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For many people, there is nothing like a nice cup of coffee to get you set up for the day ahead. But relying on your local barista to make it for you on a daily basis can quickly get rather expensive. And, in fact, the coffee you make yourself at home can often end up being better quality than your average Starbucks drink.
So, if you are looking with a helping hand in making that perfect cup of joe yourself, you have come to the right place. Do the simple things right and this will all contribute towards you making the great-tasting coffee that you have always wanted to. So, without further ado, here are the top ten rules to follow. Over time, you will undoubtedly refine your skills to the point that you could never go back to a bad cup of coffee again!
Buy Fresh Beans
The quality of the coffee in your mug is very much dictated by the type of beans that you choose. So, you need to take the time and effort to always buy fresh beans. And there is no doubt that they taste at their best within a few days of being roasted. There are two ways that you can ensure that freshest of coffee beans. The first is buying from a local roaster. The second is to go down the more complicated path of roasting your own. For most people, the first option is the more sensible and realistic option, but everything depends on how committed you are to your coffee-making exploits.
Avoid buying bulk coffee from supermarket displays. Two of the main factors which can negatively affect the taste of the beans are oxygen and bright light, which supermarkets storage conditions tend to have in abundance. There are plenty of independent and branded coffee shops which offer beans from high-quality roasters, which are then stored in bags which are sturdy and vacuum-sealed to protect the flavor.
Keep The Beans in Good Condition
Once you have gone through the effort of finding fresh beans, you will want to take steps to keep them this way for as long as possible. Opened coffee beans should be stored in an airtight container – glass canning jars or ceramic storage tubs are your best choices. Avoid refrigerating your coffee beans as this can result in them absorbing moisture and other food odors from your fridge. Many experts also agree that you should not freeze your coffee beans as this will also severely impair the taste. So, if you want to make the best cup of coffee every time, you need to get into a habit of buying a continual supply of fresh beans on a regular basis.
Choose the Right Coffee
Just like the wine community, there is certainly a sense of selectiveness amongst coffee drinkers these days when it comes to the product which is passing their lips. Go beyond the mass-produced commercial brands and you will start to see what a diverse world of tastes and flavors is out there waiting for you. Check out the country, region or estate of origin to determine what you are getting. Essentially, you should try out a few different options until you settle on the variety or varieties that suit your palette. The two main types of bean on the market are Arabica and Robusta – and it is generally agreed that the former is the one to go for flavor, while the latter has a higher caffeine content but a more bitter taste.
Grind Your Own
Freshly ground coffee is always going to be the better-tasting option as it immediately starts losing quality from the moment it is ground. If you are a coffee connoisseur and you have the funds to spend, investing in a burr mill may be the better option for you. However, there are plenty of affordable grinders in the marketplace as well. Essentially, the finer you are able to grind the coffee, the more flavorsome tends to be. So, if you are not already in the habit of grinding your own coffee, now is the time to change your ways!
Use Good Water
After you have taken the time to select the coffee beans that are just right for you, the last thing that you want to do is let all this hard work go to waste with some low-quality water. If your tap water has chlorine or off-flavors which are going to spoil the taste of your coffee, it may be worth using bottled spring water or a water purifier to get the flavor you are looking for. When you have been drinking coffee for a while, you will be able to tell pretty quickly when the water being used is simply not up to scratch!
Avoid Using Cheap Filters
The next part of the coffee-making process is the filtration, and if you use cheaper filters, you tend to get a lower-quality cup of coffee. So, when you are looking for paper filters, look out for ones which are labeled ‘oxygen-bleached’ or ‘dioxin-free’. If you are searching for something which is going to stand the test of time, you could go for a gold-plated filter which is designed to provide a high-quality flavor. The only thing that you need to watch out for is the sediment passing through if the coffee is ground too finely.
Make Sure to Use Enough Coffee
When you are brewing your coffee, don’t skimp on the amount you put in as you are not going to end up with the kind of flavor that you are looking for. As a general rule of thumb, you should go for 2 level tablespoons for each 6-ounce cup of coffee or around 2 3/4 tablespoons for every 8-ounce mug. The result of not using enough coffee tends to be a bitter brew which is not to everyone’s tastes.
Be Careful Not to Make the Coffee Too Hot
When it comes to making the perfect cup of coffee, everything needs to be considered closely – and this includes the temperature of the water. If you use water which is too hot, you can end up with flavors which are bitter rather than appealing. As a guideline, you should be looking to heat your water to a temperature of 200°F. To put it another way, this is roughly 45 seconds off the water boiling. If you have one of the best coffee makers, they should regulate the temperature for you so you don’t have to worry about it. Once the coffee has been brewed, it won’t hold its best flavors for an extended period of time. Avoid boiling or reheating your coffee as this is much more likely to leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth.
Master the ‘Barista-Style’ Pour-Over
As you heat up your kettle, place a dripper with a paper filter over your mug. Before using the filter, it is worth rinsing it off to remove any paper dust, as well as serving to preheat the cone. Now, put the coffee grounds into the filter which should be slightly damp at this stage. After the water has boiled, you will want to wait around 10 seconds for it to settle. Slowly pour over just enough hot water (in a circular motion) to saturate all the grounds. After the water has boiled, you will need to give it around 10 seconds for it to settle properly. Wait around 30 seconds for the coffee to properly ‘bloom’. Continue to repeat this process until the water has fully trickled through the dripper. Eventually, you will have just enough coffee that you want to drink. Nobody said that making the perfect cup of coffee would be quick!
Keep Your Equipment Nice and Clean
You should make a special effort to maintain your coffee-making equipment well, cleaning storage containers and grinders on a regular basis to remove any oily buildup. On a monthly basis, get into a habit of running a strong solution of vinegar or some specifically-designed coffee-equipment cleaner through your system to dissolve any mineral deposits which have built up over time. Make sure that you rinse it thoroughly before use or you could end up with some very bitter-tasting coffee!
Making the perfect cup of coffee starts from the moment you are in the shop looking at coffee beans. Once you have some beans which you are happy with, you need to make a special effort to keep them in good condition. You also need to carefully consider the other aspects of a great cup of coffee including the water, filters, machinery etc. Make sure that you use enough coffee and don’t make the mistake of brewing a drink which is too hot. Take your time and follow the advice offered in the barista-style pour-over section. Finally, ensure that your equipment is always kept nice and clean so that it continues to operate at the highest level possible.