Coffee Tips

The most frequent question I is about how to make quality coffee at home.  Two of the best processes for doing that are the press pot or pour over.  If you are using a paper filter, always wet it first.  Paper absorbs oils and oils contribute to the flavor of coffee.  If the oils get stuck in your paper filter, it won’t be in your cup of coffee.

Quality of your coffee experience is always affected by freshness and grind of coffee, water quality, proportion of coffee used and temperature of water used.

Whether you are using a brewing machine, press pot or pour over, there are several tips that will enhance your coffee experience and help you make a great cup every time.

#1.  Use fresh coffee.  Store it in an air tight container away from heat and light.  Do NOT store it in the freezer or refrigerator.  When coffee freezes, it can damage the oils thus affecting the flavor.  When it’s refrigerated, every time you open the coffee, condensation occurs.  Water deteriorates coffee quickly.  I always store whole beans in a dark place and grind only what I need for the moment.

Search the web to learn more about the coffee’s you may like.  Here’s one quick link to get you started:  http://www.ineedcoffee.com/03/worldflavors/

Educate your palate!  Learn what flavor and coffee experience you prefer.  The more aware you are of your own taste buds and sipping experience, the more satisfying your coffee experience will be.

#2.  Dosage and grind.  Use the proper grind and dosage for the amount of coffee you will make. If you use too little, the coffee will taste bitter and watery.  Use too much, it won’t taste good either. The recommendation from Bodum for their press pot system:  one well rounded tablespoon per 4 ounces of coffee.  If you use less, the coffee will taste bitter.  Make it to proper strength and then add a little hot water if needed to dilute it some.  Yes, it’s strong!

And experiment with your taste.  I have a thermal press pot (which is great for camping).  And, I like a little cream in my coffee.  Some lighter coffees like Latin American can’t take the cream without changing the flavor of the coffee.  However, a bold Indonesian still taste strong and pleasant even with cream.  Experiment and see what flavors appeal to you!

Here’s a very good set of instructions for making a press pot:  http://stumptowncoffee.com/brew-guides .  If you want to use a pour over previously known as “Melitta” filter, there are tips on the same brew guide page.  Look at instructions for Chemex, Bee House, Hario or Kalita.

Stumptown’s “Hair Bender Espresso” blend is one of my favorite coffees!  Locally, I love Conscious Coffee’s Tuku blend.

#3.  Water.  Use good water!  I use water from my kitchen filter.  My espresso machine is over 3 years old.  When the seal around the heating element went bad and I needed to replacement, I looked inside the boiler carefully.  There was NO mineral build up!  It taste better and is better for your equipment.  Do not use distilled water.  It takes some minerals to bring out the best in coffee.

#4.  Hot water!  At one point, my parents were complaining that they weren’t getting good coffee.  I went home with my thermometer to see how hot a pot of coffee was.  Ideally, hot water between 195° and 205° is best for bringing out the flavors.  Hotter, it will burn the coffee.  Cooler, it won’t bring out the flavor.

Their coffee was just under 140°…no wonder it didn’t taste good!  And keep elevation in mind.  Where I live near 5,000 feet elevation, water boils around 203°.  When making a press pot (or pour over), I get the water boiling and set if off the burner for a minute or so while I get everything else ready.  I don’t want to burn the beans.  By that time, the water is near perfect temperature.

Enjoy!

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