Master Barista, How Does Your Coffee Brew Best?

It seems as if in every continent, we see interviews with baristas in which each is asked his or her secrets of good coffee. This week, India Today wants to know, so writer Angad B. Sodhi asked Master Barista Fritz Storm for his coffee brewing advice. In short, the barista stresses that making a great cup of coffee is more involved than just pressing a button.

He starts at the very beginning, with the fact that 2500 ripe beans give their all to make up a kilo pack of coffee. The beginning is also the most important step on the way to a perfect cup; the right beans set the foundation. To be the most right, they should have been packed very recently; anything over three months in the bag has lost too much flavor. He recommends using the coffee and not saving it for occasions. It’s better to buy it in small lots than to let it age too much.

To Storm, the coffee grinder is very important (It’s assumed we are grinding the whole beans ourselves.) He does not agree that one should buy a cheap grinder in order to have more to spend on the coffeemaker, but feels just the opposite. Temperature is another important factor. Almost boiling water can ruin coffee, and extremely hot milk for your cappuccino is another no-no. It should be at about 60 degrees, because too much heat kills the essential proteins in milk and changes the taste, while possibly destroying some of the subtler flavors of the beans. Of course, since most milk, except the hard–to-get raw variety, has already been heated during the pasteurization process, it basically has already been ruined. If you’ve ever tasted raw milk, you know how it’s supposed to taste, and how much better such a cappuccino could be….but we digress.

Water is another very critical factor in good coffee. If at all possible, don’t use tap water, especially if your local water is hard. Hard water includes more minerals, which, while being more healthful, are harmful to coffee because they affect taste while potentially ruining the coffeemaker. That’s why the best coffee makers come with their own built-in water filter. What Storm didn’t say was that it’s still even better to filter your own water from the tap. Aside from minerals, chlorine in the water can greatly affect taste in the cup. While most simple water filters take care of the chlorine, fluoride is a harder culprit to filter out, requiring more pricey filters. But if in general your filtered tap water tastes good by itself, the coffee will greatly benefit. Storm was asked why anyone needs a barista at all if they can get good fresh coffee beans and use good water. But he maintains there is a need, because a good barista can make the coffee taste the best with what he has, but a bad barista can take good ingredients and ruin a great coffee within a few minutes.

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