It happened again yesterday….I wandered into the kitchen at work for a caffeine fix. I poured a cup of coffee, tasted it, and almost spewed a mouthful of hot liquid all over the floor! Now, no offense to my coworkers, they’re generally brilliant people who do their jobs well, but they would make the worst baristas ever. Seriously, it’s not all that difficult to make decent coffee, but there are some basic rules they really need to learn and follow.
So what are these rules? Well, I’m sure if you’re reading this, I’m probably preaching to the choir, but I’ll tell you anyways. Number one. CLEAN YOUR FREAKING EQUIPMENT AND CLEAN IT THOROUGHLY!!! The coffee at work is usually made with a coffee press. Said press is washed several times a week with soap and water, but it never gets clean. Why? Well, it’s because the press is never taken apart. The whole thing is dipped in the soap, rinsed, and called good. WTF! And even IF they did clean the press properly, they haven’t actually replaced the filter in the year and a half I’ve been working there. Those filters don’t last forever!
Ahhh but clean equipment is only one part of the equation. It is only the first stone in a long trail of stones leading you across a sea of burning hot lava that will surely kill you if you fall in. Wait, where wast I? How did I get on that tangent? Oh yeah, number two: the beans. Ok, dear beloved co-workers if you are reading this, please know that you do usually buy decent beans. They are almost always fair trade, and they are almost always roasted to match their natural flavors. Kudos in that department. But…….THEY ARE ALMOST ALWAYS GROUND FOR AN AUTOMATIC DRIP! Not cool, not cool at all! So what’s the big deal? It has to do with the amount of contact the beans have with the water. In an auto drip, the beans need to be ground finely because the water drips from above and travels through the beans. Gravity is pulling the water away from the beans, so the beans don’t have a lot of contact with the water. It is why espresso is ground so finely too – the water is forced rapidly through the grounds, thus making the contact with the beans minimal. But, with a coffee press, you have the water and the beans mingling in a stew for FOUR, count them FOUR, MINUTES! More exposure to the water means more bitterness! Oh, it also means more caffeine – so if you’re trying to cut back on the caffeine, that’s an added bonus to having the right grind.
Number three is closely related to number two, because it ALSO has to do with the beans. I’m half tempted to show pictures of what I found in the cupboard. Five, yes five, bags of coffee dating back to the end of last year! Last year! That’s six months people! In a cupboard! Exposed to air and everything! Ewww! Just ewww! They don’t put expiration dates on coffee, because technically the stuff could last almost forever, but maybe they should, because while coffee won’t spoil, it will loose it’s flavor! Think about it this way: you leave a half empty bottle of soda on the counter for six months. What’s it going to taste like? If you leave an open bag of chips out for six months, they are going to go stale. Technically, the chips or the soda are going to cause you to get sick, but they are not going to taste good at all! The same thing goes with coffee. If you leave it out, exposed to air, it is going to loose it’s flavor! At the very least, keep it in the freezer. The freezer isn’t perfect, but it will keep the coffee from going totally stale.
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, don’t just let the grounds sit in the water. Plunge the pot after FOUR minutes! This goes right back to the grinds people. The more exposure the grounds have to the water, the more bitterness is going to seep out of said beans! So leaving the grounds in the water for an hour? EWWWWWWWWW! I know people who drink folgers who wouldn’t even drink that swill! The recommended time for brewing in a coffee press is FOUR minutes. This is a time frame that has been tested for hundreds of years!
If any of my coworkers find this, especially those that happen to be those that make coffee, please don’t take these comments personally. See it as constructive criticism. You’re all brilliant people who I respect very much, but you just don’t know how to make coffee! Heck, if you want, I’ll teach you how to make coffee. We’ll have an office wide seminar on the subject! Ok, ok, maybe that’s taking things a little too far. And maybe I need to mellow out a bit. Maybe I need to just go quietly back to my office with my mini one cup press and perfectly brewed coffee. Or maybe I should cut back on the caffeine altogether. But regardless of my need to chill out, coffee is something that should be enjoyed. So please don’t take this article to be mean spirited and/or back stabbing. Think of this article as a way to help you enjoy life more.