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Like you, I really love coffee. I have an insatiable curiosity. That curiosity had me put together these tips for better cup of coffee.
I tried to write this in a scannable, easy to read, bullet point form without cluttering the piece up with too much fluff.
It is mostly about techniques rather than equipment or coffee beans. In a recipe, you can have the right ingredients in the right measurements but if you use the wrong technique you’ll end up with a bad product.
So this article just presents a few techniques hints and pointers to look for that, when employed, will hopefully make your coffee experience a whole lot better.
Some save time, some will save your coffee, and some will just make it taste better.
We hope you enjoy the browse.
I will also suggest some outlets where these coffees can be easily obtained. Here is a good place to start:
12 Great Coffee Tips
Let’s Talk About Coffee Bean & Coffee Making Tips
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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
4. 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.
5. By freshly roasted coffee beans. If you are not into home roasting, by freshly roasted beans from a coffee specialist.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. Consider a manual Burr coffee grinder. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a grinder that will produce consistent results. Amazon has a multitude of manual hand grinders that will do the job very nicely. Just be aware you Do have to do the work of turning the crank.
12. 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.
13. Be precise. Measure your coffee. 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.
14. Weigh your ingredients. Invest in at $10 or $20 food scale that measures grams. Coffee can vary in density and moisture content. If you are measuring strictly by volume, using tablespoons or cups for instance you can get inconsistent results. If you measure by weight it’s much more accurate and consistent across the board. The keyword is weigh, not eyeball the volume.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. 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.
21. 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.
22. 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.
23. 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.
24. 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.
25. 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.
26. 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.
27. 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.
28. 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:
29. 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.
30. 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.
31. 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.
32. 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.
33. 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.
There you have it. This is the list that is on my refrigerator door and I intend to work my way all the way through the different coffees. I hope this article was inspired you to create your own “hit list” or bucket list of coffees that you’d like to try. I was married to my beloved Sumatra Mandheling for years. I thought it was the be-all and end-all. Eventually, like some marriages it got old and it was time to get out of my comfort zone and revitalize things. I decided to be bold and start experimenting. I hope you have the same urge and will scratch it. If you don’t try new coffees you’ll never find a better one than the one you are currently drinking. Here is a side note: Since I am into coffee roasting, I will be searching for green coffee beans of each type and experimenting with my own roasting. What I have been doing is buying roasted coffee beans and taking a small sample of what they look like and saving them in little 2 ounce Tupperware containers. That way, when I get a hold of the green beans I have a model shade of coffee being color to be aiming at. Wishing you the best in all your coffee drinking endeavors….
Here are some popular burr coffee grinder options
Click image to see discounted price
Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr MillBodum BISTRO Burr Grinder, Electronic Coffee Grinder with Continuously Adjustable Grind, BlackJavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder, Conical Burr Mill, Brushed Stainless Steel