The perfect cup of coffee is one that satisfies your individual taste. Some like their coffee weak, some like stronger tasting coffee and then there are those whose taste falls somewhere between weak and strong. There really is no secret to making a great cup of coffee. Follow these logical and common sense steps to get the best out of your coffee and coffee maker.
1. Make sure your coffee making equipment is clean. Wash out your coffee maker regularly. If you have hard water, it’s easy to get mineral deposits that settle into the machine. A white vinegar rinse through will help this problem tremendously followed by 2 plain water rinses to ensure that the vinegar has been removed.
2. Use the freshest, best quality coffee available.Always use freshly roasted Arabica coffee beans or fresh ground coffee. Purchase only enough coffee that is reasonable for your lifestyle. Do not stockpile your coffee beans because your specialty coffee store is running a sale. Coffee beans are a perishable item which begins to loose flavors if not stored properly or used quickly after roasting. No matter how it’s packed, coffee beans begin to lose their peak flavor one week after they are roasted and three days after ground. Never store ground coffee in the refrigerator; it will sweat from condensation resulting from taking it out and putting it back, will lump up and the flavor will be altered. Coffee is best stored in the bean form.
3. Use good tasting water. This is key to a great cup of coffee and should not be taken lightly. When you consider that coffee is made of approximately 98-99% water, you must use the best water available. If you are using water from the tap or faucet, run the water for a few minutes until it runs cold, the colder the water the more oxygen it contains and the more oxygen in the water the better the coffee. Do not use tap or faucet water with an odor or pronounced taste.
4. Coffee to water ratio. Accurate measuring of coffee and water is key. A basic guideline to follow is to use 2 level tablespoons of freshly ground coffee to 6 oz of cold water (3/4 cup.) You can then adjust the proportions according to your taste. Experiment to find your preference but note that ratios will vary for different coffees and remember, although not ideal, you can always add more fresh boiled water if it’s too strong, but you can’t make a weak brew stronger.
5. Use the correct grind. This is an important step that does not get the attention it should. Grind your beans just before you make your coffee to retain freshness and do not grind more coffee than you need for immediate use. Because the grinding process releases the coffee beans’ oils (the flavor), leaving it out will cause the flavor to be lost. Because there are different methods of grinding for the different methods of brewing, be sure to check out what sort of consistency you need to maximize your brewing. Generally for drip coffee, it’s best to grind the beans to a consistency likened to granulated sugar. For a French Press, you’ll want to use a coarse grinding, and for espresso, you’ll need a very fine, almost powdery grind. Finding the right grinding for your brewing method is very important–the wrong method can give you weak or bitter coffee.
6. Use the right paper filter. If you are using a paper filter, rinse it out with hot water, to remove the sizing, before use. Make sure the filter you’re using is the one made for your coffee maker and is a perfect fit.
7. Brewing your coffee. Brewing temperature should be 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. The brewing temperature is set by the coffee maker manufacturer and should be in the equipment manual.
8. Serving your coffee.Give the brewed coffee a quick stir as soon as possible after brewing and before serving. This disperses the coffee particulates evenly instead of sitting at the bottom of the pot and therefore provides a consistent cup of coffee. Serve the coffee as soon as possible to preserve its aroma and flavor. Freshly brewed means fresh taste. Coffee can be kept warm only for about 20 minutes before the flavor starts to deteriorate. Store any freshly made coffee in a preheated air pot or thermos. This will preserve the quality of your coffee and retain it’s temperature. Avoid reheating coffee.
9. Clean-up.Remove used coffee grounds and filter. Clean your coffee maker thoroughly in fresh hot water after every use.