Really great coffee. That is what I want for you, my customers. I do my part by traveling the world meeting farmers, millers, exporters and agents and carefully assessing their coffee, bringing only the very best to our Jersey City roastery. I then roast it using our rare roaster and my unique roast profile, bring you the finest coffee at the peak of freshness and flavor.
Now it is up to you! Here are a few tips to making great coffee at home. If all these are already in your repertoire I applaud you and look forward to sharing more with you later (just check them out to be sure you are doing them all). For the rest of us, here are some easy, yet crucial, tips on brewing at home.
Use fresh coffee
The first may seem self-evident, but using fresh coffee is key. Whole bean coffee loses aroma and flavor every single day after roasting. Technically it is stale about 3 weeks out of the roaster, but by then it is only a shadow of its original glory. We ship coffee the day it is roasted so you can get it the next day in most cases. Some people are of the opinion that the coffee has to “rest” some days after roasting. I am not one of those people. The fresher the better for me.
Grind for how you brew
Some people like their coffee vey strong and so they grind their coffee very fine. Too fine. This over extracts to coffee oils into your brew. Coffee can be bitter and sour if you do this. You want to grind correctly for the type of brewer you have so that you are only extracting about 18-20% of the oils. This will give you all the sweetness and gentle flavors the coffee has to give. If you like your coffee stronger, use less water in your recipe.
Filtered water tastes better
Another thing that may slip your mind is the water. If your tap water has any flavor other than completely neutral, or if it is too hard, it will negatively impact your brew. Remember that your cup of coffee is 98-98.5% water so anything affecting your water will also affect your brew. If you have an issue here, filtered water or even bottled water will improve your coffee quality.
Follow the recipe
When you cook at home, successfully, you generally are following a recipe. Coffee is no different. Two level tablespoons of ground coffee for 6 fluid ounces of fresh water is it. However many or few cups you make, that is the recipe. Note that 6 ounces is not an actual cup (8 ounces). Also please note that different brewers use different measurements for “cups.” A moka pot is 3 ounces, a french press is 4 ounces, electric drip brewers are usually 5 to 5.5 ounces. A Chemex is 5 ounces. My advice is to take your brewer and a measuring cup and see what yours is. Then use the recipe above to make your coffee great.
Clean your brewer often
Another tip is to keep your brewer clean. Coffee oils build up fast and begin to taste stale of pick up other kitchen smells to make for onion coffee or similar disasters. If your brewer has a water heater inside, remember to clean that too. Minerals build up on the heating element causing it to brew at lower temperatures. This will make your coffee dull and lacking in sweetness or any of the subtle flavors and aromas you love in your coffee. A citric acid solution run through the system and then rinsed properly on a regular basis will help avoid this problem.
Use hot water just off the boil
As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, proper brewing temperature is also essential to making great coffee. Too hot and you actually burn the oils you are extracting. Too cool and you don’t extract all the oils and end up with a weak, flavorless brew. The standard is to brew at 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Or just off the boil as we say. I like to try for 202-205 if I can. At 195 I still worry about under-extraction.
Enjoy at once, or use thermal carafe
Serve at once! Don’t keep it on heat. That will break down the delicate flavors and turn it into a strong, ill tasting mess. If you can’t serve it all at once, please use a good thermal carafe, preheated with hot (or boiling) water. Try to only brew for your immediate needs so keeping your coffee hot is not an issue for you. I am guilty of this and so I use a thermal carafe in my kitchen.
Voila! Great Coffee
If you do all these things to brew your coffee, you should get great coffee every time (assuming you are buying great coffee to begin with—but that is for another time).