Coffee 101

August 15, 2011

Need a quick guide while shopping for coffee? Here’s the SupermarketGuru’s 101

The U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of coffee. It is made from beans of a variety of the Rubiaceae tree. Arabica beans are the finest; Robusta, usually contains sticks & twigs.

How to buy: Buy in nitrogen-flush packages or cans. Roasts range from light mocha brown (most delicate) to an intense dark chocolate color (most intense). Coffee should be consumed within 3 weeks of purchase.

How to read the label: Match grind (fine, medium, coarse or extra fine for espresso) to coffeemaker. Pre-ground coffee saves time, but pre-ground coffee grows stale quicker. Ethiopia, Yemen, Vietnam, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, countries throughout Latin, Central, and South Americas grow coffee, as does Hawaii. “Blends” balance acidity and aroma. Flavorings are rarely used with high-end beans.

How to use: Grinding beans for each serving guarantees a fresher brew. Use 1 to 2 level tbsps. ground coffee per 6oz. cup with spring or filtered water. Heat water to under-boiling (195-205°F.) to avoid scorching beans. Brewer choices: French press, moka, automatic drip coffeemaker, double-pot siphon, or percolator. Reusable gold filters are best; then unbleached or bleached paper.

How to store: Use container with a tight-fitting lid; place in a cool, dark cupboard. Freezing or refrigeration invites moisture and compromises flavor.

Health benefits: Coffee can increase alertness, physical prowess, and contains antioxidants. Coffee’s caffeine is considered healthful when used moderately (1 to 3 cups per day.) Drink decaffeinated coffee or none at all, if sensitive.

Smarter Shopping: Fair Trade label indicates farmers are treated fairly. 

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