How to make a good cup of coffee — Continental style
Considering that we nearly all drink it, why is it that we so seldom get a good cup of coffee?
This is not a national cooking offense, either — for with the exception perhaps of Egypt and Turkey, where great importance attaches to its excellence, bad coffee may be regarded as an international grievance.
There is one phase, however, which, judging from my own experience, is wholly American. I allude to the atrocity one too often meets within the average lunch cafe — the glutinous, evil-smelling fluid produced by the dilution of cheap coffee essences.
There are three salient points, the ignoring of any one of which will jeopardize an otherwise successful cup of coffee:
- The berries should be freshly roasted and ground.
- The quantity should not be stinted.
- The inside of the coffee pot should be at least as clean as the outside; should never be allowed to stand with coffee in it longer than necessary, and should be well-wiped after washing.
Some connoisseurs buy their coffee and keep it for two years before using, as it greatly improves with time. This, however, is unnecessary if it be cured at a really reliable house.
Roast your own coffee
A primary importance is attached by every good judge to fresh roasting, and this is really quite a simple matter to accomplish.
Few people in this country own coffee roasters heated by charcoal, such as are universally in use on the Continent. An efficient substitute is a frying pan no longer in its first youth, placed over a clear fire. Let the pan be kept for the purpose and untainted by alien influences, for always remember that the coffee berry is very prone to incorporate other flavors with its own.
Many people in France add a little butter and sugar when roasting their coffee, judging that the thin coating confines the subtle aroma of the berry.
If it is found inconvenient to roast coffee every day, then it should be kept tightly shut down, and when ground, place in the oven for a minute or two before making.
Many people like the Turkish method. In this, the berries are pounded in a mortar. When pounded, the coffee is placed in a special Turkish cafetiere, sold for the purpose, with as much sugar as taste may direct, and water is added until the receptacle is three parts full. The lamp is then lighted, and when the liquid boils and rises, the lamp is withdrawn, and the process repeated — three times in all.