Research shows that caffeine improves cycling performance, so here’s a guide on how to make the perfect brew.
Steps to making a Perfect Cafetiere Coffee
First up, get hold of a quality cafetiere
There are plenty of cafetiere types out there, like our Grunwerg pictured above, but good brands include Bodum, who also have a travel version (for those with no time to spare!) and Le Creuset. Avoid cheap non-brand versions as the press may be liable to rust or fray leaching undesirable flavours or grinds into your infusion.
Find the freshest beans you can
Make sure you’ve got the freshest coffee you can get your hands on. Get to know any micro roasteries in your area or sign up to a mail order bespoke coffee service.
Learn how many scoops you need per person
Adding too much or too little coffee to your cafetiere can ruin a perfectly balanced bean blend. Quality coffees are roasted to bring out subtle flavours and delicate characteristics, so over-filling or diluting the mix won’t allow you to enjoy the intended taste of the coffee blend.
The general rule is around 7g (1/4 oz) of ground coffee per person/cup. So if you’ve got a 2 cup cafetiere, you’ll need to use 7g or 56g (2oz) in an 8-cup cafetiere and so on. A little-known rule of thumb is that you should fill your cafetiere to its maximum capacity; don’t use your biggest one for just a single cup!
Only use fresh water
The water you use is just as important as the coffee. Now, we’re not saying get your blue iceberg water out from the vault, just remember to use fresh water in your kettle and wait about one minute after boiling before pouring. The science is this: you don’t want to use 100 degree water as you’ll burn the coffee grinds, resulting in a bitter-tasting brew. Also, if you re-boil water, the reduced level of oxygen will inhibit percolation and flavour development.
You can even pour a little boiling water into your cup to warm it up beforehand. Empty before adding the coffee, obviously. The ratio of water to coffee grinds should be about 125ml of water per 7g (1/4 oz) scoop. You can always add more water to your taste if needed.
Tip: pour the 92-86 degree water (not boiling!) over the back of a spoon rather than directly onto the coffee to avoid scalding any beans caught in the impact-stream.
Pre-Infuse the coffee
A barista’s tip is to add a tiny bit of water to the grounds at the bottom of the cafetiere. Moistening and stirring the grinds should pre-infuse them, so the flavour can be released immediately, rather than the 0.001 seconds after pouring your almost-boiling water over them.
After filling the correct-sized cafetiere to its maximum capacity, stir it well. Ensure all the coffee grounds are spread out nicely and not clumping together.
Don’t lose track of time
Leave the coffee to brew for about 4 to 4.5 minutes, plunge, and pour into cups immediately. The strict time frame in getting the brewed coffee to the cup is important as you don’t want it in contact with the grounds for too long or else you’ll end up with unintended flavour notes and an increasingly bitter coffee. Different aromas are released at different times with the coffee grinds, so don’t let it steep too long, or too little. Invest in an egg timer, or set your phone alarm before you Instagram your fancy cafetiere coffee to your friends.
Understand coffee flavour strength numbers
Many coffee packs come with a strength indicator, typically ranging from 1 to 5. This is an indication of the taste strength, not caffeine levels. So a stronger coffee rating doesn’t necessarily mean it’s higher in caffeine. Low numbers are roasted lighter, and sometimes you’ll be able to tell by looking at the beans (not the grounds). These will have brighter, zingy notes once you’ve brewed them. At the other end of the spectrum you have darker roasts; you can see the darker colour of these easily on the beans, which give a more intense and full-bodied taste.
Use a thesaurus
Just like wine, there’s a plethora of flowery language surrounding tasting notes. A coffee can be roasted to be nutty, rich, floral, earthy, honey-y – you get the idea. Find out what you like, which countries produce your favourite beans (Columbia, Costa Rica, Kenya, Jamaica?).
Buying Beans or Ground Coffee?
Undoubtedly the best way to unlock the flavour in your coffee is to buy the beans and grind them yourself with a home grinder. You can grind just the right amount for your cup each time, further locking the flavour up, not only in the bag, but in the remaining beans. However, if you’re not too sure about grinding yourself (or don’t have the patience!) then make sure that the coffee you buy is recently ground, kept airtight and climate controlled- ideally in the fridge.
Keeping your coffee fresh
Think of coffee beans as a fresh product. It’s best to drink your coffee soon after purchasing, within a few days, as the coffee will rapidly lose all those notes and flavours the roaster pain-staking-ly experimented to infuse them with.
Get fancy with flavours and brewing styles
There’s more than one way to skin a cat and there’s a lot more ways than this to brew a great coffee. This guide is for a cafetiere or French press, but you can also look at an Aeropress (a fancy filter coffee), a stove-top brikka for espresso, or even a straight-up Arabic coffee (grinds and water straight into your cup). Just remember to take the time to enjoy your coffee at home whilst it’s fresh, and don’t pour it into your travel thermos!