What makes a good coffee?

What makes a good coffee?

10 November 2017

As you might expect, we’ve drank a lot of coffee in our time.. so we think we’re vaguely qualified enough to say not all coffee is created equal.
Coffee can vary wildly in its flavour, all because of what happens even before the pour – from the bean selection, roast, grind, water and brew method.
And that’s before we even talk about humidity, tamping, timing, and steaming…
So what, you might ask, is really behind a good cup of coffee?
Well, while we can’t give all our secrets away, we thought we’d share what’s going through the heads of your local TFL team as they make your morning brew..

The bean
There’s actually more than 70 types of Coffea (the flowering plants that produce coffee beans) but just two mostly dominate the market:
Coffee Arabica (Arabica beans) known for its balanced flavour and aromas and;
Coffea canephora (Robusta beans) which tend to have more caffeine
We like to be a bit specific about the beans we use at TFL, call us picky (or very clever..)

The roast
The roasting process takes the green beans (which have a mild, bean like smell) and makes them into the toasty little brown beans we’re all a little more familiar with. During the roast, sugars and fats degrade, amino acids and sugars react with each other, and degradation products spark chain reactions. This all culminates in the formation of dozens of aromatic compounds that make up that enticing coffee smell we all look for in the morning.
While there’s no standard for roasting beans or determining strengths, beans are generally roasted somewhere between 180-250 degree Celsius for between 2-25 minutes.
And fun fact, contrary to popular belief, roasting doesn’t change the amount of caffeine in the beans either!\
We choose to roast our own coffee beans too. High maintenance, aren’t we?!

The water
Think it takes perfectly clean, distilled water to produce the perfect cup? Wrong! All the science points to good old regular water – the added positive ions (like calcium and magnesium) are much better at grabbing the flavourful compounds in the coffee without altering the taste.

The grinding
There’s about 1,000 different flavours and aromas in any given coffee bean, so it’s no wonder grinding is so important - it basically increases the surface area of the beans that come into contact with the water - allowing the flavour, colour and aroma to be released and dissolved more easily.
Depending on the grind - coarse or very fine - the surface of the coffee changes, and many different flavours become soluble. Volatile aromas are immediately released; they combine with oxygen and provide the intense coffee smell during grinding.
But coffee is a temperamental thing and loses about 60 per cent of its aroma just 15 minutes after being ground – that’s why we grind it fresh, every time!

The brewing
Brewing is way up there on the list of important things to do well if you want the most out of your beans, and there’s a variety of ways to do it:
Brief boiling (Turkish)
Steeping (French Press)
Filtering (Drip)
And our favourite.. pressurised (espresso)
The espresso way produces the most concentrated doses of caffeine - and that’s pretty much what we’re all in the drive thru for, right?
From there it comes down to pressure, time and turbulence. And yes, we’re still talking about coffee here.

After that we’re busy thinking about:
-       Keeping the coffee dose consistent
-       Compensating for humidity and weather changes
-       Tamping technique (because the crema never lies…)
-       Timing
-       Temperature
-       Steaming the perfect thick, creamy milk
And, of course, throwing you a big smile as your drive out with your coffee.

See you in the morning!