For years I endured abuse (mentally, verbally and physically) from fans and haters alike. It was more than a job: it was a career (for a time), a social outlet, a third place (apparently, if you're not at work and not at home, you should be at Starbucks).
Most of all, it was my life. My Starbucks family helped me turn from college graduate into a young lady. Well, I was a young lady before I knew Starbucks existed, but it made the post-collegiate transition easier. I met my (soon-to-be-ex) husband there. I met long-lost and new-fast friends there.
But I digress...
Starbucks and I parted ways in May of this year. For all of the good it did me, it was time to go. I don't miss cleaning up after people. I don't miss telling people where to go and how to get there (and them not doing it). I don't miss having to train people to do my job and them not doing it as well as me. And I certainly don't miss getting up at 4:35 AM to get there by 5 AM to pray to the coffee gods to let me get out on time at 1:30 PM.
But I do miss the coffee...
I was a Certified Starbucks CoffeeMaster for three of those four years. I probably won't be using those skills any time soon, so I thought I'd share a piece from a pamphlet I made for a coffee seminar.
Use the right proportion of coffee to water
The recipe for great coffee is TWO tablespoons of ground coffee (10 grams) for each SIX fluid ounces of water. Starbucks did not invent this brewing recipe. The standard is based on consumer research introduced in 1945 by an organization called the Coffee Brewing Center.
Coffee is made when hot water pulls out the flavor components in the ground coffee and mixes them with water. A rich, aromatic cup is desired. Proper extraction yields full, round flavors too.
The best way to make a “weaker” cup of coffee is to add hot water to properly brewed coffee.
Using less coffee results in thin, bitter tasting coffee. More water passes through the grounds continuing the extraction process long after the desirable flavor components have been pulled out. This is why we recommend diluting full-strength coffee if a milder cup is the target.
To create a stronger cup of coffee, it is acceptable to use double the amount of ground coffee. Iced coffee is often brewed in this manner.
Different brewing methods require different grinds
If coffee is ground “too fine” then the water stays in contact with the coffee for too long, resulting in over-extraction. A common belief is that a finer grind will mean more cups per pound. The result of this practice is indeed more cups per pound, but all the cups are bitter and over-extracted.
If coffee is ground “too course” the opposite happens and the coffee is watery.
Basic brewing methods:
Drip coffee—uses paper or mesh filters, flat bottomed or cone-shaped.
Espresso—pump driven, steam driven, and stove top
Coffee press—Starbucks recommended brewing method
FIVE official grinds which every store should be able to reliably produce:
o Extra Fine
Espresso: for pump-driven and piston espresso machines
If the grind is wrong: shots will pour too fast or too slow
Extra Fine: for all cone-shaped filters and for steam-driven electric espresso machines.
If the grind is wrong: bitter-tasting coffee or producing coffee too slowly in a steam-driven espresso machine.
Gold cone filters are superior in the flavor they produce because the flavor oils ordinarily trapped in paper filters are allowed to pass through.
Fine: stovetop espresso makers and vacuum pots
Medium: for flat-bottomed paper filters
If grind is wrong: there is the possibility of grounds and water overflowing in the basket if the coffee is ground too fine. Coarser grinds are more forgiving.
If you are purchasing whole bean coffee for a gift or are unsure of the filter type, this grind will work better in a cone filter than extra fine will in a flat filter
Course: for coffee press, open pot, or percolator
Coffee is 98% water. Always use cold, fresh filtered water. If your tap water is the best tasting water, by all means use it. Your coffee will taste as good as the product you put in.
o Treat coffee as fresh produce or a loaf of bread. The enemies of coffee are oxygen, light, heat, and moisture.
o Never store coffee in the refrigerator or freezer for daily use. Moisture will collect on the coffee each time the container is opened, exposing it to damage.
o Coffee CAN be stored in the freezer for later in the year (ex. Christmas blend to enjoy in August), just put a piece of tape over the FlavorLock valve on the front of the coffee bag before storing.
o Keep coffee in an air-tight container in a cool, dark place for daily use.
o For best results, coffee should be ground fresh just before brewing. Whole bean coffee stays fresh longer because there is less surface area exposed to oxygen. By grinding beans each time you brew, the freshness is preserved.
Freshly roasted beans, from a portable bean roaster I used to have