Whole Living Daily

Coffee!!! Part II of III: Yoga Off the Mat

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Last Thursday, I shared a little about my experience at a coffee plantation in Jamaica’s majestic Blue Mountains and the production process.  Today, let’s talk a little about brewing and storing those most delicious coffee beans.

To coffee lovers’ delight, many recent medical studies continue to indicate that moderate coffee consumption has more pros than cons. To read more about these positive attributes, check out this blog I wrote last year.

Now, a little about coffee brewing:

Water Temperature

Hot coffee, like tea, should be made with almost boiling water. To be honest, I’ve been ignorant about this and have been using boiling water to brew my cup of joe for well over a decade. According to Alton Bedward of Jamaica’s UCC Craighton Coffee Estate, 85 degrees Celsius (185 Fahrenheit) is the ideal temperature. The National Coffee Association states that boiling water can over-extract the coffee grinds, resulting in a coffee that tastes bitter, and that the correct temperature is 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Brewing with water that’s not hot enough will lead to a flat-tasting, under-extracted coffee.

Though I’m personally not a fan, electric coffee makers simplify the process by heating water to the correct temperature. If you share in my preference for the old-school Mellita glass carafe with a paper filter drip cone, let your water come to a full boil and then turn off the heat source and allow the water to rest one minute before pouring it over the grounds. Pour just a little water at first, so the coffee grinds  “bloom” (they will literally puff up). Then, gradually add the desired amount of water. Despite the fact I’ve been overheating my water, I’ve always felt I make a pretty decent cup of coffee. I’ll let you know if it tastes even better with refined technique!

This same pre-boiling temperature should be used with French presses.

The Water

Though I’ve always used boiled tap water, I recently learned filtered water is ideal. Logically, it’s better for coffee machinery. I think I’ll do a taste test of coffee made with Brita-filtered water and coffee made with tap water.

The Grind

Using the proper grade grind is essential for a good cup o’ joe. Too course a grind with drip filters will result in a watery brew. Likewise, using too fine a grind with a French press or percolator will leave grinds in your cup and belly. Though I haven’t heard this elsewhere, Alton said consuming ground coffee can lead to bloating and dehydration as it takes a while for the grit to pass through the body. I recall retaining more water than usual when I used to brew with a French press. I’d always grind the beans too finely and definitely sip down some of the sediment lingering at the bottom of each cup. Therefore, it’s essential to use a course grind for French presses and percolators.

While you can grind your coffee at the store, the freshest option is to do it at home on a daily basis. Blade grinders can be purchased online or at many stores for under $30. I’m a fan of the classic, no-frills Krups grinder. If you do buy ground coffee, be sure to store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Likewise, the amount of ground coffee used per cup matters. If the coffee is ground properly, one eight-ounce cup of coffee should require one tablespoon of grinds. As you can imagine, mastering the brewing process is also economical. Learn to maximize every bean!

A little more on paper filters

One of the cleanest ways to brew coffee is with paper filters, which were invented in Germany in 1908 by Mellita Bentz. Unlike metal filters, paper ones trap some of the oils and other residue present in the bean, including certain diterpenes that appear to increase risk of coronary heart disease. Another plus is that paper filters make cleaning up next to effortless.


I like how the National Coffee Association sums it up:

“It is important not to refrigerate or freeze your daily supply of coffee because contact with moisture will cause it to deteriorate. Instead, store coffee in airtight glass or ceramic containers and keep it in a convenient, but dark and cool, location. Remember that a cabinet near the oven is often too warm, as is a cabinet on an outside wall of your kitchen if it receives heat from a strong afternoon or summer sun.

The commercial coffee containers that you purchased your coffee in are generally not appropriate for long-term storage. Appropriate coffee storage canisters with an airtight seal are a worthwhile investment.”

Come back on Thursday for one last blog on coffee: How to recycle your coffee grinds.

Yoga brings stability and calm into every discipline of Sophie Herbert's life. She is an alignment focused yoga teacher (and perpetual student) and a Whole Living contributing editor. She graduated from the Cooper Union School of Art, where she nurtured her passion for documentary photography. It was during this time that she began her disciplined and diverse study of yoga in New York, Paris, and India.

Sophie has lived, studied, and volunteered extensively in India. She feels grateful to still visit and work regularly with the Deenabandhu Children's Home in Chamarajanagar, Karnataka. In November of 2010, she became an ambassador for Yoga Gives Back www.yogagivesback.org, a grass-roots nonprofit that helps destitute women and girls in India build more sustainable lives. Sophie has also shared her knowledge of yoga at the Prana Yoga Center in Astana, Kazakhstan. Currently, she teaches at the Park Slope Yoga Center www.parkslopeyoga.com in Brooklyn and privately. Sophie is also an avid cook.

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