Coffee Brewing Tips

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Lately, I have been asked a lot of questions about how to brew a better cup of coffee. I’ve heard a few people who tasted our coffee at an event say, “It somehow doesn’t taste the same when I make it at home.” Since I am a passionate coffee geek, I use all the steps listed below. However, if you just incorporate just one of these things to your brewing methods you will find a nice improvement to your coffee enjoyment.

Let’s start with the obvious to get it out of the way. Start with fresh roasted Tap Dancers Specialty Coffee. Fresh roasted coffee is only fresh for 2-3 weeks. After that it is stale coffee. Store the coffee in the air tight bag that the coffee comes in and squeeze the air out through the one way degassing valve. I will refrain from discussing the cost of these bags or the many different features they have at this time but know that we have bought the best.

Use filtered water. Besides not having a pleasant taste, water from the tap has minerals that will create mineral build up in your brewer. This build up will weaken the brewer’s heating ability to get the water to the proper temperature. I personally prefer distilled water but again I tend to go to extremes.

There are a plethora of brewing methods. The most important feature of all of them is to get the water to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Too cold and the coffee becomes bitter, too hot and the coffee becomes sour. Because one can control the temperature with all the pour over methods, that is the main reason they work so well. I feel our Clever Dripper is the best of all the pour over systems. If you bought the $30.00 coffee brewer you can be assured that it is not getting the water hot enough.  At home we use a Technivorm-Moccamaster. There are no bells or whistles on this brewer…..it simple gets the water to 200 degrees.

Water to coffee ratio is probably the hardest concept to conquer. The best way I have found to get a consistent ratio is to use a kitchen scale and a calculator. The ratio I prefer to use is 17:1. Weigh the water you use in your pot an divide that number by 17 and that will tell you how much whole bean coffee to use. A lower ratio will give you a sweeter coffee and a higher ratio will bring out the bitter parts of the coffee.

Why the ‘slow coffee’ movement is gaining ground?

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Here is an article from http://www.abs-cbnnews.com. It talks about where the trend in coffee is headed. The use of espresso based drinks is dying and specialty grade brewed coffee is gaining momentum. While I know there are plans for a couple of these type coffee houses in the works for Omaha. You can enjoy this fabulous coffee in your home now.

By Lisa Baertlein, Marcy Nicholson and Martinne Geller, Reuters

Posted at 06/03/2013 9:40 AM | Updated as of 06/03/2013 6:08 PM

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A barista prepares a coffee drink at Sightglass, a coffee bar and roastery, in San Francisco, California May 8, 2013. Photo by Robert Galbraith, Reuters

For exotic coffee connoisseurs like Geoff Watts, the search for the perfect bean isn’t the solitary quest it once was.

On a recent visit to Ethiopia’s southern Yirgacheffe region eight hours from Addis Ababa, the buyer for Intelligentsia Coffee bumped into a familiar face.

“I saw a random white guy walking around in a field, and it turned out he was a friend and competitor,” said Watts.

U.S. craft coffee purveyors are getting less lonely. The segment is a small but growing slice of the $27.9 billion U.S. coffee market, which has increased in recent years at an annual average rate of 5.6 percent and is expected to reach $33.7 billion by 2018, according to research firm IBISWorld, though it does not yet separate revenues for high-end purveyors.

Small bi-coastal chains Intelligentsia, Blue Bottle Coffee and Stumptown Coffee Roasters lead the so-called “third wave” or “slow coffee” movement, while industry behemoth Starbucks Corp shows off its craft roots selling limited-supply “reserve” coffees for up to $50 for a half-pound bag.

The new generation of upscale coffee shops and roasters includes dozens of operators around the country. They are in a race to find rare and distinctive beans and hope to elevate one of the world’s oldest and most popular drinks in the same way that craft beer brewers, boutique wineries and olive oil makers won fans by focusing on high-quality ingredients and production.

During the last two years, private equity firms, venture capitalists and wealthy individuals such as former professional skateboarder Tony Hawk, and tech luminaries Instagram Chief Executive Kevin Systrom and Jack Dorsey, a co-founder of Twitter and Square, have poured in well over $55 million – including a large cash jolt for San Francisco-based Philz Coffee in May.

Not your typical retirement investors, they are often coffee connoisseurs themselves and are eager to capitalize on the new breed of enthusiasts who were raised on espressos and lattes popularized by Starbucks.

Customers are willing to pay dearly for their java habit – $80 for a half-pound of rare, roasted beans and $3 and up for a cup of individually prepared “pour over,” high-tech “siphon” coffee, or old school espresso. Those prices are as much as triple the cost for an average cup of coffee and bean prices are at least 10 times more.

Sales are expected to climb as the U.S. job market improves and more Americans treat coffee as an experience rather than a utilitarian pick-me-up, said IBISWorld analyst Andrew Krabeepetcharat.

But experts also wonder if there will be enough demand beyond wealthy, urban enclaves to support meaningful growth and whether getting bigger would hurt the mystique that fueled the craft operators in the first place.

“I don’t think the (exotic) market is that big,” said Bonnie Riggs, restaurant analyst for the NPD Group’s foodservice unit. While many people may try such coffees as a treat, winning the loyal, frequent users needed to support significant growth will be a challenge, she said.

Blue Bottle founder James Freeman and his peers say they do not aspire to Wall Street-style expansions, nor the pricey exclusivity of high-end wine.

For around $5, “you can have an incredible experience at a high-end coffee bar and get something impeccably sourced and roasted and made,” said Freeman. “It’s the democratization of luxury.”

EXOTIC, EXCLUSIVE

The new movement is built on the success of Starbucks, whose founder and CEO Howard Schultz often speaks of the “romance” and “theater” of coffee and is credited with pioneering coffee’s “second wave” by shifting the masses from cheap, hours-old brew to fresh-made drinks from premium beans.

With some 12,900 cafes in its U.S.-dominated Americas region, Starbucks holds the biggest share of the country’s coffee market with 18.7 percent of revenue, according to IBISWorld. That figure shows how competitive and fragmented the business is in the United States, where local cafes, fast-food chains and even gas stations peddle coffee and lattes.

“We are all focused on that highest quality cup of coffee and there is room for everyone to grow,” said Craig Russell, senior vice president of Global Coffee for Starbucks.

Seattle-based Starbucks is a major buyer of artisan beans, going up against rivals like Chicago-based Intelligentsia, which sells half-pound (8-ounce) bags of its Santuario Geisha roast from Colombia for $80.50 and expects to grow to 12 stores this year from nine.

“The third wave of coffee really is about understanding the craft and the lifestyle of coffee,” said Instagram CEO Systrom, a self-described coffee addict and one of a group of investors led by True Ventures and Index Ventures that poured $20 million into San Francisco-based Blue Bottle late last year.

He and fellow investor Hawk, who said he kicked in $100,000, also advise Blue Bottle on its growth plans.

Investment opportunities appear limited to the very wealthy – but it is not for a lack of effort from fans of the cafes.

“We get all sorts of weird inquiries all the time,” said Sightglass co-founder Jerad Morrison, who did accept startup capital from Dorsey, a personal friend.

Baristas at the new coffee shops often sport handlebar mustaches, bow ties or suspenders. They spend long moments lovingly tamping espresso, coaxing clever designs from frothy cappuccino milk, or coaching customers as they select beans.

It is a time-consuming process that bears little resemblance to the button-operated speed and efficiency of Starbucks’ current generation of espresso machines.

The third wave caters to fanatics like Northern California author Bill Tancer, 47, who said a “coffee concierge” opened his eyes to a new world of coffee during a visit to Philz, which received an “eight figure” investment from Summit Partners, a private equity firm. TechCrunch reported that the infusion was in the $15 million to $25 million range.

Summit and Philz declined to comment.

“We had this back and forth about what I was looking for in a cup of coffee – did I want rich, light, more acid, flowery?” said Tancer, who since has become a home roaster.

“There are so many coffees out there to discover. It’s a bit of an adventure,” he said.

HAND UP OR SELL-OUT?

In 2011, Portland, Oregon-based Stumptown, which has nine coffee bars, took a large investment from TSG Consumer Partners, a private equity firm. The parties declined to quantify it, but two sources familiar with the deal said it was in the area of $20 million to $25 million and constituted a controlling stake.

The sources declined to be identified because the information is not public.

Some die-hard fans fretted that the craft coffee trend-setter had sold out, considering that TSG has a strong track record of investing in small brands, helping them grow, and selling them to large corporations. Indeed, one of its most notable investments was a stake in vitaminwater maker Glaceau, which was ultimately sold to Coca-Cola Co for $4 billion.

TSG declined to comment, but Stumptown’s new president, Joth Ricci, said maintaining the brand’s identity would be a major factor in any future deal.

“You figure out the right fit for a brand. Some work really well and some don’t,” Ricci said.

Customers said Stumptown’s quality remains high, even if it now seems a little more corporate.

“I’ve definitely seen them go from their scrappy roots to almost acting like a franchise. … It feels a little less genuine but, I don’t think the quality has gone down at all,” said videogame maker Lindsay Gupton, 47, who lives in Seattle.

While he is still loyal to Stumptown, Gupton is on the lookout for coffee’s “fourth wave.”

“I’m such a coffee purist. I’m always going to seek out the latest, greatest,” said Gupton.