Coffee insights and advice
Making great coffee with a Moka Pot
Moka Pot coffee is a great way to make excellent coffee at home. The Moka Pot is cheap, easy to clean and use and if you follow some simple instructions a way of providing consistently excellent coffee.
The team at Sidewalk Coffee have produced this simple instructional video.
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When does fresh coffee crop arrive in the UK?
It's hard to know if the coffee you are buying is fresh? Although green coffee lasts for ages it's sometimes nice to know that the coffee you are ordering online is the latest crop.
It's all a bit complicated so we've produced a simple table to show when coffee crop arrives in the UK.
Coffee and BREXIT
We were a little surprised at the referendum outcome in the UK last week. A lot of people were surprised! But that's democracy in action.
We're a small business and working out how we might be affected by the BREXIT issue is difficult.
However, apart from the hope that we all might start drinking more coffee to put aside our fears of economic stability or the loss of European friends as they slowly leave a nationalist Britain, in the short term at least I expect coffee prices to rise in the UK.
Some of our suppliers price coffee in dollars. So, the cost of importing coffee will rise. The long-term slide of sterling against the dollar would have already put pressure on prices.
Any good news?
Maybe in a new version of Britain, small businesses might get a boost as imports of other goods increase and deprived areas of the UK benefit from additional support. And let's face it as soon as I get a bit of spare cash in my pocket one of the first things I like to do is grab a great coffee.
So we did it! Coconut milk might not be for everyone but if you're trying to cut out dairy it's a great alternative and we can even froth it like standard milk.
- We used all the standard equipment:
- Temperature sensor
- Steel jug
- ECM / Rocket coffee machine (half moon dial)
Frothing the coconut milk
Coconut milk has a different consistency to cow's milk - our Alpro milk was 'gloopy' so we decided to put a little more air into the coconut milk at the start of the process.
We then used traditional frothing techniques and created a vortex in the milk and brought it up to temperature (same as dairy).
Coconut milk latte art
To be honest I'm not the best at latte art and have decided that I need a lot more practice.
Here's the first attempt
Not bad maybe a bit bubbly!
We'll keep on practicing and will update again when we perfect it!
There are two main coffee bean types: Coffee Arabica and Coffee Robusta. Around three quarters of the coffee grown around the world is Coffee Arabica. This coffee is grown at higher altitudes than Robusta and is also harder to grow due to lower tolerance to disease. However it tastes better and has better aromatic properties.
Coffee Robusta has around twice the amount of caffeine as Arabica coffee and is more disease tolerant. It can also be grown at lower altitudes. It is however an inferior product to Arabica in terms of flavour and aroma.
Other bean types do exist but are not typically exported from the country of origin.
Coffee bean harvesting and processing
Coffee harvesting occurs at different times of the year depending on where the coffee is grown. This seasonality means that although we can get fresh coffee beans at any time of the year, you might not be able to get your favourite coffee all year round as fresh as you would like it. Saying that, green coffee can last a very long time. I did read a story about coffee beans being uncovered in Egypt in a pharoah's tomb and they were still good to roast! Can't find the story now so maybe we'll put that one down to coffee folklore.
Coffee beans are actually the 'nut like' center of a coffee berry. These berries are harvested (typically by hand) and then processed in a number of ways:
Dry processing: is the oldest way to process the coffee berry. The berries are left out in the sun to dry out over a number of weeks to reduce the moisture content of the berry (leaving practically just the coffee bean)
Wet processing: the pulp of the coffee berry is removed after harvesting either manually or mechanically. A drying out process is still required to reduce the moisture content of the coffee bean.
Regardless of the processing method (above) the coffee is then further processed to remove any husk or additional layers and is graded before being packed ready for shipping. You can view our range of green coffee for sale here...
Packing and shipping
Coffee is normally shipping in grainpro bags (plastic bags within coffee sack) or just plain hessian sacks. Due to weight (coffee bags are heavy!) you'll find that most bags are transported by land or sea. This really isn't a problem unless something happens in transit e.g. excessive heat or cold or moisture levels aren't right. Typically though green coffee beans are pretty hardy.
In the UK there are a number of coffee bean importers. Some work directly with farmers and others with exporters overseas. Coffee quality is measured (usually before it's exported) and then tested when it arrives here in the UK to ensure some other coffee hasn't sneaked its way into the shipment.
UK storage and distribution
When the coffee arrives in the UK it is warehoused (it's heavy and we drink a lot of it!) and then dispatched to roasteries across the UK. Green coffee typically has a shelf life of 9 months, so when you take into account the 2 month post-roast life it's possible to drink the same coffee for around 11 months of the year.
It's all about the coffee grind and the coffee to water ratio!
Actually, there's another dimension. The temperature of the water.
So here's a rough guide to making perfect cafetiere coffee.
1) Ideally, start with freshly roasted beans (less than a month old)
2) Boil the kettle
3) Grind the beans, coarse setting, similar to granulated sugar
4) IMPORTANT - don't let the grounds sit around for more than 15 minutes or so...
5) Depending on your coffee strength preferences, put between 7 and 10 grams of coffee per cup into the cafetiere.
So, if you have a 2 cup cafetiere, that's 14-20 grams of coffee. You'll soon get used to what your desired weight of coffee looks like, or maybe you'll find a special spoon in the kitchen to measure the coffee without the need for weighing it!
6) After the kettle has switched off and the bubbling noise has stopped, pour the water slowly from the kettle into the cafetiere. NOTE - there's a lot of talk about letting the boiled water cool for a bit but we think that the actual process of pouring the boiled water drops the temperature by the right amount so it hits the grounds at just the right temperature. Newton did a bit of work (not on cafetieres - that would have been one hell of a blog) but on water boiling: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton%27s_law_of_cooling
7) And now for the science bit. Actually, it's not that scientific. Wait around 4 minutes for the coffee to brew and then squish the squishy thing down slowly and then pour.
Some other factors...
Coarser grinds take longer to brew. Conversely tighter (smaller) grinds take less time to brew.
DON'T reboil water. Always use fresh stuff.
It's usual to see some sediment at the bottom of your coffee cup.
Medium roast coffees work well with cafetiere coffee making. Save the darker roasts for espressos.
If you make your cafetiere coffee well, and consistently, it's a great way to build up your coffee tasting techniques. It's also very smooth and with single origins you can really taste the differences between the coffee roast styles and bean varieties.
Don't be afraid to experiment. Small variances in coffee equipment used means that you have to mess around a bit at the start to get it just right. I spent several years in the coffee dark ages making bad coffee but pretending I liked it.