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Fundamentally Great Coffee

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(Family Features) - The surging popularity of coffeehouses has everyone wondering how to make great coffee at home. Starbucks Coffee Company recently provided some expert tips.

"The starting point for making great coffee at home is to consider it a form of cooking with a precise recipe and measurements," says Starbucks coffee education specialist Nicole Soley. "There are four fundamentals to coffee brewing that ensure a great cup of coffee every time."

Proportion: Use the right proportion of coffee to water. This is the most important step in making great coffee. For the most flavorful cup of coffee, Starbucks recommends two tablespoons of ground coffee (10 grams) for each six fluid ounces (180 milliliters) of water. If coffee brewed this way is too strong for your taste, Soley recommends adding a little hot water to your cup of brewed coffee.

Grind: The shorter the brewing process, the finer the grind. Different brewing methods require different grind requirements, so grind your coffee for the brewing method you use. The amount of time the coffee and water spend together affects the flavor elements that end up in your cup of coffee, and the design of your coffee maker dictates how long the coffee and water sit in direct contact during the brewing process.

"Coffee ground for an espresso machine should be very fine, because the brew cycle is less than 30 seconds," Soley continues. "For a coffee press, the coffee should be coarse ground, because the water and coffee are in direct contact for about four minutes."

Water: Use fresh, cold water heated to just off the boil. A cup of coffee is 98 percent water. Therefore, the water you use to make coffee should taste clean, fresh and free of impurities. Water heated to just off the boil (195° F to 205° F or 90° to 96° C) is perfect for extracting the coffee's full range of flavors. Any cooler and the water can't adequately do the job. Automatic coffee makers heat the water for you. Make sure the one you use gets the water hot enough.

Freshness: Use freshly ground coffee. "Think of coffee as fresh produce," explains Soley. "Buy only the amount of coffee that you can consume in a week, so that your coffee is always at its peak of freshness."

The enemies of coffee are oxygen, light, heat and moisture. To keep coffee fresh, store it in an opaque, airtight container at room temperature. Storing coffee in the refrigerator or freezer for daily use can damage the coffee as warm, moist air condenses to the beans whenever the container is opened. For the best results, coffee should be ground just before brewing.

After brewing, coffee should always be stored in a thermal carafe. Coffee that is left on a burner can taste burnt and bitter after only 20 minutes.

For more information on brewing great coffee at home, visit www.starbucks.com.

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SOURCE: Starbucks Coffee Company

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