Monday, January 12, 2009

Hot Water

By Oliver Schwaner-Albright
New York Times - Times Topics
January 12, 2009

I recently came across a new product useful for those of us who brew coffee with a press pot, cone filter or Chemex: Breville’s variable temperature kettle [] ($149.95 at ). It heats water to a number of pre-programmed temperatures, including 200˚ Fahrenheit, which is ideal for coffee.

While not exactly a breakthrough, it’s an improvement over how most coffee is brewed. Water temperature is one of the four technical variables that shape a good cup of coffee (the other three are: amount, grind and time), and the rule of thumb is that coffee should be extracted at 200˚ Fahrenheit, or just below water’s boiling point. More often, water hits the grounds at a much lower temperature, and many standard home brewing machines are set by the manufacturer to a tepid 165˚ or 185˚. (A notable exception is the Technivorm [].) The drop makes a big difference. Unfortunately, you might not be getting the most out of your coffee.

For years I’ve made press pot coffee with water from a basic Breville electric kettle []. It was left behind by a houseguest as a thank-you, for which I’m forever grateful. The Australian-made appliance has proven to be a workhorse, and quickly heats water to a rolling boil, which means a little bit of winging it to get it to the correct temperature.

But now there’s no need for guesswork. Press the 200˚ button and water temperature is no longer a variable.

Again, Oliver's original post can be seen at today's New York Times Times Topics entry (January 12, 2009).