Find answers to your questions that will help you brew a better cup of coffee.
1. Buy fresh coffee beans. Without question, coffee is best when used within days of being roasted. Buying from a local roaster (or roasting your own) is the surest way to get the absolute freshest beans. In reality, coffee will become stale in any environment in a relatively short time period, so the best method of keeping coffee fresh is to use it and buy more fresh roasted coffee. Buy only the quantity you think you'll use in 7-10 days.
Always store opened coffee beans in an airtight container. Glass canning jars or ceramic storage crocks with rubber-gasket seals are good choices. Never refrigerate; roasted beans are porous and readily absorb moisture and food odors. Flavor experts strongly advise against ever freezing coffee, especially dark roasts.
Snobbism among coffee drinkers can rival that of wine drinkers but the fact is that an astonishing world of coffee tastes awaits anyone willing to venture beyond mass-marketed commercial brands. Specialty coffees that clearly state the country, region or state of origin can provide a lifetime of tasting experiences. By all means, look for 100% pure Arabica beans. The cheap alternatives may contain Robusta beans, noted for their higher caffeine content but harsh flavors. “Nasty” is a term commonly linked to Robusta coffees by Arabica devotees.
Grind your own. Coffee starts losing quality almost immediately upon grinding. The best-tasting brews are made from beans ground just before brewing. Scoop for scoop, finer grinds yield more flavor.
Use good water. Nothing can ruin a pot of coffee more surely than tap water with chlorine or off flavors. Serious coffee lovers use bottled spring water or activated-charcoal/carbon filters on their taps. Note: Softened or distilled water makes terrible coffee—-the minerals in good water are essential.
Avoid cheap filters. According to the experts, bargain-priced paper coffee filters yield inferior coffee. Look for “oxygen-bleached” or “dioxin-free” paper filters.
Don’t skimp on the coffee. The standard measure for brewing coffee of proper strength is 2 level tablespoons per 6-ounce cup or about 2 3/4 tablespoons per 8-ounce cup. Tricks like using less coffee and hotter water to extract more cups per pound tend to make for bitter brews.
Keep your equipment clean. Clean storage containers and grinders every few weeks to remove any oily buildup. At least monthly, run a strong solution of vinegar or specialty coffee-equipment cleaner (e.g., Urnex) through your coffeemaker to dissolve away any mineral deposits.
Pour equal parts vinegar and water into the machine’s water chamber, then switch on the brew cycle. Halfway through, turn off the coffeemaker and let the solution sit for about an hour. Turn it on again to complete the cycle, then run several cycles with clean water. Rinse thoroughly before reuse.
The first and most important point to grinding is to grind your coffee right before you brew it. Once the bean is broken, the oils and gases dissipate very quickly. Put in enough coffee to cover the blades - any more than that will create a very uneven grind with powder at the bottom and chunks at the top. Start grinding by pulsing the grinder 5 or 6 times, then hold the button down for 5 or 6 seconds. Stop to see how the coffee looks. The proper grind for a drip machine should be about like sand. If you use a French Press, you will want to use a slightly coarser grind.