Proper brewing enhances the taste of coffee by allowing you to extract the proper amount of flavor from the bean. Under-extract and you get a thin watery brew; over-extract and you get a heavy, bitter brew. The goal then, is to extract all the flavor out of the coffee in the correct ratio to water and leave behind the undesirable elements that contribute to bitterness, astringency, and sourness.
More specifically, each of the following elements are essential for good brewing:
1. Correct Coffee-to-Water Ratio:
Because coffee is a strong flavoring agent, it takes relatively little to produce a robust brew. The generally accepted ratio is 1.0 – 1.5% coffee to 98.5 – 99% water. Therefore, measure carefully. We recommend using two level tablespoons (8-9 grams) for each six ounces of water (cup markings on home brewers are usually 6 oz. cups.) Pre-measured coffee scoops are usually available at your local coffeehouse.
2. A Coffee Grind That Matches the Brewing Time:
Use the correct grind. There is not one “all purpose” grind for all types of coffee makers. Each brewing method requires its own grind. Too fine a grind will cause over-extraction and bitterness. Too course a grind will produce under-extracted watery coffee. In general, longer brewing times should be paired with larger particles and shorter brewing times with smaller particles. For drip brewers, use a medium to fine grind.
3. Properly Operating Brewing Equipment:
Because your brewing equipment is responsible for the quality of the extraction, it is important that it be precisely calibrated, clean and well maintained. Your brewing equipment will control important variables known as the Three Ts: Time, Temperature & Turbulence. Time refers to the length of time that the coffee is in contact with water, this may differ from the total brewing time that includes heating of water; Temperature refers to the temperature of the brewing water; and Turbulence is the amount of mixing action during flavor extraction.
4. High-Quality Water:
Start with quality, fresh, cold water. Water should have no odor & contain no visible impurities. Bottled or filtered water is recommended. In general, water that contains 50 – 100 parts per million of dissolved minerals will produce the best-tasting coffee.
5. An Appropriate Filtering Medium:
A well-made filter is essential to clarify the beverage and separate the extract from the coffee grounds. Various filter mediums have different advantages and disadvantages. Perforated screens or wire mesh allow for good water flow of water and typically prevent the risk of over-extraction, but will also result in more sediment in the brew due to fine particles passing through the screen. Cloth or paper, on the other hand, will do the best job of clarifying the brew and give you a very clear beverage, but also may restrict the flow of brew resulting in over-extraction and bitterness in the cup. Also, be careful to select a paper that doesnt transfer any taste to the brew.
Additionally, we recommend that you brew only as much as you plan to drink. Coffee can be kept warm on a burner or hot plate for only about 20 minutes before the flavor starts to become bitter & unpleasant. Coffee flavor solubles have a much lower boiling point than water and will convert to gases and escape from your beverage in the steam. An airtight thermos or carafe will keep coffee hot & preserve flavor for about 2 hours.
Freshness & Storing Your Coffee
To preserve freshness, store coffee in the smallest practical airtight container or in a foil bag with all the air squeezed out. Store on your counter or in a pantry. Purchase your coffee frequently from a reputable retailer, buying only as much as you will use in a 1 – 2 week period. Do not store coffee in your refrigerator. Moisture condenses on cold coffee when it’s opened, and flavor deteriorates when the moisture is absorbed.