Java Jive: The Road to Great Coffee
Coffee. Java. Mojo.
Morning mud. Cup of Joe.
Who doesn’t love the taste and smell of a cup of freshly brewed coffee in the morning, especially during the colder winter months? As RVers, we have the advantage of being able to make fresh, hot coffee in our motorhomes.
Buying coffee roasted in different places around the country — even other countries — is a fun way to explore the world.
So what makes great coffee? Everyone’s taste is different. Some like robust; others prefer milder coffee. But here are some things that coffee experts say make the best coffee.
Coffee derives its rich, aromatic flavors from the oils in the beans. As soon as a green coffee bean is roasted, the oils begin to age, dry out, and can even become rancid. Grinding and exposure to air, light, and heat accelerate aging and kill flavor. Coffee baristas suggest buying whole beans, storing them in a cool, dark place for no more than two weeks and grinding them just before brewing. Obviously, that means pre-ground coffee isn’t very fresh and won’t give you the most delicious coffee. And pre-ground coffee pods, while convenient, can be notoriously lacking in flavor.
Use at least two heaping tablespoons for each 6 ounces of coffee (or 2.75 tablespoons for 8 ounces). This may seem like a lot if you’re used to weak, see-through coffee, but give it a try and you’ll get real coffee flavor.
Boiling coffee water re-roasts (and over-roasts) coffee. If you’re using a kettle, take it off before it steams or whistles and let stand for a minute or two. Experts say 205 degrees Fahrenheit is the perfect brewing temperature.
Best method. Many of us use auto drip or perk coffeemakers, but there are other ways to make coffee. For hearty coffee, try a French press. Put ground coffee in the bottom, add hot water and slowly push down the plunger. Or check out a stovetop or automatic espresso machine that extracts the coffee liquid with pressure for a deep java flavor.
If you like a smooth cup, try pour-over brewing. This is how I make my own coffee. You can use a single or multi-cup V-dripper. Simply put the coffee in a paper or gold filter into the dripper and pour hot water over the grounds.
Here are some places to buy freshly roasted, whole coffee beans (and most ship):
Bean North, Whitehorse, YT, Canada.
Roasts its own fair-trade beans from coffee farmers around the world. They also make terrific lattes.
Kahladi Brothers, Anchorage, Alaska.
Its hearty coffees are perfect for cold weather.
Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters,
Calgary, AB, Canada. Specialize in not over-roasting coffee to achieve smooth blends.
Peet’s Coffee, nationwide locations.
This is my favorite “big company” roaster. It offers mild, medium, and strong roasts and beans from all over the world.
Greenwell Farms, Big Island, Hawaii.
Kona tends to be a mild coffee and Greenwell’s is amazingly fresh with fruity notes of the island.
Heart, Portland, Ore.
This roaster is committed to bringing out the unique flavor of each bean.
Ritual Coffee Roasters, San Francisco, Napa, Calif.
Works with small farmers and focuses on the terroir (soil, climate) of the bean instead of a particular roasting style.