I hope my "coffee making tips and tricks" will help them, and YOU!!! So some readers have written to me with special coffee questions like the one in the title!
At PurelyCoffeeBeans, I’ve answered lots of questions over the years. You’ll find the questions and their answers scattered throughout the site!
I’m always open to more questions, if you’re frustrated or curious, why don’t you drop me a line! This week we welcome!
What can I learn about coffee making tips and tricks here?
- #1 - Does the coffee bean matter when used for a latte?
- #2 - My coffee is really weak! What coffee making tips can you give me?
- #3 - What kind of quality coffee bean should I take on my trip?
- #4 - Grinding Coffee Explosions - Have you ever had one?
- #5 - How can I get even more coffee making tips and tricks?
#1 - Does the coffee bean matter when used for a latte?
by Fadi Draghici - Romania
I usually find normal coffee or espresso shots too strong, therefore I'm a heavy latte drinker. So I was wondering, should I opt for normal Lavazza Espresso roast found over the shelf, or should I actually purchase Sumatra or Java types of beans?
This is a great question. Many coffee drinkers do find espresso too strong. However, I think you need to think about what you mean by 'strong'. This term can describe a number of qualities in coffee so it can be a little confusing.
The most obvious meaning refers to the amount of caffeine and/or the resulting caffeine kick. Some varieties of Arabica and most Robusta tend to have a much higher amount of caffeine. This also explains why espresso tends to have a higher 'kick'; there is a dose of Robusta in there, especially if it's proper Italian espresso.
The second meaning of 'strong' refers to the roasting of the coffee, and this refers to whether the beans are light, medium or dark roasted. Often, casual drinkers think that dark roasted coffee has a 'strong' taste. It does, but the coffees like Java or Sumatra tend to be darker roasted to enhance the 'coffee' flavor.
Lastly, 'strong' can also simply mean a stronger brew due to the amount of coffee used. Most people use about 10 grams of coffee per cup to make their morning brew. I tend to use about 15 grams per cup, because I prefer a cup with more 'body'. There is nothing worse than weak coffee, ie. too much water was used with the coffee.
If you are drinking a lot of latte, you may find that the milk has too many calories! If you have a lively lifestyle, then it'll be easy to burn off the calories! Drinking proper espresso is an acquired taste, enhanced by drinking good quality espresso and destroyed by many of the poor quality drinks served.
So think about what you find too strong about espresso. And give Lavazza Espresso a try, see if you like it! Costco has some nice Sumatra and Java coffees... Let me know what your preference is!
#2 - My coffee is really weak! What coffee making tips and tricks can you give me?
by Sally from Bellingham
I have bought the same coffee for a long time, recently it has become very weak, I like my coffee strong. Even when I use twice as much it still doesn't taste the same. Yes I still buy the original, but not for much longer. Thank you!
That is most distressing! We become attached to our way of drinking coffee, and that is part of our daily routine! When it begins to taste different or weird, it's like getting up on the wrong side of the bed! The whole day feels out of whack! Let's see if we can shed a little light on this murky problem!
Loyal to Big Brands? Hope not!
Since you don't mention what kind of 'original' coffee you like, I can only surmise that it's a blend like one of the popular brands: "MJB" or "Maxwell House" or "Folgers" ... all of which are rather *ahem* cheap coffees, made from whatever beans can be bought, roasted according to the house profile, and served by the million cups.
I can't drink "Folgers" despite buying it. It ended up in the garbage! My colleagues hated Maxwell House Ground Coffee... but they have never complained about any other coffee I bought from Costco. Weird. But with those brands of coffee, the actual name is more important than what's in the bag or can! I suggest you stay far, far away from them.
Keep your Coffee Maker Clean
That's not the only element of your problem, though. There is the issue of keeping your coffee maker clean. Poor maintenance of your coffee maker will only lead to decreasing cup quality, and a worse experience for you. The reason is simple: the oils that emerge from the coffee tend to build up in your coffee maker over time and impair the flavor of your cuppa. Coffee machines need to be thoroughly and regularly cleaned to remove that residue or the residue may become rancid.
Grind to the Right Size
Lastly, make sure that your coffee is ground to the right size for your particular method. You may have not changed your brand of coffee, but your method of preparation! Bigger grinds for coffee jugs, finer for drip or filter coffee. If you get them the wrong way round, your coffee dripper will make insipid coffee no matter how much you put in! And your coffee jug will give you sludge if the coffee is too fine!
Loss of Taste as we Age
The last is perhaps the only thing we can’t change, and it may explain why as we age, we tend to load up heavily on salt, sugar and spices. The number and quality of taste buds tends to decrease as we age, something we may not notice initially or we may blame our food for not tasting the same.
If you have tried changing your blend, cleaning your coffee maker, and grinding properly, but they don’t resolve your problem, it might be worthwhile paying a visit your doctor to see if there aren’t any other issues that may explain these changes.
I hope that this helps to answer your question. If you need any further suggestions, drop me a line!
#3 - What kind of quality coffee bean should I take on my trip?
by Jeff from California
I will be visiting El Salvador in 2 weeks and was wondering if you could give me a recommendation of a quality coffee bean I can purchase to grind and drink daily while I'm on my 1 week vacation? I would only want 1-2 pounds of roasted beans...
Are there any really good coffee houses I should visit?
I hope you have a safe trip to El Salvador. Central America is the proud source for many of our favorite coffee beans. So the question you ask is a real humdinger...
If you are staying in a hotel or guesthouse, then you'll probably know what hotel coffee is like: only marginally better than airline coffee. It's really important that you consider both the what and the how of having coffee on a trip.
How are you going to make your coffee in a hotel?
Typically, in a hotel room, you'll only have access to a kettle (to boil water) and a tea cup with a saucer. If you're lucky, you'll find instant coffee sachets and a couple of cookies! Even the best hotels struggle to make decent coffee, so I'd recommend one of the three solutions:
a. Aeropress Coffee Making Tips and Tricks
Take an Aeropress coffee filter unit (click the link to see what I'm talking about). Don't forget to take a small hand grinder. Although the unit is designed to make espresso, it will turn out decent Americanos as well either by adding extra water to the unit, or adding extra hot water to your cup!
It's light, easy to wash in the hotel sink, and small enough to pack in your luggage. The Aeropress isn't the only way to make good espresso on the go, but it's the most affordable. You can also check out the Handpresso.
b. Drip Bag Coffee Making Tips & Tricks
Get some of the popular coffee drip bags. These are single units of coffee stored in their own self-contained filter units, and then vacuum-packed in foil. You can buy them in a box of ten or twenty. They're light to carry (though the box is bulkier), easy to dispose of, and can make decent coffee.
c. Starbucks Via Coffee
Take some Starbucks Via with you. I hate to say this, though as I find the Starbucks Via isn't as good as either of the other two options. It's great in an 'emergency'... but I can tell the difference if I close my eyes between Via coffee and the real thing.
Top Travel Coffee Making Tips and Triks
Do remember when using a hotel kettle: don't boil the water to 100C. If you do, wait a little (about 1 minute or so) until the temperature cools. Water that is too hot will destroy or distort the delicate flavors of coffee.
What coffee to take? What coffee to buy?
It's hard to know what coffee to take with you. It really depends on what you like, what you are used to, and how you like to prepare your coffee. I'd prepare for 3 coffees!
- #1 For me, I'd take one of my favorite pre-ground coffees suitable for making espresso in an Aeropress, if I could find it. It wouldn't need ground (always an advantage in a hotel), though generally I prefer to grind my own at home.
- #2 For traveling, I'd look out for quality coffee to try; I'd purchase smaller bags, too. I'd pick some Colombian beans for variety, quality & value for money.
Since you're going to El Salvador, you could try some of the Topeca coffees available from El Salvador. They're single origin roasts from around El Salvador, and since I like espresso, I'd choose one of their espresso roasts.
Both reviewers of this roast said that they used an Aeropress, but with varying results. One said "...extremely balanced with a medium body", but the other wrote "...flavor lacks the depth of other brands". Read the reviews to decide for yourself.
Visit the local supermarkets, coffee shops and roasters
Last, I'd visit as many supermarkets, coffee shops & stores as I could to see what was on offer.
One of my favorite 'tourist' activities is to explore supermarkets & traditional markets looking for unusual products and getting ideas about what locals eat and drink (that goes for coffee, too!)!
Hope that helps you choose coffee for your trip! Let me know if you discover any great coffees down in El Salvador. And pay attention to how the locals drink coffee!
#4 - Grinding Coffee Explosions - Have you ever had one?
Coffee Explosions #1: Grinding Coffee without putting in the coffee ground collecting box. Result: coffee everywhere. Well done! And thanks for the picture, Terry!
Coffee Explosions #2: I decided to make coffee for work as usual. My colleagues had just arrived, and they were desperate. I ground the beans, set up the coffee maker, put the jug in and added the coffee grounds. Turned it on and walked away. Five minutes later, I came back to check; and found there was no coffee in the jug. I'd forgotten to add water.
So I poured out some water, and added it to the coffee maker. Apparently I'd forgotten that cold water + hot hot water heater tube (inside the coffee maker) would make a pressurized jet of hot steam shoot out on the grounds. That day I covered half the kitchen in finely ground coffee powder! (sorry I wasn’t quick enough to get out my camera!)
Like I said before: there aren't too many coffee mistakes that I haven't made! I have a lot more useful coffee making tips, coming right up!
What coffee explosions have you had? Share! Of course some coffee making tips and tricks you have to learn ONLY by experience!