Beyond Pots and Pans Masthead

    "A Good Cup of Joe"
September 24, 2009 - Volume 1 - Issue 18
       In This Issue
Special Workshop - Oct 26
The Bean
The Roast and the Grind
The Brew
Smart Coffee Tips
Q & A's
Cookbook Review
Recipes for Sweet Treats
Store Hours
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     Morning Therapy
I Love Coffee
Some mornings it's the only thing that entices us out of bed - the anticipation of that first great cup of coffee! The total experience begins with a good dose of aromatherapy, the fragrance of the beans as they're scooped from their container into the grinder. Then it's the vibration of the grinder as it transforms the beans to their brew-ready stage. Next, the sound of water pouring continues to wake our senses. The second dose of aromatherapy floods the room as the brew is formed and the perfume released. Finally, it's time for the first sip - almost always followed by an "ahhh...." It's going to be a good day! In this issue, we indulge our passion for coffee by exploring just what it takes to make a good cup of joe - the bean, the grind, the water, and the brewing. And what goes better with coffee than just a little bit of sweet? We offer three recipes from a charming cookbook, Bite-Size Desserts, that will complement your coffee encounters in a most delightful way!

     Special Workshop
Cupcake Workshop
    The Bean
CherriesCoffee beans are the fruit of the coffee tree, actually, more of a shrub. They grow in the tropics in a band on either side of the equator as seeds inside red fruit known as coffee cherries. Each fruit contains a pair of seeds, flat sides together. A coffee cherry with only one seed inside is known as a "peaberry" and is highly prized and uniquely marketed. Beans and brews are often sold by country of origin - Sumatra, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Columbia, etc. There are two basic types of coffee trees used for culinary purposes, those that produce arabica beans and those producing robusta beans. Arabica beans are the more favored fruit and produce the better coffees that most of us are quite fond of.  Robusta beans, easier to grow for a variety of reasons, comprise the more mass-marketed coffees.

Recently, coffee growing practices have received a fair amount of attention. Agricultural systems in the uniquely tropical coffee regions are growing rapidly to meet global demand. Here's a glossary of a few common terms associated with coffee bean choices:

Arrow made with Coffee BeansFair Trade - Fair trade certifications were established to provide a standard for ethical coffee growing. Beans with the fair trade designation are grown in working conditions that are safe and fair for the employees, produced through environmentally sound growing practices, and where the farmers are guaranteed a minimum price for their coffee. The fair trade label is determined by a third-party organization that inspects and certifies coffee growing operations.

Shade Grown - Naturally, coffee shrubs prefer a shady location with dappled light. However, some species can thrive in full sunlight. Shade grown coffee implies that the forest's upper canopy have been left intact and that the environment remains in its more natural state with minimal use of fertilizers and mass-farming techniques. Shade grown coffee may not produce in the quantities that full sun coffee growing conditions might, but does not reward commercial deforestation, and, therefore, is considered to be more friendly to the environment and protective of wildlife habitats.

Drying Coffee BeansOrganic - The "organic" designation for coffee beans also defines "how" the beans were grown - that is, without pesticides or chemical fertilizers. The choice for organic beans reflects personal health concerns and general environmental concerns. Organic beans are usually more expensive due to the increased costs involved in organic growing, certification processes, and the expense in providing an adequate motive for farmers to grow organically.

From the tree, coffee cherries are picked as they ripen. Finer coffee beans are picked by hand. This is due to the variable ripening of the cherries where a look and evaluation is required for each pluck. Cherries that are underripe, or those that are overripe, will taint the final brew in undesirable ways. Perfectly picked coffee cherries are then processed in one of three ways:

Dry processing - In this method, cherries are placed on trays and dried in full sun for 10 - 20 days. The dried fruit pulp is removed by machine leaving the inside seed.

Washed processing - Through this method, the skins of the freshly harvested cherries are removed mechanically leaving the inside pulp. The berries are left to ferment in a tank for nearly a day, then are washed and dried. This method is considered preferable for finer coffees with added flavor gained from the fermentation step.

Green BeansSemi-washed processing - Similar to washed processing, just harvested berries are processed with both skins and the pulp removed. The beans are dried with no fermentation step involved.

From post-harvest processing, the beans are readied for roasting. They are sorted and graded according to their size, density, and color. Excellent beans are hand-sorted multiple times. As can be seen with each of these steps, the labor intensity of coffee is high!  On to where the "green beans" go from here!

     The Roast and the Grind
Plenty of artistry has already gone into the coffee before it is shipped from the farm. But the fine craft continues as the beans proceed to the roaster. Coffee wouldn't resemble coffee if it weren't for the roast - bitterness, smokiness, floral overtones - it all gets built into the bean at the point of roasting. In fact, the same batch of beans can take on completely different characteristics when roasted differently. A coffee roaster heats the beans and moves them constantly to promote an even roast. During the first stage of a roast moisture is released from the bean. As heating continues, sugars in the bean begin to caramelize. Finally, during extended roastings, natural oils are released. The timing and temperatures of roasting will greatly impact the flavor and determine the type of roast moniker applied to the ready-for-market beans:
Range of RoastsDifferent Roasts:
Light roasts - As one might guess, light roasted beans have received the least heat and are pulled from the roaster before sugar caramelization has occurred.

Medium roasts - These beans have released their natural moisture and have some sugar caramelization, but no oils unveiled.

Dark roasts - This roast has continued longer to the point where the bean's natural oils have been released and the bean roasted to a darker color. Within this designation of dark roasts you'll find French, Italian, and espresso roasts.
Coffee is best enjoyed from freshly roasted beans. Choose your beans from purveyors that roast or purchase in smaller quantities thereby providing turnover and greater freshness.
Grinding the Beans:
Grind whole beans just before brewing. This allows the nuanced flavors and volatile aromas to be retained and infused in your coffee. The fineness of the grind is determined by how long the coffee is in contact with the water during the brewing cycle. Finer grinds are used for drip brewing, where a coarser grind is suitable for French press brewing. Very fine grinds are used for espresso brewing.
Range of GrindsGrindersThere are many styles of coffee grinders to choose from; they generally fall into one of two categories:
Burr Grinders - This style of coffee grinder allows the most control over the grinding process. The beans are crushed between a moving wheel and a stationary surface. With a burr grinder you can variously adjust the fineness of the grind and achieve consistent results. Burr grinders may have either a wheel or conical style grinding mechanism. Conical burr grinders are considered preferable, especially for darker, oilier roasts which may clog other grinders.
  Blade Grinders - Also called "impact" grinders, these machines use a metal blade to crush the beans. The fineness of the grind is governed by the length of operation, a potentially imprecise science. Impact grinders will also produce less consistency in the evenness of the grind.
When choosing a grinder, evaluate how it operates, durability of its motor, the heat generated (avoid burnt grounds), its capacity, and on/off safety mechanisms. Match your need for different grinds with the grinders' capabilities. Check Capresso's Features Chart.

     The Brew
No pressure, but now the artistry of the final product is all on you! You've chosen the right bean, accomplished the right grind, it's time to brew.
Capresso MT500 PlusWater - Coffee is mostly water, so this is a critical step. Use freshly filtered water that has had any chlorine removed. Many simple water filtering systems are available that will yield great water for coffee and for general consumption. Do not use distilled water as it has no character. Softened water has too many minerals added and can prove to have a distracting taste.
How Much Coffee to How Much Water - This is a subjective topic -- general guidelines call for 1-2 tablespoons of coffee grounds for every six ounces of water. From that broad range of instruction, the ratio is governed by the type of bean, the grind, and personal Capresso TeamThermstrength and taste preferences.
Brewing Systems: Gone are the percolators of the olden days that produced many a pot of questionable product. Today, brewing systems are built specifically to brew a better cup of coffee.
Drip Brewers - Drip brewing produces an excellent cup of coffee. Better machines will have good mechanisms for heating the water to the perfect pitch of 200°F.
  • Consider the filtering system deployed with each machine. A gold-filter is inert, and will not impart any taste to the coffee as paper filtering methods might. It's essential that any filtering mechanism be kept impeccably clean for the best tasting pot.
  • A thermal carafe will keep the coffee at the proper drinking temperature for about an hour. A hot plate may be of use to warm a thermal carafe, but care should be taken to not apply heat directly to the coffee through a single-walled pot.
  • Timing and programmability features may be important to you; assess their ease of use.
  • Many drip brewing systems offer integrated coffee grinders - one less step.
  • Single-serving brewers make coffee always available at its freshest. If you like to vary your coffee choices, the single serving packs are a great way to experiment with different flavors.
Capresso CafeEspresso Machines - A shot of espresso is the basis for many, many coffee drinks. Different from brewed coffee, steam is forced through dark-roasted, finely ground, tamped beans. Water contact with the grounds is about 20 seconds, hence the name "espresso." The result is an ounce of concentrated flavor savored directly or as the basis for a latte, cappuccino, Americano, breve, or a host of other coffee delights. Versatility is one of the primary reasons to have your own espresso machine. Choose a machine with durability, ease of operation, compatible level of automation, and the French Pressdesired accessories.
French Presses - Enjoying a recent revival, French presses are another great tool for making a good cup of joe. Utilizing a steeping method instead of drip brewing or forced steam, the press allows making and serving in a single pot. French presses are available in many sizes and styles, but all use a spring-powered method for corralling the grounds at the bottom of the pot prior to pouring.
Enjoy your coffee immediately after brewing! Hot plates or warming burners will lend a burnt flavor to the coffee. Instead, keep brewed coffee in insulated carafes.

     Smart Coffee Tips
Wake UpTip #1:  Need additional help waking up and functioning in the morning? A programmable coffee maker prepped the night before is the best alarm clock and a kind way to face the day with immediate gratification.
Tip #2: Keep your grinder and coffee brewer immaculately clean! Coffee grounds left in the grinder will go stale and carryover that staleness in your next grind. Similarly, your coffee pot must be kept exceptionally clean in order to get the best brew. Coffee gets much of its flavor from the volatile oils released from the beans, but it's precisely these oils that can turn rancid and cause your next pot to be bitter and foul tasting. A good cleaning removes any residue, and any potentially offending oils. Clean your pot after every use and once a month brew a cleaning solution (usually some type of citric acid) through the system.
Tip #3: The best coffee is made from water that is heated to 200°F. Water boils at 212°F; the temperature should stay below that critical point. Never allow the brewing water or coffee to boil, nor should coffee be reheated to the boiling point.
Tip #4: Steam or heat milk for coffee or espresso drinks to a temperature between 150-170°F. Milk easily gathers a scorched taste at higher temperatures than these.
Coffee To GoTip #5: Coffee isn't just for drinking, think of coffee as a flavor used to enhance all types of dishes. Use whole beans as a garnish and finely ground coffee as a seasoning to be incorporated into rubs, infused into syrups, or sprinkled as a topping.
Tip #6: Like wine, coffees pair differently with different foods. Generally, pair bold food flavors with a bold coffee, and delicate foods with a smoother coffee.
Tip #7: If your drip coffee is bitter, you may have over-ground the beans producing too fine of a grind for the brewing method. If the coffee lacks flavor, the grind of the beans may be too coarse.

     Q & A's
Q & A
Q:   What is the cold-brewing process for coffee?
A:   Cold brewing of coffee uses medium ground coffee steeped in a glass jar with room temperature water for 3-4 hours, or up to overnight. The grounds are strained away and the coffee is ready for use. Some choose to use cold brewing techniques to form a concentrated coffee. Cold brewing aficionados claim that coffee breCup of Coffeewed in this manner has a more full-bodied character and less acidity. This is an ideal method for making iced coffee drinks.
Q:  A lighter roast means a weak coffee and a dark roast means a strong coffee, right?
A:  No, the strength of the coffee, weak or strong, has to do with the ratio of coffee beans to brewing water, and is not associated with the type of coffee roast.
Q:  Darker roasts have more caffeine than lighter roasts, right?
A:  No, wrong again! The darker the roast, the less the caffeine. Longer roasting affects the bean's caffeine decreasing it over time.  A bold flavor does not always equate with a bold caffeine effect.
Q:  What is cupping?
A:  Cupping is the process for coffee tasting and evaluation. Using both taste and smell, the aroma, body, acidity, flavor and finish are evaluated. Coffee cuppings are similar in many respects to wine tasting. There are good and bad coffees with a wide range of subjectivity throughout the spectrum of choices.
Q:  Is brewing coffee with a French press superior to a drip machine?
A:  Neither method is superior to the other, but rather, it's a matter of taste. We think there is a place for both methods in the same kitchen. Brewing coffee for dessert using a French press is a delightful ritual and fits the leisurely pace found at the end of a meal. Coffee in a French press may cool more quickly than coffee brewed into a thermal carafe. Explore the newer double-walled French presses that address that issue.
Border of Coffee Beans
     Cookbook Review
Bite-Size Desserts, Creating Mini Sweet Treats, from Cupcakes and Cobblers to Custards and Cookies by Carole Bloom. Copyright 2009. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ
CookbookBoth the title and the cover photo compelled us to look at this book further! We acknowledge, sometimes regrettably, that sweets are a treat to be enjoyed in moderation, so this seemed a perfect solution - bite-size! Ms. Bloom has assembled a treasure chest of mini-pleasures that delight the eye, satisfy the sweet tooth, and complement a great cup of coffee! The book honors traditional and classic favorites only now in miniature form, and includes some new treats that fare well in petite sizes. Cakes, muffins, tarts, galettes, cobblers, custards, cookies and candy - they're all there in miniature sizes. We appreciate the consistent organization of each recipe which begins with brief author's notes, yield quantities, an inclusive ingredient list, and very detailed instructions. Each recipe concludes with "keeping," "streamlining," and "adding style" tips that further enhance the success built into each entry. And, if the subject matter were not enough to entice us, the photography by Glenn Cormier makes this book an artistic delight suitable for any, well . . . coffee table!

     Recipes for Sweet Treats
Recipes excerpted from Bite-Size Desserts, Creating Mini Sweet Treats, from Cupcakes and Cobblers to Custards and Cookies by Carole Bloom. Copyright 2009. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
Bittersweet Chocolate and Hazelnut Tartlets
TartletsBeautiful to look at and even better to eat, these little tartlets have a delicate crust featuring a hint of orange zest. The filling is a thick blend of a classic pairing -- bittersweet chocolate and roasted hazelnuts. The assembly of these tiny tarts was accomplished easily and the results were picture perfect and delightfully tasting.
Click here to view the full, illustrated recipe.
Click here for a printable version of the recipe.
Cinnamon-Sour Cream Cupcakes
CupcakesMoist beyond belief, these diminutive cakes offered the comfort flavor of cinnamon with just the right sweetness - reminiscent of our favorite sour cream coffeecake. The cinnamon-flavored chocolate ganache completed the moment. (The sturdy, small-sized silicone cups used to bake these cupcakes were perfect in this application).
Click here to view the full, illustrated recipe.
Click here for a printable version of the recipe.
Chocolate-Espresso Pots de Crème
Pots de CremeIt had been some time since we'd used our little pots de crème set. Finding this recipe inspired us to find our special lidded cups and experiment with this recipe. The results did not disappoint! Neither mousse, nor custard, the chocolate-espresso flavor caused swooning all around the table to the point of embarrassment. You'll enjoy and be satisfied with these dainty, but potent pleasures.
Click here to view the full, illustrated recipe.
Click here for a printable version of the recipe.

Make a great cup of coffee, and take a few extra minutes to relax and enjoy it thoroughly!
Lorraine, Katie, and all of the Staff at Beyond Pots and Pans