"Kevin O'Gara is an international finance executive who upgraded his java to J. Martinez & Company's coffees nearly 20 years ago. He joined the company two years ago and is excited to be in the coffee business."
How to Upgrade your Java
Upgrade the Beans
Changing from the grocery store can of pre-ground coffee to recently-roasted whole beans, which you grind just prior to brewing, will improve your cup of coffee dramatically. But where do you get the beans? You can search for a local roaster, or you can search on-line for a mail order roaster. Mail order roasters, like us, often roast to order, so that your beans have been roasted within the past few days when you receive them. In either case, whether local or not, you want to find a roaster that roasts small batches often rather than large batches of coffee which sit around getting stale.
But when you find that roaster you have more choices to make – which coffee to order? You might even need to choose the roast – medium, dark or French roast! Here it is best to speak with the roaster and get a recommendation. Knowing what other coffees you may have liked and what you are used to drinking, the roaster should be able to recommend a coffee that will suit your current palate. Switching from a super dark roasted coffee to a medium roast Jamaica Blue Mountain might be the equivalent of trying top end Bordeaux wine while being used to jammy California Merlots. Your taste buds might not “get it” immediately.
Is the coffee going to be more expensive? Yes. Top quality coffee costs more so expect to pay over $10 per pound. Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee can cost $50 per pound or more. But even at $50 per pound you are paying less per cup (around $1.00) than you would pay at most chain coffee shops.
A simple drip maker may be all you need. A French press makes an excellent cup and will last almost forever. You can try the vacuum or siphon method, for both drama and flavor. None of these methods requires much investment. But remember a couple of issues critical to coffee: make sure your water temperature is correct (between 180 and 200F). In addition, don’t let your coffee stew on a hot plate as it will make it very bitter. If brewing in a drip maker, find one that uses a thermal carafe. Your coffee will stay warm and tasty.
You might find you are an espresso fanatic. Now you are talking about an investment in equipment and are probably already on the internet checking out discussions at www.home-barista.com and www.coffeegeek.com.
Check out our guide to brewing methods on our website. Remember also that different types of coffees lend themselves to different methods of preparation. Your roaster can help.
Using a Grinder
Fresh ground coffee will taste better, but do not get a grinder until you have found the beans you like. Freshly ground, not so great coffee beans may not be worth the investment in the grinder. Many roasters will grind the beans for you, and their grinder is likely to be much better than what you will purchase for your home. Make sure it is a burr grinder. Blade grinders will not grind evenly. If you are planning to go the espresso route, be warned that you may need to upgrade the grinder to get the fine, even grind you will need for a great espresso.
Talk to the Roaster
We talk coffee everyday with customers. It is not that different than a wine shop sometimes (though coffee discussions can involve a lot more equipment than most wine discussions). We like to talk coffee, it’s our passion. Most roasters will be glad to answer any of your coffee questions.