The Art to Ordering a Cup of Coffee

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It’s just a cup of coffee. How complicated can it be? Well it's not a simple as you might think.  Over the last thirty years, as coffee consumption has grown, its consumer preference has evolved.

With all the varieties of coffee beans, the sizes of cups and the flavor additions, ordering a cup of coffee can actually be quite an intricate and exacting process.  In fact many aficionados compare coffee to wine because of its multitude of varieties and the nuanced flavor.  Since it might be the first decision of your day let’s try to keep it simple.  Here are a few tips.

How Strong Is Your Coffee?

While most coffees come with titles like extra bold or rich, those names actually refer to the flavor of the coffee and not the actual strength.  Instead of focusing on names, focus on how it's made and how much water is added to the coffee when it's made.  There are four basic ways to brew coffee: boiling, steeping, filtering and pressure method.  Each offers some benefits and some drawbacks.

The oldest method is the boiling which peaked in popularity in the '30s and is probably the simplest and most cost-effective way to make the drink.  All you need is water, finely ground coffee beans and a pot.  To make it you simply add boiling water to a cup with coffee grounds, then let it sit until the grounds sink to the bottom.  This coffee is also called mud coffee because the grounds leave a sludgy residue at the bottom cup.  While it's not particularly popular here in the states, this method is still used in many Middle Eastern countries, particularly Turkey which is known for it's coffee.  This method yields a strong coffee that almost necessitates a healthy spoonful of sugar.

French press coffee makers are popping up in restaurants and shops all over.  This vacuum flask functions similarly to the boiling method but you can stop the brewing process when you reach the desired strength through steeping.  It gives you more control over the strength and the flavor of the coffee.

The dripping, or filtration, method is the most commonly used in America.  The coffee is held in a filter and hot water drips into the grounds.  This method adds more caffeine to the coffee than its counterparts, but the flavor can be questionable.  In term of efficiency you can't beat plugging a coffee maker in and coming back to a freshly brewed pot.

The pressure method is mostly used for espresso, a concentrated coffee drink.  In this case finely ground coffee is loosely packed into a small cup and water that is just over 200 degrees F is poured over it.  It is among the most concentrated forms of coffee consumed and has its own distinctive flavor.  This flavor is produced by the crema, a layer of emulsified oils that collect on the surface.


Photo Credit: Getty Images


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