Coffee Must be Ground for Brewing
For convenience some people purchase ground coffee. While this offers convenience it also causes much of freshness and flavor to be lost. Coffee deteriorates rather quickly after being ground. For the richest flavor and aroma, this method is the least desirable.
Most home grinders are of this type and they are the least expensive. It consists of a spinning blade that chops the coffee beans into smaller pieces. Much like a miniature blender. It is effective if used properly. Some drawbacks to this method are that this gives an inconsistent texture.and size of the grind. (for best flavor consistency is key). Secondly, this method can generate heat in coffee due to friction. This also can diminishes the flavor of the brew. If using the blade grinding method be sure to use short burst of power rather than longer ones. This will reduce the amount of heat generated in the grinding process.
Burr grinding is the preferred method for normally brewed coffee. It consists of two moving burrs to grind the coffee. Because of its design it can be operated at a slower speed, thus reducing the heat generated. There two basics types of burr grinders, One has flat grinding surfaces. The second is a conical shaped grinding surface. This method prevents clogging and produces a consistent texture. Also, there are manually operated burr grinders (think old-fashioned) that are really great for grinding coffee. Of course, electrically operated grinders offer convenience and the grinding speed on many of these units is adjustable. Burr grinders should be operated at 500 rpm or less. As stated before this is the preferred method of coffee preparation for American style coffees.
Turkish style coffees can be prepared in a method called pounding. It uses a mortar and pestle. It this method the coffee is crushed into a very fine texture. A byproduct of this method is a fine coffee dust that is also included during the brewing of the coffee. It actually adds a slight texture to the brewed coffee. Although much of the dust will settle to the bottom of the cup, some is suspended in the liquid. The sediment is usually not consumed.
Coffee Grinding is an Art
For every type of brewing process there is a preferred method of grinding. For brewing systems that expose the grounds to hot water for an extended amount of time (think percolators) the grind should be more course to guard against bitterness. French press brewing should also use a more course grind to prevent the sediment from being transferred to the liquid. For drip type units the beans should be finer to allow more of the flavor to be transferred during the brewing process. Nothing beats a freshly ground and brewed cup of high quality coffee.
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