It's the first to greet us in the morning and the last thing to tuck us in at night. It's conversation, comfort and companionship. It's a rite of passage. It's a cup of coffee.
It's estimated more than 100 million Americans drink a total of 400 million cups a day. About half of all American adults have a cup of coffee to start their day. Coffeehouses, gourmet coffee shops, and espresso bars and carts are growing at unprecedented rates. The per-person consumption of regular coffee in the U.S. jumped 10.3 percent in 1993, according to National Coffee Association surveys—making the biggest jump in more than 40 years.
The discovery of coffee is traced back to the sixth century A.D. And attributed to the Ethiopian goatherder named Kaldi who noticed his flock acting particularly energetic after nibbling the fruit of some nearby bushes. Kaldi sampled it and experienced the same sensation. He took the berries to the local monastery where the head monk first threw them into the fire to destroy them. However, after taking a whiff, the monk had a change of heart. He pulled them out and immersed them in water to make a drink that kept the monks awake during long hours of prayer.
That was beginning of a rich history. In America, now the #1 importer of coffee, the drink hit an all-time high in popularity in 1962 with three out of four Americans indulging a daily cup. This marked a culmination of a gradual but regular rise in daily coffee drinking since the end of World War II, a rise thought to be cause by the drink's popularity among soldiers who had been introduced to coffee in the service.
Today, coffee is full stream ahead. The premium bean category has grown into a $1.5 billion annual industry, according to the Specialty Coffee Association of America. The number of bean stores in the country rose from 50 in 1969 to an estimated 2,400 today. The association forecasts there will be more than 10,000 coffee/espresso bars by 1999.
Preparing a good cup of coffee should be easy—you're simply combining ground beans with water until the brew is drinkable. But the variations in technique are almost infinite—and the quality depends on sure-handed knowledge. Different coffee models will require different techniques, but here are a few helpful tips for all makes:
Measure the coffee and water accurately; two level teaspoons of coffee to six ounces water.
Be sure your coffee is fresh and your coffeemaker is clear. The lime deposits that build up in the pot can be removed with a strong solution of vinegar and water.
Choose the correct grind for your machine. Draw fresh water from the cold tap. Hot water can pick up impurities in the pipes, and water that has been sitting loses its oxygenation. Make sure your water is hot, but not boiling, for the best mix of grind and water.
Remove the brew basket containing the grounds immediately. Don't keep the coffee in the brewer or on a hot plate for more than forty-five minutes.
Breve: Cappuccino made with light cream.
Cappuccino: A shot of coffee, followed by less than half a cup of steamed milk and a big head of foamed milk to contain the warmth.
Caffe Latte: A shot of coffee, with a healthy covering of hot steamed milk and up to a quarter-inch of foamed milk on top.
Caffe Mocha: Chocolate syrup on the bottom of the cup, topped with espresso, steamed milk, whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles.
Chiaro: An espresso drink prepared "clear" by adding more milk.
Espresso: A one-ounce shot of intense, rich black coffee made and served at once.
Espresso can Panna: A shot of coffee topped with whipped cream.
"Quad": An espresso drink with four shots of coffee.
"A Harmless": Double shot of decaffeinated coffee and non-fat milk.
"Double Dry Short": A double shot of espresso in a short cup with no foam.
(Makes 8 servings)
Combine Almond Roca and almonds; set aside. In a large bowl, working quickly, stir liqueur and amaretto into ice cream. Spoon half the ice cream mixture into prepared crust. Pour caramel topping over ice cream, sprinkle with half the toffee/nut mixture. Top with remaining ice cream; smooth. Freeze for at least 2 hours. Spoon Hot Fudge Topping over and sprinkle with remaining toffee/nut mixture. Slice into serving pieces, serve immediately.
(Makes one 8-inch cake)
Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, espresso powder and salt. Add butter and half and half. Then beat 1 minute on medium-high speed. In another bowl, blend coffee liqueur and egg whites. In three additions, add liqueur mixture to batter, beating 20 seconds with each additional and scraping sides and bottom of mixer bowl between additions to blend batter completely. Divide batter between two greased and floured or parchment-lined 8-inch round cake pans. Bake in middle level of preheated 350 degrees F oven for 20-23 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in cake center comes out clear. Cool layers in pans for 10 minutes. Carefully run knife around sides of pans to loosen layers. Invert onto cake rack. Cool completely before frosting.
Provided by Kamora Imported Coffee Liqueur
This page originally published as a FoodDay article in 1997.
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This page modified January 2007
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