Better Brewing

Coffee cup and beans

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.

T. S. Eliot

Offering tips to the seasoned coffee drinker can be frustrating. Typically, coffee making is an integral part to the drinker’s morning routine and is done automatically. Reading an article about better ways to brew coffee might sound like an insult! Have you ever had a guest over for coffee only to find they didn’t care for your “style” of brewing? If so, read on, coffee fiends! We have a few tips for you:

• Clean your coffee pot. As a bartender in Boston, I was legally obligated to clean our beer tap lines once a week. Cleaning the coffee pot is the same idea. If you leave a half-filled carafe of coffee sitting long enough, it will collect mold. All of the mechanical parts of a coffee machine will collect bacteria as well. Cleaning your machine not only improves and purifies the taste produced but will extend the life of your brewer, eliminating mineral buildup.

• Buy high-quality beans. The taste of your cup can only go so far as the beans will allow. Look for whole beans that have been roasted fresh in the past week or two (preferably). The lighter the roast, the more complex the flavors will be. Visit a local cafe who roasts their own beans or check out our Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee.

• Grind your own beans. Coffee is delicate with complex flavor compounds. These compounds are lost once exposed to oxygen (aka ground). Enjoy the full flavor from your bean by grinding right before brewing. This is probably the simplest and most effective improvement you can make at home. Plus, whole bean and ground coffee cost the same, so why not take the extra step?

• Use the golden ratio of coffee to water. Most people either use too much or not enough coffee to water. Either way results in a sub-par cup. Most people just eyeball it and don’t realize they are doing it wrong. The golden ratio is 17.42 units of water to one unit of ground coffee. I know, I know … it sounds crazy. To give you a visual, this is about one rounded tablespoon per cup. The exact amount you use depends on the type/style of coffee you are using but one to two tablespoons per 8 ounces is the range you are looking at.

Proper storage is everything. Most people think that freezing their beans is the “secret” to proper coffee storage. Well, yes and no. If you buy your beans freshly roasted from a local shop and are harvesting cups out of a smaller, one-pound bag, we suggest simply storing your coffee in an airtight container kept in a dark cupboard or in the fridge. Freezing can destroy some of those complex flavor compounds we were talking about earlier. What I usually do is buy a larger back of freshly roasted higher-quality coffee and fill up a 4-cup tupperware. The tupperware goes in the cabinet and the rest of the bag goes in the freezer. Once the tupperware is empty, refill from freezer bag.

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