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Black pepper and coffee

bill1

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Based on Ray's intelligent comment (heck his comments are always pretty darn sharp) on salt in the other coffee thread, as well as my own love of pepper, I tried both yesterday in my Starbucks Verona pourover. Wasn't impressed...seemed to actually rob (rather than enhance) flavors in the coffee.

But I'll try just the pepper tomorrow. I can believe this is highly dependent on what flavors in your beans you actually like. So one's mileage will definitely vary on this. But as always, thanks to Ray (NoBoundaries) for making us think and experiment.
 

noboundaries

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Great description of what salt does to coffee, Bill. It definitely robs the coffee of flavor. I described it as flat. I read someplace that it neutralizes the acids and that's why some diners add it to their Robusta bean coffee to make it smoother.

I'm looking forward to your results of pepper only. I'll be trying white pepper in the morning.
 

noboundaries

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White pepper result: The commercial white pepper I have is ground much finer than the home-ground black pepper I used that started this thread. Consequently, 1/4 tsp of white pepper/16 ounce mug of coffee was too much pepper. There was more heat and a slight flavor addition that did not complement the coffee as nicely as 1/4 tsp of the black pepper. Kind of reminded me of the cayenne but not as hot. Will try it again tomorrow with 1/8th tsp of white pepper.
 

bill1

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My black pepper result:
Used Starbucks Verona beans, fine-ground and leveled out in a melita cone. Sprinkled uniform layer (~1/3 tsp) of Costco fine ground pepper on top. Poured in boiling water, per my preference. After several seconds (<10), a wonderful pepper aroma developed, but soon faded away. The resulting coffee had a spicy hotness, very pleasant, but with just the heat of the pepper, not the complex flavors. Like stale (decade-old) ground pepper.

I'm thinking the flavor was liberated too quickly. Tomorrow I'll try coarse ground pepper (a must for meat rubs) and hope the flavor is released more slowly to the coffee, not to the air.

But this is a minor quibble. Even if nothing changes, adding pepper is now my new normal, thanks to Ray. However I might cut back a bit. The heat slightly overpowered the coffee flavors.

But salt was a red herring. It's a near-universal flavor enhancer, but coffee is the exception to the rule. Don't like it in beer either. (Great with margaritas!)

Continuing the stale pepper idea, I find jalapenos similarly challenging. If they're too hot, you miss out on the flavor, while the more mild ones have a delightful flavor.

Finally, let me repeat a (life-changing) tip from the other thread...splattering a few drops of tap water in my cheap grinder before adding beans adds just enough humidity to prevent static charge build-up that makes the ground coffee clingy and a mess when pouring out.

ADDENDUM: If there's something to my coarse-pepper-for drip brewing idea, it may be that fine-ground pepper has a place in espresso, where the extraction takes place more quickly due to the pressure. I haven't made a double-espresso at home for well over a year. Saturday morning can't come soon enough.
 
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noboundaries

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Great write-up, Bill! Glad you liked the pepper. I've been putting it in the cup before the pour-over coffee drips in. In the past, I've tried adding other ingredients to the fresh grinds in the cone before adding the water. Result for me was either not much change in flavor, or the flow-through time was extended enough to over-extract the coffee, causing off-flavors. That's why I add it to the cup before I pour-over.

Black pepper and coffee is a classic example of less is more. Grind size obviously makes a difference, too. The finer the grind, the less pepper is necessary.

Great idea with the espresso! I think I'll try an Italian moka-pot brew with lunch by adding black pepper in the cup, not the brewer.
 

noboundaries

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Italian Moka result: When I drink a moka-brewed coffee in the afternoon, I generally add some sweetened condensed milk and match the brewed coffee with hot water. Let's call it an Americana moka.

The 1/4 tsp of black pepper clashed with the sweetness of the condensed milk and the intensity of the coffee. Scratch that one from my successes. I'll try it again without the condensed milk and use my 50/50 blend of whole milk and coconut milk.

My favorite so far is just my normal pour-over coffee with 1/4 tsp of black pepper.
 

bill1

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...I've been putting it in the cup before the pour-over coffee drips in...
Leave it to me to complicate (screw up!) simple instructions. Imagine someone wanting sugar in their coffee...would I have mixed it in with the grounds before the pour over?!?!?!

OK, change of plans, fine-ground pepper in the cup is the expt I'm trying tomorrow. I was on the right track thought-wise and should have eventually gotten there...instead of spreading out (and evaporating) the pepper flavors/aroma I desire onto the filter paper I throw away, it's only logical to instead trap them in the cup under a shower of coffee. Oh well, the scenic route can be worthwhile...I may still try coarse ground pepper in "with the grounds" some day.

Now that I'm on the right track, I'm thinking I need to identify which pepper mill can grind pepper corns the very finest and set it aside for the daily coffee ritual. I go through quite a bit of pepper so the Costco pre-ground stuff (hard to beat the simplicity) stays pretty fresh at my house. Still, if you want full pepper aromas, esp on salads, you need to grind it "on the spot".

Thanks Ray for setting me straight.
 

AirForceDan

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Italian Moka result: When I drink a moka-brewed coffee in the afternoon, I generally add some sweetened condensed milk and match the brewed coffee with hot water. Let's call it an Americana moka.

The 1/4 tsp of black pepper clashed with the sweetness of the condensed milk and the intensity of the coffee. Scratch that one from my successes. I'll try it again without the condensed milk and use my 50/50 blend of whole milk and coconut milk.

My favorite so far is just my normal pour-over coffee with 1/4 tsp of black pepper.
You boys want a powerful cup of coffee without breaking the bank or self esteem (you know your pinky’s raised when you drink it) by buying Starbucks every day? I buy a can of Cafe Bustelo Espresso each week for 3.99 and make a pot or two daily in my stove top percolator. I drink it black over ice, hot or occasionally with sugar if Im feeling like it. But boy, it’s a lightning bolt to the brain!
 

noboundaries

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You boys want a powerful cup of coffee without breaking the bank or self esteem (you know your pinky’s raised when you drink it) by buying Starbucks every day? I buy a can of Cafe Bustelo Espresso each week for 3.99 and make a pot or two daily in my stove top percolator. I drink it black over ice, hot or occasionally with sugar if Im feeling like it. But boy, it’s a lightning bolt to the brain!
My BIL drinks that brand and loves it.

I have almost 50 lbs of green coffee beans. I home-roast 22 oz of green beans about every three weeks. That gives me 18 oz of roasted beans. 22 oz of green beans, including delivery, costs me approx $2-$2.50/wk, depending on the coffee roasted. Not a huge savings from your $3.99/wk, but the flavor is better than what I can get at any of the chains.

There's a thread I started in 2017 about how easy it is to home-roast coffee. Be forewarned. It's as all consuming as smoking meat.
 

Fueling Around

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Try a dash of baking soda blended in the ground coffee.
Back in my dead broke college days that's how we stretched our budget.
 

noboundaries

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Baking soda is a salt (sodium bicarbonate). I've never used it in coffee, but I have occasionally in tomato sauces to neutralize some of the acid. Lots of fizzy action until it is completely dissolved.
 

bill1

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...thanks Ray for setting me straight.
This morning I got it right. Hot water pouring over coffee which flows over fine-ground pepper. Definitely more of the pepper's subtlety (rather than just heat) came through. But even then the first sips were better than the last...implying these flavors are pretty short-lived...so a coarser grind tomorrow to get a bit of a time-release effect.

To AF Dan: For "work" coffee, where grinding beans make you look like a weird-o, I agree Cafe Bustelo is a pretty good choice for pre-ground, ready-to-go coffee. It's a little harder to find (and even a bit cheaper when you do,) but I like Cafe la Llave (in a green can) even better.
 

Fueling Around

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My wife uses a lot of flavors in her tea and coffee.
Ceylon Cinnamon has a more complex savory note than the traditional (Saigon) Cinnamon.
She uses Cardamon for a very floral note.
Baking soda is a salt (sodium bicarbonate). I've never used it in coffee, but I have occasionally in tomato sauces to neutralize some of the acid. Lots of fizzy action until it is completely dissolved.
Coffee grounds are very acidic and stop releasing flavors. Adding the soda stretches releasing the flavors. We got 2 pots of coffee from 1 pot amount of grounds
 

Hamdrew

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i like this as my alkaline. tastes pretty damned delicious, too.
 
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HalfSmoked

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I'm a coffee and pepper holic but don't think I want it in my coffee. I still like Jameson Irish as a treat once in a while. My wife likes tea with honey as a sweetener.

Warren
 

noboundaries

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I'm a coffee and pepper holic but don't think I want it in my coffee. I still like Jameson Irish as a treat once in a while.

Warren
I hear ya, Warren. One of the reasons black pepper was close to last on my experiments was it just never crossed my mind as a suitable coffee addition. This morning I'm drinking my delicious home-roasted coffee without the black pepper, and for the first time ever I thought something is missing. Might have to Irish this mug.

Have a great day!

Ray
 

noboundaries

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Black pepper has taken my morning coffee experience to the next level of enjoyment. After a couple of weeks of adding black pepper to my coffee, then trying an unpeppered mug yesterday, I could barely wait for this morning to arrive and once again have a peppered coffee.

I drink pour-over 90% of the time and Moka-brewed coffee the rest. I have a French press but have yet to experiment with it. I suspect it would work just the same as what I outlined below. I do not own a standard coffee maker, but I believe the process below would also work just fine.

1. Add 1/4 tsp ground black pepper to a 16 oz mug. Adjust pepper amount for larger or smaller mugs or cups. More pepper is NOT better. Too much pepper, and you can't taste the coffee.
2. If the pepper is ground powder-fine, use half the recommended amount.
3. Pour black coffee into the mug.
4. Stir for a few seconds to extract the black pepper flavors.
5. Then add any creamers if you use them. Adding the creamers before you add the coffee significantly diminishes the pepper flavor extraction. I suspect the fat in the creamers coats the pepper flakes.

Happy Coffee!

Ray
 

bill1

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The delayed release of pepper flavor is definitely a thing. I've been doing my pour-overs into a pint thermos so I can have multiple small cups and try to investigate this further. Whole peppercorns take hours to reach best flavor while coarse ground pepper takes 10's of minutes. The disadvantage of coarse grind is you're left with "grounds" in the last cup that's a bit off-putting so my go-to normal is just as Ray suggests, 1/4 tsp of fine grind.
I'm also investigating Costco pre-ground pepper vs freshly-milled of the same grind size and fine-ground fresh seems to have a bit of the delayed response too, but it could just be inconsistent mixing in the tall thermos. More testing needed! Research continues!
 

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