If you are like most coffee drinkers, you probably think you are already getting an awesome cup of coffee. However odds are that you can probably still improve the quality by following these eleven steps:
- Use Quality Coffee Beans
Stay out of the grocery stores! OK that is a serious statement, but seriously do not buy coffee beans at the grocery store. No one knows when it was roasted and that is a critical, key point in coffee freshness. These beans are known for being stale, whether they are in the gravity bins (especially stale!) or bagged (usually stale!). No one really knows how long the beans have been in the bins or bags. Buy your coffee from an area independent coffee shop or artisan coffee roaster that can verify the roasting date. This is the only way to know you are buying freshly roasted coffee beans of gourmet quality. Their reputation is on the line so they strive for the best quality coffee freshly roasted.
- Store Properly Remove your beans from the original bag and put in an airtight container like Tupperware or Glad Ware. The more opaque the container, the better to keep harmful light out. Extreme light like keeping coffee in a glass jar on the sink can cause deterioration of your beans, allowing your final cup of coffee to taste flat or stale.
Do not store in the freezer or refrigerator. Keep them in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place like a cupboard or pantry. Refrigerators harbor many odors and coffee is very porous. It will act like a sponge to odors whether it’s ground or whole bean. Freezers can cause freezer burn, and the flavor oils to crack and lose flavor. These oils are where the flavor is. Storing in the freezer freezes the surface condensation each time the coffee is taken out of the freezer.
Excess moisture will cause your beans to stale faster and shorten the life span of your coffee so a cool, dry and dark place it recommended for storage.
- Proper Grind and Grind Just Before Using
The grind of the coffee matters. Your coffee should be ground for the type of brewing method you are using. Coarse for French press and single serve, fine for espresso. The in between matter but for most auto-drip makers your grind should be just finer than coarse meaning that when you rub it between your fingers the grinds should feel similar to typical bread crumbs. Espresso grinds should feel like somewhere between sugar and powdered sugar. Also, by using a burr grinder your coffee will receive less friction than a typical blade grinder giving your grinds less chance to get scorched during grinding.
Coffee is very porous and will absorb odors and air (oxygen) very fast. Oxygen will make your coffee taste really bad! So, the longer your coffee is ground and not used the longer it has to stale and make a bad cup.
- Measure Properly
Weigh your coffee before you grind it. To make a good, well-rounded cup of coffee you should use approximately.75oz (22g) of coffee beans to every 8oz of cold water. You can +/- to taste but this is a good starting point.
- Purified Water at Precise Temperature
Fresh, clean tap water (purified is best) or quality spring water is recommended. Do not use mineral water, distilled water or tap water with any type of odor. It will make your coffee taste bad. The water should be between 195-205 degrees when ready to brew. At this temperature, the coffee will get proper extraction to optimize the flavor oils and caramelized sugars inside the coffee bean. This is hard to accomplish with most home brewers as the heating elements are not heat adjustable nor are they reliable to heat to the proper temperature at all. Good home coffee brewers will cost about $200 but are well worth it and last a lot longer. If you can, try the single cup pour over methods available or other brewing methods such as French press or siphon. The taste difference is remarkable. Google search each method for more information.