Posted in Kafevend Blog
What makes a cup?
With the New Year, it feels like a good time to start a new series here on the Kafevend blog. We think we're on to a good one too! Here it is: how often when you make yourself a cup of tea- or coffee- do you consider the effort that has gone into making it? We don't just mean what you've been up to- putting the kettle on and standing, spoon at the ready, for the call to action as it clicks off. We mean all the constituent parts that go in to making that drink you're going to gulp down in a few minutes: the water, the kettle, the electricity, the cup, the spoon, possibly the milk and sugar depending on how you have it- and not forgetting of course the tea and coffee itself! Join us then as we examine the gargantuan effort that actually goes in to providing you with a quick means of having a brew up. First off the line is water; it'd be jolly tricky to make a drink without it.
As you may well be aware, there is quite a lot of water out there on this here planet. Despite that, only 2.5% is actually freshwater- of that, almost 90% is tied up in ice or laying around as groundwater. Only around a quarter of a percent of freshwater can be found in rivers, lakes and the atmosphere, which is the bit we're mainly interested in using, unless you're taking a trip to the beach, of course. You'd think with such vast amounts of water we couldn't run out, but scarcity and a lack of safe drinking water is still a big problem. The next time you fill your kettle, be sure you aren't adding more than you need- not only will you save water, you'll also save electricity... but that's a whole other ball game!
Talking of boiling your water, using it right after it's boiled isn't the best way to treat your brew. The temperature can have a big impact on the taste, so it'd be a shame to ruin the good work of the growers and producers who've tended to your tea and coffee. The only thing you should use water just off the boil with is black tea- it can stand up to the heat. However, you shouldn't leave it to steep for too long, as it ends up drawing out the bitter and astringent parts. As the type of tea gets more delicate, use cooler water, right down to 60-80ºC for green tea. Conversely, the cooler the water, the longer you should steep for. Coffee works best at around 90ºC, but the steeping time is very important. It's all somewhat more art than science for the layman, but it's worth the extra effort!
Join us again next week when we return to contemplate the kettle!