The Wild Foods Guide To Coffee

Ahh, the humble coffee bean. Never has there been a more loved, labored, controversial and historical ingredient.

Growing up, I didn’t like coffee. It didn’t interest me, and I didn’t understand why so many people enjoyed the bitter black water.

But then I started drinking coffee. Why not? Everyone was doing it, and so I jumped on the bandwagon.

If only I knew where it would take me..

And then I drank some more coffee. And some more. Finally, I fell in love. This love turned to obsession, and I dove into everything coffee; how it's made, where it came from and what makes good coffee good and bad coffee bad. I purchased expensive brew equipment that I didn’t know how to use. I went on the hunt for the highest quality beans I could find.

This time, I didn't know just how far down the rabbit hole I would go.

As I look back, I trace my path in life to my love affair with the humble bean. And I'm excited to find out where else this little seed of a fruit will take me into the future.

The Wild Way

​At Wild Foods, we are passionate about many food ingredients, not just coffee. Of course, coffee always seems to be smack dab in the middle.

To say the least, coffee is a big deal to us.

And that's why I felt it was time to write an epic guide on coffee.

As you read this guide, there's a fundamental truism that I hope you'll takeaway.

It's this: Bad coffee sucks, don’t drink it. And: Great coffee is Awesome and good for you, the environment and the millions of people around the world that rely on coffee for their livelihood.

Say "NO" to bad coffee. And a giddy, "yes please," to good coffee.

Part of our mission at Wild Foods is sharing our passion for the wonderful gifts of nature, like coffee, as well as the importance of quality in growing, processing and transporting ingredients.

Coffee is a prime example of this mission.

Drinking great coffee can take you around the world. It connects people and ideas (one of it’s great contributions to human society).

Coffee makes you feel good and brings you back to the moment.

It’s a celebration of many things; ingredients, nature, science, flavor, biology.

And with the plethora of ways you can enjoy coffee, there’s a concoction for everyone. Enjoy it hot, cold, with cream, milk, sweetener or black, or our favorite, with butter. (These are still only a few of the many ways you can enjoy coffee.)

We are going to cover as many aspects of coffee in this guide, from bean to cup and everything in between. But before we get to all that, I want to reiterate our beliefs about coffee one more time: drink great coffee and shun the rest.

Respect the coffee bean--how it’s made, roasted and grown--and most important of all, make sure you take your time and enjoy your brew!

My last bit of advice on coffee is this: embrace the learning experience that is coffee. Even the worst cup of coffee has a story to tell. Learn from each cup and every bean.

Without further ado, enjoy the Wild Foods Guide to Coffee!

A Short Coffee History

"I have measured out my life with coffee spoons."

-T. S. Eliot

There is a legend surrounding the origin of coffee.

It goes something like this: A goat herder in Ethiopia named Kaldi noticed that some of his goats were acting erratic after eating berries from a nearby bush. After trying a berry himself, he began dancing around with his goats, excited by the obvious caffeine rush. Kaldi soon turned his newfound cherry-eating into a daily ritual.

A local monk then noticed Kaldi's new habit and tried some of the berries himself. After feeling the effects, he thought of boiling the berries to make a drink that monks could sip during long meditations and prayers. News quickly spread to neighboring monasteries and, as they say, the rest is history.

Long before coffee was a drink, coffee beans were crushed and rolled into balls of animal fat and eaten by nomadic warriors in Ethiopia. There is debate among historians on the exact date of coffee cultivation. The first recorded mention of coffee was by a philosopher and astronomer named Rhazes (850-922 A.D.), whom referred to coffee as “bunchum” and promoted it’s medicinal use when he said, "bunchum is hot and dry and very good for the stomach.” Soon after, Europeans traveling to the Middle East during the sixteenth century recorded coffee in travel journals.

Due to the prohibition of alcohol in Islamic countries, coffee become a popular substitute, especially in Turkey. Most coffee beans during the sixteenth century came from Yemen. As the Ottoman Empire grew throughout the Middle Ages, coffee continued to grow in popularity to the point that it was considered as important as bread in everyday Islamic life. There was even a Turkish law passed that allowed a wife to divorce her husband if he refused her coffee.

As coffee’s popularity grew, the Arab world become protective of the crop, forbidding foreigners from visiting coffee farms and allowing beans to be exported only after they had been boiled to destroy their germinating potential. Eventually, in the early 1600s, Dutch spies were able to smuggle out a coffee plant, which was brought to the colonies in Java.

As coffee spread throughout Europe, it became so popular that people started meeting to drink it together, which led to the creation of the coffee house. Coffee houses became known as “schools of the cultured,” where patrons played games, discussed ideas and played music. The first English coffee house was opened in 1650 in Oxford, England.

During the same time, many doctors became the first champions of coffee in England, praising the liquid for its health benefits. The public perception of coffee, and coffeehouses, became a public meeting place that was the counterpoint to the most popular social place of the time, the tavern. Some even viewed coffee as a solution to the problem of public drunkenness.

In 18th century, coffeehouses became known as "penny universities" because patrons were charged a penny for a cup of coffee and entry. Once inside, patrons had access to other patrons, games, books and news. Coffee houses became a place for spreading news and ideas, and were open to any individual regardless of social or economic class.

Coffee house topics of discussion included politics, gossip, business ideas, current events and debate. In fact, historians often associate the Age of Enlightenment with the widespread popularity of coffeehouses in English society.

Coffee Becomes A Target

But not all was always peachy keen for the coffee bean. Many a revolution can be traced back to coffee house gatherings where ideas spread and convictions hardened into action. The connection between the coffee house and the spread of ideas made coffee a risk to political and religious establishments.

This made coffee a target.

A coffee prohibition in Turkey resulted in any second-time offender being sewn up in a leather bag and thrown into the river. In other parts of the Arab world, coffee was suppressed by authorities in an effort to stifle it's spread, although these bans were usually short lived. Like alcohol, coffee served too powerful a tonic to ban without stirring public unrest.

Finally, in the early 1700s, coffee growing spread rapidly throughout the tropics, becoming a perfect crop (addicting and grown cheaply) for the European empires to trade.

Coffee In America

The first license to sell coffee in the American colonies was issued in 1670 to an individual in Boston. It wasn't long before the big London coffeehouses established coffee houses in America. After the Boston Tea Party of 1765, drinking coffee, which could be imported directly from French and Dutch colonies, became an act of patriotism. By choosing coffee over the British taxed, and favorite, tea, Americans found a way to circumvent paying unjust taxes. This helped fuel coffee's popularity in American culture, and may be the reason why coffee is a more popular drink than tea nowadays.

Coffee still had its ups and downs in America, with it initially being too expensive for most. But when the taverns near popular ports started buying beans, coffee’s popularity grew. It wasn’t until the advent of steam-powered ships and advancements in roasting and packaging—which helped improve the quality and flavor of coffee while reducing cost—that coffee became accessible to the lower classes.

Then World War 2 happened. Companies started marketing cheap robusta beans in the form of “instant coffee” in conjunction with prompting coffee as a drink for convenience rather than enjoyment. Unfortunately, these campaigns worked and the American public developed the habit and perception that coffee should be cheap, fast and not flavorful. Because these instant coffees were barely drinkable without adding more sugar and cream, Americans got used to drinking coffee this way.

The instant coffee revolution is known as the first of three “Waves” of coffee. The coffee waves go like this:

First Wave: Mass-produced coffee meant to reach as many people as possible. Instant coffee. Not fresh. Cheap beans. No flavor.

Second Wave: Promotion of “specialty coffee,” in which consumers become more interested in the coffee, paying special attention to the roast, while viewing coffee as an enjoyable experience. Starbucks, and the growth of other independent coffee shops around the country, are largely attributed to having the most influence on this wave. Espresso was a big part of this wave, which included flavored espresso beverages popularized by Starbucks that, nowadays, seem to be more of a “coffee-flavored” drink than anything.

Third Wave: The current wave of coffee is the wave we are in now (and one we embrace here at Wild Foods): An interest to know everything there is to know about coffee, from bean to cup. And the importance on quality.

The newest wave of coffee is back-to-basics; celebrating quality coffee, how it’s produced and where it’s from, and often enjoyed straight—espresso, cold brew, black, hot—or in simple concoctions—latte, macchiato, cappuccino, Americano—all of which allow you to experience more of the coffee itself.

Compare this to the second wave in which coffee was “masked” with more and more elaborate flavorings and mixes (undoubtedly a means to appeal to the milder American coffee palate).

We are all about the Third Wave of coffee here at Wild Foods.

By focusing on the quality of the coffee beans themselves, the entire chain of supply is improved all the way down to the coffee plant itself. Farmers get better wages for their crop, which allows them to invest in even better crops. Better crops result in better working conditions and pay for the laborers and a better local environment. Supporting better crops ensures a more sustainable, and fair, system of trade, import and export.

When farmers are paid a fair wage for their crops, they are less likely to fall into a form of debt peonage in which exporters batter down prices while holding the farmers a “hostage” of sorts due to farmers having no alternatives.

Think of this anytime you buy cheap coffee; you are supporting a modern-day form of slavery—maybe even actual slavery in some cases—while also lining the pockets of those that thrive by taking advantage of others and the environment.

Of course, the quality of coffee isn’t merely a moral argument, it’s also a matter of taste. Quality coffee tastes better. In some cases, good coffee isn't in the same realm of cheap coffee; it's like comparing apples to oranges. Combine this with the moldy coffee issue, which is a health implication, and you have a pretty strong case for quality coffee.

*Personally, this is the same way I feel about cheap, factory farmed meat. I won’t support it. I won’t eat it. I can hardly even look at it. And that is as much a moral stance as it is a health and palate decision.

As I said in the introduction, if there’s at least one thing you take away from this guide it is this: BUY GREAT COFFEE AND SHUN THE REST!

Coffee Origin

“It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity.”
-David Barry

The word “coffee” is thought to be derived from the word “Qahwah,” Arabic for the coffee drink. Scholars tend to agree that the word found its way into European languages through the Italian word “caffe” derived from the Turkish pronunciation “kahveh.”

How the world refers to coffee:

  • English: coffee
  • French: cafè
  • German: kaffee
  • Dutch: koffie
  • Danish: kaffe
  • Polish: kawa
  • Finnish: kahvi
  • Croatian: kafa
  • Servian: kava
  • Russian: kophe
  • Swedish: kaffe
  • Italian: caffè
  • Portugese: cafè
  • Turkish: kahuè
  • Chinese: kia-fey
  • Japanese: kèhi

Types of Coffee

The two main types of coffee plants are the species arabica and robusta. While there are over a hundred species of the coffea plant, these two represent the bulk of the world’s coffee market.

As a general rule, you want arabica. Arabica is considered the better tasting coffee plant and accounts for the bulk of the specialty coffee industry. Arabica usually contains 60% or more coffee oils and double the amount of sugar compared to robusta, both contributing to a better brew.

When it comes to quality of coffee, how it’s grown and processed play a paramount role in the final product. Because arabica is a more fickle plant and requires more growing attention than robusta—e.g., arabica does not tolerate frost, low altitude climates and is susceptible to pests—most arabicas are grown with care, resulting in an overall better product.

Because robusta is cheaper to grow, it bec​ame the bean of choice for the mass-produced, “technified” coffee you find on supermarket shelves. On the flip side, higher quality coffees known as “specialty coffee,” often organic and single-origin and sold as whole beans, are almost always 100% arabica beans.

A Few Differences Between Arabica And Robusta:

  • Arabica is generally better tasting and sweeter than robusta, including more than double the amount of sugar content and up to 60% more coffee oil.
  • Arabica contains about half the amount of caffeine. Since caffeine is bitter, this contributes to why arabica generally tastes better than robusta.
  • Arabica is less tolerant to growing conditions--pests, altitude, soil--than robusta.
  • Robusta beans are typically half the price of arabica.
  • Arabica beans are typically oval while robusta are typically circular.

Of course, not all robusta is “bad” coffee. Some robusta beans are prized for espresso due to the thick crema they produce, which is why you find robusta often in espresso blends. Our advice is to stick with 100% arabica unless you know what you are looking for in a robusta.

Coffee Arabica and the Coffee Cherry
Coffea Arabica is the the species of coffea plant responsible for about 70% of the world’s coffee production. Arabica is more a shrub than a tree, and while it can grow taller than 10 feet, it is usually trimmed down to allow pickers better access to cherries.

The coffee cherry is said to taste like a combination of watermelon and hibiscus. Unlike actual cherries, coffee cherries have little flesh between the outer skin and the coffee seeds inside, which are not edible until roasted. So be careful should you find yourself biting into a coffee cherry.

Coffee cherries start out green then turn cranberry red when they are ready for harvest. The main coffee harvest usually takes place once a year and is done by hand—in the case of quality coffee that is. It takes a single coffee plant an entire year to produce about two pounds of green coffee beans. Remember that the next time you buy your supply of coffee beans! (And don’t ever ever waste good coffee!)

A breakdown of The Coffee Cherry
  • Skin (Exocarp) - Tough and bitter.
  • Pulp - Fruit beneath the skin. Sweet with a grape-like texture.
  • Parchment (Mucilage) - Slimy layer which helps protect the seeds. Removed during processing using dry process, wet process, honey process, pulped natural process.
  • Silverskin - Thinner layer of parchment removed during roasting process.
  • Seed (beans) - The wonderful ​piece we are after - Usually consisting of two seeds.

Did you know?

Here's a fun coffee fact you can use to impress friends: Coffee is the seed of the coffee plant and not actually a "bean." A single coffee seed contains two “beans” when separated. A small percentage of coffee cherries contain a single bean called a “peaberry.”

Growing Coffee

"Coffee is a language in itself."

-Jackie Chan

The best coffee grows at higher altitudes, 3,000 - 6,000 feet above sea level, in a climate with consistent temperature. Typically, the higher a coffee grows, the slower it develops, which lends to more intense flavor development.

In areas where the climate may be too warm to grow the fickle arabica plant, shade helps reduce the temperature. The shade also provides a natural habitat for birds (with “bird-friendly” certifications showing up on some coffee labels) which act as a natural “pesticide” by eating insects that would otherwise damage the coffee trees. Shade also improves the soil and local ecosystem. Finally, many link "shade grown" coffee to an improvement in coffee flavor.

Links: Benefits of Shade Grown Coffee, Bird Friendly Certification Guide

Harvesting Coffee

Coffee is unique compared to other crops in that it produces new flowers and varying stages of ripe cherries throughout the fruiting season. This results in ripe cherries needing harvest many times throughout the year. For farmers, skilled pickers that can pick ripe cherries among unripe cherries are a valuable asset and worth paying a premium for.

After harvesting, ripe coffee cherries are transported to a mill, or moved to the milling process immediately if the farm does their own milling. This is the “processing” stage.

The two main methods of processing the cherries are the wet/washed and natural/dry methods. Within each of these main categories, there are many variations.

Washed/Wet Process

Beans are shaken and washed through a screen to separate the larger ripe cherries from the unripe cherries. The ripe cherries will sink to the bottom and the unripe, or “bad,” cherries will float to the top.

The next stage is pulping. After sorting, the cherries are pushed through a screen by machine. The leftover pulp is used as fertilizer. Cherries that fail to pulp are not ripe enough and will be sorted by hand and used for lower quality coffees.

Next the coffee will ferment, which removes the rest of the pulp, mucilage and parchment surrounding the green coffee seeds.

The last stage is a final washing.

The wet process method is said to be less susceptible to mold (see article here), as well as better at preserving the flavor of each bean. It is also the most labor intensive compared to the other methods of processing coffee, and thus demands a higher price.

Natural/Dried Process Coffee

The first step of the process is to clean and sort the cherries, removing twigs and leaves before being spread out on patios or tables to dry in the sun. After coffee is spread in a thin layer to dry, it is raked regularly to ensure even drying (a step where mold can be an issue).

The drying process can take up to four weeks and must be carefully monitored. Too dry and the beans will break during hulling. If the beans are not dry enough, they can become moldy.

Natural Process Coffee Fact: Because the beans dry while still in the cherry, natural process coffee develops a unique aroma and flavor—typically fruity with less acidity.

Can I drink it yet?! Nope...

​Finally, after the processing stage, coffee beans are stored for a few months to further dry before the final sorting, cupping and grading. The three ways of sorting green coffee beans are:

Machine: A sensor detects imperfect beans and routes them out.

Hand: ​Sorted by hand. Can you imagine?

Hand on conveyor belt: Sorted by hand on a moving belt. Crazy!

Cupping Coffee (Tasting It)

"What goes best with a cup of coffee? Another cup."

~Henry Rollins

Coffee is tasted multiple times throughout the growing and processing stages. This is called “cupping.”

To prepare coffee for cupping it is roasted in small batches, immediately ground and then infused in hot water. During the entire process, the cupper is evaluating the look, smell, texture, and finally, taste of the beans.

Cupping Guidelines: How To Cup Coffee

​(As Recommended By The Specialty Coffee Association Of America)

  • Use a tempered glass or ceramic glass between 7 and 9 ounces
  • Use a ratio of 8.25 grams of coffee per 150 ml of water
  • Grind coffee immediately before cupping
  • Grind size should be slightly coarser than typical paper filter grind size
  • Add exact amount of coffee to each cup and cover
  • Use clean filtered water
  • Use 200° water for pouring over the coffee
  • Pour over grounds to rim of cup, wetting all grounds
  • Steep for 3-5 minutes without disturbing

Step #1 - Remove lid and sniff grounds.

Step #2 - After 3-5 minutes, sniff crust before breaking it and stirring 3 times. Lift spoon and sniff dripping grounds.

Step #3 - Skim off grounds, leaving as much liquid in cup as possible.

Step #4 - Hunch close to the cup with a clean spoon. Take a spoonful and “slurp” it into your mouth while inhaling. This slurping helps the aromatics to work while also coating your tongue with as much coffee as possible.

Step #5 - Rinse your spoon in a glass of clean water between each taste.

Coffee Aromas, Flavor And Taste

The aromas of coffee are distinct from flavors, although sometimes they are found together. Example, say you smell cherry when sniffing your brew but don’t taste it when you drink. This is common. On the other hand, for example, you might smell and taste caramel.

Here are some of the most common aromas you can find in coffee:

  • Animal-like
  • Ashy
  • Burnt
  • Smoky
  • Chemical
  • Chocolate
  • Caramel
  • Malty
  • Toasty
  • Earthy
  • Floral
  • Fruity
  • Citrus
  • Green/Grassy
  • Herbal
  • Nutty
  • Rancid
  • Rubber
  • Spicy
  • Tobacco
  • Winey
  • Woody

Coffee Tastes:

  • Acidity - In terms of coffee taste, this refers to the brightness of coffee and not the pH level of the coffee. Considered pleasant.
  • Bitterness - Considered desirable to a certain level.
  • Body - Also known as the “mouthfeel.” Body is the weight of the coffee on the mouth.
  • Sweetness - Considered the most important aspect of coffee, which can separate good from great coffee.
  • Saltiness - Exactly as it sounds.
  • Sourness - Too sharp or biting. Considered unpleasant.
  • Finish - Refers to flavors and sensations felt after tasting coffee.

Caffeine

"Caffeine. The gateway drug."

-Eddie Vedder

Caffeine is the beloved, and controversial, ingredient in coffee that gets plenty of attention. And usually it's not good attention. Even those that willingly ingest it often do so thinking of it as a vice.

The health establishment loves to quote whatever new study that has recently come out, usually cautioning us ignorant caffeine addicts of the perils of our daily addiction.

Why thank you for saving us from ourselves...

Bla.

The fact is, caffeine is good for you. And just like fruit can be good for you until you eat too much of it, so it goes for caffeine.

It's all in the dose.

Some drink coffee exclusively for the caffeine kick. Others drink it because they like the flavor and the buzz ends up a welcomed bonus. Most of us drink it for a combination of the two. If you are like me, you drink it for all the reasons: the flavor, the enjoyment, and most definitely, the stimulation.

I suspect the latter reason is why so many are embracing specialty coffees that come at a premium price (like Wild Coffee).

A Closer Look At Caffeine

Caffeine, in pure form, is a white odorless powder that belongs to a class of organic chemicals called purine alkaloids. It's mechanism is to act as a pesticide against certain insects and to increase the memory of others (cooolio).

A study (1) titled "Caffeine in Floral Nectar Enhances a Pollinator's Memory of Reward," concluded that honeybees were as much as three times more likely to remember a scent after ingesting coffee. This encouraged the bees to return to the plant to pollinate again, increasing the plant's reproductive success.

It could be argued that caffeine has a similar effect on humans; it keeps us coming back for more!

How much caffeine is too much?

Once caffeine passes through the gastrointestinal tract, it can remain in your body for three to six hours. Upon reaching the liver, caffeine is metabolized into three compounds; paraxanthine, theobromine and theophylline.

Caffeine is considered as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA. 10 grams of caffeine a day is considered toxic, but this would take 50-100 cups of coffee to reach.

Caffeine is known to block adenosine, which reduces drowsiness. It also stimulates the autonomic nervous system. The promotion of "alertness" is often associated with combating fatigue and the ability to better focus. These are subjective, different from individual. That said, as a general rule, the more you ingest caffeine, the less you will notice these effects while the less caffeine you ingest, the more you will notice them when ingesting caffeine.

Like I said before, "It depends."

As most know, caffeine can be overdone. Many studies on caffeine consumption have been done, but they seem to be across the board in their conclusions. You can find just as many studies that assert caffeine is “good” for you and plenty that say it's not. (I think there are more that assert it as good, though.)

When it comes to caffeine intake, like most things in life: It depends.

Here is the Wild Foods’ stance on caffeine: It’s hella good for you in the proper amount… and… like any ingestible ingredient, you should cycle it at times to increase your body’s sensitivity.

So, what’s the right amount of caffeine?

Again: It depends.

It depends on bodyweight and lifestyle factors such as sleep and diet. The Mayo Clinic recommends less than 500 milligrams (mg) a day.

Let’s look at our caffeine chart to see how many cups of coffee this equals (reference: Mayo Clinic):

  • 8oz Brewed Coffee - 92-200mg
  • 8oz Decaffeinated Coffee - 2-12mg
  • 1oz Espresso, restaurant-style - 47-75mg
  • 8oz Instant Coffee (gross) - 27-173mg
  • 8oz Specialty Coffee (latte/mocha) 63-175mg

As you can see, since a strong cup of coffee averages 150mg of caffeine, you could consume three-ish cups of coffee a day and stay within the Mayo Clinics’ recommendation of less than 500 mg a day.

As far as intake goes, I think the Mayo Clinic’s recommendation is a safe place for most people.

When I’m hovering around this much caffeine intake for an extended period of time, I start running into issues with fatigue and the feeling that I need to drink coffee to help me wake up each morning.

And I don't like either of these.

This is how I know it’s time to wane my intake down over the next few days to a lower daily baseline. After that, I might even go a day or two with no caffeine. Finally, after this down regulation, I’ll start gradually increasing my daily intake until I find myself reaching too much again. And then the cycle repeats itself.

Of course, you should find what works best for you. As with most things relating to the body, pay close attention to how you feel and always be tweaking and gauging. The more you pay attention to what your body is telling you, the better you’ll understand what works best for you.

Here are a list of studies relating to caffeine and coffee intake if you want to do some further study.

Is Moldy Coffee Really A Thing?

I recently received a question via email about our coffee. It went like this:

Is your coffee tested for mold?

Instead of just posting my reply, I felt this topic needed an expanded treatment.

First of all, I should explain why lab testing coffee is a thing nowadays. After all, up until a few years ago, no one in the coffee world would have thought of testing coffee beans for mold.

But then Dave Asprey came along and prompted the fact that certain coffee beans would make him feel like crap. (Which I completely agree with, btw.)

To identify and find a solution for this problem, Dave set out to find a coffee bean that would make him feel good. To make a long story short, he eventually concluded that mold contamination of the beans were the culprit for why he didn't feel so hot after drinking some coffees. So he started lab testing beans to make sure they weren't mold-ridden; Bulletproof Coffee was born.

Dave then popularized his (supposed) "mold free" coffee in conjunction with butter coffee, a brew using blended butter to make a deliciously frothy beverage full of energy.

That is why people now (mistakenly) refer to butter coffee as Bulletproof Coffee. Of course, blending butter info coffee, and tea, has been around for a long time. Dave was able to position his product (the lab tested coffee beans) in people's minds with butter coffee as "Bulletproof Coffee," a genius marketing tactic I might add.

Butter Coffee is delicious. Here's our signature brew: The Wild Butter Brew

Of course, not everyone buys the whole moldy coffee argument, especially considering the roasting process itself destroys the majority of mold in coffee beans. Dave counters this by suggesting that mold can grow inside the beans and thus can survive the roasting process.

I'm not so sure. But that's ok, because there's a way, on top of roasting, to reduce mold risk.

It's this: buy amazing quality (organic, fair trade) coffee beans from small farms that use the wet/wash method for processing coffee beans (or that, at least, dry on raised beds).

When you buy from small farms that grow coffee the right way--in the shade among natural forest canopy, without the use of pesticides, utilizing compost, and processed using the wet/wash method--you reduce the instances in which mold can grow.

Smaller coffee producers produce less coffee and so shipping and storage tend to be more considered when every last bean is thought of as a valuable asset. Compare this to the mass produced, technified coffee that is grown similar to how big agriculture might grow soybean or corn in the US--as cheap and fast as possible.

With mass produce coffee, you get all kinds of problems, many of which can lead to unfavorable mold growth. You also get a crappier tasting product.

On this topic, I totally agree with Dave; good coffee matters.

Whether or not coffee needs to tested in a lab, and whether that is even viable considering you have to roast coffee and get it into the consumer's hands as fast as possible, I'm not so sure.

Back to the question above. Here was my reply:

Our coffee is not "lab tested," but it has been put through extensive human trial testing via plenty of cupping, roasting and deciding before coming to the Wild Coffee line.

Our coffees are also all organic, single-origin, fair trade and insanely fresh roasted in Austin, Texas! We use wet process beans which has been shown to reduce mold risk tremendously.

We also purchase from small co-ops that do things by hand and with respect to the coffee beans, which contributes greatly to cutting down on the kind of mold contamination you get from huge lots of mass produced conventional coffee beans.

The roasting process itself also destroys nearly all of the mold, especially for beans that are treated well in which mold hasn't had a chance to seep into the middle of the beans (which, even then, there is much speculation as to whether mold can even survive the roasting process if on the inside).

Is Moldy Coffee a Thing?

What it comes down to is this: you don't have to test coffee for mold, but you do need to buy the best coffee you can find. Then you get great tasting coffee that's good for you and statistically unlikely to be contaminated with mold.

And if you don't care about mold contamination, you at least want the best tasting coffee you can get, right?

Thought so.

Here are some guidelines to abide by to ensure you are getting low-mold to mold-free coffee beans that taste fantastic:

How To Buy Mold-Free Coffee Beans:

  • Buy Organic
  • Buy Fair Trade
  • Buy Wet Processed
  • Buy Single-Origin (coming from a single country or area, which cuts down on the likelihood of crappy beans getting into your bag.)
  • Buy Fresh Roasted
  • Buy 100% Arabica or a high-quality Robusta (less common)
  • Buy Wild Coffee 😉

How To Use Quality Coffee Beans:

  • Use fresh beans immediately
  • Invest in a hand grinder or good burr grinder
  • Grind your beans just before using
  • Brew with a French Press, Pour Over, Cold Brew, or Aeropress
  • Store in a dark, airtight container in a cupboard away from heat, moisture and light (one-way valve bags or containers preferred)
  • Take a moment to sniff your beans (and brew) during each part of the process
  • Slurp a teaspoon of your brew and think about the flavor notes
  • Enjoy!

How To Make Butter Coffee

Have you ever put butter in your coffee?

Serious question. (Trust me, it's delicious.)

Butter in coffee is great.

And it's growing in popularity, so much so that you can find butter coffee on the menu in many Whole Foods now.

Part of the reason it is growing in popularity in the states is the connection between drinking a butter coffee and fasting (skipping breakfast).

Adding butter to your coffee (and MCT oil) is a great way to skip breakfast in the mornings while still getting a boost in energy from fat calories while still getting the effects of fasting.

Without going deep into intermittent fasting, try the following: skip eating whole food and try coffee and/or butter coffee instead. Then eat later in the day whenever you feel hungry, ideally 4-8 hours after waking.

Below is our recipe—The Wild Butter Brew—but before we get to that, I want to talk about fat for a hot minute.

After all, the mass of people still believe that fat is unhealthy.

::Sigh::

Fat is not bad for you. Fat is actually an essential nutrient for humans.

Essential nutrients means, if you don't eat it, you'll die.

How can something that we have to eat to live, be "bad" for us?

Well here's a perfect example of something that's counterintuitive for a reason: because it's counter to intuition... or in other words, it's wrong!

All that being said, the kind of fat matters. Fats that are highly processed and that come from seeds—canola, soy, etc.—are what you want to stay away from.

Fats that come from animals—grass-fed beef, fatty fish, wild game—are not only ideal, but the most nutritionally packed foods on the planet.

This article is supposed to be about butter coffee so I won't expand on the topic of fat anymore. Read the Wild Foods Guide To Fat for the full skinny on fat.

“Butter was demonized and replaced with margarine, one of the most supremely stupid nutritional swap-outs in recent memory. Only much later did we discover that the supposedly healthier margarine was laden with trans fats, a really bad kind of fat created by using a kind of turkey baster to inject hydrogen atoms into a liquid (unsaturated) fat, making it more solid and giving it a longer shelf life. (Any time you read “partially hydrogenated oil” or “hydrogenated oil” in a list of ingredients, that means the food in question contains trans fats.) Unlike saturated fats from whole foods such as butter, trans fats (at least the manmade kind) actually do increase the risk for heart disease and strokes!”

-Jonny Bowden, The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Your Cholesterol Won't Prevent Heart Disease-and the Statin-Free Plan That Will

Butter coffee is a delicious and nutritious way to start your day. You can use it to fast in the morning and skip whole food or you can add it to whatever you already do in the mornings.

Personally, a mug of Wild Butter Coffee is all I have in the mornings. This keeps me going for 4-8 hours before my first meal. (To learn more about intermittent fasting, check out Leangains.com.)

Wild Butter Coffee

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz Wild Coffee (Organic, Fair Trade, Single-Origin, Ultra-Premium Beans Available here)
  • 1 TBSP Non-alkalized cocoa powder (Available here)
  • 1 TBSP Wild MCT Oil (Buy MCT Oil here)
  • 1 TBSP of Kerrygold Butter (or 2 tbsp, this stuff is the ticket)
  • Optional: 1 dash of Wild Vanilla Powder (Available here)
  • Optional: 1/2 TSP Organic Cinnamon
  • Optional: 1/2-1 TSP Xylitol from maple (not corn)
  • Optional: Add a scoop of Wild Whey after step 3 after coffee has cooled then shake lightly to combine. Avoid blending or adding Wild Whey to hot liquids as this can damage the beneficial immunoglobulins!

Tools:

  • Preferred brewing vessel
  • Mason jar or mug
  • Blender (a Magic Bullet works great here)

Process:

  • Brew coffee with preferred method (Scroll down for brewing methods​)
  • Place hot coffee in a blender with 1-2 tbsp MCT oil, 1-2 tbsp pastured butter, 1 -2 tsp of Wild Chocolate powder, a dash of Wild Vanilla powder and desired sweetener
  • Blend until frothy
  • If you prefer it hot, drink your beverage now. If not, proceed to next step
The "Wild Butter Brew" Iced​
  • Add 4 oz Wild Cold Brew and lightly shake to combine
  • Place Butter Brew in freezer to cool down for 3-5 minutes
  • Remove from freezer
  • Add ice and give it a shake
  • Enjoy!

Common errors making butter coffee:

  • Blending too aggressively. Blend/Pulse in short bursts.
  • Using coconut oil over MCT oil. Coconut oil leaves a coconuty aftertaste and doesn't have the same smooth consistency as MCT, which has trouble emulsifying.
  • Not using the best beans. Wild Coffee beans are fresh roasted, single-origin, fair trade and organic. They are ultra-premium and uber-fresh. Using quality coffee makes a HUGE difference in not only how your butter brew comes out, but also in how you'll feel after you drink it.

How To Make Buttered Espresso

Some tips for Butter Espresso:

  • Let the butter come to room temperature for a few minutes. If it's too cold, it won't completely blend and you'll end up with (delicious) chunks of butter in your espresso.
  • Blend for 30-60 seconds. Because there is such a small amount of liquid in espresso, it takes some time to fully blend the butter and form the emulsion.
  • Test the amount of butter. I've successfully used up to 2 tablespoons of butter in a double shot of espresso. However, I find that 1 TBSP is plenty. Test and find what you like.
  • Use unsalted pastured butter, like Kerrygold.

Optional ingredients you can add to make your own butter espresso concoctions:

How To Cold Brew Coffee

​If you don't know how awesome cold brew coffee is, you are missing out.

(And a great place to get your first taste is with our Wild Cold Brew brew-at-home pouches.)

Cold Brew coffee is different than typical hot brewed coffee because it is brewed with cold water (duh). There are a few methods for doing this, but in our tests, we have found that using ice cold water and brewing for 24 hours in the fridge yields the best results.

​When you brew coffee using hot water, you get a fast extraction but at the cost of a more acidic cup of coffee due to the hot water pulling out more of the harsh components of the grounds--oils, acids and aromatic molecules.

This results in a strong, acidic cup of coffee. For many, this acidic cup of coffee is too harsh to drink without sugar and/or cream.

Enter Cold Brew Iced Coffee.

For those who don't like black coffee, cold brew coffee might change your mind. The cold brew method produces a smooth, low acid and sweet cup of coffee. And when you pour it over ice, man-o-man, it is damn good!

Brewing cold brew coffee is easy if you have the right tools and great coffee.

What you'll need to cold brew coffee:

  • Pre-chilled glass container - (a Mason Jar or French Press works great)
  • 1 liter (34 ounces) of ice cold filtered water
  • 85g of fresh ground Wild Coffee beans ground to the size of thick grained sea salt/breadcrumbs
  • A method of straining the grounds; paper filter, fine-mesh strainer, french press

How to Cold Brew Coffee Method:

  1. Grind coffee beans to a medium grind size
  2. Add grounds to glass container and pour in water
  3. Stir until all grounds are completely submerged
  4. Cover and place in fridge
  5. Optional: check after a few hours and stir to make sure all grounds are submerged
  6. After 24 hours, remove container from fridge and stir one last time
  7. Strain
  8. Pour over ice and drink!
  9. ​Store remainder in sealed container and enjoy within a few days

If you have yet to try cold brew coffee, I highly recommend you do. As with any cup of coffee, the better quality bean you use, the better cup of coffee you'll get.

You'll love our whole bean Wild Coffee.

Common Cold Brew Coffee Questions

​No one wants the experience of preparing your cold brew, waiting in eager anticipation of that first delicious sip, only to discover the whole batch is...well, kind of awful. Here’s a few common mistakes – what went wrong and how to avoid a bad batch.

The Wrong Beans

While the cold brew process can be more forgiving than say your typical drip brewed pot of coffee, good beans still matter. If you started with low quality, maybe even stale coffee beans, you’re most likely going to end up with a sub-par cup of joe.

Always choose a high-quality, organic bean to brew and you’ll be setting yourself up for a better result. Of course we go with fair trade, non-GMO, always organic, small batch, and fresh roasted beans.

And can you use decaf for cold brew? Absolutely!

The Proper Cold Brew Grind

If you’ve taken a taste and found your cold brew batch to be too bitter, consider the grind size you used. It’s too fine of a grind that leaves that extra bitter aftertaste in cold brew.

Since your coffee is going to be steeping for many hours, choose a courser grind, something resembling the texture of sugar or sea salt is typically a good size.

When It Comes To Water Temps - Just Chill

A lot of people find themselves somewhat freaking out about what water temperature you must use for cold brew.

Do I start with hot water or just go warm? Should I be adding ice before putting it in the fridge? And so on. Basically, it doesn’t have to be that complicated.

Unless you’re the scientific type and want to do a taste-testing experiment, (since hot water can highlight different flavors in the coffee), just go with anything between room temp and fridge cold water for the best results.

If you soak the coffee grinds for just 12 hours, you'll probably find your cold brew is weak and even somewhat astringent. Ideally let the brew sit in the fridge for 18 to 24 hours before straining. Then get ready for a smooth taste that was worth the wait!

Don’t Be Too Strained About Straining

When you’re waiting in such mouthwatering suspense, it can be tempting to race through the straining process, but trust us, don’t rush it.

Unless you want bitter disappointment, do not poke, prod, or force your cold brew through the cheesecloth or strainer.

This is a process, savor the experience. Be patient and your reward will be smooth and sweet.

To Dilute Or Not To Dilute…?

DO NOT DILUTE is the answer to the question.

Your cold brew is meant to be stored in the refrigerator as a concentrate. Don’t water it down or it shortens its life (to a sad little 2-3 days). Note: If you’re not keeping your brew in the fridge, it can and most likely will mold.

If stored properly (refrigerated) as an undiluted concentrate, although flavor quality typically starts to degrade after a week, your cold brew should last for about two weeks.​

It’s only when you’re pouring up a glass and ready to drink it should you be diluting your cold brew.

Frozen Coffee?

Love your beverages a little extra on the arctic side? Try freezing up some coffee cubes.

Just take an ice cube tray and pour in some leftover coffee. (And if leftover coffee is a foreign concept in your house, just brew an extra cup for this cool purpose.) Freeze those coffee cubes and use them in your next glass of extra-cold cold brew.

​So cold brew i​s not only a fun way to brew, it's a taste of the bean any coffee connoisseur should give a try!

Brew Coffee With The Pour Over Method

The pour over brewing method is our favorite way to hot brew Wild Coffee here at Wild Foods HQ. The pour over method produces a smooth and clean cup of coffee that helps bring out most coffee's best qualities.

There are a few methods for brewing pour over, but our favorites are the Chemex and the Hario V60.

You will need the following tools and ingredients to brew the perfect cup of coffee:

  • 21 grams or about 3 TBSP fresh roasted whole bean coffee (We used the Sidamo Medium roast in this video)
  • A Pour Over Vessel  (We used a Hario V60, but you can use a Chemex or any other pour over brewer)
  • Filter
  • 16 oz hot water
  • Mug
  • Coffee grinder

All About Espresso

Contrary to what many think, espresso is not a drink or a bean, it is a method of coffee extraction as well as a coffee drink.

The method consists of forcing small amounts of water through compressed coffee grounds. This results in a concentrated cup of coffee. Contrary to what most people think, espresso has less caffeine than a regular cup of brewed coffee (typically 55mg compared to 155 in an 8oz of coffee) per shot.

Espresso shots form the base of popular beverages such as the latte, cappuccino, macchiato, cortado, piccolo latte, flat white, cafe breve and so on.

I've only recently learned how to make espresso, but I can say that it has opened a whole new world of coffee to me. I see how so many coffee nerds get so heavily into espresso. There's something about the method that is so elusive and intriguing, kind of like art.

You can pull one shot that tastes divine and then immediately pull another shot that quickly ends up in the trash. There are so many variables to control; the grind, the temperature, the beans, the speed, weight and tamper. A slight skew of temperature or tamper pressure can result in a completely different extraction. Not to mention the plethora of other variables you introduce when you get into the beans themselves.

How To Brew Espresso

Recommended Espresso Weights For A Double Shot

  • Ground Coffee: 18-21 grams
  • Extracted Weight (weight of espresso liquid): 26-30 grams
  • Extracted Time: 25-30 seconds (how long it takes to reach desired extracted weight)

What you need:

  • Espresso Machine
  • Burr grinder
  • Scale
  • Fresh Coffee Beans ground to fine size (about size of table salt)
  • Tamper
  • Filtered Water

Process:

  1. ​Make sure you preheat your machine! The longer the better... ideally 30-45 minutes before. Keep the portafilter in the machine while preheating.
  2. ​Run a bit of hot water through machine and portafilter to flush out old grounds.
  3. ​Remove portafilter and wipe dry with clean cloth. Place portafilter on scale and tare. Grind your beans and place in portafilter until appropriate weight of coffee is reached (coffee basket).
  4. ​Tap portafilter on counter or padded surface to condense grounds before tamping and wipe grounds level with your finger.
  5. ​Tamp grounds with a tamper. You want 30-40 pounds of pressure. Lean over counter and extend arm so that elbow is pointing towards ceiling to get an even downward tamping.
  6. ​Give the portafilter handle a light spin to ensure an even extraction.
  7. ​Place portafilter in machine and an espresso cup on a scale under extraction point.
  8. ​Turn machine on aiming for an extraction of 30 grams in about 25-30 seconds.
  9. ​Once you reach the 25-30 second mark you are aiming for, you will see the shot start turning yellow, or "blonding." You will want to stop the shot a couple seconds after this.​

Common Espresso Problems

Shot extracts too fast - Try these:

  • Grind finer
  • More grounds
  • More pressure on the tamp

Shot takes too long, slow drip extraction - Try these:

  • Coarser ​grind
  • Less grounds
  • Less ​pressure on the ​tamp

Watery shot - Try these:

  • Less yield
  • ​More coffee
  • ​Finger grind
  • More pressure on the tamp

No or little crema - Try these:

  • ​More coffee
  • ​Finger grinder
  • ​Fresher coffee

Espresso Drinks

  • Single Shot - One ounce shot of espresso typically served in a small porcelain espresso cup on a saucer and with a mini spoon.
  • Double Shot or a "Doppio" - A double shot of espresso. Served the same way as a single shot. Uses double the amount of coffee as the single shot.
  • Ristretto or "Short shot" - The first 3/4-ounce of espresso. Extraction is stopped before the "blonding" stage of extraction.
  • Lungo or "Long shot" - 1 1/2-ounce shot of espresso using more water than a single shot. The long shot can extract for as long as 60 seconds compared to a single shot that extracts in 25-30 seconds. You would think that a Lungo would be less bitter than a single shot due to the higher ratio of water to coffee solids but that is not the case because the additional hot water passing through the grounds extracts more of the bitter compounds of the grounds.
  • Caffe Macchiato - Shot of espresso with a "mark" or "stain" (Italian for macchiato) of foam spooned on the top (yum.. one of my favorites).
  • Cappuccino - Shot of espresso with a top layer of steamed wet milk and foamed milk.
  • Cafe Breve - Shot of espresso with steamed half and half.
  • Cafe Latte - Served in a larger cup, a shot of espresso filled to the top with steamed milk. If you don't add foam to the top, it is called a "flat white."
  • Cafe Americano - Shot of espresso with hot water added to dilute. Named after American serviceman in Europe during World War 2 that would dilute espresso to make it taste like coffee back in the states.
  • Cafe Mocha - A latte with chocolate syrup whisked into the espresso.
  • Cafe Zorro - A double espresso with hot water added in equal parts.
  • Cortado - Espresso "cut" with a bit of warm milk.
  • Espresso con panna - Espresso with whipped cream.

How to Brew Coffee With A French Press

The French press is a popular and trusted method of brewing coffee. This is probably because it is so easy. But that doesn't mean you can't still screw a mug of French press up... because you can.

First, after you are done brewing--about 4-6 minutes total--pour all of the coffee out of the French press. If it sits, it will over-extract.

Second, let your grounds "bloom" a bit by pouring enough hot water over the grounds until all the grounds are wet and letting it sit for 60 seconds. This lets the coffee release various gasses, contributing to a better tasting brew.

The final tip for not screwing up a French press brew is to use a coffee to water ratio of about 1:10 or 1:12. If you are using 300 grams of water, use 30 grams of coffee.

Tools:

  • French Press
  • 300g Hot filtered water at 205°
  • 30g Fresh Coffee Ground to a coarse grind (about the size of coarse sea salt)
  • Timer

Method:

  1. Rinse French press with some hot water then discard
  2. Add grounds to press and pour hot water over grounds until grounds are all saturated
  3. Lightly stir grounds and let bloom for 30-60 seconds
  4. Pour rest of water over grounds, stir and let brew for another 3-4 minutes
  5. Push plunger all the way down and pour out all of the coffee. (If you leave the grounds in the water, it will over-extract.)

The Aeropress Method

The Aeropress is an invention by Alan Adler, inventor of the Aerobie Frisbee.

It's a fun way to brew and is great for traveling because it's small and light. (There's even an Aeropress World Championship.)

Tools:

Method:

  1. Grind 18oz coffee to as fine as table salt
  2. Invert Aeropress and insert plunger until it is set at 4
  3. Bring 12oz water to a boil
  4. Rinse filter and end cap with a bit of hot water
  5. Add grounds to inverted Aeropress
  6. Pour water that is 30 seconds off boil over grounds to wet grounds
  7. Let bloom for 30 seconds (you will see little bubbles)
  8. Stir grounds
  9. Pour in rest of water
  10. Place top and flip over a cup or mug
  11. Press slowly (about 20 seconds) until you hear a hissing sound
  12. Enjoy!

*Combine your freshly brewed coffee with some Wild MCT Oil, pastured butter and a dash of Wild Chocolate and Wild Vanilla and blend! Recipe here.

Turkish Coffee

I didn’t learn about Turkish Coffee until I was already a coffee fanatic.

At first glance, I thought this method was too archaic for my tastes, and maybe even an affront to my beautiful, newly purchased Chemex.

Turkish coffee reminded me of something primitive, as how people made coffee before the invention of the coffee maker. I figured it was too elementary for my tastes.

Then I learned a bit more about the technique and it intrigued me.

First, you need a special coffee pot, called an “ibrik,” as well as an extremely fine grind of coffee (a powder pretty much). Then you use a special technique consisting of cooking it over low heat and bringing to a near boil multiple times before serving. Finally, you don’t strain it—this is the part that really got me.

The idea of drinking this bold brew by letting the heavy grounds and coffee sediment sink to the bottom sounded pretty cool.

So, naturally, I bought an ibrik and started experimenting with some fresh Wild Coffee beans.

I made my first batch with sugar, following a typical Turkish coffee recipe. It came out pretty good, but far too sweet even after using only half the amount of sugar in the recipe.

Next I tried it with no sugar at all, and while I did like it, I could see how it might be a bit much for all but the heaviest coffee drinkers—it was heavy, bold and strong.

Then I tried it with 1/2 tsp of sugar and it was just right. And now, we have the Turkish Coffee Recipe done the Wild Way. Enjoy!

How To Make Turkish Coffee

Tools:

  • A small pot or ibrik
  • 20g finely ground coffee (Use finest grind setting you can find)
  • 8 ounce filtered water (~2.5g per ounce of water)

Optional:

  • 1/2 - 1 tsp organic sugar or xylitol
  • Any of your favorite spices

Process:

  1. Pour water to heating vessel
  2. Add any desired spices or sugar to water and stir
  3. Add coffee to top of water but do not stir
  4. Turn to low and let heat slowly to near-boil
  5. As soon as it reaches proper temperature, remove from heat. Do not let it boil!
  6. Let it cool for 10-20 seconds
  7. Return to heat and bring it back to near-boil
  8. Repeat for a third boil
  9. Remove from heat and scoop some of the foam into the cups (or discard depending on preference)
  10. Slowly pour into small espresso cups
  11. Let grounds settle to bottom of cup by resting for 30 seconds
  12. Drink slowly until you reach sediment at bottom

Tips:

  • Turkish Coffee is traditionally served with a glass of water
  • Don’t take your eye off it or it may boil over
  • Experiment with different amounts of sweetener to find what you like!

How To Brew Coffee With A Moka Pot

The Moka pot is the closest thing to espresso you can get without an espresso machine.

It's also a fun and interesting way to brew.

Coffee grounds are placed in the middle of the pot in a screen just over the base that holds the water. The top part where the brewed coffee ends up has a long spout into a reservoir where the brewed coffee will be held and poured from.

Steam builds up in the closed base which forces the hot water through the compressed coffee in the middle of the pot. One of the most unique, yet simple compared to something like syphon coffee, ways of brewing I've ever seen.

What you need:

  • 20g ground coffee to same grind as espresso - grind size about that of table salt
  • Moka pot
  • Grinder
  • Stove top
  • Kettle
  • Filtered Water
  • Clean kitchen towel

Process:

  1. ​Bring water to boil in kettle
  2. ​Fill bottom chamber to line
  3. ​Place filter basket into brewer
  4. ​Fill basket to a small mound with fresh ground coffee
  5. ​Level it off with a light finger scrape and brush away an​y loose grinds on sides of metal basket
  6. ​Carefully screw top on... the bottom will be hot
  7. ​Place pot on stove over medium heat
  8. ​Once steam builds, you will start to see and hear the coffee come out of the spout. Watch it until it turns yellow and starts making a hissing sound; it's done.
  9. ​Carefully pour and do not touch the outside of the pot. Let it cool down before washing.
  10. ​Enjoy!

How To Brew Coffee With A Nel Drip

The Nel Drip is a special way to brew coffee.

Why is it special, you ask?

Well, it's special because it can produce a wonderful cup of coffee from "old" coffee beans!

"Holy Crap!" I know, right?!

Discovering the Nel Drip was not just a fascinating new discovery for my personal coffee journey, it was also an awesome business discovery.

Let me explain.

You see, at the time of writing this, we are shipping out about 150 pounds of Wild Coffee a week.

All this fresh roasted coffee is picked up by hand around the corner from where I live in Austin, Texas. Then we bag it all before shipping it out to customers.

As you might guess, we often have odd numbers of coffee left over that we can't use--example: having 5oz left and needing 6oz to make a full 6oz bag.

While this means I always have an ample personal supply of fresh beans,  the fact is, I can't consume it all myself.

And I've tried... trust me... I've tried.

I often give away some to friends, family and employees, but it still seems I'm always stuck with more than I know what to do with.

Because I refuse to throw coffee beans away, I end up with batches of beans that range from a few days old to a few weeks.

That's not including that I often get orders of beans returned in the mail as "undeliverable" mail. And since I can't resell this coffee--because it's no longer fresh--I'm left with even more beans that desperately need a home.

That's why my first reaction was "holy crap!" when I read about this Japanese technique of using beans that have sat post-roasting.

Not only do I now have a way to use these older beans myself, but I now have a new market for selling these beans.

Both of these excited me, naturally, but not as you might suspect. You see, nel drip or not, there's never going to be a big market for "old" coffee. That's just a fact of life, so don't think I have any delusions about buying a jet with all my surplus Wild Coffee beans.

No, the actual reason I'm excited by the prospect of selling old coffee beans is based on the fact that I believe wasting coffee is a terrible thing.

Truly and utterly terrible.

The nutshell reason is this: it takes a humble coffee plant an entire year to produce about a pound of green coffee beans. Then after roasting, the yield may be even less, say 10-12 ounces.

That's insaneeeee if you consider how much coffee the world drinks, or myself.

This is not to mention that amount of hands and process and travel the beans go through before becoming the delicious black liquid in your mug.

Simply put, it's pure blasphemy to waste good coffee beans.

I was excited by the fact that I could now have an outlet for getting some of these not fresh coffee beans into the hands of those that either want to brew nel drip or that maybe don't mind slightly less fresh coffee beans.

​​(Plus, since Wild Coffee is already so fresh, I regularly brew beans that are 1-2 weeks old and can barely taste the difference. The cold brew method also works well for beans that have been sitting for awhile.)

The Nel Drip Method...

To brew the Nel Drip, you need a nel brewer. Get one here. It's cheap and awesome. (If you already own a pour over method, like a Chemex or a Hario V60, you can mimic this technique with reasonable results.)

We are going to provide two versions for brewing nel drip. The first is going to be the "old" coffee method. The second is what you want to use for fresh coffee. I recommend trying both... especially the method for those older beans.

How To Brew "Old" Coffee With The Nel Drip

What you need:

  • 50g whole bean coffee - 1-3 weeks old
  • Nel Drip Brewer
  • Grinder
  • Kettle
  • Filtered Water
  • Scale
  • Clean kitchen towel
  • Thermometer

Process:

  1. ​First use of cloth filter: Soak in hot water, then ring out and pat dry between clean dish cloth. Second use: pour some hot water over it in brewer to preheat carafe and prep filter.
  2. ​Remove filter cloth and ring dry then pat between clean kitchen towel
  3. ​Place back in carafe
  4. ​Grind coffee coarse - same grind size you use for French press
  5. ​Add grounds in loose mound to filter sitting in carafe
  6. ​With a butter knife, “groom” coffee gently around side of filter to remove air pockets
  7. ​Make a small indention in middle of coffee mound
  8. ​Set Nel brewer on scale and tare
  9. ​Get a timer setup next to brewer
  10. ​When your water has cooled to 175°, it's time to start the initial pour: The initial pour should be as slow as possible; you want the coffee to completely absorb the water and not drip into carafe.
  11. ​Pour as slow as you can into the indention you made and slowly move out from there in clockwise circles, aiming for 1 gram a second for 50 seconds (1.7 oz total).
  12. ​Let the coffee "bloom" for 45 seconds. That means watch the clock and be in the moment.
  13. ​On your second pour, aim for a total of 80 grams (2.8 oz) over 50 seconds. A tad faster.
  14. ​Pause for 30 seconds.
  15. ​The final pour is faster: 60 grams (2.11 oz) of water over 30 seconds - 2 grams per second.
  16. ​Your scale should now read: 190 grams (6.7 oz)
  17. ​Remove the filter and discard the grounds.
  18. ​Pour out your coffee and enjoy!
  19. ​Rinse your nel drip. Remove it from the wire holder and store it in a jar or ziplock bag submerged in water.

How To Brew Fresh Coffee With The Nel Drip

The main difference for fresh coffee is the ratio of coffee to water and using hotter water. For brewing nel drip with fresh coffee, use a 10:1 water to coffee ratio and 195° water. For 250 ml (8.45 oz) water, use 25g coffee.

Use the method above, aiming for a total extraction weight equal to your brew ratio (250 ml equaling 250 grams in the above example) over a 2-3 minute total pour time.

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