Here is a list of our most frequently asked questions, in one easy reference page. The site expands on most of these topics further so please use the search function for more information.
1. How many ounces is in an espresso shot, and how many grams of coffee beans are used?
Traditionally, a single shot of espresso is one fluid ounce, and is made with 7-9 grams of beans.
2. How many ounces is a ristretto shot, and how many grams of coffee are used?
A ristretto shot, being a short shot, will be half of a fluid ounce, and is also made with 7-9 grams of coffee. Despite popular belief, the only difference in brewing is the amount of water that is pushed through the portafilter, being half that of a regular shot.
3. What kind of coffee produces the best crema?
In the United States, espresso blends are typically 100% arabica beans, simply because they are known to be of a higher quality than robusta beans. Though, in other parts of the developed world, blends with as much as 30% robusta beans are very popular for use in espresso shots. This is because robusta beans help provide stability to the espresso shot, and make the crema more profound.
4. Does coffee make you sober?
A lot of people think that drinking coffee, specifically black coffee, is a great way to sober up after a night of drinking, or even to be able to drive home after the party. This is not really true at all. When consuming alcohol, the chemical dopamine is released in the body, which makes the drinker feel happier. This dopamine triggers the release of another chemical, cyclic AMP, which is what makes people more talkative and social. Once the individual stops consuming alcoholic beverages and the naturally occurring chemicals in the body start to to calm down, the drinker will start to feel quite sedate. If coffee, or anything with caffeine, is consumed at any point during drinking, the drinker will feel more awake, but that will not change concerning the amount of alcohol in the system. The individual will simply be in a more awake state of drunkenness. It’s best to just call a cab or spend the night, and drink plenty of water.
5. What are the different coffee roasts, and what do they mean?
Different coffee roasts refer to the amount of time the coffee beans have spent being roasted. Light roasts are roasted for less time, whereas dark roasts are roasted for much longer. Lighter roasts will be light in color, contain slightly more caffeine than dark roasted beans, and will not have any oil on the surface. Medium roasts will have a rich and dark color with a small amount of oil on the surface, and dark roasts can range from a dark brown, to an almost charcoal looking color, with a ton of oil on the surface. The amount of oil present on the bean relates to roasting time in the sense that more of the bean’s oils are brought to the surface.
Some will say that roasting coffee past, and sometimes into, the medium grade, somewhat kills the coffee, as roasting darker than that will take away any naturally occurring flavors that the beans brought from their growing region. Though, it’s a matter of personal preference as to what kind of roast is preferred.
Light roasts are more delicate on the palate, while dark roasts are more bold.
The list of roasts, from lightest to darkest, go as:
- light; light city, half city, cinnamon.
- Medium: city, American, breakfast, full city.
- Dark: high, continental, New Orleans, European, Espresso, Viennese, Italian, and lastly, French.
6. What is the difference between Arabica and Robusta coffee beans?
One of the most noticeable differences between the two main varieties of beans, is their flavor; Arabica beans are usually much smoother on the palate and contain more nuanced flavors, whereas Robusta beans yield coffee that is more bitter. Arabica beans are known to be better, but also are much pickier about the environment they are grown in; preferring high altitudes and extremely consistent temperatures. Inversely, Robusta beans can be grown just about anywhere, as the plant itself is much more resilient and less prone to diseases, such as coffee leaf rust, which impacts Arabica beans across the world, and can easily wipe out whole farms. Robusta beans also contain more caffeine, which is the main reason they taste more bitter.
While Robusta beans are usually frowned upon by many, they do still have a market; be it in espresso blends, or to be used in brewed coffee. When grown in the same climate that Arabica beans thrive in, Robusta beans can actually lead to some fairly decent coffee if roasted properly. Some high quality roasters, particularly in Vietnam, will roast their Robusta beans with butter, rum, and other additions to help add more complexity to the flavor.
7. What do I need to look for when buying a coffee grinder?
Coffee grinders are the most important tool in a brewer’s arsenal. One can have the most expensive and high end espresso machine, but with a grinder that isn’t able to grind consistently, the resulting espresso shots will not be very good.
The first step is figuring out a budget, and then what the grinder will be used for. For instance, if the grinder will mainly be used for a French press, drip brewer, pour-over, and similar devices, a super expensive one is not really needed, mainly because more expensive models are usually geared towards espresso machines, and will be able to grind super fine and maintain consistency at that level of fineness; something a grinder for a drip brewer doesn’t need to be able to do.
Once a budget and use are known, one of the things to keep in mind is how the coffee is ground. Avoid spinning blade grinders at all costs, no matter how inciting their cheap price may seem. A grinder that uses burrs will do a far better job grinding consistently, specifically grinders with conical burrs. Ceramic burrs keep an edge practically forever, but can easily be chipped if something besides a coffee bean found its way inside. Steel burrs will need to be touched up occasionally, but depending the grinder and how often it is used, the burrs could outlive the machine itself.