Coffee is among the most popular drinks in the world. Countless cups of this dark, alluring beverage are brewed daily. As a coffee lover out there, you are lucky now that many research findings suggest that coffee is a good drink for your health, especially when drinking it moderately. Moderate coffee consumption has been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes, liver disease, certain cancers, and cardiovascular disease.
As coffee lovers continue sipping their quick morning fix happily, they should know that not all cups of coffee are equal. Brewed coffee often varies widely in its chemical and flavor makeup. Most notably, the chemical compounds linked to its health benefits may vary from one cup of coffee to the other.
There is a lot that happens before you get coffee into your cup. A lot can affect the quality and taste of the drink including the roast, bean selection, water, grind, and brew method among other factors. Although there is little data on the impact of drinking different types of coffee, research shows that both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee offers similar benefits.
But what makes coffee good? How comes one cup may be tasty and the next one tastes horrible? Here is what you need to know about getting good coffee.
1. Freshness of the Beans
Coffee tastes best if you are brewing it with freshly roasted beans. You can be assured of getting the freshest beans by buying them yourself from a local roaster. Avoid buying bulk coffee beans from supermarket displays as they may have overstayed. If there is no roaster nearby, get them from a local grocery store, but make sure the date on the packaging is closest to the roasting date.
If coffee beans overstay after roasting, their flavor and quality will degrade, especially due to exposure to bright light and oxygen. If you must buy them from a grocery store or supermarket, ensure they are packed in vacuum-sealed bags as they preserve the beans better.
2. Choose Top Quality Beans within Your Budget
Serious coffee drinkers have snobbism that rivals that of serious wine drinkers. If you want good coffee, venture beyond the mass-marketed coffee brands. Instead, go for specialty coffees. Specialty coffees that state their origin offer the best coffee-tasting experience. Although they are more expensive than regular coffee beans, you will get the best coffee by brewing with specialty coffees.
When buying coffee beans, you will come across several varieties, with Robusta and Arabica being the most common ones. Robusta beans are more affordable than Arabica beans but have harsher flavors and higher caffeine content.
Arabica beans, on the other hand, have lower caffeine content but taste better. Although Arabica beans are more expensive, they brew better coffee. If you can afford Arabica beans, then go for them to enjoy good coffee. However, if your budget does not allow it, go for the best Robusta beans on the market.
3. Store Your Coffee Beans Properly
When you open the packaging that comes with coffee beans, you must transfer them into an airtight container for proper storage. Ceramic storage crocks that feature rubber-gasket seals or glass canning jars are good storage containers. Keep the beans in the cupboard or shelf, away from heat and direct sunlight. Preferably, store the container containing coffee beans in a dark corner.
Also, do not refrigerate roasted beans. They are porous and can absorb food odors and moisture in the refrigerator, thereby giving your coffee foreign tastes and smells. Also, coffee aficionados do not recommend freezing coffee beans, especially dark roasts. Preferably, only buy coffee beans in smaller amounts, say up to a 7-day supply to ensure you always brew with fresh beans.
4. Grind Your Own Coffee Beans
Coffee starts losing its quality faster as soon as it is ground. What makes coffee good is by brewing with freshly ground beans. Rather than using instant coffee powder or pre-ground coffee, grind coffee beans just before brewing. Only grind the amount you will use for the day.
Preferably, use a burr grinder instead of a blade grinder when grinding coffee beans. Although burr grinders are more expensive than blade grinders, they produce more consistent and even grounds. Thus, you will have a balanced cup of coffee.
5. Do Not Use Cheap Coffee Filters
The kind of coffee filters you use when brewing largely determines the taste of the final brew. Cheap paper filters often yield bad-tasting coffee. They introduce foreign tastes to the coffee. Preferably, use dioxin-free or oxygen-bleached paper filters. You can also use gold-plated filters if you can afford them as they deliver maximum flavor. However, gold-plated coffee filters are not ideal for use with grounds that are too fine as they may allow sediment through them. They are ideal for less fine, medium, and coarse grounds.
6. Use the Recommended Coffee to Water Ratio
The standard ratio for brewing is 2 tablespoons of ground coffee per 6-ounce cup. Tricks such as using hotter water and less coffee to extract more coffee per brewing cycle will only give you bitter coffee. Using the right coffee-to-water ratio for a balanced brew such that it is neither strong nor weak. Also, using the recommended ratio allows for balanced extraction such that your brew is neither sour nor bitter.
7. Use High-Quality Water
Another factor that some people ignore when brewing coffee is the water quality. Remember that water accounts for a large portion of your cup of coffee. Thus, the kind of water you use will largely determine your final brew.
Nothing can ruin your coffee more than tap water containing off-flavors and chlorine. A serious coffee lover should brew with bottled spring water. Alternatively, use carbon or activated charcoal filters on your tap to filter out excessive minerals, especially if your water supply is hard.
Distilled or softened water is not ideal for coffee building. Although a small amount of minerals assists in bringing out coffee flavor, a lot of minerals (such as magnesium and calcium) will give you a dull, lifeless cup of coffee.
8. Take Note of the Heat
The water temperature also plays a key role in what makes coffee good. If the water is too hot, there will be excessive extraction, hence a bitter brew. If too cold, there will be under extraction, hence a sour brew. It is recommended to brew at a temperature of between 195 to 205 degrees or just a few seconds off a complete boil. Most top-quality coffee makers regulate the water temperature automatically. Also, avoid reheating coffee.
Getting a tasty cup of coffee requires getting several factors that come into play right. Failure to get the aforementioned factors right will give you a poor-tasting cup of coffee. Remember to keep your brewing equipment clean to ensure you make pure brews all the time.