How to Brew a Perfect Cup of Coffee
The perfect cup of coffee begins with fresh roasted coffee because within two weeks of roasting coffee begins a gradual decline in flavor quality. The next most important factor affecting the quality of brewed coffee is the type of water you use. Bottled or otherwise filtered, cold water is the best. Do not use softened or distilled water.
When using an automatic drip coffee pot you can’t really control the amount of time the water is in contact with the beans or the water temperature. The optimum contact time in a drip coffee maker is 5 minutes; if using a French press the optimum time is 3-5 minutes, but I prefer 4 minutes.The temperature range for the water should be between 195-205 degrees Farenheit. If no thermometer is available and you are boiling your water, stop just short of a “rolling” boil. Let the water rest for a few moments prior to pouring over the grounds. Experiment with the contact time until you find the taste you like.
The ratio of coffee grounds to water is very important. While this is largely a function of taste, the standard ratio is 2 tablespoons of coffee per every 6 ounces of water. Start with 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds for every 6 ounces of water. If the coffee is too strong reduce the amount of coffee grounds.
It is best to purchase whole bean coffee and grind it yourself just before brewing. A burr or mill grinder gives the most consistent sized grind. Blade grinders are more common but produce a lot of finer ground coffee that more resembles powder than grounds. This will result in a bitter tasting cup of coffee when using a drip coffee maker or French press. If your coffee supplier grinds your coffee for you, tell him or her how you brew your coffee so they can grind your coffee to the proper specification. For example, French press brewing requires a more coarse grind than automatic drip brewing machines. The type of filter used in your automatic drip machine can make a difference too.
Keep your coffee brewing equipment clean; the cleaner the better. Coffee leaves behind oils and residue when it is ground and brewed. Over time, if these are not removed from your equipment you will start to get a bitter taste in your cup of coffee.
How and where you store your coffee is crucial to the quality of the brewed coffee. Minimize the amount of contact your coffee has with air, moisture, heat and light. Contrary to popular belief, self defrosting refrigerators or freezers are not the best place to store coffee, especially if the bag has already been opened. Coffee is best stored in air-tight glass or ceramic containers that are kept in a cool, dark location.