I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but if your coffee brewing tastes like shit, it’s probably not the coffee roaster’s fault. Look in the mirror and ask yourself, did I have something to do with how horrible this coffee tastes? The answer is most likely yes. As long as the coffee you’re buying is from a reputable roaster, who cares about green coffee sourcing and roasting, you should be able to extract yummy flavors. So why aren’t you able to make your mouth pucker and salivate?
Here are a few of the most important coffee brewing techniques to consider. They might even shift you from the shitty coffee maker column to the awesome coffee maker column. Oh, you can also check out some coffee brewing guides here.
Eliminate Variables For Consistent Brewing
- Grinding your coffee. Don’t make the mistake of not having an excellent burr grinder. I know some grinders can be expensive, but they are one of the essential pieces of coffee brewing equipment. A good burr grinder will give you lots of choice for how coarse or fine you want your coffee, trust me, that matters. Why? Because how fine or coarse you grind will determine the extraction of your coffee. It’s the one thing we want to adust while leaving everything else static. A good burr grinder will also produce a consistent particle distribution from one day to the next. Also, a good burr grinder will grind without heating your coffee, eliminating the chance of burnt flavors when there shouldn’t be any in your cup. Avoid, 100% avoid using a spice whirly style blade grinder or your Magic Bullet. Leave that for dressing and cinnamon. To put a fine point on this one, get a burr grinder. Invest in something nice, and you’ll have a far better chance of brewing a good cup.
- Water temperature. It matters what temperature your water is and how your extraction will be affected by it. Low temp water, water below 195 f, will not extract fully and leave you with weak and possibly sour coffee. You won’t fully extract all the dissolvable solids you want for a sweet, full-flavored cup if you are doing a pour-over like a V60, boil your water, and then start pouring from there. It’s ok; you won’t’ burn the coffee. It’s already been roasted to over 400 degrees. Feel free to do the same brew, but with water under 200f, you’ll immediately see the difference. If you are using a homebrewer, then I suggest investing in one that is SCA certified. These home coffee brewers, like the Techonovorm, produce a consistent water temp throughout the brew cycle.
- Water quality. If you are taking unfiltered water from your tap, don’t be surprised it tastes weird. The quality of your water does impact the final flavor of your coffee. Besides having clean filtered water, it’s important to know if the mineral content will impede or aid in proper extraction. There are special mineral packets or formulas that you can use to make the “perfect” water for brewing coffee, one of which is from a company called Third Wave Water. With TWW, you take a gallon of distilled water and add one packet of their minerals. This water is now perfectly balanced for brewing. If you don’t want to go that far, you can always use a Britta filter. Unless your water is tasting bad, this should do a good job of getting you good enough water for brewing.
- The golden ratio of coffee to water. It’s not surprising that people get different flavored or strength of coffee from day-to-day. On the back of pretty much every coffee bag, the directions read something like this. Take two scoops for every 8 ounces. What the heck is a scoop? Even if you took what you thought was a scoop, that scoop might differ from day to day, from person to person and from coffee to coffee. A scoop is not a measurement. To get things right, you need to have a ratio of coffee to water based on grams. We use grams when brewing coffee professionally, yes that’s a thing. There is no other way to make sure that you are consistent, and there’s no other way to make sure that if you need to change something, you know how much you are changing. The golden ratio for coffee to water is approximately sixteen parts water to one part coffee. Some people like a seventeen to one, but regardless, weighting your coffee and your water is paramount. When you don’t have to weigh your water, you fill your brewer up to a line that is marked on the tank. As long as you can do that consistently, you’re all set with the water.
- Saturate your grinds as soon as possible. People love to see the coffee bubble when you pour hot water on fresh grinds. While that does tell you a lot about the coffee’s freshness, it’s not great to just leave it at that. What’s happening is you are not saturating all the grinds as soon as possible, and when you start to pour again, you are getting uneven extraction. Some of the coffee is extracting faster than others, which is not suitable for your brew’s consistency and quality. To alleviate under/over-extraction, make sure to take a spoon or stir stick and after your first pour (the bloom), mix up the coffee until it’s all saturated as quickly as possible. Use this technique even if you’re brewing in a standard home coffee maker. Keep the lid off till you’ve done this step, as you can see in our brew video.
With these five steps, you’ll be able to dial in your coffee and get a tasty extraction every time. While not doing these things can result in good coffee, you’ll only get great consistent coffee if you make these steps a part of your routine each time. Trust me; you should never have to drink subpar coffee, especially if you know how to avoid it. Take these pointers, try them at home, and pass them along to your friends and family. They will indeed thank you for it.
Path Coffee Roasters is located in Port Chester, NY, where we roast and package all our coffees weekly for our wholesale, retail, and dropshipping customers.
Please reach out to us if you have any questions. We’re here to help.