Making a good cup of Kopi Luwak or any kind of coffee at home is not a complicated thing. In fact, you only need to remember a small number of fundamental rules to make good coffee. The history of coffee brewing equipment is rich, and methods of brewing are culturally dependent. Of the hundreds of coffee machines and coffee brewing devices invented since the advent of coffee consumption, only a few have gained worldwide popularity.
The coffee brewing methods discussed below are recommended to prepare Kopi Luwak coffee since they have been found to maximize the extraction of the beneficial flavors of coffee, while minimizing the extraction of bitter coffee compounds and undesirable components.
The eight rules!
1st Rule! Buying a good coffee!
It is hard to make good coffee at home if you don’t start by buying good coffee. Kopi Luwak coffee is not an exception. The first important factor is the rate at which coffee expires and goes stale. Obviously, you want the freshest coffee possible, and you’ll learn how ground coffee expires at a faster rate than whole beans. The second factor is where you buy your coffee, and the care given to make sure you are only sold quality coffee from a quality source. There are two ways that you can buy your coffee: in whole beans or already ground.
Many places that sell whole beans also allow you to grind them on-site and take them home ground. Good coffee is fresh coffee, so your decision on buying the right coffee has to be based on freshness. The first thing you need to remember is that coffee is perishable so it is expiring for as long as it is in contact with air.
Coffee goes stale for as long as it’s not kept airtight. In addition ground coffee deteriorates at a different rate than whole coffee beans. Ground coffee deteriorates at a much faster rate, this is due to the higher surface exposure of grinds compared to a whole bean. Grinding the coffee breaks it down and it will go stale faster, so the advice is that you only buy in whole beans and grind only what you need for the pot of coffee you’re about to brew.
You can also buy a small quantity of whole beans coffee, enough for one week or maximum two and grind them in the shop then, you have to keep the coffee in an airtight container. The only form of coffee that does not expire within days of being exposed to air is green, unroasted coffee beans. Unroasted beans can keep for years, and only start to expire when the beans are roasted. Real Kopi Luwak is roasted only after we receive the buyer’s order.
2nd Rule! Never store the beans in the fridge!
Some people store their coffee beans in the fridge or freezer, assuming that like anything perishable, it should be kept cool or frozen. But if you go to good coffee shops, you won’t see their beans stored in a freezer or even refrigerator. The fact is that the change in temperature that your coffee beans will experience from room temperature to frozen to room temperature to brewing will cause a ‘condensation’ of the humidity that is natural in fresh coffee. That ‘condensation’ will result in the humidity leaving the bean when it congeals, and with it, much of its flavor and freshness. Warm is not good for coffee, but room temperature is fine.
If it’s a decision between throwing out good whole beans because you are not going to use it soon and freezing them for freshness, then freeze them! Just make sure they are sealed in as reliable an airtight container as you can.
The beans must be kept dry, in a dark place and in an airtight container at room temperature.
3rd Rule! Always use fresh clean water!
Coffee is mostly water in fact, it’s 99% water that means that coffee is just flavored water. If you start with water that tastes funny, expect your coffee to taste funny too. Municipal water treated with chlorine can dampen the flavor of your coffee even if the water itself does not have a strong taste. Likewise, well water that contains a lot of dissolved minerals will not allow the coffee to shine to its fullest. So the best bet is to use filtered water. It’s the best way to improve your brew.
4th Rule! Water should be HOT!
Often overlooked by beginning brewers, water temperature is critical to extracting the most flavors from coffee. The difference among coffees brewed at 175°F (80° C), 195° F (90°C) and 210° F (99° C) is so dramatic it can be immediately recognizable by even the most casual of coffee drinkers. The difference is enough that you might not even guess coffee brewed at these various temperatures was made with the same beans.
Optimum water temperature for brewing coffee is 200° F (95° C) plus or minus 2%. If the water is too hot, you’ll end up with coffee that tastes bitter or astringent. If it’s too cool, you’ll find the coffee flat and lifeless. Bring water just to a boil and then allow it to cool briefly (about 45 seconds) before brewing.
5th Rule! Use the right coffee-to-water ratio!
If the ratio is off much in either direction, you’ll taste it and you probably won’t enjoy it. The first step to achieving this balance is to start with the appropriate dose of ground coffee for the amount of water you’ll be using. Use a standard coffee scoop (about the same as two level tablespoons) or 9 grams per 6 ounces (170 ml) of water. Most of the time, however, the scoop method will get you close, and you can fine-tune the proportions based on taste.
6th Rule! Use the right grind setting!
Just having the coffee-to-water ratio correct isn’t enough, though; what’s actually extracted counts. This is controlled by the interactions between the fineness of the grind and how long the grounds are in contact with the brewing water.
The grind you use for brewing should match the brewing method and the brewing time. Coffee ground too coarsely (for its intended use) does not provide enough surface area, resulting in underextracted, weak-testing brew. Conversely, if the coffee is ground too finely, you’ll overextract the coffee due to the increased surface area and end up with bitter coffee and, possibly, a plugged brewer.
In the following table, I give you the recommended grind for various types of brewing methods.
|Moka Pots (Espresso)||Fine|
There are two main kinds of coffee bean grinders made for home use: the “coffee mill” sometimes called the burr grinder, and the more common bladed grinder. The burr grinder (at the left) grinds the beans using two burrs, or serrated discs. You set the type of grind you want, load the beans into the chamber, and start grinding. Ground coffee collects in a second chamber and is ready to be brewed. A burr grinder produces a consistent grind. Unfortunately, the more common grinder is the whirling-blade grinder (at the right), known for its two-sided single blade that spins and chops the beans at the same time. After loading the beans into the chamber and grinding, you decide when to stop grinding the beans based on personal experience and through the transparent cover of the grinder. The bladed grinder gives you an inconsistent grind and potentially burns your coffee and there are no grind settings. Why use it? First of all, it’s the more common coffee grinder so you’ll find it at a lower price and after all, it still does the job!, just not as consistently as the burr grinder.
7th Rule! Clean everything that comes in the coffee’s path!
Coffee is an oily product, and unless you thoroughly clean your brewing equipment, these oils will turn rancid and they can spoil future brews imparting a sour taste. Anything that comes in contact with the coffee should be cleaned, using soap and warm water if possible, after each use. Be sure to disassemble the brewer, where applicable, and scrub each part.
8th Rule! Do not re-heat the brewed coffee!
Brewed coffee will taste its best when kept at approximately 175° F (80° C), because the chemicals compounds that make coffee flavorful are most stable at this temperature. The best way to achieve this is to decant the coffee into a thermos or carafe that’s been preheated with just boiled water; if you don’t preheat, your brew will lose critical heat when it acclimates to the cool container. You can also preheat the serving mugs. Avoid using heating plates, as the continued heat alters the taste and can impart burnt or bitter flavors. While perhaps less convenient, you’ll enjoy better coffee if you brew another batch instead of drinking coffee that sat for more than 15 to 20 minutes.
In this section I’ll describe only the three more popular brewing methods to prepare a good cup of Kopi Luwak or any kind of coffee but there are more methods like: The Vacuum Pot, The Percolator, The Ibrik (Turkish Coffee) and The Cold Brewing
According to some experts, this is the single best way to prepare Kopi Luwak coffee because it allows prolonged contact between the water and coffee without boiling the coffee and without resulting in any ground coffee at the bottom of your mug (as you do in both cases with Turkish Coffee).
Instructions of use:
- Start heating water on the stove.
- Grind your Kopi Luwak coffee to a coarse grind. Coarse grind, for two reasons. One, to ensure you do not overextract solids from the coffee, and two, to ensure the coffee is not ground so fine that it passes through the mesh filter.
- Empty the ground coffee into the French Press coffee maker – which is simply a clear glass container.
- Once the water is boiling, turn off the stove and let it sit for a 45 second so that it is hot but not boiling. Pour as much heated water into the container with the ground coffee as you would like brewed coffee. For example, if you are making two mugs of coffee, pour two mugs of heated water into the coffee maker.
- Stir with a plastic spoon and cover the French Press with the lid and the plunger pulled all the way to the top.
- Let it sit for four minutes. Adjust this to personal taste after trying it a couple times.
- Slowly push the plunger down until it is pushed all the way to the bottom. This will push the ground coffee down and press it to the bottom of the container.
- Pour brewed coffee from the container. Voila! The filter has separated the coffee grinds and brewed coffee so you pour only brewed coffee.
- For clean-up, remove the lid and plunger. Empty the ground coffee into the garbage. Rinse the lid and plunger. Clean the glass container with soap and water.
The Moka Pot (Stovetop Espresso Maker)
A Moka Pot is an Italian steam-based stovetop espresso maker that produces a dark Kopi Luwak coffee almost as strong as that from a conventional espresso maker. These Moka espresso makers were invented in 1933 by Alfonso Bialetti. This coffee is not espresso in the true sense of the word, as real espresso is produced using machines that can produce very high pressure water at just the right temperature. Moka coffee is produced using only steam’s natural pressure.
Moka pots are three-chambered metal pots. These pots are available from two to twelve cups sizes and all come in three parts:
- A bottom chamber holds fresh water and usually has a pressure valve.
- Middle is a perforated coffee basket or funnel to hold the grounds, which should be lightly packed.
- The top chamber is where the brewed coffee ends up.
To brew with a Moka pot, fill the bottom unit with clean cold (or hot) water to the pressure-release valve and then set in the funnel. Place finely ground Kopi Luwak in the funnel and level it, but do not pack or tamp it. If you find there is sediment in your brew, choose a slightly coarser grind. Screw the two halves together tightly and place the Moka pot on the stove, set to low-medium heat.
Coffee will begin to flow to the top of the pot. After 4-5 minutes the coffee will begin to sputter, if it takes longer use a slightly higher heat. At this point remove the Moka pot from the stove, stir a bit and serve your Kopi Luwak.
Do not put in the dishwasher. Wash the pot in mild detergent and water and dry thoroughly after each use. Always keep your Moka pot scrupulously clean. Disassemble the Moka pot after every use and clean the filter and top pot, being sure that you clean the underside of the top pot. Every few weeks, run some vinegar through the Moka pot as if you were brewing coffee to get rid of any mineral deposits left behind by hard water.
Each individual Moka pot makes a set amount of coffee. You should not try to make less coffee by under-filling the basket, or to make more by over-filling and compacting too tightly. This will affect the extraction process and may result in either bitter or weak coffee. If you need a different number of cups, you should buy the appropriately sized Moka pot.
Manual Drip Coffee makers
A time honored tradition, manual drip coffee makers are still preferred by many over automatic drip coffee makers, because of the greater control you maintain over the extraction. Heat water separately and pour over Kopi Luwak grounds at the pace you desire. If you like your Kopi Luwak coffee very strong, you can add lots of grounds (or use more finely ground coffee) without worrying about the spillover that would occur with automatic drip units. To get the best taste, first add the grounds, then pour hot (almost boiling) water to just cover the grounds, to “bloom” the coffee. After the water first disappears in the grounds, slowly add more water, keeping the level just above the grounds. Measure your coffee grounds accurately and consistently, for an ever pleasing cup every time you make coffee. It is often helpful to also pre-measure water before heating, to prevent accidental overflow when pouring over the grounds. Once your coffee is brewed, swirl the pot in your hand to stir the coffee together. It’s a little known fact that the first of coffee that drips through the filter and into the carafe is stronger than at the end of the brewing cycle.
The type of filter you use is also important. Your choices are a paper filter sold in any grocery store in the coffee aisle, or a metal filter that is re-usable but needs to be cleaned between each brewing. The benefit of the paper filter is easy cleanup. After the brewing, you pull out the paper filter containing all of the ground coffee and throw it in the garbage.
What you lose with a paper filter however is that it absorbs many of the colloids that would otherwise give you a more full-bodied coffee were it allowed to pass through. A colloid is brewed coffee that is not fully dissolved but adds body to your cup of coffee. A colloid will get trapped in a paper filter, but passes through a metal filter. For this reason, coffee brewed through a metal filter will result in a sediment at the bottom of your cup which is a minor inconvenience compared to the full body of the brewed coffee. In fact, if you swirl your cup before the last couple sits, that sediment will get absorbed into the coffee and you won’t even see it. Remember that sediment is not a bad thing, it’s coffee solids (and flavor) extracted from the ground coffee that wouldn’t have been able to pass through a paper filter.