Author: Julie Terebkov
Welcome back coffee tribe! This week we are going to go over helpful little tips and tricks to make your coffee taste amazing at home. So, whether you’re a coffee fiend and have been drinking it since birth or you’re new to the game and don’t even know what a coffee filter is, we’ve got you covered. Today we will be covering all the weird coffee you make at home… You know what I’m talking about. That gross watered down mess we all made at least once in our life. I’m not perfect, sometimes my coffee comes out like dirty tire water (If you haven’t already noticed… I’m dramatic).
Okay so, let’s break down a few places we can start from. We critique coffee from a few different categories, which I explain in depth in the post about brewing methods but, we’ll do a quick refresher. The categories are aroma, acidity, body, flavor, and aftertaste. Now, all of these categories can come off as “bad” or weird if the coffee itself is low quality, has roasting mistakes, or is old. The place that coffee normally goes wrong, or needs help in is usually with our brewing. So, if you’re buying good quality coffees from specialty roasters, you have a great base to start from. Also, the number one thing I find affects my coffee is how old it is. You really begin to notice a coffee’s flavor to go downhill a few weeks after being roasted and goes significantly downhill the longer you wait between grinding coffee and brewing it. I’ve had coffee’s that are fine after a month of sitting in a cabinet so, don’t throw your coffee away just yet.
I just mentioned that coffee looses its ‘oomph’ after a few weeks. The flavors begin to dull out, the complexities are harder to taste, and it just begins to taste stale. There is hope, don’t fret! I always recommend, if possible to buy smaller amounts of coffee more frequently to ensure you’re going to get bomb coffee every time. If that’s simply not possible, there’s a few other things you can do, and I will also debunk some myths that float around the coffee(sphere).
Myth 1: Putting coffee into a freezer will keep it fresh.
In the words of Dwight Schrute, “FALSE.” Please, for the love of everything good - do not ever do this. The idea makes sense with food, when properly sealed but, coffee does not need to be at that temperature. Also, the downfall of placing coffee anywhere that has aromas - which your freezer has no matter how much you deny it - is that your coffee will absorb those aromas. I don’t know about you but, I don’t want my coffee to absorb the smell of the weird nonsense I keep in the freezer.
When storing coffee, you want to keep it in an aroma free environment (preferably, sealed or in an air tight container). That way nothing changes the flavor of your coffee because, trust me that stuff comes through.
For making coffee at home, the one thing that I recommend splurging on is a grinder. Getting a reliable, sturdy, and consistent grinder will truly make the biggest difference at your house. The reason is that with a consistent grind, your coffee particles are all going to extract evenly, leaving you with little to no over/under extraction.
Look for conical burr grinders. Personally I have a Baratza Encore which, I’ve had for over 4 years and that thing still works like day one! It’s magical and sturdy. Most of the baristas that work at Fourscore Coffee also own this grinder. Which is why we decided to carry it in our store so, you can find them in our shop.
As far as the actual grinding goes, definitely wait until you are ready to brew to grind your coffee. Try to avoid grinding your coffee in advance and you’ll find better results with freshly ground coffee.
When it comes to brewing coffee, you’ll know something went wrong with a few different things. First, if your coffee brewed too quickly or took too long, you’ll know it’ll have a different flavor to it. Under extracted coffees (brewed too quickly) tend to taste sour, light bodied, and lose their complexity. Over extracted coffees (brewed for too long), will taste almost syrup-like, taking on a more astringent and heavier body. Try changing the grind first before anything. If your coffee was over extracted, coarsen up your grind setting (bigger particles). If you’re getting under extracted coffee, try changing your settings to a finer setting (smaller particles). Another thing to keep in mind is your water. Much of the tap water in the US has minerals and things that will affect the flavor and brewing of coffee. Try using filtered water that has a neutral pH level and minimal particles per million (ppm). I use tap water and run it through a Brita filter at my home before heating it and I find that works well.
Alright coffee tribe, you are ready to begin brewing coffee. When you get stuck, try tasting your coffee and see what is going on with it. We can see problems in the flavors, aromas, and even just in the brewing time.
Stay classy coffee tribe.