Coffee plays an important role in most people’s weekdays, but it’s just as important when you’re relaxing at the cottage on a long weekend. Similar to the way we’ve learned about food, wine, and beer, we have also learned new ways to make and enjoy coffee. In fact, as a coffee drinker, I often get confused about whether I’m making the best cup of coffee.
Making coffee, like preparing dinner, has become as complicated or as basic as you want, and at the end of the day it all depends on preference. Having spent many years working in coffee shops that have prided themselves on having the very best coffee beans, I began to adopt techniques at home that showcased the flavour of the beans.
With many cottage regions having their own roasters, you may want to include some locally roasted beans as part of your morning routine. As far as preparation, here are a few trends that might be easily adapted to cottage life:
The pour over
Using the pour over technique is nothing new. I remember my mom using a one-cup coffee maker when I was a kid, but now at many boutique coffee shops you’ll see lines of porcelain pour over coffee makers atop a stand ready for a barista to make a cup to order. A pour-over coffee is basically a small tool that fits a paper filter and allows the coffee to drip into the cup set below. Many baristas and home pour-over users also use a special kettle with a long, narrow spout that allows them to better control the extraction of the coffee from the ground beans. This is a great technique if you make one cup for yourself or a guest. If you’re hoping to make a pot to serve a crowd, you may want to try something else.
Similar to the pour over is the Chemex, which is like a glass vase that fits a filter at the top. As with a pour-over, you gently and slowly pour the water over the grounds in the filter, allowing the coffee to drip into the bottom of the jug. People who use the Chemex like the clean and balanced flavour. It’s also a very elegant coffee maker.
The French press
The French press has been my preferred coffee preparation tool for many years. Many people don’t like this method because it can over-extract the beans, creating a murky and bitter flavour. A French press is made up of a pot and a plunger with a mesh filter on it. The ground coffee goes in the bottom, boiled water is poured on top, and after the coffee steeps, the plunger pushes the grounds to the bottom, leaving coffee on top. The reason I like the French press method is its simplicity. I don’t have to slowly pour water around a filter. And if I’m trying to get ready to go out to the beach or if I’m hosting a brunch, I don’t want to hover over a coffee maker. Many coffee purists believe using a French press highlights the oils and flavours of the beans better than any other method. A French press is also portable and affordable. You can even make the coffee right there at the dinner table while everyone enjoys the last of their dessert.
About the beans
An important part of making a great cup of coffee is to grind your beans fresh for each pot (or cup). Don’t buy pre-ground beans; you’ll notice the flavour of the beans deteriorate because of the exposure to the air. Some people have even begun hand-grinding their beans, but you can find a decent grinder for less than $20.
Also, you should never store your beans in the fridge or the freezer. It’s better to buy smaller amounts of coffee and restock often than to store your beans in the fridge. Your best bet is to store them in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
And if you’re buying your beans directly from a roaster, ask them about the best and easiest way to prepare their coffee. It’s just like asking a farmer at the market what’s in season or how to prepare the nice beets you bought, and roasters are a wealth of information that may help you on your quest to the perfect cup of coffee.
Megan Cole is an award-winning Victoria, B.C.–based journalist and freelance writer. She most enjoys writing about food and music, and when she isn’t behind a keyboard or camera, you can find her in the kitchen or at a concert. Visit her other blogs at: victoriaculinaryunderground.wordpress.com or doingsomehotcooking.wordpress.com.