How To Brew a Great Cup of Coffee
The Equipment – Whether you brew with an automatic coffee brewer, a French Press or a manual brewer such as a Hario, Melitta, or Chemex, your brewing equipment should always be absolutely clean and free of coffee oils that can cause bitterness in your cup.
The Coffee – Purchase the freshest coffee you can find, preferably locally roasted. You want only the highest quality Arabica coffee. And only purchase as much as you will use in 1 – 2 weeks.
The Grind – Grind your coffee beans just before brewing with a burr grinder. Burr grinders yield grounds of uniform size for an even extraction. Coffee ground with a blade coffee may be too fine and of inconsistent size, sometimes resulting in a bitter, over extracted cup. Coffee ground too coarse will be flat and under extracted. Ask the coffee professional where you purchase your coffee to advise you on the proper grind to suit your method of brewing.
The Water – Your coffee will only be as good as the water you use. Filtered or spring water is best. Never use distiller or softened water.
Water Temperature – For proper extraction, the water should be 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit when it contacts the grounds. Some home, non-commercial brewers may not heat water to this temperature. If you are brewing manually, pour over method, bring the water to a boil then let it rest for 30 seconds before you begin brewing.
Coffee to Water Ratio – For a home or commercial brewer, use 3.75 oz by weight for 64 oz of water. If you are using the pour over method use 28 grams (approx 5 TBS) for 16 oz of water. Brewing less or more? Do the math.
Brew Time – The amount of time the grounds are in contact with the water is an important factor affecting the taste of your coffee. Ina commercial or home drip system, 4 1/2 – 5 minutes is optimal. If your home brewer is taking longer than 5 minutes, flush it with vinegar and water for a few cycles, than run several more cycles with just cold water. This will remove the sediment in your water line which is slowing your brew. If you are brewing with a French Press, the contact time should be 3-4 minutes with a coarse grind.
For the Perfect Pour Over – 1. As you are heating your water, place the filter in the dripper and rinse with hot water to remove any paper taste and to preheat your cone and vessel. 2. Place the ground coffee in the filter. After the water boils, remove from heat for 30 seconds then pour just enough water to saturate the grounds, allowing them to bloom. the fresher your coffee, the more dramatic the bloom. 3. Wait 30 seconds, than pour again in a circular motion, being careful not to pour water at the edge of the grounds where they touch the filter. Carefully pour the remaining water and control the brew time (3-4 minutes total) by slowing or stopping the pour intermittently as needed. Keep the water level between 1/2 & 3/4 full in the cone for optimal brewing.
Enjoy – A well prepared cup of coffee should be enjoyed as thoughtfully as it was prepared. Take a sip and notice the flavor. How does it compare to other coffees with regard to body, acidity and balance? If it is a coffee that is new to you, notice how it is different. If it is what you normally drink, notice its degree of freshness or how simple changes in preparation affect the cup’s flavor.
Written by Andy Timmerman co-owner of Seven Hills Coffee