How to Make Good Coffee: Top 5 Tips to Success
Yearning for a good cup of coffee but struggling with all the different checklists and instructions across internet? Some basic things can lead to either a misery or a pleasure in the cup. Here are TOP 5 tips for good coffee!
Do I need professional equipment to nail it?
It doesn’t matter if you are brewing coffee at home or preparing coffee professionally in a café. You can make it or break it in both environments. Anyway, you don’t need a thousand-euro-brewer or the most expensive coffee in the market “just for the price of them”.
Usually the main difference between the expensive and cheap brewers (as well as professional and home brewers) is the quality of components. Functionally the machines are the same. So leave those low price brewers on the shelf and get yourself a decent one to make a beautiful brew.
Manual brewing equipment is pretty much the same at home and in cafés so there we don’t need to think about the differences. For all types of devices, check out our Brew Guides!
SHORT & SIMPLE
Want to make most out of it? Hop on and make notes!
Here are our TOP 5 tips, in a random order:
1. Coffee – what, where from, how processed
2. Water – quality and temperature
3. Ratio – strength in the cup
4. Extraction – what we move from the grounds to the cup
5. Cleanliness – correct detergents
Deeper dive to the tips above
1. Coffee. Make sure your ingredient is fresh and of high quality. Also, get to know your coffee:
- Where does it come from? Blend, single origin or an estate coffee? 100 % Arabica or maybe some Robusta in it? How about the sub-variety? Where and how it was cultivated and harvested?
- Processing method: natural/dry, anaerobic, pulped natural, honey processed, semi-washed, washed…? So many different methods, so many different flavours!
- What about the farming, organic or not? The fertilizers and pesticides have an effect on the crop so extremely simplified: organic means more clean. And what about other sustainably sourced coffees than organic? Of course there is not a certain, unique flavor of “socially sustainable coffee”. Still sustainability makes all the difference to the coffee chain so we really need to focus on that. Sustainable coffee makes good and therefore tastes good :)
- Roast profile and roast level – this is a playground where time and temperature are utilized to get the most out of the coffee. The roasters’ contribution is huge as the flavor is a well-kept secret of the green bean until Maillard Reaction and Strecker Degradation, only some phenomenas to mention.
- Packaging: there are loads of different package materials, several sealing types as well as some valve solutions available. It is also important to bear in mind that the coffee should always kept in the original package. The package should be stored in a tight container.
2. Water: quality and temperature.
- Water plays a huge role in the final cup. Fresh, clean drinking quality water is the starting point. Next we need to evaluate, if there are any unpleasant substances or if the mineral balance is correct or needs to be adjusted.
- According to the Speciality Coffee Association (SCA), water temperature should fall between 90-96 Celsius. The water temperature, too, has an effect on the extraction so go ahead and play around with it to see how it effects on the brew!
3. Coffee to water ratio
- This means how much we use water and coffee grounds to make one brew. According to SCA, the ratio should be 55 g/1000 hot water ml ± 10 %. With this, we end up close to the SCA optimum ratio which is 1:20.
- In peoples’ minds, the strength of coffee is sometimes mixed up with the strong taste notes in coffee. Strength, however, means the amount of coffee solubles in the brew. The opposite of strong coffee is watery coffee. Check out from Jori’s blog if you want to learn more and see what the abbreviation TDS stands for here!
4. Extraction. This means what and how much we manage to move from the grounds to the cup. Not all the compunds are extracted at the same rate or point in extraction. We need to consider the following:
- Grind level: choose the level based on your method and device. This has everything to do with the contact time. Use a decent grinder, not one of those blade versions that you can get with 10 € from the local market.
- Method: infusion, immersion or pressure?
- Device: automatic batch brewer, Aeropress, Chemex, Vandola, Siphon, French Press, Hario V60 and similar, espresso machine...
- Filter type and if using a paper or cloth filter, also remember to rinse!
- Blooming is most easily to be controlled when brewing manually. We bloom to prepare the coffee bed for brewing and to get rid of excessive CO2.
- Agitation can be introduced if we want to enhance the extraction. By agitation we create turbulence – movement of water of coffee grounds.
5. Clean equipment.
- There is never too much talk about cleanliness. We all know how dirty coffee tastes. Oh that dull, oily, bitter flavor in the cup, ready to ruin our day! Flushing versus cleaning with a detergent – there is only one winner. Keep that brush going and use decent cleaning agents! Daily. Amen.
+ Extra tip: fresh coffee = best coffee.
- No one wants to have a cup from a decanter that was brewed an hour ago. Especially if the coffee decanter sits on a hot plate – the oils get stale, the aroma is lost and the coffee gets stronger than it is supposed to be as the vapor is slithering out from the decanter.