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Wednesday
Jan042012

How Much Ground Coffee For Brewing?

We all know the fail-safe amount of how much coffee to to use..."one heaping teaspoon per cup of coffee, plus one heaping  teaspon for the pot". That measurement is perfect, if you are using a percolator with the standard coarse grind from canned coffee and like your coffee light and somewhat weak. The introduction of the automatic drip brewer changed the way that "one heaping spoonful" tasted - richer, deeper and less bitter due to the brew method.  

Before talking amounts of coffee to use, it is helpful to understand what happens when you brew coffee. Coffee is made with the roasted and ground up pits of coffee cherries (the “coffee beans"). Coffee cherry contain dozens of different chemical compounds that combine to give brewed coffee its finished flavor. The compounds change when roasted.  Different levels of roast produce different flavors in your coffee.

When you soak coffee beans in a liquid the chemical compounds are extracted into the water and give it color and flavor, what we know as coffee. The more compounds extracted during the brewing process, the stronger the flavor of the coffee. Many different factors affect the amount of coffee extracted: the temperature of the water, the size of the coffee grounds, the amount of time that the coffee grounds are in contact with the water, the amount of water, the amount of coffee, and even the length of time between grinding the coffee beans and brewing the coffee.

Different methods of brewing coffee extract coffee flavors differently because they combine those factors in different ways. For example, Espresso uses a pump to force hot water through tightly packed coffee grounds, extracting flavors more quickly. Automatic drip coffee makers, "drip" hot water on loose coffee grounds. Since the coffee exits the brewing basket through a single small hole, the coffee grounds sit in the water for long enough to extract flavors before coffee drips out the bottom. In a coffee press, you stir coarsely ground coffee into hot water, then press the grinds to the bottom of the pot and pour off the coffee.  Regardless of the brew method you utilize, you’ll get optimum flavor from your coffee if you use the right grind and the right proportion of coffee to water.

Automatic Drip Coffee Makers

The standard rule is to follow the manufacturer instructions. Generally, use coffee that is ground to about the texture of granulated sugar, using one heaping teaspoon per cup of coffee. Your coffee maker should heat water to between 195 and 205 F for best results.

Coffee Press

The coffee grounds are exposed to hot water for a longer period of time. That means you want to use a coarser grind than you’d use in a drip coffee maker, about the texture of coarse corn meal or sand. Use one rounded tablespoon of coffee to every 4 ounces of water, using water just off the boil.

Moka Pot

A moka pot, known as a stovetop espresso maker, forces hot water and steam through coffee grounds into an upper chamber. It makes rich, flavorful coffee that’s as close to espresso as you can get without a pump. For best results from your moka pot, use espresso grind coffee, which is the texture of talcum powder, using about 1 rounded tablespoon of coffee for every 2 ounces of water. After you put the coffee into the filter basket, level it off and wipe the rim to remove any coffee grounds from it. Do not pack the coffee down or tamp it as you would for an espresso pot.

Espresso Maker

There is much written about the measurments, grind and water termperature to achieve the best espresso. What it comes down to is your own preferences, and you’ll find what you like best by experimenting. In general, start with 15 grams of finely ground coffee to every 2 ounces of water. Place the ground coffee into the filter basket and tamp it down firmly to pack it. Tamping is important, it packs the coffee and slows the flow of water through the grounds. If you don’t pack it properly, the water will run through the coffee grounds unevenly, too slowly or too quickly and your coffee will be too weak or to strong.

Hand Drip Coffee

The newest (actually, rediscovered) coffee fad is hand dripped coffee made in a coffee cone one cup at a time. For hand-dripped coffee, the grind should be about the texture of granulated sugar, using 4 ounces of water, add one rounded tablespoon of coffee to a filter-lined coffee cone. Tap the cone lightly to settle the coffee evenly and place it on top of your cup or pouring station. Use water just off the boil and pour it slowly over the coffee grounds using a circular motion to make sure you wet all of the grounds.

Method	        Water	        Grind Type to Use	    Coffee

Percolator	6 oz		medium	                    1 tablespoon
Auto Drip	4 oz		medium	                    1 tablespoon
Press Pot	4 oz		coarse		            1 tablespoon
Moka pot	2 oz		fine		            1 tablespoon
Espresso	2 oz		fine		            15 grams
Hand Drip	4 oz		medium	                    1 tablespoon

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