Coffee-Grinding Tips and Facts

Coffee-Grinding Tips and Facts

 

The debate over whole beans versus ground beans will probably never be resolved. Here are some tips and facts about various kinds of grinds and the best use of each, and the pros and cons to using whole beans and using ground coffee.

1. Whole Beans – Pros and Cons

Whole coffee beans hold their flavor longer, because the essential oils within the bean are not exposed to air. Also grinding the coffee beans yourself, results in a fresher more flavorful cup of coffee. Whole beans also have a much longer shelf life, about ten times longer than pre-ground coffee, possibly making whole beans more economical.

Another advantage to whole beans is that you can choose the coarseness of the grind, depending on the results you’re aiming for. You will have to purchase a coffee grinder, though, and it will increase your preparation time.

2. Ground Coffee – Pros and Cons

As soon as coffee beans are ground, their essential oils, where the flavor and aroma are, become airborne. That’s why it smells so good! So naturally, those essential oils floating around in the air are not making it into your cup. Consequently, pre-ground coffee tends to be less fresh and flavorful.

If you tend to consume coffee quickly, however, pre-ground may work for you – sources say you have about nine days for ground coffee to retain its freshness after it’s opened. And of course, pre-ground coffee is faster to make and more convenient.

3. Grinding Coffee

How you grind your coffee makes a difference in how it tastes. Here are some tips to consider:

* How finely you grind your coffee determines its strength – finely-ground beans will yield a more concentrated, stronger flavor.

howtofrenchpress

Making Coffee with a French Press

* Coarse grinds work best for a press-style pot or French press.

 

* A medium grind works for the typical drip coffee maker, but within the medium grind range there are subtle differences that depend on the kind of filter you use.

* Fine grinds do well with espresso machines, and can often be used in drip makers too.

* Extra fine is solely for espresso, as are super-fine grinds. Super-fine can also be used in a Turkish coffee maker.

4. Alternative Brewing

boiled greek coffee

Boiled Greek Coffee

There are some interesting ways that coffee is brewed in various cultures and parts of the world. In Indonesia, coffee is brewed a bit like tea – hot water is poured over the grounds in the cup, and the coffee grounds slowly settle to the bottom while the coffee steeps and cools. If you use a very fine grind for this method, you’ll end up with what is known in the Middle East as “mud coffee.”

In Nordic countries and some Middle Eastern countries, coffee is sometimes boiled. This results in a bitterer brew.

Whether you buy whole beans or pre-ground, coffee is a more versatile beverage than you may have realized!

 

Image Credit:

Making Coffee with a French Press

Boiled Greek Coffee

 

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Making Great Iced Coffee

Making Great Iced Coffee

Summer is finally upon us and most days are just too warm for hot cup of java juice. Below are some tips to help you make a great iced coffee.

Start with Fresh Coffee Beans

A great iced coffee was never made using stale beans so avoid buying your beans on sale. If you don’t drink iced coffee often, consider buying fresh beans at a coffee shop where you can buy only the amount you need for the occasion.

Taste Test

Hot coffee tastes different than cold coffee. So to get an idea of how your coffee will taste cold let a hot cup cool to room temperature. This little test will help you decide what tastes perfect to you.

Use Fresh Ice

Ice has a tendency to get a stale if it sits in the freezer unused for too long. If you’re wondering whether your ice is helping of hurting your iced coffee, it’s easy to test: let a few cubes melt and come to room temperature, then taste the resulting water. If it’s water you would want to drink by the glassful, you’re in good shape. If not, toss out the old ice and make fresh. If it still tastes stale, buy a bag of ice, the cost is worth the boost in flavor.

Brew it StrongIced coffee cubes - Making Great Iced Coffee

Brew your coffee on the strong side as it will be weakened by the ice. To keep from diluting your drink, brew a pot of coffee and freeze into ice cubes. Use frozen coffee cubes in place of regular ice cubes to keep from diluting or weakening the flavor.

Brewing Your Coffee Cold

Some people object to acidity in their cold coffee. Cold brewing greatly reduces the acid content of coffee, it will lower the acidity one full pH point verse hot brewed coffee.

Put 3/4 cup ground coffee in a quart Mason jar, fill with water and stir. Cap it and put in the refrigerator for 12 hours. Strain the resulting concentrate through a coffee filter to remove the grinds. Add water to taste when you’re ready to drink. You can even heat the reconstituted beverage for a quick, low-acid cup of hot coffee.

Don’t use Burnt Coffee

Saving leftover coffee for iced beverage is often fine, but don’t be tempted to use the dregs of a burnt pot. If it doesn’t taste good hot, it definitely won’t taste good cold.

Add some zip to your iced coffee

Adding fruit flavors such as strawberry, orange, blueberry, cherry and even spices like nutmeg, cinnamon or cardamom are a great way to perk up your coffee  drink. The important thing is to have fun with it! Try lots of new things. Vary your usual routine. The worst that can happen is you won’t like it. You can always try something else!

If you’re short on time and don’t have a stash of reconstituted coffee available, try this recipe using instant coffee.

Vanilla Iced Coffee

2 teaspoons instant coffee
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cold water
1 1/4 cups milk
Chocolate shavings (optional)
Sugar (optional)

Directions:

Put the first 5 ingredients into a blender.
Pulse blend until the ingredients are smooth and frothy.
Add the cold milk and pulse blend until all the ingredients are blended well.
Pour of a few cubes of ice, add the chocolate and voila!

If you desire, add the ice to the blender after the first five ingredients have been blended and crush the ice and then add the milk and mix.

 

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Wonderful Beverages From Mexico

Wonderful Beverages From Mexico

Splendid Recipes and More (SRandM) present’s another post with Norma our guest blog speaker on the Tastes of Mexico. If you missed the last three conversations with Norma link here and scroll to Speaker Norma spoke May. 4-8, 2014 on the Tastes of Mexico.

Today Norma is going to present some great beverages from Mexico. What are they Norma?

Norma: Classic Margaritas on the Rocks, and Watermelon Aqua Fresca.

SRandM: OK so let’s get started.

Norma: I think the key to making a classic margarita is striking the right balance between your tequila of choice and the orange-flavored liqueur you pair with it. Strong flavored tequila needs a strong-flavored orange liqueur to stand up to it. As a result, the following is a more of a formula than a true recipe. Use your favorite tequila and orange-flavored liqueur, such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier.

SRandM: Can you use any flavor you like other than orange?

Norma: Yes, and actually a true Margarita has no flavoring other than lime. But with the new generation of Mexicans, their changing things up.

So you will need

1.5 oz. tequila

1.5 oz. orange-flavored liqueur

1.25 oz. freshly squeeze lime juice

cocktail shaker full of ice and add the tequila, orange liqueur and lime juice

Fill a cocktail shaker full of ice and add the tequila, orange liqueur and lime juice.

Classic Margarita on the Rocks

Shake vigorously to combine and pour into salt-rimmed margarita glasses filled with ice. Serve with a wedge of lime, if desired.

Note this is a strong drink when first poured. The flavors will mellow a bit as the ice melts.

SRandM: OK Norma, while I enjoy this Margarita you just made…what do you have for us next?

Norma: Will I have a drink that is light and refreshing. It’s a popular drink in Mexico and is perfect for hot summer afternoons. It can be made with any number of fresh fruits, but melons are the most popular. While this beverage is non-alcoholic, rum or tequila and triple sec can be added to create a delicious adults-only beverage.

I am going to prepare a  Watermelon Aqua Fresca. Here is what you will need:

6 cups watermelon, seeded

1¼ cup water

1½ limes, juiced

4 tablespoons honey

½ lime, sliced

Fresh mint leaves

ice

Add the watermelon, water and lime juice to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. If any seeds or large chunks remain, strain through a sieve to remove.

Pour the blended juice into a pitcher and stir in honey until blended, though you can replace the honey sugar. Now crush the mint leaves with your fingers and put them in the bottom of each glass. Fill the glasses with ice and top with watermelon mixture. Garnish each glass with a slice of lime or fresh mint leaves, if desired and enjoy the freshness.

Watermelon Aqua Fresca

SRandM: Norma you have out done yourself today with these wonderful beverages. So what will you present next time?

Norma: How about  Pico de Gallo and Homemade Flour Tortillas?

SRandM: Looing forward to it Norma. To our readers of Splendid Recipes and More, you know were to return for more great Tastes of Mexico from our guest speaker, Norma.

Link Here for: Tastes of Mexico with Pico de Gallo and Flour Tortillas 

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The 3 “B”s of Piedmont Wines: Barolo, Barbaresco, and Barbera

The 3 “B”s of Piedmont Wines: Barolo, Barbaresco, and Barbera

Without question, Italy is one of the most esteemed wine producing countries in the world and the Piedmont (Piemonte) region in northern Italy ranks near the top in terms of the quality of wines it produces. Any discussion of Piedmont wines would be incomplete without shining a spotlight on the 3 “B”s of this region – Barolo, Barbaresco and Barbera.

A Tale of Two Grapes

Barolo and Barbaresco are produced from the same grape: Nebbiolo. This grape is a true diva. She is fussy and demanding and among the most difficult to grow. In fact, she refuses to flourish just about anywhere else in the world. (She even takes her name from the Italian word ‘nebbia’ for the fog that settles over the Piedmont region during the fall harvest). However, she delivers the goods in terms of the quality and complexity of wines produced from her.

As a result, she is highly prized by winemakers in the Piedmont region and the best growing areas and winemaking equipment are devoted to her. It’s not surprising, then, that her most famous offspring – Barolo and Barbaresco – are so highly revered. Born of privilege and prestige, they are content to make you wait, and wait, and wait, until they are ready to be savored and enjoyed.

On the other hand, the Barbera grape (also the name of the wine) is much more laid back and easy to accommodate. She is planted much more widely, but almost never on the highly coveted southern facing slopes that brought such prominence to the Piedmont region. Traditionally, the Barbera grape was planted for quantity, not quality, so her offspring became known as everyday drinking wines.

Barolo vs. Barbaresco: Wine Royalty

vineyars near Barbaresco, Piedmont, Italy

vineyars near Barbaresco, Piedmont, Italy

Although both hail from the rustic, yet sophisticated Piedmont region and are produced from the same grape, there are distinct differences between these two powerhouse wines.

Both are reigning monarchs of Piedmont’s most well known wines. (In fact, Barolo has been referred to as the ‘king of wine’). In general, Barolo is the more robust, complex and masculine of the two. It has been called “stern and imposing,” but that is open to interpretation. It is, however, weightier and more like a French Bordeaux than its counterpart. Barolos tend to cost more and age better, as well.

Like Barbaresco, Barolo is not a wine you’d want to drink while young because it is too severe. By law, it must age for a minimum of 3 years between barrel and bottle; 5 years for Barolo riserva. Many require significantly longer to reach their prime.

Barbaresco, on the other hand, is the more graceful of the two. She is softer, more balanced and matures earlier. Aging requirements for Barbaresco are 2 years between barrel and bottle and 4 years for Barbaresco riserva. Non-riserva wines require only one year of oak aging, resulting in its smooth, soft, and more feminine finish.

Both Barolo and Barbaresco pair well with foods that offer big flavors that can stand up to them. Robust meats, wild game, rich pastas and creamy risottos are all worthy partners.

Barbera: Piedmont’s Traditional Every Day Wine

Remember, Barbera is the name of both the grape and the wine. Historically, both have been treated more like ‘commoners’ when compared to their more royal Piedmont counterparts. Unlike the fussy Nebbiolo grape, Barbera is so adaptable it can thrive just about anywhere. In fact, it can now be found in wine growing regions all around the world.

It’s not hard to see why Barbera has long been referred to as the ‘people’s wine.’ The adaptability and high yield of this grape made it easy to cultivate for people of all social and economic standing. It has earned its reputation as a common wine, suitable for every table. Not surprisingly, Barbera is a wine that has graced the tables of hard working Italian families for generations.

Barbera is no shrinking violet, however. With its acidic, full body and deep rich color, it is a good match for the hearty flavors you’ll find on the average Italian family table. However, thanks to its laid back character – and the fact it can be enjoyed young – Barbera has gained more widespread appeal. It can now be found in the finest restaurants, as well as in the average family home.

No matter what you’re serving for dinner tonight, when it comes to choosing a bottle of wine to grace your table, look no further than the wines of the Piedmont region of Italy.

 

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Peach Bellini Cocktail

Peach Bellini Cocktail

The classic peach Bellini was created by Giuseppe Cipriani, abartender at Harry’s Bar in Venice. In 1948, this unique concoction of white peach nectar and northern Italy’s own sparkling prosecco wine was named the “Bellini” in honor of artist Giovanni Bellini.

The classic Bellini cocktail is a study in simplicity. It calls for just 2 ingredients: fresh white peaches and chilled prosecco wine. Over time, countless variations have emerged, including some with peach schnapps, French Champagne or raspberry liqueur.

This version is close to the original, but uses frozen yellow peaches rather than white. A simple syrup of 1 part sugar to 1 part water can be used to provide additional sweetness, if desired.

Bellini_flutes

Ingredients:

Simple Syrup: (optional)

½ cup sugar

½ cup water


Bellini:

1 bottle of Prosecco or other sparkling wine, chilled

2 fresh peaches, sliced or ½ bag frozen peaches, thawed

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
 

 

Directions:

In a small saucepan, heat ½ cup sugar and ½ cup water. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and cool.

Add peach slices and lemon juice to a food processor and blend until smooth. Scoop 1 – 2 tablespoons of the peach puree and a drizzle of simple syrup into a chilled champagne flute. Fill glass half way with Prosecco and stir lightly to blend before filling glasses.

 

 

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