How to make a better cup of coffee

How to make a better cup of coffee

I (really) love coffee, so I'm always testing new ways to make the best home-brewed cup of coffee. There are a few techniques that can immediately improve the quality of your coffee, no matter how fancy (or basic) your coffee machine is. Here are five tips for making your drip coffee taste a whole lot better.

1. Buy fresh, whole bean coffee. A cup of coffee is only as good as the beans you start with.

If you're buying bags of pre-ground coffee, you're doing it wrong. Instead, start with fresh, whole beans.

There's a reason most coffee companies don't provide the date for when the coffee was roasted; the stuff you find on the shelf in the grocery store has probably been there for months. Coffee reaches its peak flavor just days after it has been roasted and should be consumed within a month of its roast date.

To find fresh coffee, check local coffee shops. Some roast on the spot or source from local roasters who roast in smaller batches, which typically means fresher coffee.

2. Properly store beans. Store your coffee correctly and you'll keep its flavor fresh for as long as possible.

To keep the coffee you buy fresh for longer, make sure you're storing it properly. While a vacuum sealed container with a one-way valve is recommended by many, a standard Mason jar will suffice for most people.

If you've got multiples of different sizes of mason jars, it's not a bad idea to move the coffee to the most appropriately sized jar as you brew through it. A wide-mouthed quart-sized jar (946.35 milliliters) is perfect for storing 12 ounces (340 grams) of coffee. As you work your way through the bag, you can downsize the jar to a pint-sized (473.18 milliliters) jar, or even use 4 ounces (118.29 milliliters) jelly jars to store pre-weighed servings.

3. How and when you grind matters. Grind your coffee immediately before brewing for maximum flavor.

Experts say coffee begins to lose its flavor within 30 minutes of being ground. This being the case, it's best to grind on the spot, just before brewing a pot.

Grind size and consistency matter quite a bit, as well. Grind too coarse and you will have a weak pot of coffee. Grind too fine and you will over-extract the coffee and it will taste bitter. Most drip coffee makers call for a medium to a medium-fine grind.

Unless you want to spend upward of $100 (roughly £80 and AU$130) on a quality automatic burr grinder, a manual hand mill is the most affordable way to achieve a nice, consistent grind, though they do require a small amount of manual labor.

Blade grinders also work but will produce inconsistent particle size, which can lead brewers for a quick cup of joe.

4. The right way to measure your coffee. Measure coffee by weight instead of volume.

Making better coffee is all about eliminating variables, and one way to do that is to use the same amount of coffee per unit of water each time you brew. Using a digital scale to measure takes just a second and allows you to better compare how much coffee and water is used each time.

Ideally, a ratio of 1:20 (that's one part coffee to 20 parts water or about 7.5g of coffee to 150mL of water) makes a fairly strong cup of coffee. That said, some people go as high as 1:14 or as low as 1:30. It's up to you to decide what tastes best, which is much easier to do (and replicate) once you remove all the guesswork.

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