What's the Difference between Light, Medium and Dark Roast

Coffee roasts are identified by their color: light, medium and dark. Although these are not the most accurate terms for describing different roasts, as some coffees are naturally darker or lighter than others, they are convenient ways to categorize roasts. When purchasing coffee, you should expect different characteristics from a light roast, a medium roast, and a dark roast.

Light Roasts Retain Most of the Original Coffee Characteristics

Light roasts have a light brown, tan, color and lack of oil on the roasted beans. They have the highest acidity and are the brightest of the three roast levels.

The characteristics of different origins are most pronounced in light roasts, as are the qualities of the individual coffee. Much of the taste comes from the original coffee, which is why light roasts are often used for cuppings.

Light roasts are sometimes called Half City, Light City, New England, or Cinnamon roasts.

Medium Roasts Balance Acidity and Body

A medium roast will have a darker brown color than a light roast and will look richer. Some of the coffee’s oils may be visible on the beans, as well.

At this roast level, the coffee’s qualities begin to give way to the roast’s flavors and aromas, creating a balance between acidity and body. You’ll still be able to taste the original coffee, but the beans’ brightness will be complemented with the fuller body that is introduced by the roasting process.

Medium roasts go by City, Breakfast, Regular, and American roasts.

Dark Roasts Showcase Bold Bodies and a Richer Taste

Dark roasts are dark brown, sometimes almost black, in color. They resemble chocolate, if it was shaped like a coffee bean. Oils can be seen on the beans at this point.

Oils can be seen on dark roasted beans.

When drinking a dark roast, you’re almost exclusively tasting notes from the roast. The brightness of light roasts is replaced with body in dark roasts. Because the original coffee’s qualities are mostly lost at this roast level, it’s difficult to pick out the characteristics of a specific coffee’s origin or lot.

Historically, dark roasts have been popular in Europe, giving rise to terms such as Continental, Italian, French, and Spanish roasts. Espresso roasts are also usually dark roasts, which is partly why espresso can stand up to lots of milk and sugar.

Roast level is largely a personal preference, as each level produces different qualities in the coffee. Knowing whether you prefer light, medium or dark roasts, though, can help you identify new coffees that you might like.

Should You Drink Coffee To Cure a Hangover?

 

Coffee has long been a go-to for curing hangovers, but there’s little evidence that it actually does anything to combat the effects of alcohol. In fact, there’s no evidence. You may still want to have your morning cup of joe after a night of drinking, though. Here’s a look at the effects coffee has on people recovering from hangovers.

Coffee Won’t Sober You Up

Coffee will not sober you up. Whether you’re downing shots of espresso right after bottles of beer or having a cold-brew the next morning, the compounds in coffee won’t prevent or slow down the effects of alcohol. The molecules in coffee, adenosine, adrenaline and caffeine may increase your alertness but they don’t interact with the same receptors that alcohol affects. After enough coffee you’ll be more awake, but you won’t be any more ready to drive.

Caffeine May Avoid a Withdrawal Headache

If you’re a regular coffee drinker, you may have a mild caffeine addiction. Should you skip your morning coffee, withdrawal symptoms may make your hangover worse. The headache you already have from drinking could become more severe if you don’t have at least a little caffeine.  The only way coffee helps a hangover is by preventing caffeine withdrawal from making it worse. In this situation, though, coffee’s not alleviating the hangover symptoms. It’s simply preventing other symptoms from developing that would compound the present ones.

Coffee Could Make Your Headache Worse

Drinking coffee could make your headache worse. The caffeine that you might need to prevent to stay a withdrawal headache would also intensify your hangover headache. Caffeine narrows blood vessels, which increases blood pressure. If your head is already pounding, this would make the pounding worse. Additionally, coffee is a diuretic, so it’s easy to become dehydrated. This further narrows your blood vessels, increasing your blood pressure even more. The consequence of these two factors could turn a mild hangover headache that’s like the tap-tap of a snare drum into deep booms from a base drum.

Caffeine & Health

Independent research by scientists worldwide continues to link coffee to significant (and surprising) healthful properties.

Coffee has a naturally complex botanical profile, with at least 1,000 natural compounds in the bean (including caffeine) and another 300 created in the roasting process. Scientists have linked a number of them, including some strong antioxidants, with a host of physiological benefits.

Research has shown that moderate coffee consumption (or 3-5 cups daily) may be associated with many positive effects, including:

  • Liver disease prevention
  • Improved cognitive function in older adults
  • Sharper memory
  • Increased athletic endurance
  • Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Longevity

Due to the increasing scientific evidence, coffee has earned a new – and improved – reputation. The latest U.S. Dietary Guidelines recently made an unprecedented recommendation for coffee as part of a healthy lifestyle. 

The Caffeine Buzz

Many of these potential benefits are associated with caffeine, a naturally occurring stimulant found in coffee beans. The amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee can vary, depending on factors ranging from the type of bean to how it's brewed.

Caffeinated coffee affects individuals differently, based on heredity, body weight, gender, metabolism (there are “fast caffeine metabolizers” versus slow ones), and coffee drinking habits.

While coffee has come to be closely associated with caffeine, today consumers can choose from a variety of caffeinated and decaffeinated options.

Wake Up and Smell The Coffee!

Whether you’re a casual consumer or captious connoisseur, the smell of freshly brewed beans is irresistible – and invigorating.

In fact, the scent of coffee alone can wake up your brain.It may seem like a simple pleasure, but the science is surprisingly complex.

Local cafes have long benefited from coffee’s olfactory appeal. But this distinctive aroma may have interesting implications for how the industry can better connect with key consumers.

Of all of the human senses, smell is the most powerfully connected to emotion and memory. Research shows that scent has the unique ability to lodge itself in the long-term memory system of the brain.

“A smell can be overwhelmingly nostalgic because it triggers powerful images and emotions before we have time to edit them,” writes science historian Diane Ackerman in A Natural History of the Senses (via).

This means that, on some level, the smell of coffee is mixed into our memories. Every cup can connect to a story.

Maybe it’s the pattern of the linoleum in your grandmother’s kitchen – replaced by new tile ages ago. Or watching the sun rise after pulling your first all-nighter (academic or otherwise). The Sunday paper with the sports section missing.

Each of these moments is an opportunity to genuinely engage our consumers. The strength of these associations can change which bag of beans is selected from the shelf – or inspire new traditions, in new kitchens.

The next time you pour yourself a fresh cup of coffee, breathe it in. Where does it take you?

What is an Americano?

While drip coffee and an americano might look similar, they’re prepared in very different ways.

Drip coffee, whether made using an auto-drip machine or manual pour-over, is brewed by letting hot water drip down through grounds. Gravity provides the force that drives the brewing, as it pulls the water down through the grounds. The end result is a typical cup of coffee.

The base of an americano is espresso, which is made by forcing steam at high pressure through coffee grounds. Compared to drip brewing, pulling a shot of espresso uses hotter water (steam), much more finely ground coffee and much less time. At the end of the process, one or two shots of espresso are produced. (One shot of espresso is approximately 1 ounce.)

To make an americano, hot water is then added to the espresso, thus transforming the small, strong shot of espresso into a weaker, larger cup of coffee that is more similar to drip coffee.

An Americano Has About as Much Caffeine as Drip Coffee

An americano has approximately as much caffeine as drip coffee, although the specific amount of caffeine might vary slightly. According to the Mayo Clinic, an 8-ounce cup of coffee has between 95 and 200 milligrams of caffeine. A single shot of espresso, in comparison has between 47 and 75 milligrams. Most cafes use two shots of espresso in an americano, thus making the total caffeine content of an americano between 94 and 150 milligrams.

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee

What You Need

Coarsely ground coffee. This is important. A fine, espresso-like grind will result in a cloudy and over-extracted cup.

A jar or large container. Plastic or glass, you don’t even need a lid – anything in your kitchen that can hold coffee and water will be fine. A French press or Mason jar are Instagram-friendly options, and there also specific contraptions for gadget enthusiasts.

Cold water. The ratio of coffee grounds to water is subjective and depends on personal taste – about 1/3 cup of ground coffee per 1.5 cups of cold water. (For a standard 32-ounce French press, Food 52 recommends 3/4 cup beans for 4 cups of cold water.)

Filter. Unless you are using a French press, you’ll need a coffee filter or a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth.

What to Do

Set

In your container, pour in the coarsely ground coffee.  Gradually add the water and stir gently, making sure all the coffee grounds are moistened.  Cover (using cheesecloth if your container doesn’t have a lid).

Steep

Let the coffee sit at room temperature overnight, or for 12 hours. Don’t rush this.

Strain

If you are using a French Press, simply press down on the plunger to move grounds to the bottom and pour.  Otherwise, strain your brew through a coffee filter or a fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth into a large pitcher (or bowl or whatever else you’d like to store your cold brew in).

Strain a second time if needed. Discard the grounds (but they don’t need to go to waste – check our blog for ways to use your coffee grinds).

Sip (and Savor)

That’s it! You officially have cold brew.

Over ice, mix coffee concentrate with water to taste. Add milk, sweetener, or other flavorings if desired. The concentrate will keep for up to 2 weeks covered and chilled in the fridge.

What is the Best Water to Use When Brewing Coffee

 

Filtering your tap water

If you are unhappy with the caliber of your at-home water, the first option that you have is to filter it. The SCAA water brewing guidelines state that water should be clean, odor-free, clear with no chlorine.  Pitcher filters like the Brita use activated carbon to remove some water impurities, odors as well as chlorine or chloramine if they are present.  There are also faucet mounted filters of this type.

Soft or Hard Water?

While there seems to be some debate on the subject, using hard water makes a better cup of coffee than water softened with a home water softener.

Water hardness is a measure of the amount of magnesium and calcium that is dissolved in water. Water rich in these two minerals (magnesium in particular) are great at bringing out the best in coffee flavoring compounds. Replacing these minerals with sodium will produce a coffee that is flat by comparison.

Very hard water can destroy an espresso machine with scaling and thus it is a large concern in the pressurized coffee game. It has minimal impact of the equipment on a manual brewer. Regular kettle descaling and maintenance should make any scaling from hard water negligible.

Using Reverse Osmosis Water

Reverse osmosis (RO) is a process where all the minerals are taken out of the water. What is left is water that has virtually nothing in it. You would think that this would be ideal for brewing coffee, but it is not.  Brewing with straight reverse osmosis water will produce a flat cup of coffee not unlike the coffee made with soft water.

Reverse osmosis water is missing all those magnesium and calcium minerals that enhance coffee flavor. There are, however, blending reverse osmosis systems that will mix back in mineral rich water. Some of these systems have the ability to customize the total dissolved solids level of your water.  A reverse osmosis water blend is a viable option for great brewing water. The SCAA recommends 150 mg/L total dissolved solids.

If you do not have a reverse osmosis system with blending capabilities, you can blend the water yourself. Try different ratios of RO water to tap water and see if it improves your coffee taste (20 – 25% tap water is a good place to start).

Bottled Water

If none of the above options are feasible or appealing to you, you can always brew your coffee with bottled water. Using bottled water is not a cut and dry issue either. Not all bottled waters are created equal, in fact, they can vary wildly in mineral content, pH and suitability for coffee.

“Bottled waters mostly come in two kinds, alkaline ones with massive mineral levels just below brackish, and acidic ones with mineral levels just above RO flatness. Very few have the intermediate hardness levels found in most municipal waters” (Schulman, 11).

Your best options for bottled water are going to be labeled drinking or spring water. Schulman recommends Crystal Geyser or Volvic. If you are buying bulk five gallon water blended RO jugs, try to locate a source that is using magnesium for adding hardness back into the water instead of calcium (this may be rather difficult).

Brewing Coffee 101

The NCA Guide to Brewing Essentials

Coffee is personal - the right way to make it is how you like it best. 

That being said, mastering a few fundamentals will help you perfect your technique. From here, we encourage you to experiment with different roasts, origins, or preparation methods.

Here are our tips to brew a classic cup of coffee.

The Equipment

Make sure that your tools — from bean grinders and filters to coffee makers— are thoroughly cleaned after each use.

Rinse with clear, hot water (or wipe down thoroughly), and dry with an absorbent towel. It’s important to check that no grounds have been left to collect and that there’s no build-up of coffee oil (caffeol), which can make future cups of coffee taste bitter and rancid.

Brewing Time

The amount of time that the water is in contact with the coffee grounds is another important flavor factor. 

In a drip system, the contact time should be approximately 5 minutes. If you are making your coffee using a French Press, the contact time should be 2-4 minutes. Espresso has an especially brief brew time — the coffee is in contact with the water for only 20-30 seconds. Cold brew, on the other hand, should steep overnight (about 12 hours).

If you’re not happy with the taste of the final product, you're likely either:

  • Over-extracting - the brew time is too long
  • Under-extracting - the brew time is too short

Experiment with the contact time until you get the right balance for your taste.

Ah Yes the Water

The Water

The water you use is very important to the quality of your coffee. Use filtered or bottled water if your tap water is not good or has a strong odor or taste, such as chlorine. 

If you’re using tap water, let it run a few seconds before filling your coffee pot, and be sure to use cold water. Avoid distilled or softened water.

Coffee-to-Water Ratio

A general guideline is called the "Golden Ratio" - one to two tablespoons of ground coffee for every six ounces of water. This can be adjusted to suit individual taste preferences.  

Check the cup lines or indicators on your specific brewer to see how they actually measure. And remember that some water is lost to evaporation in certain brewing methods. 

Water Temperature 

Your brewer should maintain a water temperature between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal extraction. Colder water will result in flat, under-extracted coffee, while water that is too hot will also cause a loss of quality in the taste of the coffee. (However, cold brew does not need any heat.)

If you are brewing the coffee manually, let the water come to a full boil, but do not over boil. Turn off the heat source and allow the water to rest a minute before pouring it over the grounds.

Always allow your coffee - or any hot beverage - to reach a comfortable temperature before enjoying (specifically below 140 degrees Fahrenheit). 

To Freeze or Not To Freeze Your Coffee Beans?

Freshness is critical to a quality cup of coffee. Experts agree that coffee should be consumed as quickly as possible after it is roasted, especially once the original packaging seal has been broken.

While there are different views on whether or not coffee should be frozen or refrigerated, the main consideration is that coffee absorbs moisture – and odors, and tastes – from the air around it, since it is hygroscopic (bonus vocabulary word for all the coffee geeks out there).

Most home storage containers still let in small amounts of oxygen, which is why food stored a long time in the freezer can suffer freezer burn. Therefore, if you do refrigerate or freeze your beans, be sure to use a truly airtight container.

If you choose to freeze your coffee, quickly remove as much as you need for no more than a week at a time, and return the rest to the freezer before any condensation forms on the frozen coffee.

Freezing your beans does not not change the basic brewing process

How To Store your Coffee Beans

For the best cup of coffee, start with quality beans and store them properly to maximize freshness and flavor.     

Keep beans airtight and cool

Your beans’ greatest enemies are air, moisture, heat, and light.

To preserve your beans’ fresh roasted flavor as long as possible, store them in an opaque, air-tight container at room temperature. Coffee beans can be beautiful, but avoid clear canisters which will allow light to compromise the taste of your coffee. 

Keep your beans in a dark and cool location. A cabinet near the oven is often too warm, and so is a spot on the kitchen counter that gets strong afternoon sun.

Coffee's retail packaging is generally not ideal for long-term storage. If possible, invest in storage canisters with an airtight seal.

Buy the right amount

Coffee begins to lose freshness almost immediately after roasting. Try to buy smaller batches of freshly roasted coffee more frequently - enough for one or two weeks. 

Exposure to air is bad for your beans. If you prefer to keep your beans in an accessible and/or attractive container, it may be a good good idea to divide your coffee supply into several smaller portions, with the larger, unused portion in an air-tight container.

This is especially important when buying pre-ground coffee, because of the increased exposure to oxygen. If you buy whole beans, grind the amount you need immediately before brewing. 

White Chocolate-Cappuccino Cookies Recipe

These adorable cookies shaped like coffee cups don't last long with my friends and family. For even richer flavor, I use a mocha latte coffee mix.—Nancy Sousley, Lafayette, IN

TOTAL TIME: Prep: 15 min. + chilling Bake: 10 min./batch + cooling

MAKES: 48 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 envelopes mocha cappuccino mix
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces white candy coating, melted
  • Baking cocoa, optional

 

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve cappuccino mix in hot water. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in cappuccino mixture and egg yolk. In another bowl, whisk flour, cinnamon and salt; gradually beat into creamed mixture.
  2. Divide dough in half. Shape each into a disk; wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until firm enough to roll.
  3. Preheat oven to 375°. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion of dough to 1/4-in. thickness. Cut with a floured 2-1/2-in. cup-shaped cookie cutter. Place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets.
  4. Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Cool on pans 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
  5. Pipe melted candy coating over cookies as desired, or dip each cookie halfway into melted candy coating; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. If desired, dust with cocoa.
  6. Freeze option: Transfer wrapped disks to a resealable plastic freezer bag; freeze. To use, thaw dough in refrigerator until soft enough to roll. Prepare, bake and decorate as directed. Yield: about 4 dozen.

Originally published as White Chocolate-Cappuccino Cookies in Cookies & Candies Bookazine 2015, p22

 

Use Promo Code HappyMarch to receive a 15% discount thru March 23rd on a purchase of our fresh roasted coffee!

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Coffee lovers love the aroma of coffee especially in the morning because coffee has a way to brighten moods. If you are a serious drinker you would know what it means to live a day without coffee. We’d rather pay our last dollar for a cup of coffee than to eat…ah…a hamburger. Coffee means a lot to us.

Another thing about coffee is the community. Coffee drinkers have something in common when we walk into a coffee shop. We are all anticipating for that ultimate cup as we stay in line for our names to be called. We are also connected by coffee quotes, and most of us have at least one or two quotes we already made up about coffee!

 

 

Caffeine Effects

Why does caffeine wake you up?

Caffeine has similar properties to adenosine, a nucleoside that causes drowsiness by slowing down nerve cell activity. Caffeine can therefore bind to adenosine receptors. When this occurs, the receptors are not available for adenosine molecules to bind to which causes increased neuron firing in the brain.

The pituitary gland sees all of the activity and thinks some sort of emergency must be occurring, so it releases hormones that tell the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline (epinephrine). Adrenaline is the "fight or flight" hormone, and it has a number of effects on your body including:

  • Pupil dilation
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Increased heart rate
  • Constriction of blood vessels to slow blood flow from cuts and to increase blood flow to muscles
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Decreased blood flow to the stomach, this is no time to spend energy digesting!
  • Release of sugar from the liver into the bloodstream for extra energy
  • Tightening of muscles as they get ready for action

This explains why after consuming a big cup of coffee, your hands get cold, your muscles tense up, you feel excited, and you can feel your heart beat increasing.

Mocha Cupcakes With Kahlua Buttercream

Mocha Cupcakes with Kahlua Buttercream

Ingredients

MOCHA CUPCAKES:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tbsp Kahlua
2-3 tbsp instant coffee powder
3/4 cup water
garnish - cocoa powder, sprinkles, cookie crumbles, etc

KAHLUA BUTTERCREAM:
6 tbsp butter, room temperature
2 tbsp instant coffee powder
2 tbsp milk, room temperature
2 tbsp Kahlua liquor
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions
MOCHA CUPCAKE: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin cups with paper liners (makes 9).
In a bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk together vegetable oil, sugar, eggs, Kahlua and instant coffee power until combined. Whisk in half the flour mixture, followed by half of the water. Stir in all of the remaining flour and the water, mixing until batter is just uniform (do not overmix).

Divide evenly into prepared muffin pan. Bake for 18 minutes until done (knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean). Allow cupcakes to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

KAHLUA BUTTERCREAM: In a small bowl, dissolve the instant coffee powder in milk and Kahlua. In a large bowl, beat together butter, instant coffee mixture and confectioners’ sugar until frosting is smooth, thick and fluffy. Add additional confectioner's sugar to thicken if necessary. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes on the day of serving and dust with desired topping.

What To Do with Your Coffee Grounds

Used coffee grounds can be used as fertilizer in your garden. They can be added to new or existing plant beds. The grounds can also be helpful for eradicating certain pests from your garden, such as slugs, snails and ants. You can use the grounds from your own kitchen. If you don’t drink coffee or need a lot of grounds, let us know we have plenty ofused grounds to customers for use in home gardens.

Benefits of Coffee Grounds on Soil

Coffee grounds are a source of nitrogen, calcium and magnesium. These nutrients are beneficial to the plants in your garden. Using the grounds is an environmentally friendly and cost effective way to nourish your plants. You are saving space in our landfills by recycling this household waste. The grounds are also beneficial to your compost pile. They help maintain the nitrogen balance which is important for decomposition of the organic materials in your compost.

The grounds increase the acidity of the soil. This is beneficial to acid loving plants in your garden. Some of the plants that love acid soil include azaleas, blueberries and rhododendrons. However, it can harm some of your plants. It’s important to use the grounds only on plants that will benefit from increased acidity in the soil and avoid using it on plants that are not acid loving.

Coffee grounds improve the soil in your garden. The grounds make it easier to till the soil, which is beneficial for vegetable gardens. The coffee grounds are attractive to the worms in your garden. Adding them to the soil will provide an additional food source for the worms. As the worms ingest the grounds and move through the dirt, they help spread the nutrients throughout your soil, while aerating it to bring much needed oxygen to the roots of your plants.

Some studies have suggested that coffee grounds are beneficial for repelling slugs, snails and ants. One study by the USDA showed that they are effective against slugs. Other studies have shown no big difference with the use of grounds. The caffeine in the grounds and acidity are thought to be responsible for repelling the slugs. There is a lot of debate among gardeners on this benefit. Some believe it works, while others think does not make a difference.

What Type of Bean Is Used in Espresso?

A common misconception exists that one type of bean only is used to make espresso. At Top Dog we use 3 different beans roasted at 3 different temps. Espresso is not any certain bean or type of roast; an espresso can be made from the same coffee beans that go into a regular drip machine. The difference is in the grind of the bean as well as the preparation. Companies in the United States such as Starbucks use darker roast beans in espresso drinks, but a medium roast is commonly used in northern Italy and Top Dog!

Packed with flavor and caffeine, espresso lends very well to mixing, and is the base of a variety of coffee drinks. More popular espresso blends are the latte and the cappuccino, but coffeehouses seem to love creating new drinks. Some lesser known drinks are the affogatto, which is espresso served over ice cream which is served at our Cayucos location using McConnells ice cream; the Americano, espresso and water in equal parts, sometimes with more water; the , Top Dog traditional Shot In The Dark which is a cup of American coffee with two shots of espresso; and the breve, which is espresso in steamed milk and half & half.

The Art of Espresso

Today, espresso is brewed by forcing hot, not boiling, water under high pressure through powdery fine coffee. The process is called “pulling” a shot, which has to do with early machines that had a pull lever to begin the brewing process; today, most machines have a simple button. The ground coffee is packed into a metal filter basket with 7-10 grams of grounds for a single shot, and 12-18 grams for double. The grounds are pressed down to form a firm puck of coffee. Pressurized water is then forced through the coffee in the portafilter which deposits the resulting espresso into a shot glass or demitasse (white porcelain espresso cup). Brewing takes under thirty seconds. The espresso, which is a chemically complex drink and will degrade quickly with heat loss, is to be served immediately at a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

We pride ourselves on our espresso blends, because making good espresso, even from a programmable machine, can be a challenge due to espresso’s volatile and complex nature. Properly brewed espresso has three parts, the heart, body, and crema (crema is the lighter reddish foam that floats on the surface); when a glass is brewed, all three parts should be seen as three different layers. When consumed, the espresso should have a fine aroma, rich body, and a balanced bitter-sweet taste with a hint of acidity. The espresso flavor and consistency are easily affected by minor problems such as the over or under grinding of beans, over pressing of grounds into the metal filter, and by fluctuation in water temperature. Over and under grinding affect the appearance of crema, as does the firmness of the ground coffee puck in the portafilter. Too much pressure in packing the coffee grounds plus a too-fine grind will cause the pressurized water to stay in the filter too long, resulting in very little crema. If the crema is tan instead of reddish, it may indicate that the grounds are packed too lightly, and the water has run through too quickly. Water that is too cold during brewing can cause sourness, while too hot water can cause bitterness.