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  • Lviv during the quarantine

Quarantine Coffeemania from Alternative Coffee

Ivan Bolgarov, Oleksii Fedak

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The inability to visit a favourite coffee shop is one of the main unmet needs of every Lviv resident during the quarantine. Therefore, we asked the co-founder of Alternative Coffee to provide tips on how coffee lovers can survive and how to prepare coffee at home (note, that Alternative Coffee has also delivery options!). Ivan Bolgarov tells us:

One colleague of mine, Markiian, says that coffee is vital necessity for people in Lviv, as well as air or water, because of low air pressure here that affects people (they also have low blood pressure). In order to wake up and come at full strength to the morning Holy Mass, you need something stronger than tea. Coffee is bracing, it gives energy and willingness to put on new shoes. Quarantine has closed everyone at home, you don’t have to go to church but you still need coffee because otherwise life would stop at all. Everyone is feeling blue, so something must be done. There are many articles about “quarantining” - from making goose suits for cats to looking into the eternal issues of life, universe and everything like that without getting off the couch. Do it. Broaden your mind, learn something new, and in order to deal with it longer – just drink coffee. Scientists say that coffee helps while studying, it promotes a healthy lifestyle as well as staying attentive. It's about black coffee, of course. This is exactly how real Lviv residents imagine it. Black, sweet, hot. There are many ways to make coffee, so we won’t tell you about them again. Those articles about a cezve and a French press are a dime a dozen. The reality is that when you add ground coffee to pure water you get a coffee drink. There are no rules. However, there are some patterns you should know before you start making coffee:

1. Coffee to Water Ratio

The more water you have, the weaker your drink is. Take more coffee for the same amount of water and it becomes stronger. However, no guarantee the taste will become better. In the coffee industry, there is an agreement to consider 60 g of coffee for 1 litre of water to be the most optimal ratio, or at least initial. If you have no scale, here's a guideline: one rounded teaspoon of medium ground coffee is about 5 g. The smaller grind weighs more.

2. Grind Size of Coffee

Actually, you do not have to take only ground coffee. Take the roasted coffee beans, pour with water and brew it, but notice that the extraction time will be much longer. Therefore, coffee is usually ground to increase the surface area of it that makes water penetrate quicker. The smaller grinds are, the easier it is for water to extract delicious and desired flavour of coffee. But remember: too fine grind makes your coffee over-extracted, as water begins to extract from the coffee not only delicious things, but also unpalatable compounds. So the coffee becomes bitter, it causes dry feeling in the mouth, so you want to either drink something afterward or dilute a coffee drink with something (to add milk or sugar).

Another important thing about ground coffee is that it quickly loses its best flavours that are usually the most volatile (they disappear from ground coffee already in a few days; the smaller the grind is, the faster it degrades).

For example, coffee that was ground for a cezve requires the finest grind (looks like flour). In one hour, it already has 30% less aromatic compounds than it had immediately after grinding. Coffee that was ground for a filter (looks like rock salt) loses them in a couple of days.

Therefore, it would be a very good decision to buy a coffee grinder or to find an old grandmother's manual one. But then, firstly check if the millstones are not rusted.

I advise to grind the beans before brewing, rather than buying ground coffee in a pack. If you order beans and you don’t have a coffee grinder, just ask to grind it immediately before delivery.

 

3. Time

The longer water interacts with coffee, the more different flavours it extracts. Therefore, your task is to optimize the brewing time until the unpalatable compounds get an advantage in the taste. The hot coffee is usually brewed for up to 4 minutes. But, again, there are no rules. Just try to measure the extraction time several times before consuming.

Depending on your taste and preferences, you can adjust the brewing time. When you shorten the extraction time, you get more acidic and less strong taste; when you increase – coffee becomes stronger, with more “coffee” taste: it gets fried, smoked and other "low" flavours.

 

4. Temperature

The higher it is, the faster water extracts everything from coffee. The lower it is, the more time you should wait till the drink becomes strong enough. Thus, the coffee can be brewed with cold water as well. It is called Cold Brew. Such coffee is a very tasty thing, especially when you mix it with gin, tonic and add a piece of grapefruit in the glass. A great help during the hot weather. It is too early, but it will be topical issue soon.

Visit the Alternative Coffee page on Facebook. We tell about different methods there as well as offer coffee delivery.

5. Price / Quality

One cup of coffee is about 12 g of beans. On average, one person consumes about 100 g per week. Accordingly, for a month a person needs about half a kilo. “With an extra supply”, so to say. Good coffee can be very expensive. The most expensive coffee ever bought was sold last year in Panama. An Arab sheikh paid for it $ 10,000 for 1 kg. And now he sells it for $ 250 per cup. In Dubai, where else.

In Ukraine, coffee isn’t grown yet, but it is roasted here quite often. We recommend you to buy locally roasted coffee.

Firstly, freshly roasted coffee tastes better. It is evolutionarily better than the one that has been stored for six months at the factory storage somewhere in Italy, then for another six months – at the trade network warehouse, and during the last month is waiting on a supermarket shelf.

Secondly, it is patriotic. Because the added value remains within the country, taxes are paid as well as salaries to our countrymen. To put it simply, it is added to GDP.

Thirdly, it is just cheaper. Coffee brought from Italy, Spain or even Poland needs a lot of intermediaries, each of whom receives the share of the profit. So coffee, which actually costs $ 2-3 per kg, is sold for $ 10-15. While buying coffee from Ukrainian roastery, you do not pay the intermediaries.

Accordingly, you can get much higher quality coffee for the same amount of money. The prices are different, but usually a 250 g pack of really good coffee roasted in Lviv costs from 120 UAH. At least at Alternative Coffee you can buy a two-week supply of coffee, which we usually use for espresso, for $ 125. It is good for various brewing methods, from manual coffee makers and filters to Cold Brew.

There must be more good coffee, because it makes people and the world better!

You can buy high quality coffee from local roasteries during the quarantine. Here is a list of Lviv ones: Alternative Coffee, Black Honey, Svit Kavy, Karp Coffee, Chekhovych, SDV, Saturday's, 7fields. Everyone has something to offer. Google these names, find them on Facebook, Instagram, mail or call them, or just share this information.

Of course, that is not all. Coffee is a product that deserves attention, research and love. All love you give to your coffee while choosing and brewing it, returns to you in a cup.

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