#1) BUY BETTER COFFEE
Duh, right? More often then not, most people I run into that don't like coffee are only used to pre-ground supermarket coffee produced by large corporations like Folgers. There's actually 2 very different coffees available to consumers, commodity grade and specialty grade coffee. One of the biggest differences between the 2 grades in the species of coffee plant they come from. The commodity grade coffee is largely composed of a coffee species called Robusta which is a heartier plant but consequently lacks sweetness and balance in flavor. Specialty grade coffee, however, is composed of only Arabica coffee, which is a harder to grow more delicate plant but yields complex, bright, and sweet cups. Specialty grade coffee accounts for only 5-15% of the global production of coffee, so it's easy to understand how this is completely new to most people. Making a switch to seeking out Arabica coffee over Robusta will greatly change your coffee drinking experience. Here are some other general things to look for in buying better coffee: Medium roasted to preserve sweetness, freshly roasted within 2 weeks, sealed bag, produced by a local roasting company, choose wholebean over ground - see why below. I might know where you can find some better coffee, wink wink!
It seems almost everyone who makes coffee it home does so with a coffee pot, otherwise know as an automatic drip machine. We'll make some suggestions below to improve your brew, and we have a few suggestions for manual brew methods coming up as well towards the end of this post. Looking for a new drip machine? My favorite is the Bonavita BV1900TS 8-Cup!
#2) GRIND YOUR COFFEE BEFORE BREWING
If you care about having better tasting coffee, one of the easiest and best things you can do to make HUGE improvement is to buy whole bean coffee and grind it fresh right before brewing. Coffee is a delicate and volatile ingredient, flavor compounds and aromatics can quickly dissipate when not protected by the intact structure of the bean. As soon as a coffee bean is ground up, oxidation starts to take place and you will be losing brightness and overall flavor complexity by the minute. Coffee is best enjoyed when fresh, grinding right before brewing can really add a new dimension to your morning cup! When purchasing a grinder, here are a few things to consider: look for a burr grinder which crushes the coffee into consistent size particles instead of blade grinders that cut and produce super fine powder and simultaneously produce chunks of beans, look for something easy to clean, consider portability. One of my favorite entry level automatic grinders is this the Capresso 560.01 Infinity Burr Grinder and if you want a little more bang for your buck, a hand grinder of the same quality can be a third of the price; one of my favorite entry level hand grinders is the Hario Skerton Ceramic Coffee Mill . Keep an eye out for a future post all about the best home grinders!
#3) USE FILTERED WATER
Your cup of coffee is 98% water! So, it goes without saying, better tasting water = better tasting coffee. City water is treated with chlorine and other additives which can taint your coffee flavor and most well water has a high mineral content which can also affect flavor and over time cause problems with your brewer (hard water calcification inside of brewer). Furthermore, there is actually an ideal mixture of mineral content and pH level to extract coffee best. The details on water and it's role in extraction is another post for another day, but just know using filtered water will help coffee taste better as it filters out off-flavors and may bring over mineralized waters into a more ideal coffee brewing range. Two solutions to consider, a simple water filter available in any form or purchase bottled water. My favorite simple filter system is the Brita 10 Cup Everyday BPA Free Water Pitcher and the best bottled brewing water I have found is the Jana European Artesian Water
Now for you Pour Over and French Press lovers, chances are you have already implemented some of the above practices, but may I suggest a few things that might be new to you that will help!
#4) USE A SCALE AND TIMER
Your coffee to water ratio is a huge factor in achieving proper extraction and unlocking the most potential of your coffee! Not only that, but having a scale will help achieve consistency as well as give you a new variable that you can now change when trying to get the most out of a new coffee. Volume measurements sometimes won't translate between different coffees due to bean density, ratios based on weight, specifically grams, are consistent and the easiest to manipulate and replicate. So get yourself a scale and see how you can best use it here! Another piece that can sometimes be built into scales is a timer. Timing your brews will again add consistency as well as help you determine if your grind is right. Certain pourover brewers yield the best cups when the total brew time is within a certain time frame, using a timer to see where you land can help you determine if you need to change your grind (too long of brew = too fine grind / too shot of brew = grind too coarse). If you're in the market for a scale and don't want to spend too much off the bat, check this out, Ozeri Pronto Digital Multifunction Scale. It's accurate to the gram and very dependable. If you want to go all out and have a scale accurate to the tenth of a gram and one that has a timer built in check this out, Acaia Coffee Digital Scale and Timer
#5) REVISIT #2 & 3
#2) So maybe you already grind your own coffee and use filtered water... maybe now it's time to upgrade - yes, it's time to LEVEL UP! Consider an even better grinder. As you start to delve deeper into unlocking coffee flavor, from this point forward a better grinder will make the most difference in your cup. You see, grinders produce a wide range of particle sizes when they grind, and the best grinders have what's called a tight grind particle distribution. This means there is less variant in grind size of particles which ultimately translates to more even extraction! When you have more even extraction you'll experience more cup clarity as well as now gain a greater ability to use consistent grind to manipulate extraction. If you didn't follow that, just know that a better grinder = even better coffee... you'll understand the above as you start to work with a better grinder. My favorite high end home electric grinder is the Baratza Vario 886 - Flat Ceramic Burr Coffee Grinder. As for hand grinders, the Lido Series from Orphan Espresso are top of the game - LIDO # Hand Coffee Grinder.
#3) Water, why do I keep talking about it? Well, when we talk about home brewing the topic of controlling variables comes up a lot! However, water seems to be one of the hardest things to have consistent control over mainly due to the effectiveness of water filters over time. Also, I'll be the first to admit, brewing with bottled water can get really expensive... so might I suggest a solution to have a completely consistent and fairly cheap brewing water solution, the Matt Perger water recipe. I encourage you to check out this water recipe and use the concentrate as a new variable you can manipulate. Some coffees might taste best with more mineral concentrate added and some might taste best with less... all to say using this method can help your coffee taste EVEN BETTER!
If you've found any of this helpful, let us know in the comments below and help spread the word by giving this post a share! Also, if you have a question about coffee do not hesitate to ask it below and we'll make a post about it soon!