08/15/2009

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Making Coffee: Pour-Over Coffee Pour-over coffee is still one of the most common ways to make coffee as well as one of the least expensive in terms of equipment. Essentially, a manual pour over coffee maker consists of a con-shaped glass, porcelain, or plastic housing that contains a coffee filter, and a container to collect the brewed coffee. The cone-shaped filter holders can be either individual one-cup serving sizes, designed to perch over a mug, and larger sizes, up to 12 cups. My very first coffee maker was a manual pour over. In my case, it was one of the plastic Melitta filter cones that I used with Melitta paper coffee filters. There are other brands besides Melitta—purists often favor the Chemex manual pour-over coffee makers because the entire thing is made of high quality tempered glass. At first, I used a plastic Melitta filter cone and a porcelain coffeepot; later I switched to a glass carafe with an air tight lid that would keep the coffee hot. In crude terms, you place a paper filter in the filter cone (you may need to fold the seams a tad on the side and bottom), add the ground coffee (ground as if for a drip coffee maker, two tablespoons per 8 oz cup, please) in the filter, bring the water just to a boil, then slowly pour it over the coffee, distributing the water evenly over the grounds. There are a few things that make a difference, and if, you keep them in mind, you can reliably produce one of the best cups of coffee you've ever had. First, you have to start with good quality coffee, second, it's amazing what a difference it makes it if you grind the coffee just before you use it, third, use pure, clean cold water, and if it's not actually enjoyable to drink the water from the tap, purchased purified water. Brewing Pour-Over Coffee Ingredients and Equipment 1 pour-over coffee paper filter and housing cone 1 container for brewed coffee Fresh ground coffee (two tablespoons per 8 oz cup, and one for the brewer) Cold drinkable water Kettle Procedure Heat the water to boiling; allow 8 ounces per cup Grind the coffee to a medium "drip" grind once you hear the water start to boil. Pour a little hot water, slowly, over the grounds to saturate them. Pause, then pour the rest, keeping an eye on the liquid level. If the water covers the grounds completely (this depends on how much coffee you are brewing), gently stir the slurry, so that all the grounds are equally saturated. Wait for the water to drip through. Serve the coffee. Here are two other, slightly more complicated methods. If you're not sure where to shop for a brew over coffee maker, you can find them online. If you want to make iced coffee, use about 1/3 less water to make the same amount of coffee, since you'll be serving it over ice. Originally written for Klat.
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Making Coffee: Greek Coffee Greek coffee is intensely flavored, rich, dark coffee made in small batches, and served immediately in demitasse cups. The coffee is best sipped while it's almost too hot to bear (there's a reason Greek coffee is traditionally accompanied by a glass of cold water and a small plate of sweet cookies). In Greece, you will often see men, especially early in the morning, gathered in small groups by the local coffee shop, where they sip two or three cups of this amazing brew while discussing politics or soccer, before heading off to the boats or other work. Coffee and something to nibble is also often served after the mid-day break as well. The coffee must be made in small batches; usually two demitasse cups at a time, but rarely more than four. You use a small copper or steel cylindrical pan with a lip but no lid called a briki to brew the coffee. Part of the enjoyment in the coffee is that the fine grind, and the rapid brewing, create a rich creamy foam on the top. Your host or brewer will inquire how you want your coffee, unsweetened or slightly sweet, or very sweet. To make the coffee, fresh and very cold water is measured (using one of the demitasse cups) and poured into the briki. The specially ground Greek coffee is added, one heaping teaspoon per cup, with an appropriate amount of sugar; the coffee may be unsweetened (sketos), slightly sweetened, by the addition of a teaspoon of sugar (metrios), or very sweet, with the addition of two teaspoons of sugar (glykos). The briki is put on the burner, with the heat set to medium low. The coffee is stirred just until the coffee dissolves (and never, ever stirred again). Allow the coffee to heat, slowly, until foam starts to appear. The foam (crema to you espresso drinkers) is exceedingly important; traditionally the quality of the foam is associated with the richness and quality of the coffee. Once the foam has risen to the top of the briki (this happens very quickly once it starts), the coffee is removed, carefully, from the heat. The foam is poured off first, gently, and shared between the cups. Then, top the cups off with the rest of the coffee, being careful to preserve the foam in the cups. Serve the coffee immediately, with a glass of cold water, and perhaps a small plate of biscotti, like paximathi, or melomekarena (especially at Christmas, but really anytime of year) or possibly amygdalota, koulourakia, or the traditional baklava. You will notice that the grounds have settled to the bottom of your cup of coffee; you might be tempted to practice the art of kafemandeia, or reading coffee grounds. Originally written for Klat.