WADSWORTH — Pour your water fresh off the boil directly onto coarsely ground coffee beans in a French press and then wait four minutes before serving.
That’s how Larry Denton, owner of Berea-based Red Cedar Coffee, makes his cup in the morning.
“That is the only way I drink my coffee at home,” Denton told about 20 people who gathered Thursday morning for “The Science of Coffee” at Wadsworth Public Library.
Denton warned the French press method may not be suitable for anyone with medical ailments exacerbated by oils.
“The French press plunger catches most of the oil, but it doesn’t have a filter so it is more oily,” he said. “If people come into my shop and say they have heart issues, I don’t recommend the French press.
“But I’m not a physician.”
He offered a few other tips to the lecturegoers: Only grind enough coffee to consume within a week, and never refrigerate or freeze your grinds.
Denton said a cup of coffee can taste much better by buying higher quality beans, like the “specialty coffee” sold to local businesses from his shop.
“Specialty coffee is the top 3 percent of all coffee worldwide,” he said. “It makes a great cup.”
Most of Denton’s lecture focused on how coffee is grown and prepared before reaching the United States.
Coffee, grown only within 1,000 miles of the equator, is grown on trees. He said the beans used to make the drink are essentially the “pit” of coffee cherries.
He said it’s the second-most traded commodity in the world, right behind oil, and the world population consumes about 2.25 billion cups daily.
But a single coffee tree produces only about 1½ pounds of beans each year.
“So you can imagine how many trees have to grow to supply worldwide consumption,” he said.
He said specialty coffees are grown only in specific parts of the world — where there’s abundant rainfall, relatively low humidity, plenty of sunlight and mild, frost-free temperatures.
That often means specialty coffees are grown about 2,000 to 6,000 feet above sea level, he said.
“The only problem there is when you’re growing on or near a volcano and it goes off,” Denton said. “For that year, we suffer — but the yield the next 10 to 15 years benefits because it replenishes the soil.
“So it’s sort of a mixed bag for us.”
He said other challenges associated with the coffee business include having to keep an eye on wars around the world.
“Coffee is grown a lot of the time in socially unstable areas,” he said. “So at any given time, we have to be paying attention because we may lose a supply.”
That can be upsetting for some customers, he said, because they want specific types grown in Africa, South America or Asia.
One listener, Wadsworth native Roberta Mohr, said she was glad she went to Denton’s lecture because she learned to look for labels on her coffee bags and jars.
Some labels, Denton said, indicate the coffee was grown giving workers fair wages and without treating the beans with chemicals.
“I didn’t know that,” Mohr said, “and I’ve been drinking coffee since I was 4 years old.”