Coffee Brewing Tips: Refresher Course

August 06, 2010

Even the most dedicated coffee drinker can fall into a rut, get a little sloppy, or bored of the same routine.

Even the most dedicated coffee drinker can fall into a rut, get a little sloppy, or bored of the same routine. To perk up your coffee brewing and renew your affection for the finest, perfectly brewed cup, here's a "Refresher Course 101" to inspire. After all coffee contains compounds that increase antioxidant activity in the body, has been shown to possibly benefit type II diabetes, cardiovascular health, and a handful of other systems in the body - all of course when consumed in moderation:

Grind fresh. 
Sure, packaged ground coffee is convenient, but it's never as fresh, never as aromatic, never as tasty as grinding the beans yourself right before you brew. Get yourself a burr grinder (under thirty bucks) and grind your own. Your taste buds will thank you!

Grind the beans to match your coffeemaker. 
The purpose of grinding is to elicit as much of the flavor oils as possible; when in doubt, grind finer but not so powdery as to clog filters.

Choose the brewer you like best. 
Hey, you're the one drinking this coffee, make it like you want it, not how some alleged expert says it should be done. If it's French press that thrills your taste buds, use that. If it's the over-the-top gadget laden automatic coffeemaker, turn it on. If it's the beauty of a glass Chemex, pour it on, or the nostalgia of a stainless steel percolator, plug it in. You get the idea. A brewer that's a work of art and makes coffee well gives you an artful experience each and every time.

Buy quality! 
Buy quality coffee, buy a quality grinder, buy quality paper filters (if you use them), or opt for a quality Swiss Gold filter. Your coffee can only be as good as the ingredients used to make it. If available, look for USDA certified organic beans, this way you are sure your cup of joe is free from harmful herbicide or pesticide residue. Buying Fair Trade and/or Rainforest Alliance certified beans is also a great option- these certifications ensure farmers are paid fairly and treated well.

Measure. Measure. Measure. Use two level tablespoons for a six ounce cup. 
Remember, coffee is mostly water, so use the best you can afford. Spring water is best, filtered is a good alternative. Forget about distilled or overly soft water. Coffee needs the naturally occurring minerals to bring out its complexity of flavors and give you the best in taste and aroma.

Don't scorch the beans. 
Heat the water only to under-boiling, 195-205°F. If the pot boils, let it cool a few minutes, then pour the water onto the beans.

Choose a cup or mug that feels good in the hand and is made of porcelain or glass to keep the coffee hot. You should enjoy looking at the cup as much as you enjoy what's in it, which brings us to the final, ultimate tip:

Take enough time to just sip, savor, and enjoy. Like the saying goes, "You're worth it."

For a great summer coffee treat try the Quick Espresso Granita