Finally I publish an article on one of my favorite topics!
Therefore, I am happy to introduce you to the Coffee Myths that must be debunked!!!
And I say compulsorily because that’s enough now!
We have become experts in any food and drink, at home many of us cook delicious dishes of all kinds. We are able to select excellent raw materials, pay attention to where to shop, recognize scents and characteristics in wines and beer… but still rely on grandma’s words when it comes to coffee!
I’ve been asked so many different questions over the years, and I’m so glad, because it means there is interest in understanding more and there is an open mind!
At the same time, they gave me a way to collect “beliefs” that have been passed down from grandparents, parents, friends or why not, unfortunately, even from professionals in the field…
Now is the time to debunk them!
Let us assume, however, that no one is wrong, you are simply not an expert in the field because your job is something else entirely and therefore you do not know certain aspects.
For me it was the same! I did not know coffee at all, yet I was a barista. But at some point I was fed up with not understanding the “why” of things, so I started to study and participate in courses, to compare myself with those who know more than I do, and to have many trials with many different professionals in the supply chain.
Let’s get started!
1. The mound in the mocha
This is one of my favorites, also because when you touch mocha to the Italians they all feel offended… but they don’t need to! Just keep an open mind and try to understand the why of what I am about to explain.
Water, in any situation or environmental condition, always passes where it finds the least resistance. Remember this well!
When we make the mound by definition, being a “mountain” precisely, there will be more coffee ground in the center of the filter and less along the circumference. Already here we can see the first problem.
Also, when you go to close the mocha, the ground coffee will not spread evenly throughout the portafilter as if by magic, rather we will have more coffee and also much more pressed in the center, and less coffee and therefore less pressed on the edges.
Where do you think the water will prefer to go?
Along the edges! So the extraction will not be uniform.
Another problem: because the coffee is so heavily pressed, especially in the center, the little water that will try to pass through that area will find a great deal of hydraulic resistance, slowing extraction. And many people here will think that’s a good thing-not really.
It is true that the water has to be in contact with the grind a certain amount of time, if everything ended in 3 seconds we would only get dirty water, but it should not linger too long either. If the extraction is too slow, the water, at very high temperatures, would burn all the ground coffee, bringing excessive bitterness and unpleasant hints to the cup.
So you should not press the coffee into the filter, but simply level it out!
2. Coffee is bitter
Nothing could be more wrong! I have shocked you, haven’t I?
Be careful not to misunderstand me, however.
Yes, coffee by nature is bitter because it contains caffeine, which when drunk pure is a bitter substance.
What I somewhat provocatively wanted you to understand is that coffee is not ONLY bitter and in any case should never be overly so!
In fact, the drink can have sweetness and acidity, as well as a range of aromatic scents from citrus to flowers, fruit to chocolate, spices to nuts, and a thousand more!
If your coffee is simply bitter, and especially if it is uncomfortably so that you have to put a packet of sugar or milk in it or drink a glass of water immediately afterwards, it is a symptom of bad coffee!
I try to explain why as briefly as possible, but if you want to go into more detail,
In Italy, espresso coffee at the bar costs about €1, although lately we have seen many price increases due to the steep rise in raw materials. A coffee roaster who wants to make as much money as possible must therefore save on the raw material by buying one that is cheap, thus not of quality.
Not quality in the coffee industry means with defects, which can be mold, rotten beans, with unpleasant smells like gum, yuta, ash, tar, or unripe, broken beans and so on.
Fortunately for him and unfortunately for the customer, there is a solution to this: very dark roasting. By roasting the beans so much (some are actually burned) the coffee takes on that bitter taste we all know. It is so bitter that it also hides all the other flaws. Then the customer at the bar puts in sugar anyway and the problem is solved!
This strategy has been used so heavily, especially by large producers, that they have even been able to convince us that coffee must be so bitter, passing off this negative characteristic as “intensity,” giving it a new positive connotation. But it isn’t!
You can safely check the degree of roasting yourself, without the need for any instrument! Look at the color of the ground or grains you buy: they should never be dark brown, almost verging on black.
Always prefer a medium or even light roast if you use filter extraction methods.
And now we come to today’s last myth, but don’t worry there will be many more articles on the subject!
3. There is more caffeine in short coffee than in long coffee
When I was working behind the counter at the coffee shop, I very often heard this request from customers, “I just can’t wake up today, can you make me a nice small coffee, so it gives me a caffeine boost?”
Or even the other way around, “make it long today, that I’ve already had too many and I’m not sleeping tonight….”
It is believed that the more intense, ristretto, creamy, black, and strong a coffee is, the more caffeine it has. But this is not the case; it is quite the opposite!
This is because caffeine is a molecule that dissolves with the passage of water. As a result: the more water that passes through, the more caffeine will be brought into the cup; the less water that passes through the groundnut cake, the less caffeinated the beverage will be.
In the same vein, we also remember that if you add milk to an espresso, it does not change the amount of caffeine. If you have a regular coffee, cappuccino or latte, you will undoubtedly feel a less intense coffee, the amount of caffeine remains the same!
However, the concentration may vary depending on the species chosen: Robusta contains about twice as much caffeine as Arabica.