It’s no secret that I love coffee and yerba mate. In this blog post, as the title suggests, I’d like to describe my understanding of the details behind the fine art of preparing these. By no means I’m a barista or someone with an extensive knowledge of coffee and yerba mate. In this article, I decided to share my thoughts and favourite recipes.
I’ve never liked plain Arabica, even the more expensive variants of it my friends enjoy drinking. To me, Arabica has a very strong taste, which muffles delicacy of I love about coffee. As much as I don’t mind the quite bitter taste of caffe latte, I feel like plain Arabica has a different hint of taste that doesn’t suit me.
On the other hand, I’m a big fan of flavoured coffee, though. Additional ingredients make the taste of Arabica more bearable. I feel like plum taste suits me the most, since its taste is somewhat quirky and stops Arabica from dampening the taste of other ingredients.
Speaking of yerba mate, I like ready-made blends with guarana and maracuya because they augument the taste of ilex paraguariensis in a delicate way. I never drink terere (cold brew of yerba mate), though. I didn’t like Kurupi Katuava, since, again, the taste of yerba mate leaves is dampened by other ingredients. I think CBSe’s yerba mate doesn’t deserve it’s bad name and I’ve never felt the chemical taste reported by others.
Finally, for around a year I’ve been drinking a custom blend of yerba mate green and Pajarito Elaborada. Usually, I add a pinch of lemongrass and a few fresh mint leaves. This way, I accomplish a diverse and complex taste.
Brewing yerba mate is a rather touchy topic. Some yerba lovers drink their favourite drink from a plain porcelain cup using a cheap bombilla, having brewed it beforehand with water of more or less unknown temperature. Other yerba fans chose to drink their yerba mate from big, wooden cups made out of palo santo using a fancy bombilla with cooling rings, exactly measuring how much yerba leaves they use to make the brew, and using a special, very precise thermometer to make sure they use water exactly 90 degrees Celcius hot.
Having showed two exaggerrated (but not made up :)!) polar opposites, I usually like to place myself in the middle. A long while ago I used to have a cermaic matero, unfortunately I broke it. Then, I was gifted a relatively fancy matero made out of palo santo, which I no longer have. I liked the taste of palo santo wood, which kept sticking around for a long while (months and months after purchase and making the first brew). Later on I moved to using regular, porcelain cups - these I like the least, but I don’t feel like buying a good matero just to drink yerba once monthly.
I don’t pay much attention to the temperature of water I use to brew yerba mate. Before, I used to use a thermometer to make sure that I don’t use boiling water to brew my yerba (since that’d make it too bitter), nowadays I simply wait for a while after the water reaches the boiling temperature and then start brewing my yerba.
Brewing coffee feels a bit less intricate to me. The main two methods I’ve tried is the “simple” brewing method, which is just pouring hot water to a cup with a spoonful of ground coffee beans. I quickly gave up on it, though, since this method of brewing isn’t efficient at all. Additionally, I can’t afford to accidentally drink coffeegrounds, since it has a negative impact on my digestive system. Because of this, i used to leave a lot of coffee in the cup which would later go down the drain. There must be something good about this method, and it’s the delicacy of the taste. Coffee brewed with a french press or an aeropress (described later) has an unpleasant, muddled taste and a heavy mouthfeel, which makes the taste of flavoured coffee (which I like the most) less enjoyable.
Finally, nowadays I brew my coffee using an AeroPress I was gifted by an internet friend. The first recipe I tried was the standard 4 espresso cup recipe with some lactose-free milk. Using 15g of coffee (approximately a spoonful) and 90 degree celcius water, I made a brew which I stirred for a few sends and pressed all the way with the piston. Ultimately, I don’t think that this method is suited for brewing flavoured coffee, since the extra flavours are barely noticeable given a short brewing time. Another recipe I tried involves using nearly 100 degrees celsius water and the same amount of coffee. Then, after pouring the water into the chamber, I insert the piston so that the coffee gets some time to brew without leaking. I usually leave it for 5 minutes and stir it after two or three minutes. This way of brewing extracts the flavour well and lets the coffee brew for a while.
I enjoy adding milk to my coffee, since it makes the taste more delicate and sensual. I’ve wandered away from traditional dairy after having tried plant milk - especially oat and almond milk. From my experiments, espresso coming from an AeroPress tastes the best when mixed 1:1 with milk. I also add small amounts of cinnamon, vanilla sugar and (occasionally) cocoa to alter and smoothen the taste a little bit. I also sometimes treat myself with iced gingerbread with a rose jam filling - unfortunately it contains a lot of sugar.