How to Make Great Coffee
No-one who has ever woken up in Paris to smell the aroma of the morning’s coffee rising from the courtyard of the hotel is ever likely to forget it. In the same way, a fine cup of coffee after dinner rates as a first class drink if properly made. But too often, it turns out to be bitter and insipid. Here’s how to make it well, and how to add a dash of something stronger.
METHOD OF MAKING
First of all, coffee must be properly made. The usual methods, in a variety of machinery, are straining, percolating and filtering. Putting coffee in a pot, adding boiling water and straining the resulting infusion is the most popular but disperses all the aroma. Further, any instrument or device made of metal or glass which is elaborate and difficult to work should be given away. Buy filter bags and a cone to rest the paper wafer in. Have your coffee ground to the right degree — very fine if you have your own grinder. Put 1-¼ oz (approx. 40 grams) per pint in the cone filter sitting on a pot that’s warming on the stove. Pour in boiling water, measured in a cup. Repeat until the correct number of cupfuls is in the bottom of the pot. The virtue of the paper filter is that the coffee is not itself boiled and acid ingredients are held back. It can even be successfully re-heated but NOT boiled.
The alternative method is to use a coffee-pot with a plunger. This works on almost the same principle as the filter. Put in 1-¼ oz (approx. 40 grams) per pint of water. Pour on the boiling water. Stir. Let the coffee stand for three to five minutes. Depress the plunger and the coffee is made.
If you suffer from hard water, a water softener would improve out of recog-nition not only your coffee but also cooking generally (and bathing!). The next hurdle is the choice of coffee.
THE COFFEE TO CHOOSE
In Europe the habit is to roast the beans more than is popular in Britain or America — hence the darker colour of the ‘continental’ coffees. Experiment with various fresh-roasted coffees until you find the one that suits you — and your— best. Breakfast coffee sometimes doesn’t go well after dinner, so have two kinds in store. Buy as little at a time as is practical: large amounts of ground coffee go stale very quickly. For dinner try Blue Mountain from Jamaica or Chagga from the volcanic lower slopes of Mount Meru.
Ever since the day, so the story goes, when an Arab goatherd in the Yemen noticed that his goats perked up after eating the red berries of wild coffee, people have been overdoing the drinking of coffee at night, perking themselves up just before going to bed. The coffee is wrongly blamed for insomnia; moderation is the cure. The spread of coffee to Europe in the baggage of the Turkish army besieging Vienna in the seventeenth century was first noticed by a Polish officer called Kolschitzky, who was looting the camp left by the fleeing Turks. He set up the first coffee-shop in Vienna and from there the habit spread rapidly across Europe, first the French and then the Dutch growing the plant in I their colonies for the export trade.
Since coffee succeeded where Turkish troops failed to penetrate Western Europe, it is worth considering how the Turkish soldiers prepared it at home — .particularly since the pulverized ingre-dient they used is now fairly easy to obtain. This can be made either in a copper Turkish copper pot, known as an Ibrik, or in a saucepan. Use pulverized coffee, obtainable from specialist coffee shops. For four people pour a standard cup and a half of water into a pan with six teaspoonsfuls of castor sugar. Bring to boiling point. Add three heaped dessertspoonfuls of very finely ground coffee. Bring to the boil three times. Take pan off the heat and add a few drops of cold water. With a spoon, take a little of the froth from the surface of the coffee and put into each small coffee cup. Pour the coffee very slowly into the cup.