Coffee FAQ

Coffee FAQ



General Questions

Is ďacidityĒ going to upset my stomach?

ďAcidityĒ in coffee refers to a flavor component, not to the PH scale or any acids that will upset your digestive system.

When we talk about acidity in our coffee descriptions, weíre referring to the pleasant brightness you experience when you take a drink. Youíre more likely to find acidity/brightness in African and Central American coffees, or in lighter roasts. Dark roasted coffee will be lower in acidity, since the flavor components that are experienced as brightness get roasted out of the bean.

While you are unlikely to get a stomachache from bright coffees, coffee oils may be a little hard on your system. So, if youíre having trouble with drinking coffee, try a lighter, freshly roasted coffee.

Do dark roasts have more caffeine than light roasts?

It depends on your perspective. For a long time, people have thought that darker roasts have more caffeine. Caffeine is an alkaloid chemical with a bitter flavor, and dark roasted coffees tend to taste more bitter. But those bitter flavors are more a result of the roasting process than anything else.

So whatís the deal? Caffeine has a high melting point, which means that the amount of caffeine in green coffee stays pretty much constant throughout the roasting process. So an individual coffee bean loses very little caffeine content from roasting.

The difference roast profiles make in caffeine content have to do with water weight lost through roasting. Lighter roasted beans have higher moisture content than darker roasts since less water has evaporated from the bean. This means that light beans weigh more than dark beans, so if youíre weighing out your coffee it takes more individual dark roasted beans to make up your desired weight. Remember that caffeine is constant in the individual unit of a coffee bean; more beans means more caffeine.

My coffee changes flavor when it cools slightly, what is the cause of this?

According to a 2005 study published in the journal Nature, there are microscopic channels in our taste buds that respond strongly to temperature and send a signal to our brains that enhances taste. Certain flavors are perceived stronger at certain temperatures. Bitter flavors are more pronounced in hot beverages than cold.

Professional coffee tasters will taste a coffee from the time itís hot until it cools down to get the full range of flavors that particular coffee has to offer.

I want to do a coffee tasting with friends. How would you suggest setting one up?

Itís a lot of fun to compare different coffees to one another. One approach you may want to take is sampling coffees from the major coffee growing regions of the world. Comparing an earthy Sumatran to a citrusy Ethiopian is a great way to experience the impact terroir has on coffee.

The easiest way to do a coffee tasting is to press several pots of different coffees in French Presses. Before you pour hot water on the grounds, enjoy the fragrance of the ground coffee, taking note of different aromas you may smell. Smell the coffee as you pour water over it, since the aroma intensifies when the water hits it.

Be sure to taste your coffee black, so you can perceive all the coffee has to offer. Take note of body, acidity, sweetness, aftertaste and flavor and have fun!

Does coffee filtered through paper result in a less acidic brew?

Paper filters absorb the oils and fine particles that can decrease the perception of acidity in the cup. You would perceive more acidity in a cup of coffee brewed with a paper filter than you would in a cup brewed with a French Press or gold filter.

Health

Do I have to worry about Pesticides in my coffee?

Coffee goes through several processes from the time itís a seed inside a fruit until you drink it. Since any pesticide application would take place while the thick-skinned coffee fruit is still growing, it wouldnít come into direct contact with the seed. Then, if you factor in getting the fruit pulp off the bean, soaking, fermenting, drying, roasting to over 400 degrees, grinding, adding hot water, and only extracting 20% of the soluble solids of the bean, the pesticide content in a cup of coffee is negligible.

How much caffeine is in your decaf beans?

The FDA requires that coffee must be at least 97% caffeine free in order to be labeled as decaffeinated. According to Swiss Water Decaf, their coffee is 99.9% caffeine free.

Technivorm

What is the best way to clean a thermal carafe?

The stainless steel Technivorm carafe can get coffee stains on the inside, which are difficult to clean. We have found that using a little electric dishwasher soap (like Cascade), or one of the Cascade ďaction pacsĒ, cleans up the inside nicely. Simply fill the carafe full of hot water, add the soap, and let it soak for 30 minutes. All the stains should be removed without any effort.

What's the difference between the KBT-741 and the CDT?

The difference is purely aesthetics, and four tenths of an inch in height. The KBT-741 has a square water tank and housing and is four tenths of an inch taller than the CDT. The CDT has a cylindrical water tank and housing. Both share the same quality components like the copper heating element, have the same carafe, and hold the same amount of water.

Is is really worth $299?

When we first started selling coffee equipment, we had no plans to carry coffee makers. Too many of them gurgle forth disgusting coffee, are made in China, and proudly feature only one reliable function, which is their time of death, precisely two years after purchase. We've been french press and espresso people for so long that we couldn't imagine a coffee maker making a delicious brew. When we heard of the Technivorm, we knew we had to give it a try. It simply did not disappoint, and now we use it every day at the office. In fact, it brews up four to five carafes a day for us, and doesn't show any signs of wear. It weighs about eight pounds, and the European craftsmanship is evident in the quality components. The Technivorm is an investment in years of coffee drinking pleasure.

Do I need the gold filter?

If you like rich, flavorful coffee and don't mind a bit of sediment, like in french pressed coffee, we highly recommend the gold filter. Ours is imported from Switzerland and features a very fine mesh. Paper filters trap more of the natural coffee oils and don't allow as much coffee to get through along with the water, so it will result in a highly filtered cup of coffee. Some people prefer this. If you like "rich" coffee, give the gold filter a try. Any size 4, cone shaped gold filter will fit in the Technivorm.

Is it safe to leave the machine on?

Yes. There are some misconceptions floating around on forum threads and in reviews on various sites. The Technivorm has a DOUBLE safety feature. Two conditions must be met for the heating element to be turned on - the first is the carafe must be pushed in all the way so that the white button is depressed all the way. The second is a floater that is built into the water tank. This is a small piece of plastic that rests under the metal cover on the bottom of the water tank. If this floater isn't floating, it indicates to the machine that there is no water in the tank and the boiler remains off. If either of these two conditions are not met, the power in the machine is only going to the light on the power switch. It's safe to leave the machine on, as the heating element will be completely turned off. We do recommend turning it off when you remember, but it won't harm the machine to leave it on.

Does the hot water touch any plastic components and is the plastic BPA free?

The water tank is made of high density plastic (like airplane windows), and holds cold water until the brew cycle is started, then the water is dropped into the heating element. The water is heated in the copper heating element, then is forced up a glass tube, over the metal spray arm, then down into the plastic filter basket. This basket is made of ABS plastic (like plastic plumbing pipes) and does not contain the BPA that is associated with health hazards.

What is the best grind to use in the Moccamaster?

The grind level depends on a variety of factors - type of coffee, how darkly it's roasted (and how much oil there is on the outside of the bean,) and the atmospheric moisture. That being said, the optimal grind is usually the coarseness of cornmeal. If your grinder has 10 settings, 1 for espresso and 10 for percolator, start with 6, then adjust from there. If water cannot find its way through the grinds quick enough, and/or your filter basket is overflowing, then step up the coarseness. Too fine and the coffee will over-extract (tasting bitter) - too coarse, and it will under-extract (tasting weak).

How will I know it is time to descale my Technivorm?

We recommend that you descale your Technivorm every three to four months with CleanCaf, more frequently if you have hard water.

If you notice that the water coming out of the spray head has slowed, itís probably time to descale. Please refer to the userís manual for instructions.

Is there a secret to keeping the coffee hotter for longer in that carafe?

You can pre-heat your carafe with hot water to help retain heat. Also, the Brew-thru lid will help to retain heat while brewing. Heat retention is maximized by dropping the coffee at the bottom of the carafe through this lid. Please note that this lid will increase the temperature of the brewed coffee at the end of the brew cycle, but the coffee will cool faster than with the Travel lid, as it is not a complete seal. For the hottest coffee possible, use the Brew Thru lid first, then seal the carafe with the Travel lid.

Do you have a recommendation for a replacement carafe?

We've found that the Technivorm keeps coffee hot in its carafe for about an hour and a half. If you'd like to keep your coffee hot for longer than that, we recommend some of the other vacuum carafes, such as the striking jugs from Stelton.

What is the proper weight to equal one Technivorm scoop?

One rounded Technivorm scoop weighs about 0.4 ounces, or 11 grams.

I use a gold filter and find a lot of sediment in the bottom of the carafe. Is this normal?

Fine sediment is to be expected. The reason why we recommend the Swiss Gold Filter is that, unlike paper filters, it doesnít absorb the coffee oils and fine coffee particles, making a richer cup with smooth body. After time these tiny particles will settle to the bottom, so a little bit of sediment at the bottom of your pot isnít unusual.

French Press

What is the proper temperature for brewing French Press coffee?

200 degrees Farenheit (about 93 degrees Celsius), which is just under the boiling point.

Is it better to stir the coffee after adding water, or just lightly submerge all the coffee grounds?

You donít want to agitate the grounds too much by stirring when youíre brewing a press pot, since that will cause the coffee to over-extract. Making sure that all the grounds are submerged is important, though. To do this, you can gently pat down the grounds floating on top with the back of a spoon to make the ďbloomĒ deflate and ensure that all grounds are in contact with the water.

What is the best way to clean a French press?

Most French Presses are dishwasher safe, which is very convenient. Disassemble all the components of the plunger, paying attention to how they fit together. Itís a good idea to put the plunger apparatus in a silverware caddy so nothing gets lost.

If you prefer to wash your press by hand, just disassemble it and scrub with a sponge and soapy water. You may need to pay extra attention to rinsing and scrubbing the screen, as coffee oils and particles can be stubborn to clean off.

Grinding

Why is having a good burr grinder so important?

When you brew coffee, you are extracting the soluble solids from the coffee grounds. According to the Specialty Coffee Association of Americaís Gold Cup Standards, to get a good cup of coffee you should extract about 20% of the soluble solids.

When grinding coffee beans, youíre exposing surface area from which to extract soluble solids. If your grind is too coarse, there isnít enough surface area exposed, so your coffee will come out weak. If your grind is too fine, too much area is exposed, so your coffee will come out sharp and bitter.

Blade grinders really just chop coffee beans instead of grinding them, leaving you with grounds that vary in size from huge chunks to a fine powder. This difference in particle size gives you inconsistent extraction, blending sharp, bitter over-extracted flavors with dull, sour under-extracted flavors.

Burr grinders, on the other hand, grind beans between a rotating burr and a stationary surface. This gives you grounds that are uniform in size and shape, from which the sweet, smooth flavors of the bean can be extracted reliably.

Why shouldnít I pre-grind my coffee?

Coffee is perhaps one of the most complex food products when it comes to aromatic compounds. Coffee has over 1,000, thatís more than red wine! The tongue is a fairly insensitive organ and the majority of what we perceive as flavor is really aroma in the secondary nasal passages in the backs of our mouths.

When you grind coffee, those aromatic compounds are immediately released, which is why freshly ground coffee smells so delicious. The aromatics dissipate very quickly, though. Once your ground coffee has been sitting around for just several minutes, the grounds start to oxidize, the aroma becomes much fainter, and the coffee begins to stale. That super exciting, Papua New Guinea turns into a generic, ďok whateverĒ coffee once itís been ground and exposed to air for too long.

So, if you care about the quality of the coffee youíre drinking, invest in a good grinder and only grind as much coffee as you need, right before you brew. Believe me, youíll taste the difference!

How do you know the right grind for your coffee?

Espresso

Espresso grinds should be fine, but not powdery. When you pinch the grounds between your fingers they should clump together, but disperse when you drop them on the counter.

Paper Cone

For both Technivorm and manual pour over, your coffee grounds should be about the consistency of a fine corn meal.

Gold Filter

Since the Gold Filter will allow more sediment to pass through, you should grind your coffee a little coarser than you would for paper filters.

French Press

When grinding for the French Press, your coffee should be about the consistency of sea salt. If your press is hard to plunge itís a good indication that your coffee is ground too fine.

Espresso

Can you make espresso from a regular roast coffee designed for drip brew?

Yes. Espresso is a coffee drink, or a method of preparing coffee, not a particular type of bean. In fact, many specialty coffee shops serve single origin coffees, like Ethiopian Sidamos and high-quality Brazilians as espresso. Even though some coffee companies sell a dark ďespresso roast,Ē medium roasts have become more popular in recent years.

What is proper weight for a double shot on a Rancilio Silvia?

The weight for a double shot is about 14 grams, approximately 0.5 ounce.

Coffee Storage

How should I store my coffee?

Ideally, you should only buy as much whole bean coffee as youíll use within a week, but we understand that isnít always possible. Always store your coffee in an airtight container that doesnít let in any light. Keep your beans cool, dry, and comfortable in your pantry or in a cupboard away from humidity.

Our coffees will stay fresh for at least 30 days in the sealed bag. These bags have a one-way valve that lets the CO2 from the freshly roasted coffee beans flush out Oxygen, but doesnít let any air back in.

Staling is just one danger of storing your beans improperly or for too long. Coffee oils beans seep out of the beans as they sit for a long time, even if the coffee is lightly roasted and looks dry when itís fresh. Since the oils are essentially non-hydrogenated vegetable oil, they will eventually spoil and taste pretty gross.

What is the shelf life of coffee?

Our coffees will stay fresh for at least 30 days in the sealed bag. These bags have a one-way valve that lets the CO2 from the freshly roasted coffee beans flush out Oxygen, but doesnít let any air back in. Once you open the bag, you should use the beans within a week.

How long can coffee stay fresh if left in the hopper of a grinder?

We donít recommend keeping beans in the hopper of your grinder, since itís not airtight and the coffee will stale. Instead, only put in as many beans as you need to grind immediately.

Will my coffee stay fresher longer if kept in the fridge or in an airtight canister on the counter?

Coffee that is stored in the refrigerator can absorb fridge odors and moisture, so keeping your beans in an airtight canister is better, preferably in a cupboard to protect it from light and moisture.

Should I store coffee beans in the freezer?

If you absolutely need to store a large quantity of coffee beans and you donít plan on opening the container for a while, itís not the worst thing you could do. We donít recommend it, though. Moisture and freezer odors could degrade your coffeeís flavor.

About Clive

Why do you sell in 12 oz bags instead of 16 oz?

We want your coffee to be fresh and delicious. Having done some research, we have found that most households use about 12 ounces of coffee beans per week.

What is the time period from the moment the beans are roasted to the time I receive them?

We roast our coffee twice a week, so the beans are always sent out within a few days of roasting.

Can I pick up coffee at your site?

Of course! Our showroom hours are Monday Friday from 12 pm to 6 pm and Saturdays from 11 am to 4 pm.

How do you go about finding such quality and unique coffee products?

The crew at Clive Coffee is constantly keeping tabs on what is going on in the coffee industry. We read blogs, go to trade shows, visit cafes, and talk to our friends and colleagues in the coffee business to learn as much as we can.

We love coffee as much as you do, so weíre constantly on the lookout for coffee devices and products that work well and are well designed.

Coffee Beans

Must beans be roasted immediately after harvesting?

Coffee beans donít need to be roasted right after harvesting. In fact, it is preferable for the beans to ďrestĒ in their parchment shell (pergamino) for some time once they are dried. Depending on the processing method, the resting period can last for months and it helps to even out the moisture content in the beans.

Green coffee that hasnít had enough time to rest can have grassy or green pea flavors, and it also may absorb off flavors from the jute bags in which itís stored.

What is the advantage of organic coffee?

Since coffee goes through significant processing from the time itís inside the fruit until it reaches your cup, you arenít likely to ingest any chemicals the coffee comes into contact with, so health wise itís not really an issue.

If you are concerned with environmental degradation in general, then you may want to buy organically certified coffee. Another benefit of organic coffee is that you know the workers who tended to the coffee plants and picked the coffee cherries havenít been exposed to any dangerous chemicals.

I would like to try my hand at roasting my own coffee beans. Am I crazy to even try?

You definitely aren't crazy to try roasting your own coffee! Be aware that you'll be entering a whole new world, though. Once you start learning about coffee, you may be overwhelmed by how much there is to know, but don't be intimidated.

There are several models of home coffee roasters available (our favorite is the Gene Cafe), but many people start out roasting coffee with hot air popcorn poppers.

For more information on home roasting, there are several websites that offer green coffee, home roasting equipment, literature, and tips. A good book to check out is Home Coffee Roasting: Romance and Revival by Kenneth Davids.

What effect, if any, do different roasts have on a coffee's acidity?

The roast profile for a particular coffee has a great impact on acidity. Very generally speaking, lighter roasted coffee is brighter than dark roasted. Some of the naturally occurring chemicals in coffee that produce acidity degrade during the roasting process, particularly at the high temperature necessary to produce a dark roast.

In which US state does coffee grow?

Farmers have been cultivating coffee in Hawaii for almost 200 years. Puerto Rico, which is a US commonwealth, also produces some tasty coffee.

Are there types of coffees or geographic areas of coffees that are lower in caffeine?

There are two species of coffee that are commercially cultivated and sold, Arabica and Robusta. Robustas are more resistant to pests, hardier in general, and grow at lower altitudes. They have higher caffeine content, donít taste as good as Arabica and are generally only sold as commodity coffee. If you buy specialty coffee, youíre buying the higher-quality, lower caffeine Arabica, not Robusta.

Agronomists have been working on cultivating strains of coffee that have less caffeine for years. These coffees typically have about 50% less caffeine than natural Arabica coffees. Daterra Coffee Farms in Brazil have developed a strain of coffee plant called Opus One that naturally contains just 30% of the caffeine found in typical Arabica beans.