Archive for February, 2010
Now that we have elucidated the differences between the two major coffee types—arabica and robusta—it is time to explore some of the more specific varietals that can be brewed in our automatic espresso machines. As with many crops, the taste and quality of the product is highly dependant on the climate and growing conditions. Because of this, coffee is generally categorized by the region where it is harvested.
Certain areas of the world are renowned for their coffee production, although they all are south of the equator and have tropical climates. Depending on where they are cultivated, the beans will have varying caffeine levels, acidity and body. The terms “cultivar,” “variety,” and “varietal” are all used to refer to different coffee variations, and next week we will explore some of these more closely.
There is a litany of characteristics to consider when purchasing coffee beans, but the most basic distinction is between arabica and robusta. As their name suggests, arabica beans are indigenous to the Arabian Peninsula. These beans are usually considered to have a richer, truer coffee flavor than their robusta counterparts.
Robusta coffee is native to central and western Africa, and is mostly grown in Africa and Brazil. The beans require less care, meaning that they are cheaper to produce and often considered inferior to arabica. Robusta beans have twice as much caffeine as arabica and our often used in instant coffee and as fillers in espresso blends for your Solis espresso machine.
Walking down the coffee aisle at the grocery store, you may be overwhelmed with the plethora of options available to you. If you just bought your first coffee maker or have simply never done any research, selecting coffee is probably a guessing game. The names often give some insight to the bean’s flavor, but it is always preferable to make an informed decision.
The next few days we will be going over several characteristics to consider when making your coffee purchase. You’ll learn everything from the difference between arabica and robusta coffees, to the importance of roasting. We’ll even review some simple coffee concoctions that you can create in your own home.
Yesterday morning I turned on my coffee machine and went about my morning routine as I always do. When it came time to leave and I was preparing to fill my thermos, the coffee pot was barely half-full. I didn’t have time to deal with the problem then, so I was forced to spend an exorbitant amount of coffee at the snack cart in my office building.
When I got home, I decided to examine the coffee machine and see if I couldn’t pinpoint the problem. After doing some investigating, I found that there were calcium deposits and buildup impeding the drip of the coffee. I whipped out my Durgol, and the machine was looking like new in no time. And when I went to brew my coffee this morning, not only did the machine work like a champ, but the coffee tasted better too.
Over the weekend, my husband and I went to visit his parents in Montana. They recently moved there from Minneapolis, and this was the first time that we had visited their new home. Being from the city, I was a little reluctant about “roughing it” in the Montana wilderness for a few days.
While it was stressful being without internet service at first, having a few days to escape from our workaday lives was actually refreshing. We got an opportunity to explore some of the beautiful scenery around Montana, and the accommodations weren’t as archaic as I was expecting. Their home had electricity and satellite TV, and I was even able to wakeup every morning to a fresh latte from one of their Saeco espresso machines.
We are all aware that salt can greatly enhance the flavor and bring out the essence of savory dishes. Few people, however, realize that salt can also augment the taste of sweet and baked goods as well. Adding just a pinch from one of your salt mills will get the salivary glands working and increase the food’s flavor.
Seasoned pastry chefs use salt in everything from cakes and pies to cookies and doughnuts. Many foods, such as oatmeal, say in the directions that a pinch of salt is “optional.” While it may not be necessary, you’ll taste the difference by add a touch of NaCl.
Coffee connoisseurs will go to great lengths to ensure that they get the highest quality java. However, how many consider the quality of their machine? While you may think that all coffee makers are created equal, that certainly is not the case.Not only will premium models have a myriad of auxiliary features, but they also will create a better tasting cup of coffee.
One of the premier brands on the market today is Saeco. It’s true that you will have to pay more for a Saeco espresso machine, but after just one cup you will know where that extra money went. These machines have an unparalleled capacity and can make several premium coffee beverages through their preprogrammed settings. In addition to the settings, they also have a steam wand to create coffeehouse-style froth and a sleek design to complement a modern kitchen décor.
In my opinion, nothing goes better with a cup of coffee in the morning than a big plate of scrambled eggs. Not only do they taste great and provide essential nutrients, but they are also one of the easiest dishes to prepare. All that you really need is some eggs and some water—although you certainly can add other mix-ins like meats and veggies.
One of the most important steps in creating light and fluffy eggs is properly beating them. This creates air bubbles in the eggs and gives a nice, spongy texture. When scrambling the eggs in the pan, it is essential too let them set first, but the rest of the process is up for debate. How you season your eggs is entirely up to you—I prefer a pinch of salt and a few twists from my pepper mill.
Many people don’t know what distinguishes espresso form other forms of coffee—they think that it simply has a fancy name. There are actually subtle changes in the brewing process that give espresso a distinct flavor and consistency. The main difference comes from the use of pressure to brew the coffee.
Because the espresso coffee maker forces the hot water through the coffee grounds, the final product has a higher concentration of coffee in it. This gives espresso a thicker consistency and stronger coffee flavor. Espresso is often served in miniaturized cups due to this augmented overall strength.
A cappuccino may sound like a fancy beverage, but it is actually quite simple. By definition, a cappuccino is a mixture of espresso, hot milk and steamed milk foam. In recent years, this Italian coffee drink has developed a loyal following in the United States.
If you are accustomed to ordering a cappuccino from a coffee shop, the prospect of making your own can be a little daunting. The key to any great tasting coffee beverage is using premium ingredients, especially when the recipe is as simplistic as a standard cappuccino. If you are nervous about steaming the milk and preparing the various accoutrements, you may want to consider purchasing your own cappuccino maker.