If you want an outstanding cup of coffee you need to pay attention to five critical elements: beans, grind, water, temperature and extraction time. Failure of any one of these elements is fatal to great coffee.
You cannot make a good cup of coffee with bad beans. Not all coffee beans are the same. There are dozens of varieties of arabica coffee, each one of them has it own flavor profile. Some varieties are amazing, some are boring and everything in between. Sample different arabica varieties until you find a few that you think are amazing.
Coffee beans have to be from the most recent crop. There are no vintages in coffee, it is either current crop or it is old coffee. Ask the roaster or the farmer when the beans were picked.
Coffee beans have to be fresh roasted. The ideal time for brewing is from 3 to 10 days after roasting. If the beans were protected from oxidation by a sealed bag or by freezing, freshness can be extended for several weeks. Ask the roaster when the beans were roasted.
Great beans are roasted to bring out their best characteristics. Roasting is more than bringing the beans to a certain color or temperature, it is combining heat and time in a way that brings out all of the best elements of the bean. Look for small batch roasting by someone who is passionate about coffee roasting.
Great coffee is all about extraction. You need to have uniform coffee grounds for good extraction. If the grounds are not uniform then the over-size grounds will under-extract in your brewer and the under-size grounds will over-extract. Over extracted coffee is acidic and bitter. Under extracted coffee is sour and thin. Over extraction and under extraction don’t cancel each other out.
Set the grind to match your filter. Coarse filters need a coarse grind. Fine filters need fine grinds.
Grind just enough coffee for each brew. A good starting point is two tablespoons of coffee for each six ounces of water. Adjust the amount of coffee to your taste.
All drinking water has some minerals and chemicals. Some of those compounds are positive and add to the refreshing taste. However, there are as many as 315 different mineral and chemical compounds distributed by city water companies, not all of them good for coffee brewing. You should either use bottled water or a high quality water filter.
Coffee should be brewed between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Coffee brewed at too high a temperature will taste acidic and bitter. Coffee brewed at too low a temperature tastes thin and sour. A common problem with automatic coffee brewers is low temperature brewing. You should periodically use a thermometer to check the temperature of the water in your brewer.
The amount of time that the coffee grounds are in contact with the brew water is critical. There are flavors in the coffee bean that take time to extract, some of them are good, some bad. Timing the extraction captures the good flavors and excludes the bad flavors.
Popular coffee brewing techniques have progressed from cowboy style brewing (over extraction), to percolators (over extraction), to Mr. Coffee style machines, (under extraction) to Keurig style (under extraction), without ever getting it right.
The standard extraction time for french press brewed coffee is four minutes. There are brewing methods that use less or more time, like AeroPress or cold brew but four minutes is a good starting point. There are now automatic brewers on the market that allow you to set the extraction time.
Enjoy your cup of coffee
Karen Jue Paterson is the owner of Hula Daddy Kona Coffee, a 33 acre coffee farm in Kona, Hawaii. Hula Daddy is the winner of the 2014 Kona Coffee Cupping competition. Karen is a member of the Hawaii Coffee Association, the Kona Coffee Council, the Kona Coffee Farmers Association, the Holualoa Village Association and the Specialty Coffee Association of America. She is also the author of a number of articles on Kona Coffee including: Coffee Fraud https://www.huladaddy.com/?p=2337: Kona Coffee Farmers at a Crossroad https://www.huladaddy.com/?p=696 ;How Typica is Your Kona Coffee? https://www.huladaddy.com/?p=710 ; Are Roasters Eroding the Kona Coffee Brand?https://www.huladaddy.com/?p=952; Coffee Cupping Competitions – Real or Random Chance? https://www.huladaddy.com/?p=1670 ; Seven Easy Steps to Become a Gourmet Coffee Taster https://www.huladaddy.com/?p=1785 ; How to Brew Coffee Using a Pour Over Filter https://www.huladaddy.com/?p=1754; Before You Buy an Automatic Single Serve Coffee Brewerhttps://www.huladaddy.com/?p=1899; Siphon Coffee Brewers Suck! https://www.huladaddy.com/?p=2026; Sweet Coffee https://www.huladaddy.com/?p=2144;What Color is Your Coffee Roast? https://www.huladaddy.com/?p=4 You can email her at email@example.com #huladaddy #konacoffee