Getting the most out of your coffee

You've got great, super fresh Sidecar Coffee. Now what?

This series of posts will be all about getting the most out of your Sidecar Coffee. Whether you have a $8 pourover device or a $2000 (or $12,000) espresso maker, a little knowledge and proper technique will help you supercharge your morning coffee. 

Assuming you are using fresh Sidecar Coffee, there are three recurring themes in this discussion: water, grind and technique. More on each of these as we delve into each brewing method,  but I'll introduce each concept here.

Water

When you make coffee, hot water acts as a solvent to extract all the good stuff from the ground coffee. Coffee is 98% water, so it's safe to say that the quality of water is pretty important. That means cool, fresh (filtered) water, heated to the proper temperature for whatever method you are using.

For a lot of methods, the proper temperature for the water is just off a boil, between 200 and 205 degrees. (note: most home coffee makers don't get the water hot enough, nor does the water pass through the coffee fast enough). 

Grind

Start with super fresh Sidecar Coffee, ground to the right level of coarseness just before brewing. Once ground, the clock really starts ticking on freshness. Each brewing method employs a different level of grind for best results. 

The best grinders are burr grinders. They can be pretty pricey, but it's worth as much as you can afford to spend. If you have a blade grinder, pulse the coffee for 5-10 second increments, shaking the grinder between pulses to distribute the coffee more evenly.

Experiment with your grinder until you find what works best for you.  

Technique

I'll include dosage here, but mostly, technique involves using whatever brewing method you to achieve the best coffee possible. 

In no particular order, here are the main methods; 

  • Manual Pourover: super simple and can be very inexpensive (up to not so inexpensive). This is similar to a drip coffee pot, but you control the flow of water and timing. Basically you pour water over the coffee and it flows through a filter into your cup. This method makes a great cup of coffee! 
  • French Press: allows for great extraction, but you do get some "sludge" at the bottom of your cup. A great alternative to the French Press is the clever dripper.
  • Automatic Drip Brewer: these range in price greatly, from under $30 to over $300. Super easy to use.  There are a few drip brewers certified by the SCAA that heat water to the proper temperature and allow for ideal extraction time.
  • Aero Press: from the guy who invented the aerobie frisbee, this faux-presso device makes a mean cup of coffee. There are a bunch of different ways to use the Aero Press.  
  • Stovetop Espresso: Another fun way to make very strong, espresso style coffee. Mastering technique isn't easy, but it's worth a shot. 
  • Home Espresso Machine: This can range in price from a few hundred dollars to many, many thousands (prosumer lines). You can get great espresso from a home espresso machine and it pays for itself quickly.  

Each brewing method involves getting the right amount (and temperature) water through the right amount of properly ground coffee in the right amount of time. It's like a math equation...