Simple tips from George Sowden for making a great cup of coffee
So how do we get to that perfect cup?
1. Remember that a good cup of coffee starts with good fresh coffee beans.
It can be confusing as there are so many types of bean from different parts of the world.
And all beans will have the characteristics of the place of origin, or differ because they have been treated and finally roasted in different ways.
Try as many as you can, find the ones that you prefer from Brazil, Jamaica, Colombia, Ethiopia, or wherever. The only problem, if it is a problem and not a blessing, is that the choice is infinite and you will never stop discovering! There are two types of coffee plant, Robusta and Arabica.
I find Arabica the ‘sweetest’ and the tastiest. Robusta gives more caffeine.
There are a lot of blends, so find something you particularly like.
2. You should always be prepared to try different roasts with different coffee beans.
Go to your local coffee supply shop and check all the different beans that are on offer.
If you have your own friendly roaster try your choice of beans ‘light’ ‘medium’ or ‘dark’ you can customise and experiment. Shop around in local roasters. See what they are doing.
3. The next consideration is the choice of grind. With my design of SoftBrew™ filters, there is no recommended size for the grind. I would suggest you start with ‘medium,’ but, as you get confident with the system, discover the differences between ‘fine’ and ‘coarse’. Personally, I use quite a fine grind: not as fine as espresso grind, but quite close – the brewing time is quicker than coarse and I prefer the full body taste.
4. Next is the amount of coffee you put into the pot.
The more you put in, of course, the stronger the brew will be. Sounds a very simple formula, but, whereas other brewing methods give precise formulas, we say – find out for yourself. With SoftBrew™ you really can experiment. If the beans are good, then the coffee will be good – just lighter, or darker results depending on the quantity you use. But the taste will come through, delicate and ‘soft.’
5. When you make coffee you use quite a lot of water, so make sure the water is good!
When water comes into contact with the coffee beans, the extraction begins and the hotter the water the quicker the extraction.
I normally use almost boiling water and it takes about four minutes to get a good, well extracted, flavour.
6. In the summer I might make ‘cold brew’ – a nice refreshing ice-cold coffee. I just put the ground coffee into the pot, add cold water, stir and leave the Sowden brewer in the fridge overnight. In the morning, I have a perfect cold coffee. Extraction time is about eight hours.
7. Never re-heat coffee: it will not be nice. And never boil coffee: it will taste bad.
8. Buy small quantities of coffee at a time. The fresher, the better, so don’t let it sit in the cupboard for weeks.
9. Coffee made by infusion, as in the Sowden SoftBrew™ system, is the simplest, the perfect way, to get a great cup of good tasting coffee…and so flexible, you really can make it just the way you prefer!