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Techniques - | Written by Lewis Spencer

How to use coffee beans

If you love coffee and want to start making coffee from beans at home, there are a number of ways that you can use them.

The traditional way to use coffee beans is to grind them and then use a coffee brewing machine of some sort, usually one which runs water or steam through the ground beans to extract as much delicious coffee as possible.

However, not many people realise that they should grind their beans just before use, as it helps the coffee taste fresh and strong. Grinding the beans too far in advance and leaving them exposed to the atmosphere can let in moisture, which prevents the full release of coffee that makes a great tasting cup. Plus, of course, the longer the ground beans are left means the greater the risk of contamination affecting the brew.

When you are grinding your coffee beans, the grinder should leave you with very even bean fragments of a uniform size, and one that suits your desired preparation method. Using the wrong coarseness can mean your brewing equipment can’t function properly. Espresso, Percolator, Filter, Cafetiere and Turkish Coffee all require different grinds to suit the style of brewing.

You can, however, make coffee using whole beans! Simply put your beans and some hot (but not boiling) water into the top of a double-boiler (or use a clean, heat-proof jar if you do not have one). In the bottom half of the boiler, put in some more water and bring it to the boil, and then turn the heat down so it just simmers gently. Place the top boiler into the bottom boiler and leave simmering gently for around one hour. This slow, gentle brew is surprisingly strong yet mellow, a real treat and worth the wait.

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