What’s up home brewers?!!
What now that we’ve started on this caffeinated journey? Don’t we all feel like spending just
a tiny bit more pimping up those brewing gears, and perhaps invest just a tiny bit more testing out those new fancy beans in town?
Every cup becomes a thrilling trial-and-error ride. (And, of course, it’s that much more thrilling when you’re in possession of some limited-edition micro-lots!)
Now, what else can we do (or NOT do) to not waste the goodies? Here are the 7 times you commit the 7 cardinal sins and how to fix them:
1. When you let bad storage ruin your beans.
Coffee beans are extremely good at absorbing the smell around them. Anything in their proximity definitely has a great impact on how the coffee will later taste when it’s brewed. Say for example, when you store a bag of Kenya beans in the freezer alongside your mom’s fish fillets, chances are you will likely get a cup with a more prominent “
seabass” note than you do a “tomato” hint. Worse, while constantly absorbing the surrounding notes, the beans are also quickly and generously giving away their natural aromas.
DO : The way to do this is to keep the beans in air-tight containers. Keep direct lighting out, and keep them cool and dry.
2. When you use “just any” water.
What happens when you are making a cup of coffee is basically running hot water (or steam) through the ground to flush out all the flavors, aromas, and oils attached to the coffee. No matter how much character has been extracted into the cup, do not forget that the main ingredient is still pretty much water. Hence, obviously, what you are tasting is still largely the H2O. If your brewing water is smelling like the rust inside your kettle, the chlorine inside your tap, or whatever chemicals you mix with your filter, your coffee will too. On the other hands, if you use distilled water, your coffee is also going to taste pretty bland as a result of the lack of minerals.
DO : It’s usually nicer to use bottled water that has been boiled just once for that brew. Some brands of bottled water are better than the others, depending on the minerals the water contains. Do not re-boil. Do not use distilled or unclean water.
3. When you let your ground coffee sit around and die.
If you still haven’t invested in a grinder, please please please consider getting one right at this very second. It is probably one of the most essential gadgets you will need to perfect a great cup at home. The moment you ask your barista/roaster/grocer to grind your beans for you, those beans will secretly start to cry . As soon as the beans are cracked opens, their aromatic superpower and precious essential oil will run wild. The more surface area you give them, the faster the oil will evaporate. The longer you let those grounds sit around, the lesser flavors and aromas they will have left, and there is nothing you can do to stop this. (Not even an air-tight container.)
DO : Get a grinder. Grind your beans only when you are about to use them.
4. When your beans are old and stale.
We are talking about coffee here—not tea, not wine, not some kind of age-able beers. Your coffee beans definitely do not improve with time, and ethical coffee merchants all know that fairly well. Roasters roast and do their best to keep their inventories running so that their beans don’t just rot and die on shelf. As brewers, we also should take notice of the roast dates and do our best to not waste good beans by negligence. (Cus’ that would be a shame, right?)
DO : Try to use your beans within a month after the roast date. How about that?
5. When you have an off coffee-to-water ratio
Don’t be so stingy. Don’t try to get more coffee than the beans can actually give you; dilute it and you will end up ruining it altogether. Carefully watch the coffee-to-water ratio that is best for the gem you have at hand. Usually, your roasters have this recommendation for you, but of course, it can be slightly adjusted to your liking.
DO : For dripping, try the industry standard of 1:18 (1 part coffee:18 parts water) or adjust towards the more intense side of 1:13.
6. When you think the (grind) sizes don
Obviously the size matters. It determines how fast the water (or steam) can run through your coffee ground, or if it can run through at all. For example, when using an espresso machine, you need to finely grind your beans because you don’t want the hot steam to pass through too easily like a breeze of hot fluffy air. At the same time, if you grind it too fine, you risk blocking all steam altogether. With dripping, obviously, you cannot use super fine grind or you will end up with a filter that looks like a clogged bathtub.
DO : Adjust your grinder accordingly.
7. When you think all hot waters are just equally hot.
Water that is too hot will burn the coffee and result in over-extracti
on of the grounds. Water that is not hot enough, however, will also be insufficient for extracting the most flavor out of your coffee. Two of these scenarios greatly affect your brews in their own negative ways.
DO : Never use bubblingly boiling water (100C) to brew your coffee. Try your best to keep it somewhere between 91-96C, no more no less.
Now you can’t say you don’t know what NOT to do. Be sure to help save ’em good beans from spoiling !!!