Make Good Coffee Co. roastery opening!

in Brewing Coffee, Buying Coffee, Coffee and You, Coffee Gear, Coffee News, Coffee Travel, Coffees of the World, Serving Coffee, Storing Coffee

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I’m so happy to finally announce that the Make Good Coffee Co. roastery is now open, and the online store will go live on November 9th, shipping throughout North America.

After blogging about coffee, traveling to coffee growing countries, and meeting and interviewing coffee roasters for almost ten years, I’m so excited to finally open my own roastery based out of San Diego, California.

There are two things I want to accomplish with this roastery, and both of them are behind the word Good in Make Good Coffee.

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“Good” should mean a quality cup of coffee that you look forward to making for yourself.  I go to bed thinking about how good the coffee is going to be when I wake up.  My goal is to know coffee roasting as well as it can be known.  I want to make the best coffee I can make, and never stop pursuing that goal.

“Good” should also mean that we can do good when we buy coffee.  In the coffee supply chain, there is nobody that works harder or makes the least for themselves than coffee farmers.  Many are dedicated to providing the best coffee, and if we help them remain sustainable by providing them with a fair price, then we help families and communities.  And in return, we continue getting the best coffee from them.  In my coffee travels, I’ve seen schools and health care facilities built in coffee communities that have been allowed to prosper.

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I’ve spent the year roasting coffee, from the Boot Coffee course in San Francisco last December, to home roasting all my own (and friends’) coffee, and reading as much as I can.  I can recite the owner’s manual for my roaster.  I’ve spent the last several weeks perfecting my first three coffees.  They will be:

– Medium Roast Panama coffee
– Dark Roast Malawi AA coffee
– Marc’s Premium: Sumatra Peaberry coffee

Come visit the Make Good Coffee Co. Store on November 9th, shipping throughout North America!  Take the Coffee Quiz that asks you a few questions about what you’re looking for, and recommends a coffee based on your choices.  And start making good coffee!

 

Help, my coffee tastes like rain-soaked cigars!

in Brewing Coffee, Serving Coffee

     Question: “Hi Marc, I’m 48 and have never liked coffee, but I’m approaching it with an open mind and learning to love it. Friends and family, all avowed coffee drinkers, tell me it is an acquired taste. We’ll see.

“I carefully researched what I thought might be the best brewing option (your website was a great help) and, on the recent occasion of my 48th birthday, my wife presented me with my very own Bodum French press and a burr mill grinder. I have been grinding my beans to a course grind and preparing my brew according to instructions gleaned here and elsewhere. My difficulty is that I want to learn to love coffee, but it’s difficult. My question is, should my brewed coffee taste like a rain-soaked cigar, or am I doing something wrong? It isn’t particularly bitter, but just doesn’t taste good either. Perhaps this is all normal and I’ll adjust in the fullness of time. Just wondering how normal my experience is. Are there folks who take their first sip of coffee and love it, or is this normally a rocky road?

Thanks, Chris”

Answer: Chris, thanks for the e-mail, and sorry that I laughed out loud when I read the part about your coffee tasting like rain-soaked cigars.  It might be one of the funniest comparisons I’ve ever heard.

I have some suggestions, and they involve easing yourself into enjoying a straight-up cup of black coffee.  Bear in mind that much of coffee’s rise in popularity over time has been through people’s ability to customize it to taste.

Cream and sugar: I drink my coffee black today, but drank it with two creams and two sugars for most of my life.  Purists would tell me I must not like coffee to add so much to it, but I disagree with that, even today as I only take my coffee black.  Coffee should be enjoyed however its drinker prefers, and people have been adding cream and sugar to coffee for as long as coffee has been popular.  Add sugar to offset the natural bitter of coffee – sweetness and bitterness are two of the four basic tastes.  This may not be the answer for you, as you mention the bitterness is not what is bothering you.  Add cream or milk to make a “creamier” drink of your coffee.  The fattier the dairy, the creamier it will make the coffee; the less fatty the dairy, the less it will really impact and change your impression of the coffee.  In other words, if this improves the flavor for you, I suggest a dollop of cream instead of a lot more skim milk.

     – The Cafe Mocha: The combination of coffee and chocolate is more popular than ever.  If you like chocolate but aren’t catching on to coffee the way you’d like, check out our Cafe Mocha Recipes to learn different ways to make coffee with chocolate.  You would still use your French Press to brew the coffee – as mentioned on that page of the site, the rules of making good coffee shouldn’t change even when making a Cafe Mocha.

Origin of Coffee: You might just not have found the origin of coffee that you’re looking for.  Try a medium-roasted coffee and experiment with different origins.  Go to your local coffee roaster, and find their signature blend, usually referred to as “House Blend” or some other catchy name containing “Blend”.

Good luck!  I hope this helps, and I hope you make the connection with coffee.  I can tell by your message that you’d like to, and I think these suggestions might help.

 

How to Recreate France’s Cafe Creme

in Brewing Coffee, Serving Coffee

Question: “I lived in France for a year and became hooked on their coffee. I’m trying to recreate it at home and have a cafetiere and Colombian beans ground specifically. But what do they add to the French “cafe creme”? I’ve tried everything – varieties of milk, cream, even creme fraiche and nothing seems to work. Please find an answer for me, it’s driving me crazy!” – Lydia Turner

Answer: Lydia, I love a challenge.  I’ve never been to France but I too have wracked my brain trying to recreate a coffee drink I’ve loved.  In my case, it was to avoid buying an overpriced but extremely tasty drink from a major coffee chain.  So I’ve gone through the same exercise as you, tweaking quantities of the various inputs until you have it exactly right.

So I put on my research hat and got to work.  As you’ve no doubt already noticed, there isn’t a ton of easily accessible information on the Web to explain what exactly the French do to make the Cafe Creme so unique.  The most detailed description I found is that it is coffee served in a large cup with hot cream – the end!

It is often referred to as an espresso drink so if you aren’t using an espresso machine to prepare the coffee, I suggest a dark-roasted coffee bean – coincidentally or not, use a French Roast coffee or what Starbucks refers to as an Espresso Roast.  You can use your conventional drip brewer instead of an espresso machine but at least make your coffee from dark-roasted beans.  An espresso machine is ideal, if you have one.

Next is the cream.  While I wasn’t able to find a recipe for Cafe Creme, I did find a chain advertising their own version of the drink and they emphasized the “espresso flavored cream” that they used.  I believe your secret ingredient might be that the cream itself has been flavored.  To learn how to flavor cream, our friends at About.com outline a simple procedure to make your own cream and to flavor it.  And more good news, they even have a recipe for an espresso flavored cream:

Espresso Whipped Cream
1 cup whipping cream
3 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp espresso powder

If whipped cream is too thick, sub out for a heavy coffee cream instead.  Give it a shot and I’d love to hear back from you whether you were able to recreate that unique taste.

It’s a fun adventure to try and recreate a unique coffee flavor.  Click here to learn more Cafe Mocha and other special coffee recipes.

How to Host a Coffee Snob

in Serving Coffee

Question: “What mustn’t you do so as not to offend a coffee connoisseur? Stay away from instant coffee?  Keep the Bailey’s out?  With thanks.” – Bill Garfield Suzuki

Answer: Bill, I can tell you that’s a great question because unfortunately, I find friends and family all too concerned about the coffee they serve me in their homes.  The exception is my parents, who have been making coffee longer than I’ve been alive, so aren’t all that concerned with what I think!

I have a friend with a formal culinary background who tells me everybody is afraid to cook for him.  I have another friend who informally is just as much a cook, and I can’t host him at my house without him taking control of the cooking.  And so it is with coffee snobs, it really depends on the person.  Anyone who would take offense to any part of being hosted is too much of a snob, let them be offended.  Here are some pointers I suggest:

1. Make everything optional
Serve the coffee black, and bring out the cream, sugar, and Bailey’s so that they are available whether the snob wants them or not.  Depending on the level of snobness, they may not want to even be asked whether they will take anything in their coffee.  So, don’t ask.  Put it all on the table and let them whiten or sweeten to taste.

2. Find out what they know that you don’t
When my friend commandeers the cooking while I’m hosting him, I watch him like a hawk.  He knows what he’s doing and so I’m intensely curious so that I can pick up a thing or two.  In fact, if you’re hosting a coffee snob, make it a point to learn one new thing about making coffee that you didn’t already know.  Or, take it a step further and ask a barrage of questions like the snob will never be in your home again.

3. Tell them what they’re getting
Maybe you are genuinely interested in being a great host for the snob.  My advice when serving the coffee is to tell the snob exactly what they’re getting – almost a presentation of the coffee.  “This is Nescafe Instant, it’s not terrible.” or “This is Starbucks House Blend I buy at the grocery store.” or “I got this as a gift, it says it’s Kenya AA, but that’s all I know about it.”  If the snob thinks you’re interested to know more, he or she probably has something interesting to share about that coffee.  If the snob is the Cliff Claven of coffee, you may have bitten off more than you can chew, but remember, you said you were genuinely interested in hosting this person.

4. Tell them to bring the coffee
Let them know what equipment you have to make coffee, and tell them that you’d be honored if they would make coffee for everybody after dinner.  No coffee snob will be offended by this.

The one I get most often is my host will pull their coffee out of the freezer, looking at me sideways because they’re pretty sure that’s not where they’re supposed to put their coffee.  So if you yourself are a coffee snob and you’ve read this far into my post, keep quiet at a time like that.  Let them ask you if that’s a good place to keep their coffee and only in response, tell them why it isn’t.

I don’t like snobs, so I try not to be one.  I’m one of the people that’s afraid to cook for my friend the chef.  And it’s not because he’s a snob at all, I’m the one who is self-conscious about it.  But, he always has small helpful tips that make a big difference for as much cooking as I do.  Turn the experience into a learning one, the snob knows things you don’t.

Try Drinking Your Coffee Black

in Buying Coffee, Serving Coffee

I was really happy this week to get this message from one of our regular guests on the site, Robin:

“Happy New Year Marc.  I took your advice and went “cold turkey” and I am now drinking black coffee…. WOW what a huge difference it makes.  Thank you.”



It was timed perfectly with a lunch conversation I was having today with a friend.  For my entire coffee-drinking life, I put two creams and two sugars in every cup.  To lose some weight, I eventually switched from 10% cream to 5% cream and of course…just put in twice as much.

What’s more, I was polluting the coffee although at the time, it wasn’t the world’s greatest coffee.  I would buy their biggest tin of pre-ground coffee and spend the next 3-4 weeks working through it.  I knew enough about freshness to put the lid back on the can between brewings, but not enough to know that much fresher coffee was out there and much better practice was needed in my kitchen.

Try Drinking Your Coffee Black

I’m not in college anymore and as the quality of my coffee has improved, there’s all the more reason to stop sweetening and whitening it.  With enough cream and sugar, every coffee you ever drink will taste the same, so that as you learn more and more about the Coffees of the World, you’ll never appreciate their uniqueness without drinking them black.

Do like Robin did and give it a shot for one week to see what you think.  There are some promises I can make you.  First of all, you won’t like your first cup of black coffee as much as what you’ve become used to drinking, so that’s why you need to give it a FULL week.  If you don’t enjoy it, how much difference can it possibly make in your life to have tried it for one week?  But I can promise you it will make a huge difference if you love coffee and come to enjoy drinking it black.

Second, you should find yourself a medium-roasted coffee for this experiment rather than the (to quote Starbucks) bolder darker-roasted coffees.  Ease yourself into the experience.

And third, I did indeed lose weight by cutting out cream and sugar.  So you do something better for yourself while you learn to enjoy coffee the way that coffee was meant to be enjoyed.  I can’t wait to hear from you as you convert!

Does cream make weaker coffee lighter?

in Brewing Coffee, Serving Coffee

Question: Hi Marc, I had a debate with my brother over whether strong or weak coffee looks creamier/milkier when cream or milk is added. I said it gets creamier looking when strong, he said weak. Could you resolve this issue? I haven’t had a chance to test it, as I don’t like to waste my grounds on making weak coffee. Thanks. — Kevin M. Lee

Answer: Good question, Kevin. The strength of coffee is a measure of how many ‘coffee solids’ the hot water extracted from the ground coffee. A strong coffee extracted more coffee solids leading to a darker coffee in the cup and so I am inclined to agree with your brother than the same amount of cream added to two cups of coffee will make the weaker coffee lighter in appearance. Once stirred, the coffee is a product of what’s in the cup and by appearance only, the cream is contrasting with the amount of coffee solids dissolved in the water.

Sugar to cut acidity in coffee

in Serving Coffee

Question: Does adding a little sugar to coffee reduce the acidity? It works for tomato sauces, so I wondered about coffee. — Sharon

Answer: Hi Sharon, using sugar to cut an acidic taste in tomato sauce definitely offsets using one of the other four basic tastes: sweetness. While it can make something taste less acidic, it doesn’t actually neutralize the acidity. The four basic tastes are bitter, salty, sour, and sweet. Sourness is the basic taste that picks up acidity, and sugar cuts that with another countering basic taste. Sugar is purely a personal taste for coffee drinkers, and why not? It’s as popular a drink because it can be seasoned.