Decoding Coffee Talk to Make a Better Brew

Categories: Java and Joe

Videocast #3 - Chemex/Pourover from James Hoffmann on Vimeo.

What's the big deal about coffee? Coffee geeks have been nerding out over it for ages. It's only been within the last few years that the masses have become more educated by coffee aficionados, perhaps in part because of the rise and plateau of Starbucks. After the jump: five coffee terms, decoded. And if this sexed-up soundtrack doesn't make you want to run out for a cup of Joe, nothing will.

5. Cupping
Jokes aside, coffee tasters are serious about the sniff and slurp method of tasting a bean or blend. Like a wine tasting, the method allows sippers to differentiate between aroma, body, sweetness, acidity, and finish of different coffees.  Don't know the difference between a microlot and a grand reserve? Never tasted a spicy Sumatra or a fruity Yirgacheffe? A cupping is where you hone your palate.

4. Burr Grinder
Aside from picking up fresh roasted coffee -- some would say weekly-- the other factor essential to gourmet coffee is the grind. Coffee geeks keep their own grinder at home of course, but the Rolls of grinders is the Burr. Named for the plates that ensure a true grind rather than smashed beans, it creates uniform particles that allow for better filtering and tailoring to whatever vehicle you're using to brew, whether it's a pour-over or a French press.

4. Pour-Over
The single cup brew is a filtered lo-tech method that allows for a cleaner cup of coffee, unlike a French press. Wet the paper before pouring hot water over coarse grounds, and prepare for a smooth cup of coffee that's sweeter than the French press version. Check out the how-to in the video.

3. French Press
People usually seem to fall into either the pour-over or French press camp, with the latter offering up a higher acid, slightly more bitter brew, due to the fact that the grounds are in the hot water and pressed rather than filtered. Here's the how-to

2. The Clover
This $11,000 ridiculous brewer is a small, built-to-order machine for single cup brewing that, with tinkering, adjusts the dominant flavors of coffee beans. The only reason it's mentioned here is because you can find it in select Starbucks stores on the left coast and in major Northeast cities. Florida, Texas, and the southern states aren't snobby enough.

1. The 12-Hour Brew
This is included in a nod to Harold's, a favorite coffee shop on our list of the area's best. A brew method the shop discovered online and has since perfected, it's the method Harold's uses for iced coffee and tea, brewed with ice water in a 12-hour process to ensure a smooth, high-octane cup of joe.

We haven't even touched roasting methods, microlots, blends versus single origins, and other details, but we'll save them for another day.



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Harold's Coffee Lounge

509 Northwood Road, West Palm Beach, FL

Category: Restaurant

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2 comments
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swagv
swagv

First, cupping isn't like wine tasting. You generally don't do "wine tasting" to primarily taste for defects before buying, as in the case of coffee cupping.

And if you've been following anything, you'd know that the Clover has been abandoned as passe by high-end independent coffee shops years ago. Starbucks is, after all, fast food coffee. They now favor hand pour-over methods such as Hario V60 drippers and Chemex brewed coffee.

melissamccart
melissamccart

Counter culture, one of the cousins to rival intelligentsia, does weekly free coffee tastings for consumers who are cupping to learn, not necessarily tasting for defects. Perhaps we can agree a cupping is about education.

Second, if you note the link, Starbucks still uses the clover at select locations. I called to verify. And yes, I have seen pour- overs at Starbucks.

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