- DE'CLUB ARTICLES -

110

COFFEE ALCHEMY: The importance of water quality to your cup of coffee

In history, alchemists used a blend of science and magic to search for a way to transform base materials into something more valuable. In the spirit of alchemy, we recently explored how the right grind can transform your beans into the perfect cup of coffee. Today, we’re looking at the importance of water to creating the perfect brew.

Why is water so important to a great-tasting coffee?

Water typically makes up 98 per cent of a cup of coffee. Naturally, it follows that the taste of your coffee depends on the quality of water you use.

Fortunately, in Australia our tap water is chemically treated to kill dangerous bacteria - but it still contains many substances that affect its taste. In fact, the chlorine that’s used to treat our water can leave a strong odour and taste behind.

Then there are minerals such as calcium and magnesium which are deposited in water when it runs through limestone and chalk. The higher the mineral content of the water, the ‘harder’ it is; while ‘soft’ water is relatively low in minerals. Hot water acts like a solvent, extracting the flavours from the ground coffee beans during the brewing process – the amount of minerals in the water can affect the way this process takes place, which in turn affects the taste of the coffee.

According to James Hoffman in his book, The World Atlas of Coffee, “The hardness strongly influences the way the hot water and the ground coffee interact. Hard water seems to change the rate at which the solubles in the coffee go into solution, essentially changing the way the coffee brews at a chemical level. To make a broad statement: it seems a small amount of hardness is desirable, but anything from moderate to hard water does a poor job of brewing coffee, producing a cup lacking in nuance, sweetness and complexity.”

Running an internet search on ‘how hard is the water in my area?’ will turn up your local water authority’s website, where you can find out if you live in a hard or soft water area.

Filtering your water

Investing in a basic water filter will make a big difference to the taste of your water and your coffee. A well known brand is Brita, but there are many others on the market, that can be purchased quite cheaply. You could also consider fitting a water filter to your tap to save regularly refilling a filter jug.

Another advantage to filtering your water is that it reduces the amount of limescale, which will minimise the maintenance your coffee machine requires. Whichever way you choose to filter your water, make sure you clean your coffee machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This will remove mineral build up, helping your coffee to taste better and your machine to function properly for the long term.

In exceptionally hard water areas, filtering may not be enough to remove all the minerals – in this case, bottled water may be the best choice for making your coffee.

Should I use distilled water to make coffee?

In a word, no. Distilled water has gone through a purification process that removes contaminants, but also removes magnesium and calcium. A small amount of these minerals is important for a smooth and balanced cup – with no mineral content at all, you’re likely to get a flat-tasting or over-extracted coffee.

The temperature of your water

The perfect temperature for brewing coffee is thought to be between 83° Celcius and 92° Celsius. The exact temperature within the range depends on personal preference, although coffee connoisseurs believe the more complex flavours of the coffee come out at the lower end of the scale. Some experts also say you should never pour boiling water onto your ground coffee, as you’ll ‘burn’ the coffee, damaging the flavour.

Hopefully we’ve convinced you of the importance of water quality to making the perfect cup of coffee. While it might take a little more effort, the results will speak for themselves. Happy brewing!

Next Article
111

Coffee Alchemy: using natural sugars in your coffee

As we’ve described in our other Coffee Alchemy articles on the grind of your beans and the water you use in your coffee, your perfect cup shouldn’t be bitter but even the perfect cup isn’t exactly sweet. Those with a sweet tooth may enjoy a mocha or they may simply add a teaspoon of white sugar. In either case, these aren’t the only ways to satisfy your sweet tooth. Take a look through our list of alternative sweeteners.

Agave Nectar

Agave (pronounced uh-gah-vay) is a natural sweetener that comes from a succulent plant in Southern Mexico. Agave is popular due to its pleasant taste and low glucose levels.

The taste: Agave will give your coffee a slightly caramel taste, as well as some slight bitterness compared with sugar. Being a syrup, it needs some stirring to get it to disperse.

The verdict: Switching to agave instead of sugar probably isn’t going to make your daily coffee healthier. However, it does add sweetness without overwhelming flavour.

Raw Honey

Raw honey is not pasteurised or chemically refined, unlike commercial honey. This means it retains propolis, bee pollen and bee wax. For this reason, it’s thought that eating locally-produced raw honey could help those who suffer from allergies to air-borne pollen.

Raw honey also contains antibacterial agents and contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals.

The taste: Raw honey has a strong taste that can be very noticeable in your coffee.

The verdict: Honey, raw or otherwise, is very high in sugar. Since honey tastes sweeter than table sugar and is quite a strong flavour, you may find you need to use less in your coffee, which could reduce your overall sugar intake.

Stevia

Stevia is enjoying a surge of popularity, as a plant-based, calorie-free sweetener that has no effect on blood sugar levels. Stevia comes from a native South American herb, and it’s 100 to 200 times sweeter than sugar.

Stevia is available from organic websites and stores in a green powder, which is less processed than the white stevia you can buy in the supermarket. It’s also available in a dropper if you’re feeling adventurous.

The taste: Stevia is certainly sweet, but it does have a bitter aftertaste that you may dislike.

The verdict: If you’ve been using artificial sweeteners in your coffee until now, give stevia a try. Although it does have an after taste, using it in moderation can still help take the edge off your coffee.

Rapadura Sugar

Rapadura is a brown sugar that comes from sugar cane, just like your typical table sugar. However, it’s much less processed, making it slightly richer in nutrients and relatively high in iron. It can be used exactly like white sugar, making it easy to know how much to use.

The taste: Rapadura has a rich caramel flavour that’s quite pleasant in coffee.

The verdict: Rapadura has a slightly better nutritional profile than white sugar, but it’s still sugar and should therefore be used in moderation.

Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar is made by collecting sap from the flower buds of a coconut tree. The sap is boiled until it thickens and crystallises into sugar.

According to Sarah Wilson of I Quit Sugar, coconut sugar has some advantages. It is the most nutritious of sugars; it’s sustainably produced; and it has a low glycaemic index. However, she points out that it is still high in fructose (the part of sugar thought to be responsible for most negative health effects) - and therefore best avoided.

The taste: Like rapadura, coconut sugar has a pleasant caramel flavour, which is light and tasty in coffee.

The verdict: Coconut sugar tastes good and is slightly better for you than white sugar, but it's high in fructose.

Rice Malt Syrup

Rice Malt Syrup is produced by fermenting brown rice with enzymes that break down the starches, creating a thick, sugary syrup. Rice Malt Syrup contains maltotriose, maltose and glucose – but not fructose. This means it finds favour with David Gillespie, author of Sweet Poison and Big Fat Lies; and Sarah Wilson of I Quit Sugar, who both condemn fructose as the cause of sugar’s negative effects on the body.

Rice Malt Syrup is a pleasant-tasting, sweet syrup which is relatively light in comparison to golden syrup.

The taste: You’ll definitely notice the difference if you substitute Rice Malt Syrup for sugar in your coffee. The taste is quite pleasant, but being a syrup it tends to sink to the bottom.

The verdict: Rice Malt Syrup performs well both in taste and in health benefits compared with table sugar.

We hope you enjoyed reading our roundup of sugar alternatives for your coffee. We certainly enjoyed researching it! Why not head to our Facebook page and let us know your favourite sugar substitute for coffee?

Next Article
109

COFFEE ALCHEMY: Why the grind of your coffee is important

The ancient practice of alchemy was a blend of the beginnings of philosophy, magic and chemistry. Alchemists searched for a mysterious substance named the philosopher’s stone, that would transform base metals into gold. They also believed in the elixir of life - a magical potion that would bring health, wealth and immortality.

At De’Longhi, there’s a magical potion we’re obsessed with. It’s called coffee: and there’s certainly an art and a science to making it well. In this series of two articles on coffee alchemy, we look at how to turn a basic substance, the humble coffee bean, into - well, perhaps not the elixir of life - but something pretty close.

Our coffee alchemy series will demystify the process of creating a great cup of coffee, by getting the fundamentals right – starting with the grind of your beans and looking next at the water you brew with.

Why you should care about the grind of your coffee beans

There are few aromas more appealing than freshly ground coffee beans. This rich, complex scent and correspondingly delicious taste, are what make a perfectly brewed coffee so, well – perfect! Getting that aroma and flavour from bean to cup is the obsession of the best baristas. And they know that the density of the grind can make or break a coffee.

Here are some tips to help you achieve the perfect grind.

The daily grind

First things first; you must grind your beans fresh each time you make a coffee. Why? Because grinding your beans increases their surface area, which means that volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are released quicker – either into the water, or into the air.

Put simply, if you let your ground beans sit around for more than 45 seconds, much of their beautiful aroma and rich complex flavour disperses into the atmosphere and not into your coffee. This can make for a dull, flat-tasting coffee.

Match your grind to your brewing method

There’s a balance to be struck between the density of your ground beans and the method you’re using to brew your coffee. When your beans are finely ground, you increase their surface area, so the hot water has more coffee to act on, releasing more flavour. This means that coarsely ground beans need to be exposed to the hot water for longer than finely ground beans.

Different methods of brewing expose the beans to the hot water for different lengths of time, and at different pressures and speeds. Bringing the coffee particles out of the beans in this way is called ‘extraction’, and it’s a fine art. If your coffee is under extracted, the crema will be thin with large bubbles and the body light and watery, whilst the taste will be weak. If your coffee is over extracted, the crema will be a thin dark foam and the body will be weak, whilst the taste will be strong and astringent. An espresso grind, for example, should be fine to very fine; while a stovetop espresso maker needs a slightly coarser grind.

What does this mean for the home coffee maker? Whichever method you’re using, if your coffee is a little weak, try a finer grind next time; while if your coffee is too strong or bitter, try a slightly coarser grind.

This Coffee Confidential article provides a handy table showing which grind to use for which brewing method.

Match your grind to your bean

All coffees beans behave differently in the grinder. For example, darker roasts are brittle and should therefore be ground more coarsely, while a lighter roast can be ground finely. The origin of your coffee also has a bearing - coffees from higher altitudes need to be ground more finely than those from lower altitudes. Very high altitude beans include those from Ethiopia, Colombia, Kenya and Guatemala. Medium to low altitude beans come from Brazil and Hawaii.

Remember that when you try out a new type of coffee bean, you may need to change the density of your grind.

Choose a good quality grinder

There are two main types of grinders available – the burr grinder and the blade grinder. A burr grinder results in a much more even grind, which is a good thing. When the beans are smashed in a blade grinder, the resulting grind consists of bigger pieces and very finely ground pieces, which leads to a coffee that’s both over extracted and under extracted.

A difference of mere hundreds of a millimetre in the grind can make a difference to the taste of the coffee. This makes it especially important to have a good burr grinder espresso - one that can grind the beans to a very fine (but not too fine!) density.

We hope these tips help you to experiment with your grind and brewing method, until you find the magical combination that’s perfect for your tastes.

Don't forget to check out De'Longhi's great range of coffee grinders.

Next Article
112

Anzac Cookie Recipe

Anzac cookie ingredients

Rolled Oats – 1 cup

Plain Flour – 1 cup

Brown Sugar – 2/3 cup

Shredded Coconut – 2/3 cup

Unsalted Butter – 125g

Golden Syrup – 2 tbsp

Bicarbonate of Soda – ½ tsp








How to make Anzac Cookies

1. Add the oats, flour, shredded coconut and brown sugar to a large mixing bowl and mix together using a wooden spoon.

2. Use a frying pan and a medium to low heat to melt the butter. Mix in the golden syrup and bicarbonate of soda and stir/heat until fully melted and slightly frothy.

3. Pour the butter, syrup and bicarbonate of soda mix over the dry mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until all the oats are covered.

4. Once the mix is cool, pat the mixture into cookie shapes roughly 4cm in diameter and 1/2 cm thick. Place into your De’Longhi Multicuisine with roughly 2 cm space between each cookie (they will expand as they cook).

5. Set your Multicuisine to bake (the small cake symbol) then use the plus and minus buttons on the right of the machine to set it to 12 minutes bake time. If you do not own a Multicuisine, preheat your oven to 170 degrees and bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

6. Use tongs to remove cookies from the Multicuisine and place on a plate to cool. Then make yourself a nice cup of Earl Grey tea and enjoy!

Next Article
107

A century of De’Longhi

De’Longhi products are the quiet achievers in our homes. Maybe your benchtop features the sleek lines of a De’Longhi kettle or perhaps you toast your toes on a De’Longhi oil heater during the winter months. You might make your morning cappuccino with a De’Longhi coffee machine but the chances are, you’ve never given much thought to where your De’Longhi products came from.

The Early Days

De’Longhi’s Italian heritage is the key to why De’Longhi products look great, perform even better and last long enough to be passed down through generations.

De’Longhi was founded in 1902 in Treviso, Italy; and the company is still headquartered there today. It began as an artisan workshop where high-quality components and finished products were manufactured for other brands.

A New Era

It was not until 1974, that the owner’s enterprising son, Giuseppe De’Longhi, began to transform the company into the De’Longhi we know today.

Giuseppe saw an opportunity to help families stay warm during world’s first oil crisis – so he launched the first product under the De’Longhi name; an innovative new oil heater. The heater was a huge success and was soon followed with a wide range of versatile heaters. The De’Longhi name quickly became associated with innovation, quality and performance.

Throughout the 1970s and ‘80s, De’Longhi branched into kitchen appliances and portable air conditioners, still with the same emphasis on quality and performance. The 1990’s saw global expansion – and in 1993, new ground was broken with the first De’Longhi espresso machine.

It didn’t take long for De’Longhi coffee machines to become the world’s best-selling brand of espresso coffee makers.

The Present

Today, De’Longhi is a global business that employs more than 6,000 staff; it operates 13 production facilities and 30 international subsidiaries, that support sales to 75 countries worldwide. De’Longhi also owns the Kenwood appliance brand, and the right to manufacture Braun household appliances.

A far cry from the little workshop in Treviso. But, surprisingly, the company is still a family-run business. De’Longhi’s Chairman is Giuseppe De’Longhi – the man who had the vision to take De’Longhi from its artisan roots, to global leadership. Giuseppe’s son Fabio is the company’s current CEO.

De’Longhi has always been recognised for excellent design and performance. And, it’s not hard to see how these qualities are linked to De’Longhi’s Italian heritage. Style and quality are deeply rooted in Italian culture and encapsulated in the idea of the ‘bella figura’.

The bella figura is a concept that’s hardwired in Italians and hard to explain to outsiders. Directly translated ‘bella figura’ means ‘a beautiful figure’. While style is important, a bella figura is also about courtesy, commitment, pride and attention to detail.

So, next time you’re making your morning cappuccino, perhaps you’ll pause for a moment to enjoy the clean lines and high performance that come with a century of Italian passion for quality and and commitment to style.

Next Article
View More Articles
Submitting... Please wait.
Thank you for submitting your entry.
Back to De'Club