Morning + good coffee = a good start to the day. Do you know the secrets to really great coffee? This short guide puts you on the fast-track to coffee bliss.
Our love affair with coffee has been going on since around AD 100, when roasted beans were first brewed in Arabia. Today, we obsess over coffee, describing the tastes of different coffee roasts as though they were fine wines.
Making perfect coffee essentially boils down to having three things right: the amount of quality dry coffee used, the amount of time water flows through it, and the amount of coffee that comes out the other end. When the ratio is right, the process extracts the best flavor. If it is wrong, the good flavor never surfaces or is watered down.
Here’s How To Do It Right
We compiled this step-by-step list from various sources – it’s a handy guide to coffee-bliss:
- Grind immediately before you brew.
- Grind to match your brewing method, and use a grinder that produces a consistent grind.
- Use fresh, clean water. If your water does not taste good, your coffee won’t either.
- Pre-rinse your paper filter to remove any loose paper fibers that can end up on your coffee and make it taste papery (uber-yuk).
- For manual-brewing devices, preheat your filter cones and presses. Otherwise heat retention can be an issue.
- Do not let it sit. Coffee is only fresh for about 10 minutes. Try to make the right amount of coffee so you are drinking fresh brewed coffee more often.
Freshly grinding the beans before brewing is crucial to making great coffee – but don’t grind it more than 2 minutes prior to brewing, or major staling (oxidation) starts to take place. Each coffee brewing method requires a different grind size: Drip coffee requires a medium size grind, espresso requires a fine size grind, a French press requires the largest grind size, while the vacuum pot also requires the largest grind size.
If you are using a drip brewer with paper filter, thoroughly wet the filter with water. This helps remove the paper taste from the filter. The French press offers unparalleled flavor due to perfect extraction time and delivery of the volatile oils that are often trapped in paper filters. To make good coffee requires finely ground coffee beans brewed at a temperature between 195-205°F.
For the coffee scientist in you, coffee should be brewed for 4.5-5 minutes using filtered water or spring water, but never distilled water, which lacks the minerals that help bring out the natural flavors of coffee. Be sure the water is heated to 195-205°F, using 1-2 tablespoons of ground coffee for every 6 ounces of water.
Lastly, don’t let coffee sit on a hot plate or in a French Press. Instead, transfer the coffee to a thermal carafe, to avoid overcooking and over-extraction.
Interested in supporting fair trade when you purchase coffee? Find out more about free trade in our briefing about The Billion-Dollar Fair Trade Industry.