Year in Review: Our Top 5 Coffee Posts of 2017

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2017 was a big year for coffee.

What – and where – we drink is changing. Specialty trends moved into the mainstream, from the cold brew craze to the rise of RTD. Today, consumers have unprecedented control to customize their beverage, from unique flavors to nutrition-driven additives (oat milk, anyone?).

To reflect how these changes are reshaping our industry, the NCA even added a new “gourmet” category to our National Coffee Drinking Trends report.

Yet at the same time, the fundamentals of coffee remain as relevant as ever.  Whether you’re a brewing beginner or a brilliant barista, understanding the basics of what makes a quality cup is still crucial to developing and refining new brew methods and flavors. For instance: Extraction will always be a factor, and your equipment needs to be clean.

We’re looking forward to what the next year will bring – we’re seeing a lot of exciting new research on coffee and health, opportunities to improve industry best practices, and critical developments in sustainability.

But the New Year is also an opportunity to reflect on where we’ve been. Here are the most popular NCA blog posts in 2017, highlighting the importance of both innovation and tradition in the world of coffee.

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How to Make Cold Brew Coffee at Home

By Kyra Auffermann, NCA

 

There are a lot of reasons to love cold brew. Unlike iced coffee, you can control the concentration so that you don’t end up with a diluted drink.

And since the grounds aren’t subjected to heat, cold brew has a different chemical profile than coffee made with hot water. This results in lower levels of acidity, which means a smoother cup that’s more mellow on the stomach.

Cold brew is popping up everywhere from local cafes to national chains, but it’s also easy (and cheap) to make at home. Just follow these simple steps, adapted from the food blog Food 52:

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How to Make French Press Coffee

An illustrated brewing guide by artist Mike Lowery.

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For be best brew, use a coarser coffee grind for French press coffee.

Bonus pro tip from the experts at IllyAdd a heaping tablespoon (7-8 grams) of coffee to the pot per 200 ml (6.7 oz) of water. (And remember to clean your pot thoroughly after each use.)

The NCA Guide: How To Brew Coffee

For more coffee illustrations, check out our Pinterest board.

 

Back to the Grind

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“Extraction is arguably the most important and least understood aspect of coffee brewing,” says Barista Hustle’s Matt Perger in this guide on the topic.

Put simply, extraction is the method of pulling the flavor from your coffee beans. It’s the magic that turns water and beans into a beautiful beverage. As water passes through the grounds, it dissolves all sorts of compounds that end up in your cup.

But this is where things get tricky: As Food and Wine notes, “Some of those compounds taste great, but others are kind of nasty. To get the good ones, and the right amount of them, you need to properly extract your coffee, meaning that the water dissolves the right stuff, and the right amount of it.”

As a general rule, brewing methods with longer contact time require a coarser grind (and vice versa – your espresso should be very fine). If this seems like a lot to consider before your first cup of coffee, don’t worry.
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Six Fundamental Principles of Good Coffee

The Golden Ratio

Coffee is a matter of individual taste, shaped by factors ranging from culture to genetics (really). Whether you prefer a third-wave, artesian light roast or a strong supermarket classic, taken black or with milk and sugar — find what you like and enjoy it.

Making good coffee at home comes down to experimenting with the process, but it helps to have a solid foundation first.

These six fundamental principles can help you brew a better cup — whatever that means to you.  Continue reading