Do you love coffee like I love coffee? I have said this several times in previous posts, but just as a reminder, I am passionate about great coffee. I am a self-admitted coffee snob, and as much as being a snob about anything generally disgusts me, I just can’t help it when it comes to coffee. For me,
The coffee just has to be great.
I’ve been brewing coffee at home for over 20 years now. Two years ago, we opened a local coffee shop, and we now make coffee and espresso drinks to the tune of over 3,000 cups per month for our guests. We have experience, and for our guests,
The coffee just has to be great.
So, what makes coffee not so great?
You’ll want to pin this to your coffee board for later reference.
A Word About Quality
I strongly recommend that you purchase locally roasted, specialty coffee in small quantities. You can usually find these coffees at your local coffee shop. If you’re starting with bad coffee, you’re going to end up with, you guessed it, bad coffee. Get this part right and you’ve positioned yourself for success!
Your Coffee Isn’t Fresh
Coffee begins to loose its freshness immediately after roasting. It will still be at a high quality level for up to two months if properly stored. If you go much past two months, you can definitely detect a drop off in the quality of your cup.
Fresh coffee has three enemies… Air, Moisture, and Heat.
The ultimate storage for your coffee is somewhere which protects it from these three elements. A simple, affordable solution to this problem is an air-tight coffee canister. When properly used, this canister will take care of the moisture and air problems on its own. Just don’t store the canister near a heat source and you’re all clear. Coffee crisis averted!
But none of that really matters if your coffee isn’t fresh to begin with. You will want to purchase coffee which has a printed roasted on date on the bag. This will allow you to know how far into the two months the coffee has already gone while sitting on the shelf. A good rule of thumb would be to purchase coffee which has been roasted for no more than one month, and to purchase no more than you can consume in one month.
So, start with freshly roasted coffee, store it right, and don’t buy too much.
Another good rule of having fresh coffee which is often broken is buying ground coffee.
If you’re buying pre-ground coffee, you’ve already lost the game.
Coffee begins to lose it’s flavor just after roasting, as we have stated before. One of the fastest ways to speed up the flavor loss process is to pre-grind your coffee. This only serves to jumpstart the effects of the environment on the coffee. More of the surface area which will eventually be used to extract the flavor from it is now exposed to more of the elements which deteriorate the flavor.
Yes, it is more convenient to have pre-ground coffee. But a good home coffee grinder is not so expensive that it warrants letting all of that goodness of your freshly-roasted coffee escape before you ever have the chance to brew it.
Grind your coffee just before you’re ready to brew it for the best taste!
What about using the appropriate amount of coffee for your desired output?
You may be using the wrong Water to Coffee ratio.
A good starting point for this water to coffee ratio is 17.42 : 1. So, for example, if you are making a 12 oz cup of coffee…
12 oz is approximately 340 grams.
340 grams of water / 17.42 = about 19.5 grams of coffee.
Get a digital scale, and start weighing out your coffee. You can (and should) weigh your water too if you use a manual brewing method like a Hario Pour Over Dripper or an AeroPress. You’ll notice the difference since the strength will be just right! Of course, this is a personal preference, so you may want to tweak the above ratio to your taste, but that’s part of the fun!
What if you’re doing all of this stuff right, but…
You’re Using Bad Water
Some of you live in places where your water is tasteless and pure, for the most part, straight from the faucet. Many of you live in places where the hardness of your water causes the water to have a bad taste. It is not your coffee’s job to mask the bad taste of your water. If you make coffee with bad-tasting water, you will end up with bad-tasting coffee.
This problem is fairly simple to solve. Just pick up a water filter and filter your coffee water before brewing. When you do this, you will notice the difference in your coffee’s taste. You will be experiencing the pure, unaffected coffee and not coffee tainted by chemically-tasting water.
This is far from an exhaustive list…
But these are some of the most common problems causing your coffee not to be its best. So, to recap…
- Start with great coffee.
- Buy it fresh, and keep it fresh.
- Grind your coffee right before you brew it.
- Use the right amount of water, and the right amount of coffee.
- Use filtered water.
If you follow these simple rules, your coffee will taste better, and you will be able to enjoy the small note differences among different blends and origins. Enjoy your coffee!
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