By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
CJ Travel Editor
Keurigs may be quick and French presses may be fancy, but the best way to brew your coffee is by using the pour-over method.
So says Jason Sharp, managing director of Clifton Mount Estate, which is one of a handful of producers of Jamaica’s prized Blue Mountain coffee, and also sells the brew at three Café Blue coffee shops on the island.
“Blue Mountain coffee is the champagne of coffee,” said Sharp, as he gave a private tasting for guests of Sundown Villa in Discovery Bay recently. And as such, the beans, which grow in their own microclimate at between 2,000 and 5,000-feet high and retail for around $60 a pound, must be treated with respect.
Here are Sharp’s top tips for making the perfect cup:
1. A cup of coffee is 98 percent water, so start with the very best. Sharp recommends either purified or spring water.
2. Water should be between 196 and 198 degrees Fahrenheit. Any hotter and it will burn the beans; too cold and the flavors of the beans won’t be fully extracted. No thermometer? Just bring the water to a boil, turn it down, wait a minute to two, and it should be just right.
3. Grind the beans immediately before brewing. Grinding releases the flavors and aromas of the coffee, so the longer the gap between grinding and brewing, the less flavorful the cup. You should also grind according to the brewing method: coarser for a French press, for example, and finer for espresso.
4. Use a kettle with a gooseneck-shaped spout, which will release the water in an even stream when you pour. The pour-over method is simply that: pouring water over the beans, which then percolates through a filter into a vessel below.
5. Pour the water more slowly for an intensely flavored cup, or more quickly for a lighter sip. Enjoy immediately.
Coffee absorbs smells, so to store, Sharp advises freezing in an airtight/vacuum-sealed container And he cautions Blue Mountain shoppers to beware of imitators “Always look for the 100% Blue Mountain designation on the package,” Sharp says; high mountain coffee and Blue Mountain coffee are definitely not the same.
The one thing Sharp won’t tell you is how to drink your coffee. With sugar or without, milky or black, it’s all about your personal taste, he says. So go ahead and reach for the condensed milk. If a few spoons of Betty makes it better, Sharp won’t judge you.