Thursday, July 28, 2011

Five tips to make a better cup of coffee at home

Before I teach a group about coffee I generally ask them what they would like to learn. Some are interested in history, and others are interested in the science, while still more would like to learn more about how coffee is grown. One thing has always been of interest to every group I have ever taught.

People want to know how to brew a good cup of coffee at home

There are dozens of methods people use to brew coffee at home and within each method there is almost an infinite number of possibilities to how you will make a great cup. Making coffee is like being invited onto a playground, there are lots of places to play and lots of ways to play once you get there, but their are also rules and boundaries that will help you feel more at home and have a lot of fun.

The following are 5 tips I have found help people make coffee better no matter how they like to brew it.

Tip 1: Only Buy Enough Coffee For a Week or Two
Coffee only stays fresh for about 2 weeks after you buy it. If you only go through a half a pound in that amount of time only buy a half a pound. I generally only buy enough to last me one week since I know that I will have to wait a few days after the coffee is roasted for the beans to be at their prime brewing time (coffee releases gasses after it's roasted, giving it a few days to rest can help you get a better cup too.) The best way to get coffee is from a roaster (like us) that way you know you are getting it fresh!

Intelligentsia Coffee Black Cat- Regular, Whole Bean BlendvsMaxwell House French Roast (Medium Dark) Ground Coffee, 33-Ounce Jugs (Pack of 2)

Tip 2: Get a Burr Grinder
If you want the best cup of coffee at home the first step i recommend it to buy a good burr grinder. Grinding your coffee before you brew it will help your coffee stay fresh longer then getting it pre-ground. Unlike a blade grinder, a burr grinder grinds coffee at a uniform grind, which means you will have a more even extraction and a better balanced cup of coffee.

 Baratza Virtuoso Coffee Grinder - Baratza 585VS Bodum Bistro Electric Blade Grinder, Black

There are many on the market. I would personally recommend the Baratza Virtuoso Coffee Grinder - Baratza 585 the Baratza G 285 Maestro Conical Burr Grinder is also good and about half the price. If you really want to make a larger investment the Baratza 885 Vario Espresso Coffee Grinder can do a great job with drip as well as espresso. If you want a cheaper option or something that's good for travel check out the Hario MSS-1B Mini Mill Slim Coffee Grinder or the Hario Coffee Hand Grinder Skerton. Don't bother with cheap electric models like the Mr. Coffee BVMC-BMH23 they have cheap burrs that don't do a much better job then a blade grinder.

Tip 3: Store Your Coffee Somewhere Dark, Dry and at Room Temperature
Your coffee has enimies: light, oxogen, and moisture. This unholy-trinity of forces will breakdown your beans and give them an unpleasant flavor. The best way to avoid this is to store them in an airtight container away from sunlight. DO NOT store your coffee in the fridge. Since coffee absorbs the flavors around it you will find that your coffee with have flavors of last nights dinner in it, and you probably don't want that. I use a porcelain container with a rubber seal which I keep on my counter. Don't use the bag the coffee came in. Those bags generally are not air tight after you open them.
Exceptional Designs Bean Vac Coffee Canister (ED150)vs Lavazza Super Crema Espresso Whole Bean Coffee, 2.2-Pound Bag

Tip 4: Use a Gram Scale
Weigh out how much coffee you are using and how much water you are using. Weight is much more accurate then volume when it comes to coffee. Instead of eyeballing your water or your coffee scoop get a gram scale and make sure you are using the right amount of coffee and the right amount of water. For every 1 gram of coffee I use I use 16-17 grams of water. This ratio works in almost every brewing method for a "drip" style of coffee. A gram scale is a great investment to make. I believe every kitchen should have one. I use mine for all my cooking.

Escali P115C Primo Digital Multifunctional Food Scale, Chromevs Pyrex Prepware 2-Cup Measuring Cup, Clear with Red Measurements

Tip 5: Record What You Do
Keeping a coffee log is a great way to help you hone in on what you like and don't like. Buy a notebook and keep track of what you are doing with your coffee. Keep track of where the coffee is grown, where it's roasted, how it's processed, what kind of plants they used, and when you tried it. You can also keep a record of how fine you ground your coffee, how long the brew process took and what flavor notes you tasted when you drank the coffee. The more you record the more you will be able to see patterns in what you like, and the more you will be able to remember what you've had. Keeping a journal of your coffee can help make coffee more then something you drink, but something you treasure.
Moleskine Ruled Notebook Large

1 comment:

  1. You may also retain a report of how good you soil your coffee
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