Coffee Facts

Coffee is hot water soaked in (steeped from) coffee beans.

Harvesters pick and bake coffee beans until they make two distinct popping noises.

The darker the roast, the richer the flavor, but the longer roasting means darker roasts have less caffeine.

Decaffeinated coffee involves soaking the raw beans for a long time to let the caffeine dissipate during roasting.

Coffee has proven health benefits:
  • More energy
  • Improved memory
  • Better mood and less depression
  • Improved blood flow

Coffee also reduces many health risks:
  • Liver disease
  • Gout
  • Skin cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Neurological disorders
  • Stroke

At the same time, don’t drink coffee too much, since abuse can reduce dopamine levels.

Generally, for maximum flavor, use coffee within two weeks of the roast date.

Some coffees only grow in certain seasons.

Coffee industry terms:
  • Barista — person who prepares coffee
  • Cupping — a critic’s technique that steeps coarsely ground coffee in hot water within shallow bowls, then uses a spoon to taste
  • Direct Trade — coffee bought from farms instead of brokers
  • Extraction — drawing flavor from coffee grounds
  • Fair Trade — a private program that guarantees a minimum coffee price for farmers or growers
  • Green Beans — unroasted coffee beans
  • Kona — specific strain of coffee grown in Hawaii
  • Micro-Lot or Single Origin — coffee from a specific farm or part of a farm
  • Roast — green beans heated to create unique flavors extracted during brewing

Coffee adjectives:
  • Aroma — the coffee’s scent (which contributes to its taste)
  • Bitter — usually from over-extraction
  • Bland — usually from under-extraction
  • Body — the coffee’s tactile impression
  • Bright — the coffee’s sharp or sweet flavor
  • Briny — salty sensation
  • Earthy — rich, spicy sensation
  • Exotic — aromatic or flavorful
  • Flavor — all-encompassing aroma, acidity, and body
  • Spicy — coffee’s spice strength
  • Stale — flat taste from overexposure to oxygen
  • Sweet — smooth and free from defects and adverse flavors
  • Tone — visual appearance
  • Winy — reminiscent of fine red wine

Coffee has several brewing methods

Dark roast keeps roasting the beans until they exude oils, and many people think they overwhelm coffee’s natural flavor.

Drip coffee steeps by dripping water over the coffee without pressure.

  • Cold drip coffee strains coffee grounds through cold water for twelve hours.
  • Filter coffee pours hot water (~200-210 °F) through a filter.
  • Nel drip coffee uses special flannel filters from Japan that need handwashing and refrigeration when not used.
  • Pour-over coffee is pouring hot water over a filter by hand.
  • Percolation boils water to make it go up a tube and drip over the grounds, then cycles back into the water reservoir.

Espresso is hot water forced through finely ground coffee under pressure.

  • Café Breve is espresso mixed with steamed half-and-half.
  • Crema are thick oils that sit on top of an espresso.
  • Americano is a shot of espresso diluted with hot water.
    • Ristretto is espresso with less water for a stronger, smaller drink
  • Cappuccino is a shot of espresso mixed with foamed, steamed milk.
  • Con Panna is espresso topped with whipped cream
  • Cortado is espresso topped with flat, steamed milk.
  • Flat White is espresso mixed with flat, steamed milk.
  • Latte is espresso with steamed milk.
    • Baristas sometimes make latte art in milk foam.
  • Macchiato is espresso topped with a dab of steamed milk.
  • Mocha is espresso mixed with chocolate syrup, steamed milk, and sometimes cream.
  • Redeye is espresso mixed with brewed coffee.

French Press is setting grounds in a plunger with a filter and steeping with hot water.

Make your own coffee

Compared to brewing at home, coffee shops are expensive and have a more unpredictable quality.

Coffee machines are remarkably affordable, though various features can drive the price up.

Brew coffee without a coffee maker:
  1. Cut the bottom out of a disposable paper coffee cup.
  2. Set it upside down on a coffee mug.
  3. Secure a coffee filter over the top with a rubber band.
  4. Place coffee grounds on top and pour hot water over the grounds.

To keep the oils with the coffee for a richer flavor, use a non-paper filter (e.g., brass).

Flavor your coffee

High-quality coffee tastes excellent by itself (black coffee).

Add cream or milk to give your coffee more body, or use ice cream instead of milk for a sweeter alternative.

Make your own foamed milk without an espresso machine:
  • Microwave method:
    1. Fill fresh milk in a jar about halfway.
    2. Close the lid and shake it until it becomes frothy.
    3. Heat the open jar in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  • Stove method:
    • Use an immersion blender on milk in a saucepan.

Avoid diluting iced coffee by freezing cream, milk, or old coffee beforehand.

Add sugar, sugar cubes, or other sweeteners to taste, and set your palate to avoid over-sweetening by sipping before adding.

Remove unwanted bitterness with a pinch of salt.

Add unconventional things to coffee:
  • Butter and coconut oil (bulletproof coffee)
  • Cardamum
  • Chinese 5-spice seasoning
  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus like orange peel, lemon juice, or lime juice
  • Cocoa powder
  • Eggs (in the filter, known as Scandinavian egg coffee)
  • Eggnog
  • Honey
  • Nutmeg
  • Pepper
  • Pumpkin pie spice
  • Vanilla extract