Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...
"I normally just dose myself with quarts of decaf everyday," says Corby Kummer, 38, author of The Joy of Coffee (Chapters, $22), in his Boston office. "But in honor of this interview, I'm having a cup of the real stuff." Some eight years ago, The Atlantic Monthly editor and author wondered why American coffee was so "sour, watery and burned-tasting." To find the perfect cup of Joe, he has since picked beans in Costa Rica, watched decaffeination in Germany and drunk his way through the espresso bars of Italy. Although he now sticks mostly to low-voltage blends, he insists (with a smile), "better coffee can make America great!"
What's the best way to brew a cup?
Most methods give good results if you start with the freshest beans you can get at your specialty store. If their bean bins aren't dated, ask. Using the right grind for the method is important too. Most Americans use too little coffee to make a flavorful brew. Throw away those scoops that come in cans; they're too skimpy. Use¼ cup of coffee per 8 ounces of water.
Should we worry about caffeine?
Unless you're pregnant or have a medical condition, it gets a pretty clean bill of health. The really good news is that the better beans, called arabica, that you buy in specialty stores have only about half the caffeine of robusta beans, which are used in most canned brands.
What's your ultimate type of coffee?
I like it best when someone sends me beans that they've roasted themselves, and I grind and brew them in my own kitchen. It's not just the coffee; it's the experience around it.