers drink specialty coffee – lattes, mochas, espressos, etc. – and spend an average of $2.45 on each espresso-based drink.
Re coffee production the hands-down winner as far as sheer quantity goes is Brazil, which is responsible for 30% of the world coffee output.

World:
According to http://www.ico.org, 119, 664, 910 bags of coffee (60 kilos) were exported by coffee producing countries between February of 2012 and January 2013. Each bag yields approximately 87 5.3 oz cups of regular or “house” coffee after attrition due to the roasting of the beans.

RE countries/regions, Northern Europeans are the world’s biggest coffee hounds. Switzerland, Scandinavia, Holland, Finland and Iceland lead the rest of the world in coffee consumption by leaps and bounds with an average consumption of between 6.8 and 12 cups per day per capita.

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A Few Notes About Coffee

A few Notes about Coffee…

Can you imagine a world without coffee?

Almost like taking a drink of water!
2.25 billion cups consumed each day worldwide.

This drug is strictly legal!
According to legend, the beverage was made possible by a
fortuitous discovery made by a Somalian goatherd.
He noticed one of his goats getting buzzed on something
and discovered that that the critter had been nibbling on berries
from a nearby coffee bush. This is said to have taken place
a little more than a thousand years ago.

Beware: coffee is highly subversive
Both the American Revolution and the infamous French Revolution were born in coffee houses.
The American Revolution grew from roots planted by patriots in the Green Dragon (some say it
was the Green Lion) Public House in the Lloyd’s District of London. The infamous French Revo-
lution happened in 1789 when the Parisians, spurred on by Camille Desmoulins’s verbal campaign,
took to the streets and two days later the Bastille fell, marking the overthrow of the French Govern-
ment and changing France forever.

This is one Delicate (coffee) Bean!
When the beans reach the temperature of 400F during the roasting process, the beans “crack.”
The bean develop oils in a process called pyolysis. The outer part of the beans darkens.
When the beans “crack” a second time, the hot beans are then dumped from the roaster and
cooled immediately, usually with cold air. During the process of roasting coffee beans, coffee
oil gathers in pockets throughout the bean. This substance is forced out to the surface of the
beans of darker roasts, as moisture is lost. Hence the bean has this oily appearance.

After four cups just say no…if you don’t your body will!
Special studies conducted about the human body revealed it will usually absorb up to about
300 milligrams of caffeine at a given time…about four normal-size cups. Additional amounts are just
metabolically ignored, providing no further stimulation 20% of the caffeine in the system each hour
is dissipated by our bodies.

Coffee School…Pass, Good Job, go to the head of the Class
Coffee beans are graded in various ways. Example: Kenya coffees are graded as A, B and C.
AA is the best coffee. In Costa Rica, coffees are graded as Strictly Hard Bean, Good Hard Bean,
Hard Bean, Medium Hard Bean, High Grown Atlantic, Medium Grown Atlantic, and Low Grown Atlantic.
Those coffee beans from Colombia are labeled as “Supremo” “Excelso”, “Extra” and the lowest grade,
“Pasilla”.

Un Espress, s’il vous plait!
Cafe Procope was the first true Paris coffeehouse. It was opened in 1689 by a former lemonade vendor, Francois Procope. The cafe faces the Theatre Francais, where it drew the artists and actors of the day.

 

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The French Press Method for Brewing Coffee

The French Press method is highly recommended for anyone who wants a quick and delicious cup of home-brewed coffee. The brainchild of designer Attilio Calimani, it debuted in 1929 and was at one time manufactured in a factory that made musical instruments. Today it comes in a wide variety of sizes and styles, with prices ranging from about $20 to $350.00.Its brewing method is brilliantly simple: just mix coffee grounds and hot water inside the glass or plastic cylinder and press down on the plunger metal or plastic. The mesh-filter in the cylinder separates the spent coffee grounds from the brew after the brew period – which takes only a few minutes – has ended. Since the holes in the mesh are too large for the finer ground used in the drip method to brew properly, a coarser grind is needed for the French Press method.

There are several reasons why this way of brewing coffee is superior to the more popular filter method. With the French Press, essential oils and flavor are neither lost nor trapped in a paper filter. Unlike the dip brewing method, which offers no control over the drip rate – and therefore no control over the strength of the brew – the French Press method allows you to control the strength of the brew by letting you decide how long the coffee-water mixture will stand before you press down on the plunger.

There are several extremely practical modifications of the French Press. Are you a morning commuter? There is a sturdy plastic travel mug version for those who want their morning coffee “to go.” Just place it in your car’s cup holder, and when the brewing process is done, make your confrontation with morning commuter traffic that much less exasperating with a fresh cup of quality coffee. Are you a hiker?
There’s an special, insulated, stainless steel thermos-style version made just for you. What’s more, tea lovers have not been left out of the picture.Did you know that you can substitute this device for a tea infuser? Just put tea leaves instead of coffee grounds in your French Press! On a cautionary note, be sure to get the brew out of the press and into a warmed-up tea pot in a timely manner. That way bitterness will not set in.

 

 

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