No, you don’t need a french press or siphon brewer to make an amazing cup of joe. The secret to a great brew isn’t the equipment; it’s the ingredients and the process.
Follow these steps to make artisanal java with your basic drip coffee machine.
1. Use Fresh, Whole Beans
If you want to step up your coffee game, you’ll have to bid adieu to those cheap bags of pre-ground coffee. For better results, go with whole beans. For best results, opt for whole beans from a local source.
Whole beans have more flavor and aroma than ground coffee. That’s because pre-ground coffee loses its potency while it sits on store shelves. Even in vacuum-sealed bags, the grinds become staler by the day.
But not just any whole bean will do. Avoid the stuff that’s been sitting in open barrels. Coffee beans absorbent, easily affected by moisture, odors, and tastes in the air around them. Buy beans by the bag, paying careful attention to the roast date. Generally, beans roasted more than two weeks ago are past their prime. So, get to know your local roaster. Fortunately, the Costa Mesa and Newport Beach areas have several top-notch roasters, including Portola Coffee Roasters, Wilson Coffee Roasting Co., and Common Room Roasters.
Another tip: Buy your coffee in small batches, enough to last only a week or two at the most. The longer coffee is stored, the more it loses its flavor.
2. Properly Store Your Beans
As previously mentioned, air, moisture, heat, and light can compromise the taste of your coffee. To preserve freshness, store your beans in an opaque, airtight container at room temperature.
Downsize your container as your supply runs lower.
3. Time Your Grind
Coffee is best enjoyed immediately after grinding, so don’t waste time making a pot.
Grind size and consistency is another key to a good cup. Grind too fine, and you’ll render the coffee bitter. Conversely, if the particles are too coarse, your coffee will be weak. For drip coffee, aim for a medium to medium-fine grind. The best way to achieve this consistency is to use a manual hand mill, which gives you more precise control over the process.
4. Measure Right
Too much water equals weak coffee; too little equals a bitter cup. So be precise in your measurements.
Generally, you’ll want one coffee scoop, or two tablespoons, of coffee for every six fluid ounces of water. Scoops and tablespoons aren’t always reliable. That’s why we recommend using a digital scale.
For a perfect or at least near-perfect cup, measure 0.36 oz or 10 grams of ground coffee. (However, you can play with those figures depending on how strong you want your coffee.)
This approach eliminates the guesswork and delivers consistent quality cup after cup.
5. Pre-infuse the Grounds
Before turning your coffee machine on, take a moment to saturate the bed of grounds with hot water. This process is called pre-infusion, and it does a couple of things. One, it helps the grounds release carbon dioxide, which can interfere with the brewing process. And two, it ensures the water will evenly penetrate the grounds.
To pre-infuse, pour about a quarter cup of water heated at about 200 degrees evenly over the grounds and let them soak for about 45 seconds before you begin brewing.
6. Use the Right Water
You’ll want water that’s neither too hard nor too soft.
Water that’s high in mineral content will produce weak coffee, and the limescale will damage your coffee maker over time. On the other hand, distilled water will over-extract the grounds, resulting in bitter coffee.
For best results, use water from a filtered pitcher or your refrigerator’s filtered water.
Bottom line: Brewing your best cup of coffee is an exact science. Fortunately, all you need are quality beans, a manual grinder, measuring tools, and a bit of patience. Oh, and running water. If your malfunctioning plumbing system is getting between you and your morning cup of joe, contact Parzival Plumbing at (949) 234-6001.