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So, you think you know a few things about coffee and home coffee roasting?. I bet you do, but I think you will be surprised by some of our tips.
One thing any passionate coffee connoisseur has in common with a hobbyist dabbler is curiosity.
If you learn nothing new and keep doing things the same way you will get the same results, right?
We are handing you, on a silver platter, tried and true tips and methods to enjoy home coffee roasting and to make your coffee even better. Think about all the things you currently enjoy now – if you never tried anything new and never tried it the first time you would never know what you were missing.
Let us show you a whole slew of ways to improve your coffee adventures. Your only investment is a bit of time for a potential quantum break-through.
101 Great Coffee Tips
Home Coffee Roasting Tips And Basics (Tips 1-30)
1. Biggest tip of all. This was shared with me by a local expert roaster in his café. Take the time it takes to reach first crack. Continue roasting for an 12% to 25% of that time it took you to get to first crack. That is the roasting window to shoot for. A good target is 15%. So if it takes 8 minutes, (480) seconds to reach first crack, you would let the roast go for an additional 58 seconds (12%) to 120 seconds (25%). The good solid target would be 72 additional seconds (15%). It works like a charm to ball park roast times.
2. Use a stopwatch or an app on your phone to time roasts. There are different procedures in coffee roasting that have to be timed. Arguably, one of the most critical elements of timing and home coffee roasting is the timing of the roast itself, that one is obvious.
Speaking of timing – Let the beans rest. Immediately after roasting let the beans rest. The beans should sit out for five or six hours to allow the off gassing of carbon dioxide and other gases. Then rest for a day or two before grinding.
3. Use Great, Fresh Coffee Beans – no kidding, no B.S. NO exceptions. This is huge. Jump up and down and yell and scream ‘That’s it, no more canned coffee or stale beans’ at the top of your lungs. Sit down and have a gut wrenching cry. Whatever works for you to seal the deal inside you. Deep, deep inside your inner being in a place that nobody can touch. “I will not use cheap beans any more NO MATTER WHAT”.
Educate yourself on the different grades of coffee – and the processes used to dry the beans. You’re not going to get really great coffee out of substandard beans. Here is a great way to get ‘samples’ of properly roasted coffee beans:
4. Pick a roasting method and stick with it. Don’t be a jack of all trades master of none. I invested in a FreshRoast SR 500 home hot air roaster. I tried a popcorn popper and created terrible roasts and made a mess. I tried pan roasting and nearly burned down the house. Check out Amazon’s low price on the roaster I invested in the FreshRoast SR 500 home hot air roaster. Finally, THIS is what it’s all about. So in a really roundabout way I found my little roasting method that works for me. I have been developing skills and getting better at the use of it because I’m sticking with it. Whether it’s pan, Popper, or roaster, stick with it.
5. Make sure you have good ventilation when roasting your coffee. It may or may not look like you are making smoke, but you are definitely creating strong smells. A really good place to roast is underneath the hood on your range top. There are even people who rose their coffee in the bathroom with a bathroom fan on.
6. Roast outdoors, if possible. This will eliminate several worries about smoke and smell fan. Grab yourself an extension cord and roast your coffee outside on the porch or patio.
7. Decaf responds much quicker to heat. That is because it has most of the outer skin removed during processing, If you’re roasting decaf beans the roasting time will be drastically reduced.
8. Use A Scale.– It is essential for accurate, measurement and to be able to duplicate results. Almost all formulas and ratios use weights in grams. The end idea of the exercise is to be able to reproduce a roasting procedure given to you. If you develop your own roasting profile you want to be able to duplicated without variance time and time again.
9. Your coffee beans will lose weight. During the process of roasting most of the moisture in green coffee beans will evaporate, typically 15% of the starting weight of the beans.
10. ‘First Crack’ – The first crack is a plateau in coffee roasting. Prior to that the beans will make terrible coffee. You can stop roasting anytime after that. It is after the first crack that beans will start to take on a progressively darker color and develop their roast profile.sounds like popcorn popping, or twigs breaking.
11. Don’t rush the beans to first crack. Be aware that 99% of coffees will taste sour and grassy if rushed to first crack in 2 minutes with very high heat. You have to give the beans time for moisture to escape, then the roasting will progress.I set my machine on medium until first crack then turn it to high.
12. Roasting Time is not linear. After first crack, and all the moisture has left the beans, the roasting accelerates rapidly.
13. Second Crack – The window between the first crack in the second crack in roasting coffee beans is where probably 90% of all coffee beans are roasted too. After second crack you are in the extremely dark roasts.sounds like rice crispies popping, more quiet than the first crack.
14. Second crack – This signals the beginning of stages of darker roasts such as espresso. The beans will start to lose subtleties of flavor and start to develop strong bitter characteristics. Not far beyond second roast the beans are burnt in useless..
15. New England roast – This is a light brown with a dry surface. This is about the lightest drinkable roast there is. The roast will have been stopped right at first crack.
16. American roast – This is one of the more popular roasts out there. It is what the American palate has been subjected too most often by large commercial roasters. Medium brown with a dry surface.
17. Full City Roast – If the roast is stopped just prior to the second crack the roast it can have a few oil droplets visible on the beans.
18. Vienna Roast – Stopping the roast further into the second crack will yield a “Vienna” roast and the beans should be nearly covered with shiny oil.
19. French Roast – if the second crack is allowed to complete you will have a French roast which is a very dark roast.
20. Espresso – This is a roast that has gone slightly beyond second crack. It is dark brown and the surface can be slick to very oily.
21. Italian roast – Dark, blackish brown oily surface. Alost a synonym for Espresso roast, just a different name. The roast is about the same.
22. Dark French roast or Spanish roast – very dark brown, almost black extremely oily.
23. Immediately after roasting let the beans rest. The beans should sit out for five or six hours to allow the off gassing of carbon dioxide and other gases. Do not put them in the refrigerator or they may take on refrigerator smells and moisture.
24. Do not leave your coffee roaster unattended. The object is to roast the coffee beans not start a fire in your house.The process of roasting coffee is a hands-on experience. It’s not like a microwave we you push the button and 10 minutes later you come back and everything’s all squared away. A good roast will involve making several adjustments to heat and fan speed along the way. The window to stop the roast at just the right point is narrow.
25. Buy a portable fire extinguisher. Keep it handy in case a fire accident occurs.
26. Make sure you have good ventilation when roasting your coffee. It may or may not look like you are making smoke, but you are definitely creating strong smells.A logical place to roast coffee inside is on your stove-top underneath the fan exhaust hood. Another place people have been known to roast coffee is in the bathroom with a bathroom fan on. Whatever works for you.
27. Create a roasting log or diary. We strongly suggest keeping track of the type of beans you are using, the weight or amount of beans, cooking temperature, and cooking time. Some people create XL spreadsheets to record this information. Why? Because when you hit your perfect roast you want to be able to consistently duplicate it.
28. Get some small Tupperware. One of the most frustrating experiences was talking to local coffee roasters and have that’s have them (somewhat smugly I thought) tell me their success depended on their eye, nose, and experience. I take some of the beans and store them in a really small Tupperware container. I can use these beans from successful roasts for eyeball comparisons. These containers work well and are deep cheap.
29. Talk to local experts face to face. The internet is great, but for some things face-to-face contact is even more meaningful. This tip might sound really obvious, but I think a lot of people are used to getting all the information through the Internet or forums. Nothing beats person-to-person contact.
Let’s Talk About Coffee Bean & Coffee Making Tips (Tips 31-71)
31. Start with freshly roasted whole coffee beans. Your coffee will only be as good as the coffee beans you start with. We suggest buying only from local coffee roasters. They generally roast in smaller batches more frequently.
32. Stop buying preground coffee. If you’re still buying coffee from the supermarket in a can, brick, or bag you’re starting out with inferior coffee. Stop it. You are just cheating yourself for a little convenience. I was looking at a blind taste panel result that showed approximately 10 coffees scored on a scale of 1 to 100 Maxwell House in a can scored 75 all of the other freshly roasted beans scored 89 and above.
33. Get rid of K cups. While a K cup system might be the height of efficiency, it is also extremely expensive. We are all about making a better cup of coffee not a faster or particularly more expensive one. The flavor of the coffee K cups leads an awful lot to be desire
34. Roast your own beans. This is one sure way to know the exact quality in care that went into your roasted coffee beans. This recommendation should come as no surprise is the topic of this blog is home roasted coffee basics.
35. Avoid cheap paper filters. Spend the extra time and money to buy “oxygen-bleached” or “dioxin-free” paper filters such as Melitta.Better yet, buy a permanet mesh screen filter – they make them for just about all coffee makers.
36. Check the “roasted on” date. Do not buy coffee beans that are more than a week old. Do not be full by a “used by” were ‘good until’ date they are no guarantees of freshness.
37. Store your beans properly. Light, moisture, and heat are all enemies of coffee beans. There are really inexpensive specialty vacuum coffee canisters available. These will allow carbon dioxide to escape but won’t let damaging oxygen in.
38. Do not store coffee in the refrigerator. It might be tempting to put coffee beans in the refrigerator, after all we did say cool and dark. However, changes in moisture levels can create condensation which can damage the beans. Cool, check dark, check, avoid moisture? For drillers just don’t cut it.
39. Storing coffee in a freezer is questionable. Many people recommend storing coffee to the long-term in a freezer. Some people advocate that’s okay, but the evidence just doesn’t back that up. Not saying it’s wrong exactly storing it in the freezer certainly won’t do it any good.
40. Use a Burr coffee grinder. There are two coffee grinders commonly sold: burr grinders, and blade grinders. Blade grinders produce inconsistently sized ground coffee, from trunks to powder. A burr grinder allows you to set the level of fineness or coarseness with precision.
41. Consider a manual Burr coffee grinder. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get an automatic grinder that will produce consistent results. They are available in all price ranges. Check out Amazon’s suggestions: This the one I use. (it is an Amazon Best Seller). Amazon has a multitude of manual hand grinders that will do the job very nicely. Just be aware on the manual grinders you DO have to do the work of turning the crank.
52. Grind immediately before brewing. Coffee will start to lose his labor characteristics when exposed to air. Ground coffee has much greater surface area that is exposed versus whole beans. So do not grinder coffee and let it sit for several days. Grind just enough coffee beans for the amount of coffee you will currently be making.
53. Be precise. Measure your coffee by weight, not volume. One of the most frustrating things in the world is to make a great cup of coffee one day and a lousy cup of coffee the next. Chances are, the culprit is the fact that you are not measuring the ingredients. You want to produce duplicatable results in you can only do that by using the same process in the same amounts again and again.
54. Keep your coffee maker clean. keep your containers and grinder clean. At least monthly clean the interior of your coffee maker, (for example run a vinegar and water solution through it.
55. Experiment with the ratios. Once you can accurately measure your coffee and water you can start experimenting with what you like best. That is one part coffee to 20 parts water. I use 7 grams of coffee for every 150 ml of water. The ratio can be as low as one part coffee for 15 parts water or as high as one part coffee for 30 parts water. You will have to experiment with it to find your personal taste.
56. Shortcut hint.: A level tablespoon of ground coffee weighs approximately 7 g. 150 mL of water is approximately 4 ounces. So, for average strength coffee figure 1 tablespoon or 4 ounces of water. In the morning I make myself 24 ounces of coffee, which is three measuring cups (8 oz) of water each and roughly 7 tablespoons of coffee. However, I do not just eyeball it. I am dropping those tablespoons into a container on my scale stop it exactly 42 g.
57. Use quality water for better coffee. In my rookie days, I did not pay attention or know about this handy hint. I was simply using tap water. But, since water is one of the two ingredients in coffee doesn’t it make sense to use quality water? Our recommendation is to use bottled spring water. Coffee can be a little finicky. Need some “liveliness” in it to bring out the flavors coffee. Let’s look at two extremes. If you are using tap water that is “hard” water there are too many minerals in it that prevent the coffee from bonding with the water. You’ll get week coffee. If you use distilled water, the complete lack of minerals means the coffee can become over extracted into strong.
58. Use better water to extend coffee maker life. We recently completed an article on the best ways to clean your coffee making equipment and remove scale from interior components. The number one hint that we discovered was to prevent scale from accumulating in the first place by using quality water.
59. Distilled water can void warranties. In researching various coffee makers for product reviews we came upon several manufacturers who indicated that distilled water can void the guarantee on the machine. Since there are no minerals in the water the coffee can actually extract minerals from the metal components of the coffee machine.
60. Use water at the correct temperature. There is a narrow temperature range for brewing good coffee. You must use water between 195° in 205°F. This is a shortcoming on a lot of the less expensive automatic drip coffee makers, the do not heat the water up to the proper temperature. On some of the expensive manuals there is an adjustment engaged to ensure proper temperature.
61. The Specialty Coffee Association of America is even more particular and they found that the ideal water temperature for brewing coffee is 198 to 202°F.
62. Bloom your coffee. This is definitely a coffee connoisseur’s term which essentially means to presoak or “pre-infuse your ground coffee prior to the full brewing process. This is a step that is bypassed by automatic drip coffee makers. You’ll have to actually do this part yourself. Add about 4 ounces of 200°F water to your coffee grounds. Poke them till they are wet and soaked. (Do not vigorously stir). Let it sit for 30 seconds, add the rest of your water and continue to brew.
63. Try a French press. We discovered the previous tip while researching the process of using a French press coffee maker to make coffee. Which, in our opinion produces the smoothest creamiest coffee of all methods we have tried so far.
64. Brewing time. The amount of time the coffee is exposed to the hot water directly affects the flavor and strength of the coffee. The NCA, national coffee Association suggest the following ballpark guidelines: “In a drip system, the contact time should be approximately 5 minutes. If you are making your coffee using a French Press, the contact time should be 2-4 minutes. Espresso has an especially brief brew time the coffee is in contact with the water for only 20-30 seconds. Cold brew, on the other hand, should steep overnight (about 12 hours).” Note; the guidelines for French press coffee I have most often seen recommend 3 to 8 minutes. I enjoy moderately strong coffee and use 4 minutes.
65. Time your brew. This has the most direct application to French press coffee. Just as you should measure coffee with a scale by weight, you should time the length of exposure of the hot water of the coffee with a timer. If you try to ballpark the time you’ll get inconsistent results. On some more expensive interlocks automatic drip coffee machines or espresso machines you can adjust the time of the brew. Again, this is a process of experimentation until you dial it in. If you have been timing things it is easy to reproduce time and time again.
66. If your timing is off. If you’re not happy with the taste of the final product, you’re likely either: Over-extracting – the brew time is too long. Under-extracting – the brew time is too short you haven’t revealed the full amount of flavors available. Experiment with the contact time until you get the right balance for your taste.
67. Preheat your coffee cup and /or equipment. After going through all that trouble to ensures your coffee is the proper temperature, if you poured into a cold coffee cup. Bang! You have just dropped the temperature by about 20°. Preheating your cup will keep your coffee warmer longer in lead to a more enjoyable cup of coffee.
68. Keep your coffee hot with a cup sleeve. People who drink tea have been using tea cozies for hundreds of years. Why? Because they work. One way to keep your coffee cup hot insulate the cup itself. You can easily find disposable paper sleeves, or jazzy sleeves made of knitted material. We like this one:
69. Buy a thermos or invest in a Yeti. If you are taking your coffee on the road or to work you might want to consider investing in an old school thermos. I bought myself a Stanley thermos and love it. I make my pot of coffee in the morning drink half at home pour the other half in my preheated Stanley thermos and have hot coffee at lunch. I had to endure little bit of teasing from coworkers about being “old school”. I had the last laugh while there drinking crappy K cup coffee and I’m enjoying my hot freshly roasted coffee. I also have a large Yeti insulated cup which I find is brilliant for keeping drinks cold. I don’t think it does is good a job as my thermos at keeping drinks hot however.
70. Put a lid on your coffee. Now that I’ve stated a few ways to keep your hot coffee hot notice almost all coffee shops serve their to go coffee with a coffee sleeve and the top. There is a reason for this.
71. Cold brew your own iced coffee. Master a cold brew process. A lot of people shy away from iced coffee because they’ve only had at the lazy man’s way pouring brewed coffee over ice cubes. Check out how to do it properly and you just might be sold on a refreshing summer drink. Check out our post on several different cold brew methods.
72. Kick it up a notch. You can add a dash of flavor to your coffee by adding a bit of cinnamon or chocolate just for fun.
73. Reuse your coffee grounds. Don’t panic, I’m not suggesting that you make more coffee out of used coffee grounds. You can use them as fertilizer they are especially good for roses, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, or azaleas; or any other plant that needs in acidic soil.
Let’s Talk About Coffee Facts Everone Ought To Know (Tips 74-101)
74. There are only four ways to grind coffee. The oldest way is to smash it as in using a mortar and pesto. Giant commercial operations use roller bills. Coffee, it one time, was ground with a millstone. That same principle is now modernized using burr grinders. The coffee is ground between two plates (or cones) one of which is flat and one contains grinding aberrations – burrs. Next is an electric blade grinder which works in a very similar fashion to an electric blender.
75. Enemies to shelf life of green coffee beans. The biggest enemies they can significantly reduce the shelf life of coffee beans are excessive moisture and exposure to oxygen.
76. When roasted use beans soon. Coffee beans were never intended to stay in storage for a long time. This is why you should only buy the coffee that you’re going to be able to drink within two weeks.
77. Store roasted coffee beans at the correct temperature. Temperature affects the rate at which coffee beans will lose flavor and become stale. Warmer temperatures accelerate the process in which beans goes stale. Keep them cool. The literature is not really done any measure of differences that might’ve resulted from freezing coffee. In other words effects are intuitive at this point rather than measured.
78. Avoid moisture. Moisture has been consistently demonstrated to accelerate coffee beans getting stale. The coffee beans will pick up the moisture and this accelerates chemical reactions will shorten it shelf life. For goodness sake, don’t get coffee beans wet and store them. There shelf life can be shortened by high humidity also.
79. a proper coffee storage container. Look for 1 way valve – releases CO2 won’t let oxygen in. If you put your coffee beans in a container that’s not 100% airtight, this will also cause moisture to occur and this will affect the quality of your coffee. While you might think it’s a great money saving idea to buy coffee beans in bulk, it really isn’t.
80. Limited exposure to air. A lot of studies pointed to oxygen as being the primary culprit in effecting coffee beans going stale for a number of reasons. It has been found that most of the compounds responsible for the aroma of freshly roasted beans are very susceptible to oxidation and can be lost quickly after roasting.
81. If you’re flavoring coffee beans – do not add the flavoring before roasting. The oil should never go in your roaster flavor is added afterwards
82. The most common coffee Bean flavors are – French Vanilla, Crème Brûlée, Highlander Grog, Irish Cream, Hazelnut, Amaretto, Caramel Mocchiato. Double Chocolate, Chocolate Raspberry
83. Low acid coffee for sensitive stomachs. To put it quite simply, low acid coffee is easier on the stomach. Coffees acidity can irritate the stomach. This is especially true during pregnancy when it’s smarter and certainly more comfortable not to be doing anything that could be another cause for an upset stomach.
84. Some coffee beans are naturally lower in acid. Generally, she’d go grown coffee is lower in acid as our coffees grown at lower elevations. Some countries that produce natural coffee that is low in acid are Venezuela, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Indonesia and Sumatra.
85. Cold brewing. Coffee that is cold brewed is generally lower in acid the other forms of coffee making.
86. The “dry process” produces lower acid beans. The ‘dry process’ produces coffee beans with lower acid levels and sweet, earthy flavors. Fill coffee pot with one-third vinegar and two-thirds water. Run it halfway through and let sit for an hour. Finish running the mixture through. Rinse with 2 pots plain water.
87. Coffee Brewing Ratio Chart – I found this handy coffee brewing ratio chart that is based on 6 ounce cups of coffee. I printed it out and Scotch taped it on the side of my refrigerator for handy reference.
88. The principle action of coffee/caffeine is in the brain. Caffeine is an active ingredient in coffee. It hits your bloodstream. Then, like any drug it passes to the brain and has some effects. Caffeine is a stimulant the central nervous system. That gives you an energy boost.
89. Caffeine affects the chemical functioning in the brain. Caffeine blocks the action of Adenosine which is a inhibitory neurotransmitter. This leads the brain producing more “feel-good chemicals” such as dopamine and norepinephrine. These can affect other brain functions such as memory, mood and cognitive function.
90. Coffee can stimulate the signals for hormone production. Caffeine has been shown to increase epinephrine which is a form of adrenaline. The release of adrenaline in your body increases physical performance.
91. #1 Source of antioxidants The active constituent in coffee that is responsible for its many health benefits is a compound called chlorogenic acid. It neutralizes free radicals, and addresses the problem of hydroxyl radicals, both of which can lead to cellular degeneration if left unchecked. Chlorogenic acid also helps regulate metabolism.
92. Coffee is a preventative factor in Typ II Diabetes. Did You Know? People who drink a lot of coffee have a decreased risk of developing type II diabetes. The evidence turned up and studies demonstrate that people who drink a lot of coffee have between a 20 and 50% lower risk.
93. Coffee is a preventive factor in heart disease. There are other demonstrated positive or protective effects of drinking coffee on the cardiovascular system. Numerous additional studies show that there is reduction in the possibility of stroke and heart failure.
94. Increased Physical Performance And Energy Levels. A lot of people drink coffee for quick pick me up. But there is a lot more going on under the surface. Caffeine is the world’s most widely used central nervous system stimulant, with about 80% consumed in form of coffee.
95. Decreases Depression And Suicide Risk. The Harvard School of Public Health performed a study which looked at over 200,000 people. In plain language, they figured out that drinking several cups of coffee on a daily basis appears to reduce the risk of suicide men and women by about 50%. They came to that conclusion by reviewing three large United States studies.
96. Coffee provides vitamins and minerals. Vitamin B2, Niacin, Vitamin B5, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium are all in coffee. Some in significant amounts, some in trace amounts.
97. Wet Processed Coffee Beans. Wet process of coffee fruit is fermented overnight to break down the fruit layer that clings to the coffee seed, the coffee cherry is then stripped off gently by water. In wet-processing, the coffee is pulped, floated in water, fermented, washed, and then dried. This can lead to desirable ferment flavors like in Sumatra or undesirable ferment flavors like an excessively ripe fruit quality bordering on rotten. In general Wet Processed coffee are brighter and cleaner than Dry Processed.
98. Dry Processed Coffee Beans. Dry Processed is when the beans are dried directly in the sun on patios or on raised screens. Dry process coffees generally have more body, a lower acidity and are fruitier than their wet process counterparts, with more rustic flavors. They also tend to produce more crema in espresso.
99. Tree-dry Natural. A type of dry process coffee where the fruit dries partially or entirely while still on the tree branch.
100. Water Process. A decaffeination method where beans are soaked in hot water, the water is filtered to remove caffeine, and the beans are placed back in the water to re-absorb their flavor.
Tip # 101 – Enjoy Your Coffee
Millions of people enjoy a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. It has also become a popular drink to serve after a meal or at social gatherings. Coffee can be enjoyed piping hot, chilled, plain or customized with special toppings. There’s a lot more to coffee than simply popping some grounds into a machine and waiting for it to brew. You can have a variety of roasts, which influences the different tastes and will certainly wake up your taste buds.
You can also have a variety of grinds, which gives the coffee different textures when it’s ground. The type of taste that you’ll get from your coffee is also going to depend on which coffee bean you choose and what kind of coffeemaker that you use. You need to know about the roast types and how they affect the flavor. You need to understand how to select the best machine to make your coffee, and how to operate it. And you need to experience the satisfaction of learning about other coffee flavor tips that enhance your satisfaction of this drink.
Three-fourths of adults claim to drink coffee ritually every morning. Some consume it all through the day. If it’s a habit that means so much to us, why should be muddle through each day barely being familiar with how to maximize our pleasure from it?
The coffee movement is something that’s always evolving. Years ago, no one could have imagined that consumers would be so hungry for information about where their coffee came from, how it could be manipulated into different tastes, and be willing to pay upwards of $5 per cup for it.
We hope these tips helped provide a bit of education and some fun.
Wishing you the best on your coffee adventures.