Specialty Coffee Brewing is a critical aspect of making great coffee. It is extremely important to follow a few basic guidelines related to water quality, temperature, equipment and grinding. Below are some of our general coffee brewing principles that should help you get the most flavor from your specialty coffee product.
Excellent coffee requires excellent water—there’s no way around it. Do not use distilled water; instead use filtered water, spring water, or Artesian well water. Minerals are important for coffee flavor so reverse osmosis water, while filtered, will not yield optimum results. If you don’t have filtered water in your home, tap water will suffice, how- ever if there is any “taste” to your tap water, you can expect that “taste” to carry over to your coffee brewing as well.
Coffee tastes best when brewed between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Most drip coffee makers don’t quite hit this temperature, which is a good thing, because there are not many things in this world worse than burnt coffee. You can achieve this optimal coffee brewing range on your stove by bringing water to a boil and then letting it rest for a minute or two. Obviously this works best when brewing your coffee in a quality French press. Do not use boiling water however, as it will cook the nuances out of the beans. Specialty coffee flavors actually become more complex as your coffee cools a bit so don’t be in a rush to down your cup before the flavors mature.
For best results, we recommend a burr grinder because it produces a much more consistent grind (though a blade grinder is still preferable to pre-ground coffee). As a general rule, coffee should be ground more finely for quick extractions like espresso, medium for the auto-drip method and coarser for slower extractions like the French press. Measure your coffee before putting it into the grinder, and only grind as much as you need per brew. Once the coffee is ground, its flavor will immediately begin to deteriorate, so keep your coffee in whole bean form as long as you can. And once you grind, start brewing and drinking as soon as you can.
A general rule of thumb is 2 rounded tablespoons, or 8 to 10 grams, per 6 ounces of water. If you like a weaker or stronger cup, adjust the amount of coffee you use, not the grind of your coffee. A grind that is too fine under a long extraction period will taste bitter and over-extracted, while a grind that is too coarse will taste weak and diluted. Remember that the full expression of the coffee will become most evident as the coffee reaches lukewarm temps. So drink slowly, and appreciate your brew as it cools off. If it is too strong or too weak, this is when you will taste it most.
Coffee should be stored in a dark, cool, dry place (like a kitchen cupboard). Our coffee bags are ideal storage vessels, so feel free to use them throughout the season. Just make sure to fold them over once or twice and clip them with a bag clip, butterfly clip or even a heavy duty paper clip to help keep them airtight. The only time storing coffee in a freezer is appropriate is when you have more than a few weeks’ supply. If you do use the freezer make sure to put the coffee in an airtight container.
By following these few simple suggestions you will see your coffee experience improve dramatically over those who simply treat coffee as a tool rather than the savory experience it is meant to be.