- What do all those abbreviations and things mean?
- How fresh is fresh?
- How much coffee should I use?
- What do the numbers mean that I sometimes see on a GCC label?
- What is the best brewing method?
- Does a darker roast have more caffeine than a lighter roast?
“WHAT DO ALL THOSE ABBREVIATIONS AND THINGS MEAN?”
- FT = Fair Trade
- O = Organic
- RFA = Rainforest Alliance
- “Conventional” = No specific certifications (such as “FTO”). However, there are many outstanding “conventional” coffees that are nevertheless produced responsibly. It is also worth noting that when a coffee is certified (“Organic” for example), this certification has little to do with the quality control or flavor of the coffee – but when GCC selects a certified coffee, rest assured that it will be wonderful!
- “Natural” = A somewhat uncommon method for curing green coffee beans, which can bring out highly unique flavors (most coffees are “washed”)
- “Micro-lot” = “Cream of the crop” coffee that is produced in relatively small lots, usually from a single farmer and usually with an extremely high level of quality control
“HOW FRESH IS FRESH?”
For maximum flavor, you actually want your roasted coffee to mature for a few days before brewing it – conventional wisdom says it needs 2-3 days to “de-gas,” although we think the flavor reaches its peak at 4-5 days and lasts for as long as several months.
Ground coffee quickly loses its flavor, which is why our coffee ships as whole-bean. Fresh-tasting coffee is well worth the investment in an excellent burr grinder, although even a little blade grinder will do the trick.
“HOW MUCH COFFEE SHOULD I USE PER CUP?”
First off, keep in mind that what we mean by a “cup of coffee” varies. For drip systems a “cup” usually refers to 6 ounces, whereas a “cup” from a French press is typically 4 ounces, and a single espresso is 1 ounce. Apparently, the 8-ounce cup we all learned about in grade school no longer exists. (Of course, my Saturday morning “cup” holds about 16 ounces…).
Also remember that a coffee scoop is 2 tablespoons. With blade grinders, you generally put the exact amount of beans you want into the grinder. Burr grinders usually have timed cycles, so if you fill up the bean hopper instead of adding the exact amount, you will need to experiment with your timer settings.
French Press: When using a standard 32-ounce French press, start with four coffee scoops of beans, or you can simply use a 1/2 cup measure if you’re impatient like me. If you like very strong coffee, you might add another scoop (a total of about 2/3 cup, or just use a heaping 1/2 cup).
Drip Coffee: When using a drip coffee maker, common wisdom is to use 1 or 2 scoops per 6-ounce cup. You will want to experiment to find the amounts that appeal to you.
“WHAT DO THE NUMBERS MEAN THAT I SOMETIMES SEE ON A GCC LABEL?”
- “R170615-03” is an example of a GCC Roast Number, which also indicates the date it was roasted (in this case the third roast of June 15, 2017).
- “P170727” is an example of a custom designed GCC Roast Profile. The Roast Profile determines the time-temperature relationships throughout the roasting process.
“WHAT IS THE BEST BREWING METHOD?”
Trick question! It’s all a matter of personal taste, although there are some general principles.
- Coffee Press: The “French Press” is our favorite brewing method at GCC. You place coarse-ground coffee in the bottom of the carafe, add water just off the boil, stir it thoroughly, allow it to steep for several minutes, and then press down a screen that squeezes the grounds to the bottom of the pot. This method tends to bring out the “true” flavors, because it does not re-cook the coffee (as with a percolator) or filter out the natural oils (as with a paper filter). We like to steep our coffee for 6 to 10 minutes instead of the typical 4 minutes; since our roasts are light, we believe this extended steep time brings out more of the complex flavors without much risk of the “over-extraction” you might expect with a less expensive coffee.
- Drip Coffee Maker: This method heats water to boiling and drips it through fine-ground coffee in a filter. The filter is usually disposable paper (which tends to absorb some of the tasty natural oils), although washable gold filters are available to let more of the tasty stuff through.
- Percolator: This method boils water so that it cycles up a tube and then “percolates” back down through a nest of coffee grounds. The constantly cycling water tends to re-cook the coffee as more and more coffee is infused into it, adding bitterness and degrading the origin flavors. Some people like the extra “kick,” although we feel that this method detracts from premium coffees such as those you expect from GCC.
- Other Methods: There are many more ways to brew coffee! Do a quick search and you should find many discussions of the various methods, as well as their pros and cons. Enjoy your research, and especially enjoy your coffee!
“DOES A DARKER ROAST HAVE MORE CAFFEINE THAN A LIGHTER ROAST?”
The roast level makes very little difference in the amount of caffeine for a given lot. If you measure coffee beans by weight, different roasts from the same lot have about the same amount of caffeine. However, beans from a light roast are slightly denser than beans from a dark roast, which means 2T of beans from the light roast will have a couple more beans (and thus a tad more caffeine) than 2T from the dark roast.
The real difference is in the type of bean. There are tons of different varieties, but the two main species are “Arabica” and “Robusta.” Arabica has about half the caffeine of Robusta.
Incidentally, Arabica and other unique varieties are used in premium single-origin roasts because of the vastly superior flavor. Robusta tends to be bitter but inexpensive, and is therefore often over-roasted to be used as filler (or exclusively) when making cheap coffee.
Goodspeed Custom Coffee only uses premium, single-origin coffee beans. You will never get inexpensive and fillers in coffee from GCC!