This is a guest post from Matt Meinzer, Editor of TripleBarCoffee.com
1. Drink fresher coffee
The enemy of good coffee beans is time — and exposure to light, air, and moisture.
Storing your coffee in a good container can definitely help. But even stored properly, your coffee will almost always taste best within a few weeks of being roasted.
Next time you buy coffee, check the roast date. Often, the coffee that you find in the supermarket was roasted months ago. That’s not great. Even if you’re buying otherwise outstanding coffee, you’ve already missed the best window for consumption.
Ideally, you should be buying no more than one to two weeks worth of coffee at a time.
If you’d like to close the loop even further, you should consider roasting your own coffee beans. Unroasted or “green” coffee is sold online from a variety of retailers and is much less expensive than a pound of freshly roasted speciality coffee. You don’t need to have a jumbo, industrial coffee roaster. All you need is a heat source (a kitchen stove works fine!) and some patience to learn the process. After that, you’ll be roasting some of the best coffee you’ve ever tasted in your life.
2. Grind before you brew
I’m always somewhat surprised when I’m at a friend’s house, and they pull out pre-ground coffee to brew. While the convenience of pre-ground coffee is appealing, you’re settling for a subpar coffee experience if you’re not grinding your own beans.
Once the coffee is ground, the hard bean no longer serves as a natural barrier to air and moisture. This means that the coffee loses a lot of its great flavour and complexity much faster than it otherwise would.
The only thing that smells better than a fresh cup of coffee? Freshly ground coffee.
If you don’t yet own a grinder, do yourself a favour and grab one, more specifically, a burr grinder. While there are lots of inexpensive blade “grinders” out there, the uniformity that a burr grinder can achieve more than makes up for their higher price point.
3. Brew differently
If you’re still using an electric drip coffee maker, cut that out. Yes, I know it’s easy and convenient to set up the night before. But seriously, take some pride in the way you make your coffee, and I can personally guarantee your taste buds will thank you for it. Plus, it can be a heck of a lot more fun to get creative.
If you’re looking to try a new brew method we recommend looking into one or more of the following:
- French Press
- Pour over
4. Preheat your cup…
Because who wants cold coffee?
This item is definitely for the persnickety among us who revel in the tiny details. When you brew coffee, it comes out piping hot. But if you’re pouring it into a mug that’s at room temperature, you’re going to be immediately cooling your hot coffee. While this may not be super noticeable, it’s not like it requires all that much work. For me, a large part of the enjoyment of coffee comes from the process.
If you use a kettle for brewing, heat up some extra water to warm your mug. If you don’t have a kettle, you can just run the cup under warm tap water for a bit. Either way, the closer you bring the mug’s temperature to the temperature of the coffee before you pour it, the less heat you’ll lose from your brew.
5.Get your water right
Coffee brewing is pretty simple. All you need is ground coffee and water. But one often overlooked aspect is the amount and quality of the water.
If you use too much water for the grounds, you’ll likely end up with a watered down cup of coffee. If you use too little, you’ll end up with a very strong cup of coffee. The goal is to find the sweet spot somewhere in between. 20:1 is a good place to start, but experiment to see what you like best.
Water quality is also important. You should never use water that has had all of the minerals removed from it. This will make your coffee taste very flat and boring. A few minerals is a good thing to complement the subtle flavours in your coffee.
Making great coffee doesn’t have to be difficult. Adopting just a few tips can make a huge difference in the quality of the coffee you make. Try some out next time you brew a cup and let us know what you think!