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Four Steps to Great Coffee

A definitive guide that will make a big difference in the quality of your daily coffee. Just follow the simple steps and find out for yourself.

THE BEANS:


Great coffee starts with great beans. The quality and flavor of your coffee is not only determined by your favorite brewing process, but also by the type of coffee you select. There can be a world of difference between roasts, so check out our roasting types guide. Some of the flavor factors include: The country and region of origin The variety of bean - arabica, robusta - or a blend The roast type The texture of your grind While there are a lot of choices, remember that there’s no right or wrong — for instance, you can choose a dark, flavorful espresso roast coffee and still have it ground to be brewed in a drip system. Have fun trying and enjoying different combination.


THE GRIND:


If you buy whole bean coffee, always grind your beans as close to the brew time as possible for maximum freshness. A burr or mill grinder is best because the coffee is ground to a consistent size. A blade grinder is less preferable because some coffee will be ground more finely than the rest. If you normally grind your coffee at home with a blade grinder, try having it ground at the store with a burr grinder - you’ll be surprised at the difference! The size of the grind is hugely important to the taste of your coffee. If your coffee tastes bitter, it may be over-extracted, or ground too fine. On the other hand, if your coffee tastes flat, it may be under-extracted, meaning your grind is too course. If you're having the coffee ground to order, tell the professionals where you purchase your coffee exactly how you will be brewing it. Will you be using a French Press? A flat or cone drip filter? A gold mesh filter? They will grind it specifically for your preparation method.


THE WATER:


The water you use is very important to the quality of your coffee. Use filtered or bottled water if your tap water is not good or has a strong odor or taste, such as chlorine. If you’re using tap water, let it run a few seconds before filling your coffee pot, and be sure to use cold water. Avoid distilled or softened water. Coffee-to-Water Ratio A general guideline is called the "Golden Ratio" - one to three tablespoons of ground coffee for every six ounces of water. This can be adjusted to suit individual taste preferences. Check the cup lines or indicators on your specific brewer to see how they actually measure. And remember that some water is lost to evaporation in certain brewing methods. Water Temperature Your brewer should maintain a water temperature between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal extraction. Colder water will result in flat, under-extracted coffee, while water that is too hot will also cause a loss of quality in the taste of the coffee. (However, cold brew does not need any heat.) If you are brewing the coffee manually, let the water come to a full boil, but do not over boil. Turn off the heat source and allow the water to rest a minute before pouring it over the grounds. Coffee usually cools rapidly after being served, depending upon the container from which it is being served. Many coffee drinkers may add cream or milk which also has a cooling effect. Ultimately, the temperature at which any individual coffee drinker will prefer their coffee is a personal preference, like so many other things that make coffee special. These are some of the reasons why it is best to serve coffee right after brewing, when it is fresh and hot.


BREW TIME:


The amount of time that the water is in contact with the coffee grounds is another important flavor factor. In a drip system, the contact time should be approximately 5 minutes. If you are making your coffee using a French Press, the contact time should be 2-4 minutes. Espresso has an especially brief brew time — the coffee is in contact with the water for only 20-30 seconds. Cold brew, on the other hand, should steep overnight (about 12 hours). If you’re not happy with the taste of the final product, you're likely either: Over-extracting - the brew time is too long Under-extracting - the brew time is too short Experiment with the contact time until you get the right balance for your taste. Try to enjoy your coffee as thoughtfully as it was prepared - take in the aroma, and notice the flavors in each sip. Many people have been instrumental in bringing it to your cup.

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