What makes a great coffee?

CoffeePileWhen it comes to making a coffee, everyone has their own personal preferences, habits and routines. From a simple teaspoon or two of instant to a couple or ground tablespoons in a cafetiere, to a more elaborate process, it can be done in a number of ways. (Argue amongst yourselves what is and isn’t ‘real’ coffee). Obviously the most discerning and intelligent people will opt for a Coffee Bay product.

In this post we explore a couple of methods and myths, and take a look at the full end to end process of a coffee, from seed to cup.

Great coffee begins with the bean. The fresher the bean the better the brew – so it’s always wise to check the production or expiration date on a packet. Whole beans tend to stay fresher for longer, and are preferable for the best cup of coffee. View our range here.

Don’t keep your coffee in a fridge or freezer. It absorbs moisture and odours from other contents in the fridge, which clearly isn’t desirable, and dries out the oils in the process. Instead keep it in a cupboard in a sealed container in a cupboard. Excluding light and air retains freshness and makes for a better bean.

Don’t grind your beans until you’re ready to brew your coffee, and if you’re planning to grind them yourself, then you’ll need an appropriate tool. You can pick up a grinder fairly easily either on the high street or online for around twenty pounds. But be sure to get something specifically designed for grinding coffee beans, for the best consistency.

Water is important and purists will advocate using filtered or bottled spring water over the unpredictable liquid emitted by domestic taps.

As we’re nerding out to the extreme here, temperature and ratio of beans to water are also significant. 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground coffee are recommended per 170 grams of water; while temperatures for brewing should reach between 90 to 95 degrees centigrade.

IMG_8252cNow, you have your water and you have your ground coffee beans. Which method makes the best coffee? This is a subject many can and do argue long and hard about – by which time their coffee’s gone cold. Some claim the cafetiere process preserves all the coffee bean oils, producing a stronger and fresher-tasting drink. Others swear by the similar aeropress method.

The drip system too remains popular, although it’s suggested that this process can actually filter out the key oils which give coffee its flavour.

Of course there’s no right or wrong way to make a coffee. Much depends on your personal preference, and your palate’s sensitivity to flavour.

(That said, this blogger finds regular instant coffee drinkers incomprehensible human beings for whom there can only be slender hope.)


The journey from seed to cuphandpicked coffee cherries

  • Coffee seeds are initially planted in nurseries for six months to a year, before being transplanted to open fields.
  • Coffee grows best where there is plenty of rainfall at certain times of the year. It thrives in well-drained, rich, volcanic soil.
  • Around two-and-a-half years after being planted in fields, coffee trees begin to flower, producing small fruit known as coffee cherries.volcanic_soil
  • In the middle of each coffee cherry are two green coffee beans.
  • During harvest these coffee cherries are hand-picked, husked, sorted and bagged.
  • Around 2,000 cherries or 4,000 beans will produce one pound of roasted coffee.
  • Prepared coffee cherries are then shipped from the countries where they were grown to the countries where they will be roasted, distributed and ultimately consumed.