The best coffee is grown at high altitudes. Most coffee is consumed in the lower regions where coffee drinkers vary widely in their commitment to making their daily brew. Some of us are super-serious about using the right coffee makers, grinders, and the finest beans available. On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who just want a quick morning caffeine fix. And coffee preparation methods provide an answer for each of those groups and everyone in between. Our customers have told us that they appreciate the quality of our specialty coffees and tend to lean towards taking care to get the most from every cup. Wherever you are, here's a place to start considering how to elevate your coffee enjoyment.
To begin: The Grind Matters:
Once you've purchased a bag or two of quality specialty coffee beans, your journey for the perfect cup moves to the grind. According to coffee experts, like our friend Leo Fante of Fantes Coffee in Louisville, KY, achieving uniformity in grind size is crucial for optimal extraction. Cheap blade grinders, which chop the beans rather than grind them, produce unevenly sized grounds, leading to under-extracted sour notes or over-extracted bitter notes in your coffee. Investing in a quality burr grinder is key, we like the affordable Baratza Encore burr grinder.
Grind Fresh, Brew Fresh:
Here's another must do experts unanimously agree on: grind your coffee just before brewing. The aromatics that make coffee smell and taste so good begin to fade within 30 to 45 minutes after grinding. You can't over emphasize the importance of freshness. Some argue that pre-ground beans have a week to a week and a half before losing flavor, however we advocate for grinding right before brewing for the ultimate coffee experience.
Expert Insights on Grinding:
While we're emphasizing the significance of grinding your beans at home, you might be asking how to discern the differences in grind sizes. For those unsure, purchasing beans from a coffee shop and having them grind them can be a good starting point. Grinder manufacturers like Baratza mentioned earlier provide a starting point for you in the instructions with their grinders. And the Encore has 40 adjustable grind settings to find just the right grind for whatever brewing preparation you use, from very fine for Espresso to coarse for French Press.
Understanding the coffee-to-water ratio is crucial for achieving a balanced and flavorful cup. A good starting point is use 1to 2 tablespoons to 6 oz. of water. Use a real measuring tablespoon leveled off to be consistent in your measurement. Experimentation is key to finding the right balance based on taste preference. If you want to go all in, a quality coffee scale can help you precisely dial in the numbers. And filtered or bottled spring water is best - never use distilled water.
Fool-Proof Coffee Makers:
For now, I'll focus on drip coffee makers because it remains the most popular brewing method. For those intimidated by the plethora of coffee-making options, many great choices under $150 are out there. Breville, Bonavita and Ninja offer models that heat the water to the correct temperature for extraction (195-205 degrees Fahrenheit) and slowly shower the grounds to ensure the water is applied evenly for the best extraction. All of these coffee makers have automatic machines certified by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) the standard of the specialty coffee industry.
In the quest for the perfect cup of coffee at home, focus on the grind emerges as a top priority among coffee experts. Investing in a quality burr grinder, grinding fresh, and understanding the coffee-to-water ratio are key elements. However, the journey is personal, and preferences vary. Whether you embrace high-tech brewing or stick to a trusty auto-drip machine, the ultimate goal is to enjoy the coffee that suits your taste buds. So, embark on your coffee-making adventure, experiment, and savor the rich flavors of a perfectly brewed cup.
If you have any questions, drop us a line and we'll be happy to respond.