Brewing Great Coffee
Follow these tips to brew great coffee:
1. It is impossible to make great coffee without great coffee! Coffee Classics provides many wonderful specialty coffees. (See top of this page) Your coffee must be fresh. A fresh coffee bean can generally be broken between your forefinger and thumb with moderate pressure. Canned coffee is rarely fresh.
2. You must have fresh, clean, good tasting water. Since coffee brew is mostly water (about 98%) it is imperative that this component is not tainted in anyway. If your water has "funny" tastes or you just want the best taste your coffee can make, consider a water filter having activated charcoal to take out excess chlorine plus a micro filter to remove micro spores and other micro-particles. Filter systems are available at restaurant supply companies, home centers, online and at water treatment specialists. Water processed in this way will improve the taste of everything you prepare using water.
3. Measure your coffee accurately. Start by using one to two level tablespoons per 6 ounces of cold water. Adjust the amount of coffee to obtain a strength to suit your taste.
4. If possible grind your coffee just before brewing it. Don't grind your coffee too finely. Very finely ground coffee will produce bitter coffee. It is best to err toward grinding too coarse, then using more coffee to obtain the strength brew you want. Burr grinders are better than blade grinders. In brewing good coffee, we never want to extract more than 20% of the soluble solids, this is true for drip coffee, press coffee and espresso. That is why the grind of your coffee is so important. Too finely ground coffee tends to over extract and produce bitter tasting brew. Too coarse grind produces weak, thin tasting brew.
5. Always use clean equipment. Oils can accumulate in carafes and filter baskets that cause off tastes. After brewing, give your coffee brew a quick stir to get maximum flavor and aroma. If your brewer seems to be brewing slowly or the temperature is lower than when your brewer was new, consider a coffee maker cleaner recommended by your coffee maker's manufacturer to remove lime scale build up. Often they will advise a cleaner containing citric acid or vinegar.
6. Water temperature is very important. Heating your water over 200 degrees F or allowing the water to stay on the coffee too long, tends to produce bitter brew. A brewing temperature of about 190 degrees F. works well for brewing great coffee.
Frequent questions about brewing coffee
Question: How do I brew good tasting coffee?
Q: What about my brewer?
CC: Your equipment plays an important role. Keep it clean. Always use a fresh filter. Do not reuse coffee grounds. If you are using a conical filter (Melitta, Krups etc.) be sure to turn the crimped edges over so the filter fits the cone. In flat basket filter machines use a good high quality filter like Melitta or Bunn. Brew temperature is very important and yet a matter of personal preference. We suggest you try for a temperature of about 190 degrees, not over 200 degrees, for the water temperature as it touches the grounds.
Q: I use low cost filters, what about those?
CC: They may collapse, allowing grounds and oil to go right into your coffee brew. The higher quality filters are structurally stronger and absorb more coffee oils. Coffee oils, abundant in Robusta and other low priced coffee, may be the major cause for "acid upset" after drinking coffee. Why? Coffee oils are difficult to digest. This can trigger your digestive system to increase digestive fluids including acids, causing discomfort.
Q: How much coffee should I use?
CC: Since coffee strength is a matter of personal preference, I can't tell you how much coffee to use. A good starting point is one tablespoon for each two coffee maker (5 oz.) cups. So, put in five tablespoons for a 10 cup machine. See what it tastes like to you, adjust accordingly. Remember, you are an expert on what you like.
Q: I notice many coffee shops brewing into thermal servers, why is that?
CC: We suggest brewing into a thermal carafe or pouring your brew into a thermal carafe after brewing. The fastest way to ruin coffee is to leave it in a glass carafe on the brewer's heating pad. After about 15 minutes it will have oxidized enough to start tasting bad.
Q: I am considering getting a French Press coffee brewer what might I expect and how do I use it?
CC: You will get basic instructions with most brewers but I'll mention some ideas for you. First read the tips listed on this page. Most will be good guides for you. Some general suggestions: Be careful about water temps, auto brewers set temps for you. Here you are in charge, so try for the upper end about 200 degrees max. Get the water up to temp then remove the plunger assembly from your press, add your coffee, ground electric perk to coarse grind are a good place to start. Pour water into the brewer, give it a stir and place the plunger assembly on the brewer with the plunger up. Let the brew work for four minutes then push the plunger / filter down to stop the brewing and hold the grounds down in the brewer. Then you are ready to pour your brew and see what you think. All of the steps may be adjusted to change the character of your coffee. Your brew may be placed in a thermal container to preserve the taste you have made.
We wrote a great blog post on just this thing. Check it out!