If you have been reading our blog for very long, you know that we absolutely love coffee. Coffee for us is a way of life–not only does coffee have proven health benefits, such as reducing the risk of various cancers, dementia and heart disease, but it also tastes utterly brilliant and gets your day off to a rocking start.
To that end, we want everyone to become as passionate about great coffee as we are, and that’s why we have compiled this list of 18 tips and tricks that are aimed at helping you maximize your coffee experience. Therefore, let’s dive right in!
1. Start With the Beans
It should be obvious, but the quality of what ends up in your cup is a direct result of the quality of your beans. Make sure that you are selecting only the highest quality, freshest and most delicious beans that you can find. We are not sure why, but we always find that ethically sourced beans taste better. It must be the love that the farmers give the beans! Don’t be afraid to experiment with different roasts and varieties until you find the one that you love.
2. Grind Your Own!
Even though it takes a small bit of extra time, grinding your own beans makes a big difference in flavor. Freshly ground beans hold the natural flavonoids and antioxidants that are lost over time in ground beans. In addition, whole beans have a much longer shelf life when compared to their ground counterparts; you can keep them for fourteen days after opening the bag, while their ground counterparts will only last a week or less.
3. Pay Close Attention to Particle Size
So now that you know that grinding your own beans is of paramount importance to obtaining the best flavor from your beans,it’s time to talk about the particle size when grinding. Coffee that is ground to a finer size results in more surface area being exposed to the hot water when brewing. This is ideal if you are using a high-spec espresso machine.However, with other methods, such as the French press coarser, grinds are recommended due to the length of time of exposure to water. The most important thing is that your grind is even, and following the instructions on your grinder is essential. It may take some experimentation to find the right grind for the brewing method you employ.
4. Store Your Beans in a Ceramic Container
Don’t keep your beans in the bag that they come in as they will pick up all of the other scents and smells of your kitchen or office space. A ceramic container will protect your beans from damaging sunlight and help to keep them as fresh as possible. Additionally, avoid freezing your beans, as this can cause the beans to take on moisture as they defrost, which will attenuate the palate of flavors.
5. Use Filtered Water
Your cup of coffee is about 99% water.Therefore, we should be sure to use purified water! We advise to keep a pitcher of filtered water in your fridge at home to have high-quality water ready for brewing at all times. Filtered water contains fewer impurities than tap water, and, therefore, provides a better overall-quality for which to experience the full spectrum of the flavor contained within the beans.
6. Clean Your Coffeemaker Frequently
Just like the way that impurities in tap water can negatively affect the flavor, so can the impurities that build up in your coffeemaker. Whatever approach you use─from moka pot to French press to an espresso machine─it’s important to remove the build-up of coffee and oil to avoid your coffee tasting like it’s burnt! For optimal results, clean your coffee maker at least once per week, but ideally after every use.
7. Get Yourself a Scale
We recommend that you use a scale to measure your coffee for more accurate brewing. Any inexpensive and accurate scale will do just fine. Many coffee drinkers simply use a spoon as a guide.However, to achieve consistent results, we need to be measuring the amount of coffee that we are using. Experiment with different amounts until you find the perfect quantity for you.If you want to make the perfect cup, you have got to try many sub-optimal ones first! However, a good guideline to follow is to use 90 grams of whole bean coffee for a standard 6-cup drip coffee machine.
8. Grind Only What you Intend to Use
While it can be very tempting to grind all of your precious beans at once to save time, this is a terrible error! If you do this, then you may well have just disregarded tip #2 and bought ground beans. To keep your coffee as fresh as possible, only use coffee that you have just ground moments before brewing. Invest in a decent grinder and do it in small batches, as well.
9. Don’t Buy Beans in Large Quantities
Resist buying all of your coffee supply for the year in a flash sale. While it will save you money, you’ll certainly be getting worse value, overall. Coffee beans won’t ever go bad in the same way that other foods will, such as milk. However, as the beans get older and older in your pantry, they will lose some of the richness and complexity of their flavor. Buying smaller batches of coffee not only allows you to ensure that your beans are always fresh, but it also gives you the freedom to experiment and try new blends and roasts more frequently.
10. Give Your Cup a Little Attention
Apart from making sure that your favorite cup is completely clean before pouring your coffee into it, make sure to heat it up a little, as well. You have surely seen the small stack of cups on top of the coffee machine at the nice Italian café. This stacking is no accident, the barista is using it as a method by which to heat the cups, which ensures that your coffee doesn’t cool down too much when It comes into contact with the inside of the cup.
11. Heat Your Milk
So many folks put cold milk from the fridge directly into their coffee. We recommend against this as it can cool down your cup of joe to dangerously low temperatures. You will be much better off putting your milk into the microwave or giving it a few seconds in a saucepan on the hob before adding it to your java. Additionally, did you know that you can make a pretty decent froth using only your microwave? Put your desired amount of milk in a clean jar (skim works best), place the lid on, and shake vigorously to create froth!Then, place it in the microwave for about 30 seconds to stabilize the foam. Voila.
12. Keep Any Brew You Don’t Use
Old coffee may not sound the most appetizing. However, there are many uses for the extra coffee that you don’t finish the first-time round. Place the coffee into an ice cube tray and make coffee ice cubes that you can use to make a chilled, iced mocha without diluting the drink. You can also keep your unused coffee in the fridge and add it to batter when baking to create a wonderful coffee cake or other coffee infused treats such as coffee flavor frosting, chili and marinades!
13. Get Creative With Your Own Personalised Blend
Although a large variety of blends can be found at your grocery store, why stop there in experimenting with your coffee experience?Get creative by adding flavours such as cinnamon, fresh herbs, vanilla bean and citrus zest to your filter before you brew your coffee. Alternatively, you could mix a cup of ground beans with your preferred flavor extract. Either way, your experimentation is only limited by your imagination. The quest for the perfect coffee is a journey that you can take for a lifetime!
14. Drink it Up!
So far, we have learned that grinding the beans just prior to brewing coffee is the best way to get good flavor. Similarly, when we store the beans, we want to keep them away from sunlight and strong odors. Both of these methods are an attempt to keep the beans as fresh as possible. Freshness is one of the critical keys to a mind-blowing cup of coffee. Therefore, once you have brewed your coffee, it is at its best tasting for about ten minutes after it’s ready. The length of time that you leave your coffee sitting on a hotplate will dramatically affect the flavor. So, we advise you to drink it up as soon as it is ready, and then make some more! Alternatively, if you can’t drink your coffee immediately after brewing, invest in a decent thermal carafe to avoid damaging the flavor through over extraction.
15. Pre-rinse Your Filters
Some filters have loose paper fibres on their surface that can become dislodged and end up in in your coffee. It goes without saying that this can add a very unwelcomed paper taste to your brew, so be sure to rinse your filter papers before brewing with warm water to clear away any potential contaminants.
16. Dial in Your Temperature Control
Behind every great cup of coffee there is precision in measurement. Just as we advise that you get your hands on a scale so that you can measure and perfect your bean to water ratio, getting a reliable kitchen thermometer is a brilliant idea, as well.The ideal temperature for brewing coffee is between 195°F and 205°F. If you’re brewing below this temperature, your coffee will taste flat due to under-extraction, and at a higher temperature, you run the risk of burning the bean which will result in an unpleasant, burnt taste. A standard kitchen thermometer can assist you in keeping your brewing temperature on point, and will improve your coffee experience to no end.
17. Resist the Urge to Stir Your French Press
It can be quite tempting to stir your glorious brew while you wait for the full extraction to take place.However, you may just end up preventing the process from happening properly! Stirring causes the grinds to fall from suspension in the water and slows the extraction process. Many Baristas have claimed that unstirred brews provide more and better flavor than those that have been stirred. Therefore, add all of your water and resist every urge to stir the beautiful brew─It won’t be long until you get your reward!
18. Make Sure Your Milk is On Point
If you take your coffee with milk, it is no use putting superhuman effort into selecting, grinding and brewing the perfect cup if your milk game is not on point. If you intend on frothing your milk, look for varieties that are higher in protein and lower in fat. The molecular make up of these types of milk lends itself better to making top notch froth. If you just like to add milk directly to your brew, then make sure, as we said earlier, that you are heating it up before adding it. Be careful not to heat the milk to too high of a temperature (i.e. boiling), as it will alter the taste and leave you with a less than optimal taste experience. Above all else, make sure that your milk is as fresh as possible.
So, there you have it─18 tips and tricks that are sure to improve your daily coffee experience. It can be a lot to take in, and even a professional barista might not find time to implement all of the advice, but even one or two simple changes can dramatically affect the quality of the coffee that ends up in your cup. Great tasting artisanal coffee can be a reality for all coffee lovers everywhere!