Some people view coffee purely as a vehicle for caffeine consumption. Others view coffee as a complex sensory experience. Whatever your motivation for drinking your daily cup, there are easy ways to take it to the next level.
1. Grind your own coffee beans
When it comes to coffee, fresher is better. In fact, Babbie’s Rule of 15s gives us some guidelines to consider when trying to brew the best cup possible:
- Green (just harvested) coffee beans should be roasted within 15 months
- Roasted coffee beans should be ground within 15 days
- Ground coffee should be used within 15 minutes
The biggest thing you can do to immediately improve your morning coffee is grind your own beans. Whole bean coffee costs about the same as pre-ground coffee, and you can get a cheap manual coffee grinder or blade grinder for $20 or less.
If you just want a fresh cup of coffee, a blade grinder will do, but if you want to get the most out of your coffee beans, you can get a decent burr grinder for around $60.
2. Use freshly roasted coffee beans
Sticking with the Rule of 15s, it’s a little shocking that roasted coffee starts to go stale after just two weeks. So, what can you do to ensure freshly roasted coffee? Try looking for smaller roasters online who state they roast their coffee after you order. Even better, there’s probably a great small roaster in your local area.
3. Store your coffee beans properly
That doesn’t mean in the freezer. Coffee beans are best stored in a dark, dry, cool, airtight location. Try not to store them next to the oven or stovetop, where it frequently gets hot. Try not to store them in a clear container. Combined with number two above, it’s always best to buy coffee in small enough amounts that it can be used within about two weeks and to store the beans properly. This isn’t always possible, but do your best.
4. Follow your roaster’s brewing instructions
You may not think of coffee as something that has a recipe, but it actually does. Generally we’re talking about the ratio of ground coffee to water and the temperature of the water. The roaster that provides your coffee beans may have a recipe they think works best with that coffee. If they don’t, target a ratio of two tbsp of ground coffee for every eight fl oz of coffee.
5. Target 195-205 degree water
While I always suggest following step four and trying what the roaster suggests, usually 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit is the optimal brewing temperature. Less than 195 tends to result in under-extracted coffee, and over 205 tends to burn the coffee beans. But don’t forget your elevation! At sea level water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, so you’ll want to give it a minute or so to cool down. But if you live in the Mile High City of Denver, Colorado, your water will boil at just 203 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Be consistent
If you use freshly ground coffee beans with the same ratio of ground coffee to water, the same water temperature, and you let them extract for the same amount of time, you’ll get roughly the same cup of coffee every time. This is a good thing, because you can decide whether you like that cup and modify things one at a time to dial in an even better cup. Too bitter? Don’t extract for quite as long. Too thin? Extract longer or add more ground coffee. You get the idea.
7. Try adding salt
I know it sounds odd, but salt is believed to counteract some of the bitterness in coffee by blocking the bitterness receptors on your tongue. Adding salt to an over-extracted, bitter cup of Folgers won’t have much of an effect, but some casual experiments have shown a pinch of salt can really perk up an already vibrant cup. If you enjoy coffee from Africa, this salt trick could work wonders.
Guest Writer Bio: Bryan writes for The Coffee Maven and is dedicated to creating compelling coffee-related content for coffee lovers of all experience levels.