If you love tea and have recently found yourself needing something stronger, then nothing packs a punch like a cup of coffee. But before you brew yourself a cup at home, you must know that it is prepared differently than a cup of tea.
You cannot boil coffee like tea because coffee grounds release their essence far more than tea leaves at the same temperature. Boiling coffee grounds would make the resulting coffee too bitter and acidic to be tasty or healthy. Coffee grounds are brewed at controlled temperature for an ideal cup.
In this article, you’ll learn more about the differences between preparing tea and coffee. You’ll also find out how temperature affects taste profile and how hot the water must be to brew the perfect cup. Finally, you’ll get to know whether coffee is healthier than tea so you can decide if the switch is worth it.
Difference Between Tea-Brewing and Coffee-Brewing
Tea brewing is consistent and innovation-limited practice, whereas the market keeps getting saturated with innovative coffee brewing products. That is because tea brewing is a millennia-old practice of China, Taiwan, India, and Japan.
Coffee has spent most of its commercial life in Central and South America, East Africa, and Indonesia for export purposes where low cost and high caffeine were prioritized, which led to a difference in brewing techniques.
There are also scientific reasons behind the different approaches to tea and coffee brewing, most of which depend upon the composition of these plants. Coffee fruit has seeds that are roasted and ground, and tea has leaves that are dried and processed. The difference in the flavor, texture, and aroma of these two is a major reason behind their different brewing procedures.
Another key reason is their density. Coffee is denser as it comes in seeds and needs to be ground, which is not the case for light weighing tea leaves. More slight variations in brewing techniques lie in the differences in time and temperature required to make the best brew. Teas are usually brewed at lower temperatures- ideally 180F- and coffee is brewed closer to boiling temperatures- 200 F.
Coffee is steeped, separated, and served in separate containers, whereas tea is generally steeped in the very spot it is served from. Moreover, tea is brewed with a relatively open filter because it requires a lot of water to pass through the leaves.
Coffee requires paper coffee filters because the grounds are small and fine and do not work with open filters. The higher price of tea in comparison to coffee is also a reason behind a difference in their brewing techniques, as one aims to get the cost per unit.
Does Boiling Change the Taste of Coffee?
Coffee is made by brewing it in heated water, not boiling the coffee grounds themselves. This is because boiling the grounds most likely results in over-extraction, which completely destroys the flavor-producing compounds. Over extraction overwhelms any flavors the grounds have.
The aromatic acids and sugars are broken down and eliminated, and only the bitter elements from the plant fibers that hold the beans together and make up the third part of coffee extraction are left behind. Brewing coffee in hot water is widely practiced but is not too recommendable. Most traditional recipes require boiled water to cool down a bit before adding the coffee grounds.
Experts are of the view that the ideal temperature of water for brewing coffee is between 91 and 96 degrees Celsius (195 – 205 Fahrenheit). Water hotter than that destroys the delicate flavor compounds in the coffee, which give it complexity and richness. Water colder than that results in uneven extraction of coffee, which makes it bland. Boiling water (212 F – 100 C) is most likely to burn the coffee and should never be used.
Difference Between Filtered and Boiled Coffee
Boiled coffee is made by making a decoction through a process akin to tea making. Water is boiled to the ideal temperature in a saucepan, and coffee is added to it. This method is different from others as ground coffee is poured into the almost boiling water and not the other way around (pouring water into ground coffee).
This coffee uses roasted coffee beans ground into a powder. Some people prefer adding milk to it, others like it black. Boiled coffee is a way of brewing by infusions, such as French press or cold brew. Filter coffee, in contrast, is made through a process also called low-pressure brewing in which ground coffee is used, and hot water is poured over it. It is then passed through a filter which leaves behind a fresh brew.
There is a difference in the fineness of coffee grounds used in the two, as filter coffee has a coarser ground and is brewed for longer. It is also less dense and is infused with more subtle and rich flavors. Drip and pour coffee and any other coffee which passes through a filter is also known as filter coffee.
Why is Boiling Coffee Bad?
Boiling water is a little too hot than the optimum temperature for brewing and, if poured directly on coffee grounds, causes them to extract too much flavor and oils too early, which leaves a bitter taste. Violently bubbling water also agitates the grounds unnecessarily and causes uneven extraction.
The most suitable water temperature for brewing coffee is around 195 to 202 F. Since most of us do not own a temperature-controlled kettle, we rely on the whistle of the regular kettle. But water boils at around 212 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hotter than the ideal brewing temperature.
If you are brewing at home, let the boiling water cool down for about 30 seconds, and then add it to your coffee grounds. This would result in a gentler and tastier extraction and thus better-tasting coffee.
Three ways to Extract More Caffeine for Your Brew
Pour Over Techniques Including Kalita, Chemex, and Hario
Pour-over techniques are brewing methods with the highest extraction rates. They require a larger grind size because if a finer grind is used, it would just absorb all the water, and none of it would go through. As a result, you would be left with a big wet mess of coffee and very little brewed liquid.
A significant amount of caffeine can be extracted from a medium grind as well, only if the water is poured slowly. Experts say that finer grind size combined with hotter temperatures results in more caffeine, but that can not be applied in every procedure.
Turkish Coffee And Cowboy Coffee
Although not the most ideal method to use at home, these coffees are made through the highest extraction processes. They are immersive techniques that combine ultra fine coffee grounds and boiling water without any filtering.
Since all the grounds are in contact with water for about two or more minutes, the extraction is supreme and sometimes even too much. Both Turkish coffee and Cowboy coffee are quite bitter, and that is why it is common to add too much sugar and milk to them.
AeroPress is also an immersion method that requires a medium grind size. Since pressure is needed to push its plunger down, a too fine grind size can end up exploding out of the device. Not only would that be too much of a mess to clean up, but the hot water oozing out can also be dangerous for your skin. An AeroPress is comparable to pour-over methods in extracting caffeine.
Making Coffee Without a Coffee Maker
Old-Fashioned Java Fix
Although a variety of modern techniques and machines are available that whip up a perfect cup of coffee out of nowhere, most people still believe that the best coffee is made simply with freshly ground coffee and less than boiling water.
All you need to do is pour water into a pan and stir in the same amount of coffee grounds that you would normally use in a coffee maker. Bring the coffee to a boil by setting the burner to medium-high for 2 minutes and stir occasionally.
Remove the heat and set aside for at least 4 minutes for the coffee grounds to settle down. Use either a saddle to pour the brew into your cup or just pour it slowly without one in a way that the grounds stay in the pan and your coffee is good to go.
A Mason Jar And Handkerchief
You can use a simple handkerchief (or any clean cotton cloth) and a mason jar to whip up the perfect cup of coffee. The process is very easy and innovative and requires you to set the handkerchief over a mason jar with enough slack for the cloth to drip into it in a pouch shape.
Secure it with clips and add coffee grounds enough for a single cup into the pouch. Let them soak in by pouring a little water, wait for a while, and pour the rest of the hot water over the grounds. Remove the handkerchief, and your brew is ready!
French Press Without Using A French Press:
You can use an imposter for a French press, which is a bowl, a mug, and a measuring spoon. Add one tablespoon of coffee grounds per required cup into a deep bowl and pour a little boiling water over it to saturate them.
Then add the required amount of water for the intended servings and use the tablespoon to press the grounds to the bottom of the bowl. Hold the spoon in place to keep the grounds settled to the floor and take out the brew into a container. Repeat for each serving, and your brew is ready!
Can You Boil Coffee with Milk?
Boiling coffee with milk instead of water is not impossible but also not always advisable. This is because doing so would make a less strong cup of coffee with the risk of curdling of milk that can clog your coffee maker. Most experts are of the opinion that coffee is best brewed between 190-202 degrees Fahrenheit, but the sugars and fats in milk are prone to burning and curdling at this temperature.
It is preferable to heat the milk in a microwave and stir it every 20-40 seconds to prevent this. It can also be heated in a saucepan at low heat with occasional stirring to prevent curdling. Boiling coffee with milk reduces its acidity and adds a special sweetness, which makes this process a bit desirable. But if you want a strong coffee flavor, you can use a dark roast or increase the coffee grounds, keeping in view your caffeine sensitivity.
Brewing coffee is considerably difficult in a milk brew because milk cools down quickly and steeps slower than normal brews. Because of this, experts suggest warming the milk and then using a French press to steep it.
It usually takes four minutes for coffee to steep in a French press, but you can reduce this time and slightly increase the quantity of coffee grounds for better results. Milk brewed coffee does not last as long as water brewed coffee; it is essential to only make as much as you can drink in one sitting.
Is Tea Better than Coffee?
Coffee and tea are some of the most common drinks in the world. Choosing between the two puts a majority of people in a pickle as both contain caffeine, help you feel energized, and are full of antioxidants.
Christopher Gardner, Ph.D., who is the director of nutrition studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Centre, says that one cup of coffee contains about 80 to 100mg of caffeine. A cup of tea, on the other hand, contains only 30 to 50mg.
Similarly, assistant clinical professor of neurology at the University of California Davis School of Medicine, Matthew Chow, MD, says that coffee contains two or three times more caffeine as compared to a black tea of the same size. However, caffeine has its own drawbacks, and the FDA recommends drinking no more than four to five cups a day.
Although coffee would give you a bigger buzz, tea would provide you with more sustained energy because it contains L-theanine, a chemical that metabolizes caffeine over a longer period of time.
A small study conducted in 2008 found out that people who consumed a combination of L-theanine and caffeine did better on an attention test than those who consumed caffeine alone. There is no clear winner between the two, and Matthew Chow agrees. You can make a better choice depending upon the kinds of effects you are looking for.
Is it Healthier to Switch from Tea to Coffee?
Swapping your daily cup of coffee with tea is healthy, especially if you suffer from certain medical conditions. A large study conducted in 2015 showed that people who consume a moderate amount of caffeine have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, certain cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and colon and uterine cancer.
However, coffee contains a significantly higher amount of caffeine than tea, which has its own negative effects such as nausea, anxiety, insomnia, heartburns, digestive problems, and even epileptic seizures. Controlling your caffeine intake with tea is healthier because there is less in each cup, and you are less likely to get wired.
Black tea, for instance, contains 48 milligrams of caffeine, green tea 29, and pure herbal tea contains none. Tea is also found to reduce the levels of LDL, whereas coffee contains compounds that have been shown to increase the levels of this cholesterol. Coffee and tea both contain a bulk of antioxidants, but a 2013 study found that coffee contained more of them than tea, hot chocolate, and red wine.
Antioxidants consumed in the form of tea or coffee prevent oxidative degradation and chronic degenerative diseases. Therefore, we can say that although coffee drunk in moderation is healthy, tea is healthier.
Boiling Coffee like tea wouldn’t be a great idea since tea leaves and coffee grounds release caffeine and flavor at a different rate. However, you can brew your coffee in water 30 seconds after it has reached its boiling point for the ideal amount of caffeine and a great taste. Using a coffee maker is better as the brewing machine handles temperature and time, so there’s little room for error.