Coffee Brewing Tips

Always brew with freshly roasted coffee

Always brew freshly roasted whole-bean coffee and grind on demand. The optimal timeframe to brew and enjoy your coffee is 7 – 30 days past the roast date.

Buy specialty coffee from a local supplier

Buying specialty coffee from a local supplier can make all the difference when trying to brew that perfect cup of coffee. An excellent roaster will detail everything about the coffee, from the origin, processing type, roast color/depth, varietal, and taste notes.

Find a roaster that puts every coffee they purchase through the paces before offering it to their customer base. You will know this immediately because a great roaster can tell the story of the coffee from the farm to the roastery.

Understand how processing methods impact coffee taste notes

The process of the coffee (Natural, Washed, Honeyed, etc.) loosely defines how the coffee was processed post-harvest. The post-harvest process has a great deal of impact on potential taste attributes and the quality of the finished product. While great-tasting coffee has come from every type of process, you will learn that specific processes may have flavor profiles more in line with your palette.

Many of the highest-scoring coffees in recent Cup of Excellence auctions are processed using anaerobic fermentation (dry fermentation), a technique taken from the wine industry. Coffee producers leverage this technique to impart unique flavor and aromatics into their coffees.

Use the correct coffee grinder for the job

Ensure you are working with a coffee grinder built for the brewing you intend to do. There is a big difference between a coffee grinder meant for drip coffee versus one for espresso. Always look for a grinder with good burrs, flat or conical; we like the Fellow Ode Coffee Grinder for Filter Coffee and the Eureka Mignon Specialita for Espresso.

Understand grind size and adjustments

We often see poorly extracted coffee in videos across social media and only imagine the same thing happening to most individuals. The particle size of your coffee plays a significant role in proper extraction and the timing of your brew. You must reevaluate your grind size when your espresso is pouring out of your portafilter like a waterfall.

Measure your coffee with a scale

Gone are the days when relying on "scoops" as a measuring guide was commonplace. Use a proper coffee scale, as coffee weight drastically changes by roast type/color. Getting your coffee weight right each time allows consistent input across your brew methods.

Brew with good water

Water represents 99% of the liquid in your cup and should be carefully selected when brewing your coffee. While tap water is clean in some areas, it should not be used when brewing coffee or put through machines without proper filtration. Tap water is typically quite hard, damaging machines and leaving your coffee tasting dull.

Good water needs balanced hardness and alkalinity to help brew the perfect cup of coffee. Like tap water from Los Angeles, water with high alkalinity will have a bland and flat taste in your cup. Like the water in Boston, water with low hardness and alkalinity will leave your coffee tasting weak and sour.

So how do you get it right? You can research local municipalities' water ratios, purchase good bottled water (within the suggested range of hardness and alkalinity), or optimize distilled water with Third Wave Water's mineral packs.

Time your brews

Timing your coffee brews will only lead to more consistent and flavorful cups of coffee. If a recipe calls for a 3-minute brew and it takes you over 4 minutes to complete it, this tells you that you might have your grind size wrong. If you do not time your brews, it will be tough to properly adjust your grind size or brewing techniques to hit your intended times.

Know your brewing temperatures

Light Roast: 199 - 205°F

Medium Roast: 194 - 200°F

Dark Roast: 188 - 194°F or cooler

Clean your equipment

Having pristine brewing equipment will result in a better-tasting cup of coffee. Leaving coffee residue, mainly its oils, can contaminate your next brew. Clean your coffee grinders often, especially after switching to a new coffee.

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