If you're as serious about coffee drinking as we are it's important to know how to make an amazing cup any time you want, or let's be honest, need one. That's why we've put together the definitive guide for brewing the perfect cup at home...
1. Find the Right Roast
There's nothing quite like your first sip of coffee early in the morning which is why it's so important to start your day with a coffee you love. Like everything, personal preference will always come into play and one persons favorite roast or brand isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea... or coffee. With hundreds of different brands and flavor profiles to choose from it's hard to know where to begin but here are the things to watch for when making your selection:
- Fresh is best - You can always rely on a freshly roasted coffee to produce the best results and optimal flavour extraction.
- Shop Local - Shopping local will almost always guarantee you a fresher roast and higher quality coffee.
- Roast Level - Roast level will have a huge impact on the taste of a coffee so make sure you choose a coffee that's roasted to a level you like. Typically light roast coffees with have more floral and citrusy overtones whereas dark roasts will be more chocolatey and fudgy. If you're not sure what you like try starting with a medium roast and go from there.
2. GRIND SIZE
The grind of your coffee, known as the coarseness, will affect the amount of surface area present when you mix your beans with water. A fine grind will have lots of surface area, and therefore make a strong coffee, while a coarser grind will do the opposite. It's important to figure out the perfect balance, because while you may think stronger is better, stronger will also introduce a stronger influence of everything, including the bad flavours, like bitterness or acidity.
It's important to note that flavour extraction will also change drastically based on the brewing style you choose. Use the chart below as a guide when grinding based on your preferred brewing method:
3. DOSAGE & WATER-TO-COFFEE RATIO
You may be thinking, duhhh of course the dosage of coffee matters - "how much coffee should I use was my first question!". Well did you know that even with the other factors being held constant, you'll may still need to change the water-to-coffee ratio every time you change beans?
A general guideline would be:
- Mild - 1 tbsp for every 6oz of water
- Medium - 1.5 tbsp for every 6oz of water
- Bold - 2 tbsp for every 6oz water
If your not sure what you like, a standard go-to ratio is 6oz of water to 1.5 tablespoons of ground coffee. Take it from there and adjust to your preference based on taste!
Believe it or not, the temperature of your water will have a big impact on the rate of extraction. Hotter water will speed up the extraction of everything in your coffee, and in result will affect the end flavor. When the water is too hot, it tends to over extract the grounds leaving a bitter taste and when water is too cold it's difficult to extract the flavors from the coffee causing the coffee to taste sour.
Ideal temperature can be anywhere between between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Try brewing your coffee at different temperatures until you find your sweet spot!
Hint: if you're using boiling water, let the water steam off for a minute or two to cool slightly and avoid over extracting your coffee!
5. EXTRACTION TIME
Extraction time is the final piece to figure out in your effort to create the perfect cup. The longer you leave the water in contact with coffee, the more flavours it will naturally extract. The art is in finding that perfect amount of time where just the right flavours have been extracted (not too few of the good sweet flavours, and not too many of the bitter, acidic ones).
For an espresso shot, the ideal range is between 20 - 30 seconds. For a french press, the ideal range is between 4.0 - 4.5 minutes. An under extracted coffee will generally taste weak and watery, whereas over extraction will result in tones of bitterness.
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