The Coffee Chemistry Behind Great Tasting Coffee

Coffee Chemistry To Great Tasting Coffee by CoffeeForLess

Image credit: Greg Rodgers, Flickr

If you’re a coffee connoisseur, then you know: not all coffee is created equally. But how can two cups of coffee be so different? They’re ostensibly the same thing: coffee. And yet, they can be totally dissimilar experiences. What separates great coffee from mediocre? The answer is: coffee chemistry.

The Water Part of Coffee Chemistry

You might not think too much about the water you use to make your coffee, but it can actually have a substantial effect on the final product.

According to chemist Christopher H. Hendon, soft water (water with low mineral content) tends to produce bland coffee. Hard water has minerals that cling to certain volatile organic compounds in coffee, bringing out the flavors.

While you can’t control the chemical composition of the water that comes from your tap, you can buy coffee beans intended for hard or soft water. Give it a try. You might be surprised by the results.

How the Grind Factors Into Coffee Chemistry

The more finely a set quantity of coffee is ground, the more total surface area it has. More surface area allows for a faster extraction of the chemical compounds present in coffee beans. That’s not necessarily a good thing.

Coffee that has been over extracted tends to be unpleasantly bitter tasting. While some folks like that flavor, most find it to be rather unpalatable.

The key is to find the sweet spot, where the caffeine and desirable volatile organic compounds have been extracted, but the bitter organic acids are left in the beans. A fine grind allows all of the compounds in coffee to be extracted quickly, including the ones we don’t like the flavor of. That’s why grinding coffee to a somewhat chunky consistency is often a better choice when making drip coffee.

If you’re making coffee with a French press, you’ll want to err on the side of a coarse grind, as pressed coffee is typically brewed for five minutes or more.

Espresso, on the other hand, requires a fine grind, as the brew time for an espresso shot is rather quick.

Temperature

Generally speaking, the hotter the water, the faster extraction occurs. That’s why cold coffee takes so long to brew. Again, setting speed records for extraction isn’t what we’re after – this is all about using coffee chemistry to get the ideal cup.

The ideal water temperature range for brewing coffee is generally regarded as being between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Go much colder, and the desirable compounds won’t be full extracted. If the water’s too hot, we’ll end up with more organic acids than we’d like, and our coffee will be bitter.

The Ratio

The ratio of coffee to water is another important variable. Too much water, and our coffee will be bland and watery. Not enough, and we’ll end up with over extracted coffee that is unpleasantly strong, at least to most people’s taste buds.

Brew Time

As mentioned before, brew time varies depending on the brewing method. Espresso is brewed quickly, while pressed coffee is the result of a slower process. Still, each brewing style has a goldilocks zone, where the desirable volatile oils and caffeine are extracted before the bitter organic acids allowed to make their presence known. How’s that for a lesson in coffee chemistry?

What Exactly Makes a Coffee an Americano Coffee?

American Coffee Is Not Your Typical Espresso by CoffeeForLess

Image: Linh Nguyen/Flickr

For those already in the know, coffee drinkers who enjoy drip coffee but don’t have access to it have found that an Americano coffee is the perfect substitute. And lovers of the Americano coffee style may be so committed, that it’s all they drink, whether they enjoy it hot or over ice.

Either way, the recipe for making an Americano coffee is simple: one just pulls a single or double shot of espresso using an espresso maker, pours it into a cup, and then adds hot water (often boiling) in an equal or slightly greater amount. With an Americano coffee, the fragrant and sharp aroma of espresso is retained, though the flavor tends to be less bitter and strong.

The Legend of Americano Coffee: Know Your History

There is much lore around the beginnings of the Americano coffee drink, but a few stories seem to pop up frequently enough to lend them a tinge of credibility. In one story, Italian coffee makers created the recipe to please American tourists who were used to the flavor and strength of a normal, drip-style cup of brewed coffee. Naming the drink an “Americano” created a link to the audience for whom it was originally crafted.

In another story, the very first Americano coffee is said to find its origins on the battlefield during World War II. During the war, plenty of American GIs were overseas, struggling to find something comparable to their brewed coffee in the morning. By diluting European espresso style coffee with hot water, they were able to create something reasonably similar to a drip style cup of coffee, thus creating the Americano coffee drink. Upon returning to the States after their tour, they brought the Americano coffee style home with them, where it further grew in popularity and spread to the masses.

The “Science” of Flavor Behind the Americano Coffee Beverage

As coffee aficionados will attest to, the Americano coffee recipe is simple but strict: hot water is added to the shot of espresso after the espresso shot has been pulled. Working the recipe in a similar fashion, some coffee drinkers prefer to pull an extra long shot of espresso, essentially extracting more hot water through the same puck of espresso. This version, however, is not considered to be an Americano coffee – it is, in fact, called a lungo, or long espresso.

Yet another version switches up the order in which the ingredients are added to the cup: sometimes referred to as a long black, the beverage features a shot of espresso that’s then poured into hot water. In this version, the crema (frothy layer on top of the espresso shot) is broken up, or infracted, when it is poured into the hot water.

How Is Decaf Coffee Made?

How Is Decaf Coffee Made Question Is Solved by CoffeeForLess

Image: Ronnie Pitman/Flickr

Decaf coffee tends to be regarded as one of those eternal mysteries. If the coffee bean naturally contains caffeine, then how in the world is that caffeine extracted? We might speculate idly over this conundrum with friends, but the conversation invariably moves on to more important topics, like cellphones and vacation plans.

And still, the question often remains unsolved. So once and for all, let’s take a look at how decaf coffee is actually made.

Three Methods for How Decaf Coffee Is Made

Actually, there are three methods by which our coffee loses its precious caffeine: water processing, the direct solvent method, and carbon dioxide decaffeination. To decaffeinate coffee using water processing, a batch of beans is first moistened and soaked while still green. While in the water, the beans release their caffeine and much of their flavor properties. Then, the caffeine is removed from the water, yet the flavor properties remain.

When the beans are returned to the water, they can re-uptake their flavor properties. Some processes will remove the caffeine from the water, discard the first batch of beans, and introduce new beans. When fresh beans are introduced, the water is already fully saturated with flavor and the beans can only release their caffeine.

The Direct Solvent Method of Making Decaf Coffee

The direct solvent method uses more chemicals to decaffeinate coffee. In Europe, they use methylene chloride, while other areas prefer using either coffee oil or ethyl acetate. These chemicals can isolate and extract the caffeine from the beans, rendering them safe for those unable to drink caffeine. Methylene chloride is considered a workplace toxin by OSHA, but it never comes into contact with the coffee beans themselves. Rather, it is used to extract the caffeine from the water that’s been used to extract the caffeine from the beans.

While ethyl acetate sounds like a big, bad chemical, it is an organic, naturally occurring substance that’s commonly found in fruits and vegetables. It is non-toxic and perfectly safe to use when making decaf coffee.

Carbon Dioxide Decaffeination

The final method, carbon dioxide decaffeination, is much like the direct solvent method, but uses carbon dioxide rather than either methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. High pressure is utilized in this method of making decaf coffee. When the beans have been soaked to allow the caffeine molecules to become solvent, they are placed in a high-pressure chamber. The solution essentially becomes soda water. The carbon dioxide doesn’t affect the other molecules in the bean, only the caffeine, so the stimulant is safely and effectively extracted.

So there we have it. Science has figured out how to remove the world’s favorite stimulant so that those who suffer high blood pressure, or those who have a caffeine allergy, are not adversely impacted. Thus, everyone can enjoy one of the world’s most common and popular beverages. Cheers!

Keeping Up With Keurig 2.0 Is Easier Than You Think

By now, you’ve heard of — or may have purchased — Keurig’s new 2.0 brewing system, released late last year. The machine is touted as a first of its kind, and can brew both a single cup serving, and a four-cup carafe of coffee using a Keurig® K-Carafe Pack. There’s just one catch — the machine uses different K-Cups than the original Keurig K-Cup machines on the market.

While the previous Keurig brewers take coffee pods that work with many different brands, the Keurig 2.0 machine is RFID-limited, meaning only items with a Keurig-branded code will work. Perhaps you’ve already seen the restricted “Oops!” message if you’ve tried brewing a non-compatible pod:

k2.0-oops-screen

We’re here to help resolve any confusion around the compatibility of K-Cups sold on CoffeeForLess.com. Follow these quick tips so you can identify Keurig 2.0-compatible K-Cups.

How Do I Identify Keurig 2.o Compatible K-Cups?

To identify Keurig 2.0 compatible K-Cups, look for the “Keurig Brewed” seal printed on a ring around the outer edge of the K-Cup. Keurig first rolled these changes out in early 2014. For boxes, similarly, you’ll note the symbol designating “For Use in All Keurig K-Cup Brewers.”

green-mountain-coffee-pumpkin-spice-k-cups-24ct-seasonal-914compatible-kcup-box

 

We’ve also labeled all of our compatible products on CoffeeForLess.com with a convenient “Keurig 2.0 Compatible” orange icon. Look for this image in the Description box when shopping.

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Do the New K-Cups Work in the Old Machines?

The short answer: Yes. All Keurig branded packs will work as usual in the older brewers. Packs that do not have the new “Keurig Brewed” lids (pictured above) will not work in the Keurig 2.0 machines. The best thing to keep in mind is to look for the “Keurig Brewed” seal. This seal ensures the K-Cup can be brewed in older brewers as well as the Keurig 2.0 machine.

Why Don’t the Old K-Cups Work in the New Machine?

The Keurig 2.0 machine reads each lid to identify 2.0-compatible brands to ensure the perfect cup of coffee each time. The Keurig 2.0 will only function with Keurig brand packs, which have been specifically designed to work with the Keurig 2.0 Brewing Technology.

Keurig’s Family of Compatible Brands

From your favorites including Coffee People, Starbucks, and Green Mountain, we offer a wide range of best selling brands that are compatible with both the old Keurig brewers and new Keurig 2.0 machine. Regardless of the type of brewer you’re using, the taste and quality you have come to expect has not changed with the new technology.

For a list of 40+ Keurig 2.0-compatible brands, many of which we carry at CoffeeForLess.com, visit Keurig’s Family of Brands page. http://blog.keurig.com/blog/briana-keene/our-family-of-brands-2b-meet-some-new-members

Using Keurig 2.0? You can find full brewer support for Keurig 2.0 Technology here: http://www.keurig.com/support/K2.0-brewers

5 Reasons Why Tassimo Makes Great Coffee Machines

In case you haven’t heard, Tassimo has a unique line of coffee makers that brew the perfect beverage every time, be it at home or in the office. This innovative machine offers features like T-Disc technology, multiple beverage types, and liquid foam for a Tassimo latte. Before you run out and buy your next coffee machine, check out these five great reasons to consider a Tassimo.

1. T Disc Technology

T-Discs can be filled with coffee or espresso grounds, tea leaves, or milk creamer (the milk creamer can be frothed to make cappuccinos or lattes). In less than a minute, your machine will brew you a fresh cup of coffee, latte, or tea. Each disc comes with a barcode that tells the brewer the exact amount of water, optimal temperature, and the length of brew. This way you’re guaranteed a perfect cup on each use.what-is-tassimo-t-disc

2. Adjustable Stand

Tassimo’s machines feature adjustable stands that allow you to fill most any sized container. Fill coffee cups or travel mugs with ease.

3. Easy to Clean

All removable components of a Tassimo machine are hand washable and all parts are dishwasher safe, except for the water container. The barcode reader can be wiped down with a damp cloth.

4. Automatic Cleaning and Descaling

Many other brewers need to be descaled or cleaned manually, which means you have to take time filling your brewer with vinegar and water. However, with a Tassimo, it’s programmed to do cleaning and descaling on its own. You simply pop in a special T-Disc (that comes with your purchase), run the machine, and your brewer stays clean. It is recommended that the re-usable cleaning insert be used about once a week.

5. Tassimo Vs. Keurig

Tassimo has a variety of unique features that make it comparable to the best-selling Keurig brewer. For instance, Tassimo’s barcoding system can program the machine to adjust to different types of drinks like lattes. Another unique feature of the Tassimo is that it makes coffeehouse style foam from liquid milk that any latte or espresso lover would appreciate. Keurig brewers, on the other hand, generally only use powdered milk to create foam.

As you can see, the Tassimo machine can compete with the best brewers on the market. If you’re someone who loves lattes, or even just the type of coffee drinker who appreciates convenience, the Tassimo may be just the right coffee machine for you.

In the Market for a New Coffee Machine?

Everyone is talking about why Flavia is a popular choice for your next coffee machine. It’s easy to brew a tasty cup of gourmet coffee in the convenience of home with a Flavia coffee machine, so if you’re considering one, here are three reasons why you should consider Flavia’s.

1. Variety and Choice

Who doesn’t like options? Most coffee drinkers want a wide selection of roasts to choose from. For instance, the right coffee flavor can highlight the spirit of a season, or complement your mood. In autumn, I have to have a pumpkin spiced latte, and if I need a quick pick-me-up, I’ll reach for a French Vanilla roast. If this sounds like you, then you’ll be happy to know Flavia coffee machines are compatible with most coffee flavors.

Flavia coffee pods include:

  • Starbucks coffee pods
  • Seasonal coffee pods
  • Caribou pods
  • Celestial Seasons Tea pods
  • Iced coffee pods

Personally I like the Flavia’s single cup variety packs; I know when I wake up in the morning I always have a new flavor to choose from.

2. Convenience and Reliability

You can’t go wrong with a Flavia coffee machine. Flavia’s fresh release brewing system guarantees you get a fresh cup of coffee every time. The water releases the flavorful coffee inside, producing the freshest cup right in your own home.

3. Guaranteed Freshness Everytime

Your Flavia coffee machine is made to brew a fresh cup every time. It’s called Flavia’s 3-step SOURCE, SEAL, and SERVE brew system and it breaks down like this:

  • Step 1: The Flavia coffee team only uses coffee roasts from expert roasters and blenders around the world.
  • Step 2: The Flavia sealing process ensures the rich flavors and quality is preserved inside your coffee pod until the day you’re ready to brew your cup.
  • Step 3: Your Flavia coffee machine has a unique FRESH RELEASE ™ process that releases the flavor from your coffee in just the right way.

The process is easy and guarantees you’re getting quality each time you pop a coffee pod into your Flavia coffee machine.

Look around and you’ll see that Flavia coffee is becoming the preferred choice of coffee drinkers. The reason why this is happening is because people are noticing the difference in flavor and freshness whenever they get a cup of coffee from a Flavia coffee brewer. If you haven’t already, make the switch today and enjoy the convenience and flavor of Flavia coffee.

How to Fix Your Senseo Machine

Senseo makes a great coffee brewer. The machine makes fresh and flavorful coffee every time, but as with most any device, problems can occur, so it’s good to know how to fix them. That’s why we’ve put together a list of five common issues people have with their Senseo machine along with some quick and simple solutions. Don’t waste your time and energy on easily remedied problems.

1. Light Blinks On and Off

Solution: Use a magnet to connect to the valve from the outside of the machine. Slide the magnet slowly upwards along the water level. This should stop the constant flashing and the water level should start to heat again.

2. Coffee Comes Out Watery

Solution: Add more coffee to your brew. It’s really that simple! The machine is made to make a great cup of coffee, but a certain amount is needed to make a strong, flavorful, brew.

3. The Machine Will Not Heat Water

Solution: Unplug the machine and move the water reservoir out of the tray. Then pop the cover off the back of the machine. Chances are one of your heating wires have come loose, so you need to identify which ones. By looking into the back of your unit, you’ll see four wires. These wires should be covered in a plastic wrap. If you don’t see a plastic covering on the wire, you need to pinch it together with pliers then wrap it with electrical tape. This will allow the wire to once again conduct the flow of electricity.

4. How to Descale Your Senseo Machine

Solution: Fill the unit with white vinegar then put a pot or bowl underneath the spout. Next, press both the cup and two cup buttons at the same time. Run the vinegar through the system as if you were making a regular brew. Finally, run water through the system twice to clean out any lingering taste.

5. My Senseo Won’t Complete Its Initial Flush

Solution: This issue may be fixed by simply making sure you’ve sealed the machine properly. Run a test by pushing the pin at the bottom of the reservoir and see if water comes out. If that’s the case, then it’s most likely an internal problem and you may want to contact Senseo customer service for additional troubleshooting help, or entertain the thought of a new machine.

The Top 5 Single Cup Coffee Brewers

1. The Senseo Single Cup Coffee Maker

This coffee maker brews up gourmet coffee in minutes. It’s also one of the most affordable single cup models available on the market, so if you’re on a budget but still want quality coffee, this may be the right fit for you.senseo-coffee-machine

2. Flavia Single Cup Coffee Brewer

This coffee brewer is making a big surge in the coffee drinking world. Known for using coffee from only the best roasters in the world, Flavia has a wide variety of high quality coffee for you to choose from. Its unique FRESH RELEASE™ technology ensures every single cup of coffee you brew with the machine is flavorful.

3. Keurig Brewer

Keurig is synonymous with quality single cup coffee brewing. The company offers a variety of models to choose from, including the Keurig b70, b80, and b150. Another great thing about owning a Keurig is you’re guaranteed to find your favorite coffee blends in compatible K-pods. You’ll also save money, because the K-pods tend to be more affordable for the Keurig single cup brewer.

4. Tassimo T10

This unique single cup brew machine has features unlike any other on the market today. First, its T Disc technology ensures every beverage is brewed to perfection. Each disc has a barcode that sets the machine to brew at the optimal temperature, with the perfect amount of water, and the perfect length of brew time. It cleans and descales itself, as well as brews up to eight different types of beverages. It’s unlikely you’ll find a more complete single cup brew machine on the market today.

5. Melitta Smart Mill and Brew

Maybe the most technologically advanced brew machine ever made. Sadly, this machine is hard to come by because it’s no longer manufactured, however, it does have some amazing features that many coffee drinkers desire. For instance, the machine has seven different grinding settings, allowing you to get your beans ground to your ideal size. Second, the machine includes Microsoft’s Small Personal Objects Technology (SPOT), which provides up-to-the-minute weather reports and temperatures. For the tech-loving coffee drinker, this brew machine may be perfect for you if you can get your hands on one.

The Battle for the Keurig Crown: The Keurig B60 v the Keurig B70

Both the Keurig B60 and the Keurig B70 are the most wish-listed coffee makers out there. The eternal question seems to be: which one is better? Well, we’ve done some research to find out, once and for all, who should be crowned the King of the Keurigs: the Keurig B60 vs. Keurig B70 is about to take place.

Let’s start with Keurig B60. It’s the first model of the two to have hit the market. It’s the simpler of the two, yet maintains popularity among many K-cup drinkers.keurig B60 vs. keurig B70

Keurig B60 Features

  • Priced at $149.95
  • Dimensions: 14.9 x 12.2 x 14.2 inches
  • Three brewer size options (5.25 oz., 7.25 oz., 9.25 oz.)
  • Holds 48 ounces of water

So what are the pros and cons? For starters, it’s the more affordable of the two machines. Second, it offers you a number of different pods sizes to choose from. While some cons include:

  • Holds less water than the B70
  • Not ideal for espresso drinkers (no 3.25 option)
  • Does not offer a travel mug size option

Now let’s look at the Keurig B70. Aside from having a higher model number, what exactly stands out about this machine?

Keurig B70 Features

  • Priced at $179.95
  • Dimensions: 13 x 10 x 13.25 inches
  • Five brewer size options (4oz., 6oz., 8oz., 10oz., and 12oz.)

    Keurig Platinum B70 K Cup Brewer

  • Holds 60 ounces of water

Some pros of the B70 are:

  • Holds more water
  • Compatible with espresso pods
  • Fits travel-sized mugs

So why would you want to choose the B60? Obviously, it’s less expensive, so if you’re not a coffee drinker who needs a lot of options, then the simpler B60 would be a smart choice. Now if you are a more serious coffee drinker, who enjoys espressos, and uses a travel mug for work, then the B70 is the more attractive option. Sure it’s a little more expensive, however, you get so many added features.

There you have it. The smoke has cleared and the verdict is out. The B60 is the model for the simpler coffee drinker, while the B70 is the better option for the more serious coffee drinkers out there. Like everything in life, it all comes down to preference.

K Cups vs. Ground Coffee Cost

5 Reasons Why K Cups Are The Better Choice

It’s the eternal coffee debate: K cups vs. ground coffee cost. Which is your preferred choice? I’ve tried both ways and can tell you from research and experience that your best option is going for the K cups. To prove my point here are 5 reasons why k cups are your best option when it comes to coffee flavor and convenience.

K Cups Vs. Ground Coffee Cost

1. K Cups Do Not Waste Coffee

When you use coffee roast coffee you waste a large amount of what you buy. Think about how often you throw away excess after you make a full pot. Second, when you run out of coffee you spend three times as much by buying from your local Deli or coffee shop. With the average price of a cup of medium coffee being enough to buy six K cups, K cups are the smarter choice when you add it up.

2. Convenience

You can’t put a price tag on convenience. Think about the countless time you’ve woken up running late for work and didn’t have the time to brew up an entire pot of coffee. The beauty of the K cup is it allows you to brew a perfect amount of coffee in minutes without having to scoop out grounds of coffee and pour out excess coffee when your pot is full.

3. Savings

When you compare K cups vs. ground coffee roasts you buy at coffee houses like Starbucks, you save a lot more in the long run with K cups. Your total cost for the first year of drinking K cups comes to approximately $331 or $0.91 cents per day. Compare that price with the average cup of Starbucks coffee of approximately $2. That’s easily double the cost of what you pay for using K cups.

4. Variety

Try an experiment. Walk down the coffee aisle of your local grocery store and look at the variety of flavors and brands selling K cups coffee. Then go to your local Dunkin & Donuts or Starbucks and peruse their coffee menu. It’s easy to see that when you compare K cups vs. ground coffee roasts at local coffee houses that K cups offer you a much larger selection. Not only does this give you flexibility with choosing flavors, it also gives you the price options, as well.

5. Freshness

You can’t beat the freshness of a K cup. While ground roast coffee roasts you buy at the grocery store lose freshness the day you open up the bag, K cup coffee cups stay airtight until you brew them. That means you get a fresher more flavorful cup of coffee every time you choose K cup packaged coffee.