Ingredients for Success

I thought it might be a good idea to mention a few of the most important ingredients for making the best cup of coffee.

Before I begin, I want it to be clear that I am making a big assumption:  You actually like the coffee you selected.  Sometimes no matter how you prepare a coffee, you just won’t like it.  This is the case with me and Starbucks’ French Roast.  No matter how you prepare this coffee, it will always taste what seems to be an ashtray.  Every time.  Guaranteed.

Here are the basics:

  1. Fresh Coffee
  2. Filtered Water
  3. Correct Grind Size
  4. Proper Measurements
  5. Clean Equipment

  Fresh Coffee

I always buy coffee from local Specialty Coffee shops and roasters.  Here I can talk to the Baristas (sometimes even the roasters!) about the coffee and find out more than a bag can offer.  I usually ask about when it was roasted, what flavors they can taste, and what the best brew method and tips.  Good first time tip:  Ask them what their favorite is!

I avoid coffee from the grocery store.  Before you go all “You Coffee Snob!” on me, let me explain.  I don’t know how many of you have worked in a grocery store before, but I have.  As a customer you normally don’t notice the specifics of how long product has sat on the shelf, but as an employee (night stalker) you do.  Think about this, the coffee is bought in bulk (usually lower quality beans), roasted in bulk, shipped to a warehouse, then distributed a stores back room, then onto the shelf.   Ever picked up a product covered in dust?  Thought it might be more than a few years old?

The longer a coffee oxidizes the more stale it becomes.  This process begins immediately after roasting and the rate at which it oxidizes increases when the coffee is ground (more surface area).  So think about buying pre-ground coffee…

Filtered Water

Have you ever enjoyed sweet delicious spring water?  You ever settle for city water?  Notice the differences?  The main ingredient in your cup of coffee is…water.  So maybe next time you take a little more care when selecting what water you put in.  Even though tap water can be super delicious, it also has to do with what minerals are in your water supply and whether they play nicely with coffee molecules or not.  Using a filter helps remove impurities and provide a cleaner cup.

Grind Size

When you grind the coffee fine, it provides more surface area for the water to pull flavor from.  This requires a shorter brew time.  Think Sand.  Think Espresso.

When you grind the coffee coarse, the water has less surface area.  This requires a longer brew time.  Think small pebbles.  Think French Press.

Using the correct grind size depending on your brewing method, amount of coffee/water, and desired brew time.

Proper Ratios

I recommend that you start with a baseline of 7grams of ground coffee for every 100ml of water.  This is not the golden rule for every coffee, but it is a starting point for finding the right ratio for you.

Clean Equipment

Coffee is rich with oils and stales soon after grinding.  It is important for cup quality and machine function to clean your brewing equipment after each use.

At the end of the day, no matter what you do or don’t do.  You need to discover the right method to make the best tasting coffee TO YOU.  After all, You are the one who will be enjoying this delicious cup of joe…not a book, blog, or “coffee connoisseur.”