Your Cheat Guide to Coffee
Coffee is absolutely everywhere in our country and I’m convinced that we are probably one of the largest consumers of this product in the world, but, to be honest our coffee cultures has no standards. Unlike our European and American counterparts where coffee has developed into an art with road side cafés littered on every corner and with the advent of specialty brewer bars (usually managed by guys with moustaches –go figure), we are now a far cry away from good coffee with our insistently mushrooming chain shops.
So how come our demand for coffee is so high but our supply is monopolized? Simple, we don’t know what good coffee is and therefore prioritize convenience over quality. There are a couple of front runners in the local coffee scene in Manila and hopefully our soon to open Hatch 22 Cafe & Bakery in Rockwell Makati (Opening 1st week of September) will be one of them. We will be sourcing and grinding our own locally grown beans and serving it to our customers as fresh as can be.
Let me break it down for you.
Coffee beans are usually green until they are roasted to different shades of brown, which in turn affects their flavours and intensity. Green beans can be kept for years without going bad. Once roasted, the beans will slowly lose their characteristics, in a couple of weeks. So even if you buy your whole beans in the supermarket, can you tell me when they were roasted? Well no, so don’t be surprised if your coffee starts gradually tasting worst. My advice would be to buy your coffee whole and as much as possible from the roaster himself, but if this is not possible, make sure you rotate your supply every 2 weeks, and keep it in a ceramic air tight container.
Back to our beans; they will taste differently depending on their country of origin, the surrounding vegetation, the roast intensity, how you grind them and how they are turned into coffee.
Types of Beans: Robusta: Probably the most popularly used around the world. The caffeine content is usually higher than other beans, they are easy to cultivate and are usually
Arabica: Arabica is increasingly preferred nowadays because its taste is more intense and flavourful. They grow at a very high altitude and are harder to produce (hence the price tag). In the Philippines, we only have one bean that has been certified as Arabica. I actually ordered some last week and it is pretty good. For each bag you order they will also plant a tree for you. I called my trees the Great White Oak and The Fat Kid Inside, naturally. check out their site: http://www.hineleban.org/sip-reforest/
Roast Styles: Cinnamon Roast: The beans are the colour of cinnamon (not the taste), this is usually the lightest bean there is, any less and it would not be ready for consumption. GUIDE [Acidity: very pronounced, Body: Weak Consistency, Aroma: not many, Complexity: not enough time to develop]
Light Roast: Also known as New England roast [Acidity: at its highest, Body: richer but still weak Aroma: more developped, Complexity: increased]
Light-Medium Roast: commonly known as American or Regular roast. This is usually the standard. [Acidity: bright, Body: what you are used to, Aroma: increased, Complexity: peak]
Medium Roast: can be found under City Roast. [Acidity: increased, Body: richer, Aroma: peak, Complexity: peak]
Full City Roast and Espresso Roast: Also known as Viennnese, French Roast (light or full), Italian Roast (light or full) or Continental Roast. [Acidity: decreased, Body: Peak, Aroma: peak but as the beans gets darker the less they come out, Complexity: increased]
Now that you have your beans picked and selected, make sure you don’t ruin them. Grind them in a Burr Grinder (this type of grinder does not burn the coffee like others do), remember that a fine grind is better for espresso whereas a coarse/medium grind is mostly used for brewed coffee. Invest in a good French Press or Drip Brewer for all your brewed coffee needs, and find a good Moka Pot or Italian Espresso Maker for rich and dense shots.
Those are the basics you need to start becoming a true coffee lover. Beware, once you taste a perfectly brewed cup or pressured shot, you will never be able to go back to instants and a mass made cup of joe.
I like infographics. Here is a cool one about coffee proportions.