Brew with quality water (filtered) at a temperature of around 200 degrees (not boiling). Use the brewing device that reflects your taste. I prefer a French Press because I enjoy bold coffee; some prefer a simple pour-over brewer for a lighter and fruitier flavor profile. No, you don’t need to give up your Keurig or Mr. Coffee; they still have their place.
Concerning the right cup, I make the comparative case with wine. For the longest time I could never understand why someone would spend $20 or more for a Riedl glass, and a specific glass at that, to host their wine. Really, does it make a difference? The answer is, absolutely! I had the pleasure of attending a Riedl glassware tasting and to my surprise the difference in flavor was undeniable. I believe the same is true with coffee. Depending on the environment, bean, roast and method of brewing, I would prefer a thin china cup for exceptional coffee and a big old, heavy mug when drawing from my Keurig. It is a matter of taste, but believe me, it does make a difference.
Finally, from a chef’s perspective there are a few things to keep in mind. First, coffee is important to your staff, but it can add significant dollars to your food cost if you don’t keep it in check. I have worked in many kitchens where the staff drinks more coffee than the customers. Providing a good, moderate coffee for staff consumption is fine, they will drink a lot. The role of the beverage is to aid in productivity and keep the staff upright through service. Those line cooks who need their espresso lined up before and during service might be willing to pay a few dollars for that privilege. Whatever you choose, just be sure to track the cost – you might be surprised.
For the paying guest, the coffee should match the perception of the restaurant and the value statement you are trying to create. A good guide would be to look at your wine list. If the average cost of a bottle is $25, then buy beans that match that price point. If you emphasize $100+ bottles on your list then spend as much effort on the selection, storage, brewing and service of the coffee as you do that bottle of Opus One.
In all cases, “Life is too short to drink bad coffee.”


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