6 Tips on Making the Perfect Cup of Coffee
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Every day, 280 million cups of joe are enjoyed or not enjoyed by Americans. The difference between a memorable pleasure and something that tastes like hot dishwater is determined by how the cup of coffee is made. According to experts, about one third of all these millions of cups is brewed the wrong way. Fortunately, it’s not hard to make that perfect cup of coffee and can even save the coffee connoiseur some money. Here are some easy coffee tips:
1. First Thing’s First: The Coffee Beans
Though it may be a bit of a pain to grind whole beans every single morning, it’s worth it to make that perfect cup of coffee. When a coffee bean is ground, its aromatic oils are released into the air and lose much of their potency. Unlike wine, coffee beans don’t improve with age. They need to be stored in a place that’s cool, dark, dry and airtight.
Indeed, one of the best places to store coffee beans is in a vacuum sealed bag. Once that bag is opened and air enters, the beans start to diminish and need to be used within two weeks. Avoid buying those tempting beans from the burlap sacks or bins displayed in some stores. Days of exposure to air and the very light in the store ruins the beans.
Storing the beans in the fridge or freezer is a bit controversial. Some people can’t imagine doing anything else to keep their beans fresh, but they must be protected from humidity and the odors of other foodstuffs.
2. Get the Best Quality Grinder
The connoisseur should also invest in the best quality coffee grinder that they can afford. The best ones are burr grinders that allow the grounds to come out more even in size. This leads to a better cup of coffee. A burr grinder has two abrasive plates, or burrs that grind the coffee beans between them. They can be flat or conical.
Some people recommend that the beans be ground to the consistency of kosher salt, though some people like their grounds a bit bigger.
3. The Right Grind to Water Ratio
The ratio of water to coffee grounds is the difference between coffee that is much too strong and bitter and the aforementioned dishwater. A good ratio would be about 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds to 6 ounces of fresh water.
4. Use Clean Water
The water, first of all, needs to be fresh and as free of contaminants as possible. Use spring water or filtered water. Heat the water to between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. It should not boil, for very hot water makes coffee bitter. There are differences of opinion as to how long to let the grounds steep, though the standard time is about three minutes.
5. Get Better Coffee Filters
People may be surprised to learn that cheap filters lead to bad coffee. Ideally, the filter paper should be oxygen bleached or even gold-plated.
6. The Process
In a pour over system, add the grounds to the filter, then splash a bit of the hot water on them. Wait half a minute then pour over the rest of the water. Pour the water in slowly and evenly until the grounds are completely saturated. One tip is to start in the middle of the grounds and move outward. Stop pouring just before the coffee starts to drip. This lets the coffee de-gas. Then, pour the rest of the water, making sure that the dripper is at least half full. This should take about three minutes. Remove the filter and serve.
Using a French press to make coffee is a bit different. In this procedure, add water to the grounds, stir and allow to brew for about 4 minutes. Then, lower the plunger to separate the grounds from the coffee. Be careful to decant the coffee if it’s not going to be enjoyed right away.
In a drip machine, add a filter to the filter basket, pour in the grounds, put it in the drip machine, and place the water spout right over the middle of the grounds. Pour water into the back of the machine, turn it on then turn it off when the coffee is finished bubbling. To leave it on any longer will make the coffee bitter.