First, and most obvious, start with good quality coffee. Coffee beans
are defined by two general botanical types: Arabica, being the
older and premium type, and Robusta, generally a lesser bean
frequently used in commercial blends and for manufacturing instant
coffees. It's the Arabicas that will consistently give you the best cup.
Several growing factors affect the flavor of the beans, producing
distinctive properties, but the way in which they are roasted can
have an even greater effect on their flavor. For the most part, lightly
roasted coffees are lighter tasting and darker roasts are stronger,
richer and more full flavored. Some coffees taste better when lightly
roasted and others when they are more darkly roasted, and an experienced
coffee supplier can take full advantage of the beans' traits in the
Though not yet standardized, the following is the basic Roast
Cinnamon - A relatively light roast, resulting in a light-tasting
City or Full - America's favorite roast, a nice brown
Viennese - Long a favorite in Western US, it's the up and coming
favorite in the rest of the country. Some oil will show on the beans.
The result is a fuller flavor in the cup.
Italian - A nice dark, oily brown, usually used in making
American espresso drinks. Somewhat bitter for most regular coffee
French - The darkest roast, a very dark, oily brown, favored in
During the roasting process, fine coffees can be enhanced with nuts,
chocolates, cinnamon and other exciting flavors to provide you
with unique combinations. Look for all-natural ingredients; many
imitators do use chemical flavorings, but once you have tasted natural
flavors, you will easily distinguish the difference. Flavored coffees
are especially good following dinner for a rich, flavorful and low-cal
Roasting at home certainly guarantees that you'll have the
freshest possible coffee. Some do it in a frying pan on the stove,
others in the oven, and still others use special roasting kits and
machines. For best flavor, freshly roasted beans should sit for a day
before grinding and brewing. Green (unroasted) coffee beans last
a few years if kept in a dark, dry place. And they can be roasted to any
degree of darkness desired. Although results from home roasting are
generally not as uniform as those from professional roasters,
nevertheless many find the process a rewarding one for their taste buds
and their olfactory senses.
Blends are very important in gratifying specific tastes and in
balancing qualities inherent in different beans. The most popular
marriage, Mocha-Java, combines sharp, distinctive Yemen Mocha with
smooth, rich Indonesian Java, providing the best of two worlds. Feel
free to ask for a custom blend or to make a special mix to your taste
and we'll maintain a record of your choice; how about trying a blend
that encompasses the aroma of Kona with the full-bodied taste of Sumatra
If you need or prefer to limit your caffeine intake, or when it comes
to drinking coffee later in the day, you might consider decaffeinated
coffees. A good decaf will taste as good as the real thing. Because of
our interest in quality foods, we pioneered the sale of Swiss Water
Processed decafs in our area. There are other effective
decaffeination methods, but health concerns over minute chemical traces
lead us to select the Swiss health-conscious process for virtually all
our decaffeinated coffee selections. Don't confuse it with chemical
processes that add water and call themselves water process.
The regular process of decaffeination leaves only the most minute
traces of carcinogenic chemicals. Though these traces have been deemed
safe, nevertheless we still prefer the added safety of the Swiss Water
The studies that have been surfacing on the health
characteristics of coffee have been many and frequently contradictory.
Generally, there is much to be said about moderation in how well
your body and mind will react to the coffee you consume. And if you're
at all worried about agricultural pesticides and chemicals that may be
used in growing coffee, look for certified organically grown
We do not recommend the consumption of regular coffee when pregnancy
or heart disease might be present. Consult with your doctor to determine
the right levels of coffee consumption for you.
What about descriptive coffee terminology?
Flavor refers to your sensory experience and includes terms such
as winey, spicy, floral, nutty, smoky, etc.
Acidity refers to sharp taste of the coffee; less acidity means
more mildness, and lack of acidity results in a cup that tastes flat.
Body refers to the coffee's texture, such as syrupy, heavy,
light, etc. Labels describing coffees should contain all these terms,
but remember that individual tastes do vary, so let your experience be
the best judge.
Coffee begins to deteriorate right after the roasting process, so you
may want to examine and smell the coffee beans before you decide
on your purchase. Look for some oil on the surface of the more darkly
roasted beans, and check for steady customer traffic to ensure quick
turnover and thus fresher beans.
For maximum freshness, buy only the amount of fresh roasted
coffee beans that you
will be using within 2 to 4 weeks; the shorter the storage time, the
fresher the coffee.
If you use the coffee within 2 weeks, you can store it in an airtight
glass or ceramic jar, away from heat and sunlight. Otherwise, place the
airtight container in the fridge.
You can store coffee in the freezer for a longer period of
time, in airtight glass or ceramic jars. Separate larger quantities of
coffee into multiple smaller jars, filled to the top. When you're ready
to use a jar of frozen coffee, allow it to reach room temperature before
opening to prevent condensation, then store in refrigerator or in a cool
place in your kitchen, away from direct sunlight.
After you have selected the right fresh coffee, it must be ground
to suit your coffeemaker. You can have it ground at the store or, better
yet, grind your own in seconds at home as you need it, so that it is
absolutely fresh and allows the wonderful aroma to contribute to your
enjoyment of its taste. This is especially true with the volatile
essences given to flavored coffees.
There are two basic types of home coffee grinders. One works with
blades and is less expensive, but because it does not grind beans
uniformly, it is generally best for use with manual and automatic drip
coffeemakers with paper filters. The other type has burrs, like
commercial grinders, that grind more uniformly and are thus suited for
use with any type of coffeemaker. If, however, you need powder-fine
coffee for use in making Turkish coffee, there is a grinder specifically
for this purpose.
Next, you need to select a method of preparation, some of which we
discuss here. Each has distinctive traits, which can make one or more of
them best suited to your taste and lifestyle.
is one of the most familiar methods of brewing coffee. It works by
filtering boiling water through the coffee grounds over and over. Many
people still enjoy this old favorite, especially when it is used with
very mild coffees. Unfortunately, because of the prolonged over-boiling,
this method tends to release bitterness in the coffee, masking the
distinct flavors and tastier blends.
Automatic Drip brewing method is designed to take much of the
guesswork out of making coffee. Simply by pouring cold water into a
reservoir, the machine heats it to the correct temperature and pulses it
through the ground coffee that rests in a filter. A valuable feature on
some models is a switch that slows the pulsing of water to permit a rich
brew even when you are only making a couple of cups.
In better-make coffeemakers, look for outstanding reliability,
sensible features, good design and, most important, the proper brewing
temperature, which very few brands achieve. Major consumer magazines
bear out that many brands may be inexpensive, but the coffee they make
is not likely to be as consistently hot or taste as rich.
Of the Manual
Drip coffeemakers, the two most popular types are the
Chemex and the Melitta.
Both utilize a paper filter cone similar to that of Automatic Drip
coffeemakers. Chemex paper filters are four times heavier and come to a
point, making it more effective in that all the water is made to travel
through all the grounds, rather than down the sides of the filter. Water
is heated separately and is poured directly over the grounds, first only
a small amount, to allow the coffee to "bloom" (that is, to open up and
release its flavors), before pouring the balance of the water over it to
keep grounds out of the brew. All Paper Filters keep some of the
strong flavors from getting through and are ideal for those who desire a
smooth, "clean-tasting" cup of coffee. Gold, Gold-Tone, Stainless and
Nylon Filters allow more of the coffee's flavor and body to emerge
because their porosity is much greater than that of paper filters.
Expect some minute grounds to come through as well.
also popularly known as French Press coffeemakers, are the hottest
growing method of brewing for several good reasons. These versatile
brewers are frequently used at professional coffee tastings because they
are as close to a perfect way of making coffee as there exists. Because
the Plunger Pot, unlike other methods, allows full contact between
coffee and water, it extracts more of the rich flavors. Another
advantage is that you are in control in bringing the water to its proper
temperature, just below boiling, for a hot cup and full extraction.
Plunger Pots come in a variety of sizes and styles with a wide range
of prices. They utilize a tempered glass beaker or carafe and a
stainless or nylon filter/plunger. Simply place ground coffee and hot
water into the beaker, stir once and set aside to steep. You control the
strength by controlling the steeping time, 3 to 5 minutes. When the
optimal time has elapsed, the plunger is slowly pushed down, pressing
the filter screen through the mixture and holding most of the grounds
securely at the bottom of the beaker as you pour your fresh, hot coffee.
For those who might drink less coffee but definitely prefer a
stronger, more flavorful and intense cup, there are Espresso and
Cappuccino makers. The best cup is usually made with electric makers
that utilize an internal pump, and that are plumbed to a water supply or
that contain a cold water reservoir for unlimited coffee production.
For espresso, only a small amount of water is automatically drawn,
heated, and pumped through the coffee grounds at very high pressure.
This extracts the essence, richness and intensity of the coffee. When
properly made, a cup of espresso actually has a golden foam, called
crema, on top.
These units also quickly produce cappuccino, cafe au lait, hot
chocolate, tea and other hot beverages.
Cappuccino is espresso coffee topped with frothed milk. For best
frothing results, use a small, cold stainless or ceramic pitcher
containing only a small amount of milk. For the novice, skim milk will
work best. Place the tip of the steaming tube just below the surface of
the milk, turn on the steam, and allow the milk to aerate by swirling
about the bottom of the pitcher. If you manage to at least double the
volume of milk with froth, you did well.
The many stovetop units and inexpensive plastic plug-ins on the
market are not, by their nature, true Espresso machines, but clever
adaptations. This type is called Macchinetta (mah-key-net-tah), a
relatively inexpensive, traditional coffeemaker that delivers coffee by
boiling water and creating enough steam pressure to climb through the
grounds. The higher water temperature causes the cup to be strong but
somewhat thin and bitter, by comparison to espresso produced by the pump
variety of machines.
The Cold Water Method of coffee preparation is preferred by
drinkers who cannot normally tolerate the acidity in coffee. With the
a pound of coarsely ground coffee is allowed to steep in water
overnight, then is filtered into a carafe. The resulting concentrate is
mixed with water to taste and heated when ready to serve. The lack of
acidity makes its taste quite different from brewed coffee, and many
have come to enjoy this method of preparation.
coffee refers to both the grind and preparation of this Middle Eastern
favorite. Ground almost to a powder, and with equal parts of sugar, it
is boiled in water several times, until it becomes almost syrupy in
texture. The froth is served between boils. It is usually drunk in small
cups that also contain some of the grounds, which, if drunk delicately,
remain at the bottom of the cup. The coffee maker used is called an
ibrik, or cezve, or jezve. (The popular, slender Turkish Coffee Mill is
often used as a pepper mill.)
coffeemakers are a delight to watch as they brew the most wonderful
tasting coffee. Consisting of two carafes, the bottom one holds the
water and the top one the coffee grounds. When the bottom is heated, the
water is forced to the top, where it steeps with the coffee. Turning off
the heat source after a couple minutes of steeping forces the "filtered"
coffee back to the bottom, from whence it is served. A great show to
Neapolitan (Napoletana) coffeemaker is one of the more
traditional drip coffeemakers. Water is placed in the part without a
spout, and coffee in the special filter that fits in this part. When a
bit of steam comes out of the spout, turn off the heat and turn the
coffeemaker upside down. The hot water will slowly drip down to the part
with the spout. Remove the top part that holds the coffee, and serve.
Microwave coffeemakers are not very popular, these days, but
they are very cleverly made, so that the coffee does not cook separately
from the water. Depending on the unit, either the coffee is held in an
airtight part of the coffeemaker, or it is added to the water itself.
For a small quantity of coffee, this is one of the quickest methods of
Sock is usually made of cotton and looks like a sock. Simply put
the coffee inside it and infuse in hot water. (In a pinch, you can even
use your own socks.) This method seems to be preferred in South American
Coffee Boilers are in just about every Western movie I've ever
seen. Dump some coffee in with the water, cook it 'til it boils, then
heat your innards with it. This simplest and fastest preparation,
however, tends to be really bitter.
If you have trouble frothing milk for lattes and cappuccinos, try
furiously whisking heated milk, or, better yet, use one of the new
available. They are very similar to Plunger Pots and made of heatproof
glass, so you can microwave the milk in it, then use the plunger to
vigorously aerate the milk. Of course, there are other types of frothers
available, too; some are electric, others look like a macchinetta with a
steam wand, or a wand coming out of a cork made to plug the pourer on
your water kettle, and still others that look as different as the
imagination can conjure. But if you haven't mastered the wand from your
espresso maker, the glass frother will be easiest to use.
One last bit of important information. If you like to use a large cup
or mug, consider capacity when choosing the size of the
coffeemaker you wish to purchase. You need to realize that most
Percolators and Drip Coffeemakers generally measure each cup to contain
only 5 to 6 ounces. Plunger Pot coffee and Espresso is generally is made
in 1.5 to 3 ounces per serving because of its strength and richness;
hence the small size of espresso cups, too. Cups for cappuccino or Caffe
Latte are, of course, larger to accommodate the added ingredients.
We are happy to make recommendations that flatter your taste buds. If
ever you are not happy with the taste, or any other quality, of our
coffees, we guarantee a refund or replacement. Enjoy!
Ethiopian "coffee ceremony" serving pot.
LEGENDS & REALITY
As the old legend goes, ever since a young Arabian herder took notice
of his goats' frisky play after chewing on a strange-looking shrub, we
have known about coffee.
Unfortunately, today many people make coffee that tastes about the
same as what that goat herder probably tasted as he, too, chewed the
berries of the wild coffee plant. At Fante's we have been
striving to enlighten our customers since Domenico Fante opened the
doors in 1906. And today our family business has developed into one of
the most highly lauded gourmet stores in the world.
Since 1981, we are proud to sell our freshly roasted coffee in our
nationally acclaimed retail stores and by telephone and mail
order. And we are best noted for our exhaustive selection of coffee
brewing products, our conscientious service and our friendly expertise.
There are several secrets to making a consistently good cup of
coffee, and, unless you know them, you may truly be missing a satisfying
experience. This brochure shares some of our secrets and experience, so
that you, too, can enjoy the world's second most traded commodity:
You can read about Fante's coffees and coffee equipment in
source books such as Kenneth David's Coffee (101
Productions, Publisher) and Corby Kummer's The Joy of Coffee
(Chapters, Publisher). We heartily recommend these wonderful guides for
greater enjoyment of this most popular beverage.
At Fante's we are happy to answer your questions and ready to
provide you with everything you need to make the perfect cup of coffee.
And we absolutely guarantee your satisfaction!
FANTE'S TOP TIPS
The flavor of coffee comes from its volatile oils, so you may wish to
heed these guidelines to guard against the enemies of coffee: air,
light, heat and moisture.
1. Purchase only the quantity of coffee that you expect to use
within 2 to 4 weeks. Keep in mind that coffee from mass merchants and
many coffee shops may not have been freshly roasted and may already be
2. For storage, we recommend airtight glass, ceramic or
stainless jars or canisters, kept refrigerated for fresh results. On the
counter, away from direct sunlight and heat, is ok for up to 2 weeks.
3. Longer storage, more than 4 weeks, is not recommended. If
you must, however, we recommend you fill small airtight glass, ceramic
or stainless jars with the beans, and store them in the freezer.
4. Grinding coffee beans yourself helps to preserve their
freshness, and the aroma of freshly ground coffee contributes to your
enjoyment of its taste. Be sure to always grind coffee beans to a
5. Because brewed coffee is more than 95% water, be sure that the
water you use tastes good to you. Filtered or bottled water may
be better than your tap water.
6. Always start with fresh, cold water. And when heating it
for use in manual coffeemakers, use it when the boil bubbles start to
7. Measure water and coffee accurately and consistently.
Experiment starting with 1 tablespoon of coffee for each cup of manual
or auto drip coffee.
8. Keep coffee covered on a warming plate for serving within
20 minutes. Store coffee in a thermal carafe to keep it hot for a longer
period of time. Thermal carafes are also useful when you need to make
more than one pot of coffee and need to keep it fresh. Reheating breaks
down coffee and makes it bitter.
9. To keep your coffeemaker in good condition and to obtain
consistently good results from it, keep it clean following the
manufacturer's instructions and using a recommended cleaner on a regular
STUDIES OF SUSTAINABLE COFFEE
State of Sustainable Coffee: A study of twelve major markets
Executive Summary, 23 Pages, 2003
By Daniele Giovannucci (www.dgiovannucci.net)
PDF File - 168 KB
-What are sustainable coffees?
-The importance of sustainable coffee
-European and Japanese markets overview
-Trends in European and Japanese markets
State of Sustainable Coffee: A study of twelve major markets
Complete text, 198 Pages, Copyright 2003
By Daniele Giovannucci with Freek Jan Koekoek (www.dgiovannucci.net)
File - 4809 KB
Sustainable Coffee Survey of the North American Specialty Coffee
32 Pages, July 2001
By Daniele Giovannucci (www.dgiovannucci.net)
PDF File - 446 KB
Conducted for The Summit Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, North
American Commission for Environmental Cooperation, Specialty Coffee
Association of America, and The World Bank
-Awareness of sustainable coffee
-Availability of sustainable coffee
-Important attributes for buying/selling sustainable coffee
-Which sustainable coffees firms sell
-U.S. and Canadian primary geographic markets for sustainable coffee
-Source countries for sustainable coffee
-Factors that make sustainable coffee valuable to business
-Sustainable coffee volume and sales
-Constraints and opportunities for sustainable coffees
Additional publications on coffee sustainability may be found at:
Daniele Giovannucci is the co-founder (2005) and Acting Executive Director
of the Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA)