The journey to the perfect cup of coffee is long and full of surprises. At times, you may feel like you’ve reached the final point.
Are you sure you can’t make your coffee even better?
Run through the list of mistakes and bring your brewing skills to a new level!
1. Storing beans in the wrong way
An airtight container is a sure bet. For instance, you may buy a glass canning jar or a ceramic crock with a rubber-gasket seal.
Never place coffee beans in the fridge (to say nothing of the freezer), especially dark roasts. Room temperature is by far more preferable.
2. Not using a coffee sieve
Even if you have an expensive burr grinder, you’ll discover it doesn’t provide a completely uniform grind every time. So, you may additionally use a coffee sieve. This small device has tiny metal screens keeping up larger particles.
Make sure you use a high-quality sieve designed specifically for coffee grinds. With it, your carefully chosen high-quality coffee will deliver its best flavor.
3. Not logging your experiments
What’s the best way to remember which methods, temperatures, quantities or beans work best for you? Just get a coffee journal where you record the details of each brewing experiment: the method, the type of bean, grind size and water temperature, as well as brew time. Last but not least – your impressions on the result.
4. Buying bulk coffee from supermarket display bins
The reason why this mistake occurs may be that you don’t know one simple truth: the moment roasted beans contact with air or bright light is when their flavor is starting to be killed. Rather soon, a typical storage tube gets covered with coffee oils, while oxygen and light cause rancidity.
Look for the stores that make a point of providing fresh beans. A sturdy, vacuum-sealed bag is a sensible choice.
5. Choosing the wrong brewing method for the roast
As a rule of thumb, you may use the following guide:
- for the drip method, opt for medium roast (City, American, Breakfast)
- for the French press method, opt for light or medium roast (we should point out, though, some caffeineoholics claim medium dark does the job well enough)
- for the pour over method, try medium to medium dark roast or dark roast
- aeropress requires light or medium roast
- espresso is typically better with medium to dark roast, though there’re quite a few people claiming espresso tastes good no matter what type of roast is used.
6. Overlooking the quality of the water
There’re too many minerals and chemicals in the tap water interacting with your coffee and changing its taste. Take into consideration that softened or distilled water is as inappropriate as the tap water. There should be some minerals left to make your coffee taste well.
This mistake can be fixed, for instance, with the help of bottled spring water or activated-charcoal/carbon filters on your tap.
7. Not buying specialty coffees
It is only when you go beyond mass-marketed commercial brands that you truly become part of the coffee snob club. So as not to get drowned in the ocean of specialty coffees, look for the following information on the package: country, region or estate of origin.
8. Tricks with hotter water
If you’re striving to get the best taste possible, forget about these. If you add hotter water, you’ll definitely get more cups of the same amount of coffee. And yet, you’ll sacrifice some of the pleasure as this approach results in a bitter taste.
The ideal temperature for brewing is 200°F, which is around 40 seconds off a full boil. You may use a kitchen thermometer for the best result.
9. Overlooking oily and mineral buildup in your equipment
The oily buildup in storage containers and grinder results in foul, bitter notes. To get rid of it, clean the storage containers and grinder once in several weeks.
Another problem is mineral deposits in a coffeemaker. These can be removed with a cleaner like Urnex, which was created specifically for this type of equipment. However, just a strong solution of vinegar will do the job perfectly, too. Run the cleaning solution through your coffeemaker at least once a month.
10. Buying Robusta beans without knowing it
Most coffee available worldwide belongs to one of the two main types: Arabica and Robusta. Robusta is cheaper and higher on caffeine (which isn’t always a bad thing). Also, it’s known for its bitter and even nasty flavors. In comparison with it, Arabica’s flavors are more delicate, pleasant, and diverse. Most people consider Arabica a nobler type.
The problem is that many mass-marketed brands mix Arabica with Robusta beans. So, to be successful in your search for a perfect brewing experience, look for 100% pure Arabica beans.
11. Waiting too long to drink the coffee
While that’s typically a rookie mistake, some connoisseurs also forget they shouldn’t wait long after the cup has been brewed.
Although you surely won’t drink a coffee that has gone stale, chances are you sometimes lose the time when the beverage tastes best. That’s while it’s still hot. While cooling down, the precious liquid loses much of its taste and goes bitter. This happens because of a variety of chemical reactions taking place in the coffee while it’s growing cooler. None of them boosts the aroma!
If your cup has cooled down, don’t try reheating or boiling it – you’ll still get a bitter and foul-tasting drink. The trick with holding your cup on a warming platform won’t work, either.
12. Purchasing pre-ground coffee
This mistake typically occurs when you don’t bother thinking about the effect air exposure has on beans.
To begin with, let’s think about why we grind beans at all. By grinding, we increase the surface of the bean, which means that when it comes in contact with the water, more flavors and aromas will be extracted.
But the beans don’t need water to start losing their flavor! As soon as they are ground, their fantastic aromas begin to evaporate with increased speed. The gases built up inside the bean during roasting are released into the air leaving you with a rather bland taste. To make things worse, carbon dioxide is turned into carbonic acid in the cup, which results in harsh bitter notes.
To grind your own coffee, you may start with affordable electric grinders (for instance, Braun or Bodum) – at least, it’s better than buying pre-ground beans. However, as your taste for coffee develops, you’re bound to realize why lifelong coffee lovers often switch to premium burr mills like Solis, Zassenhaus, or Rancilio.
13. Opting for inexpensive filters
The taste-conscious approach suggests using “oxygen-bleached” or “dioxin-free” paper filters (for instance, Filtropa or Melitta). Costly options include gold-plated filters like SwissGold. While many coffee lovers claim such filters provide maximum taste, they may fail to catch all the sediment if the grind is very fine.
14. The grind isn’t right
While grinding your coffee, you need to take into consideration the brewing method/style. Also, you need an even grind. This means all the coffee particles are the same, which promises a more uniform release of the flavors.
15. The equipment fails to provide appropriate performance
While most coffeemaker breakups are easy to notice, sometimes you don’t even realize the equipment is failing. When you feel your coffee doesn’t taste as good as it used to, this may mean it’s time to replace your brewing setup.
16. Using inexpensive beans
In the cold light of day, the unforgettable taste is one of the reasons why you buy coffee. So, if the beverage fails to satisfy your taste buds, is it really a bargain? When purchasing coffee, remember that’s the drink that sets the mood for the whole day, and the quality of the beans is something that matters here.
17. A wrong cup
Using plastic can have its benefits, but it changes the taste of the beverage. Health hazards connected with Bisphenol A, which is released from many plastic products, is another reason to opt for high-quality glass or ceramic cups.
If you want to take some coffee with you when you’re on the go, consider a stainless steel travel mug (many of them do work).
18. Adding low-quality ingredients
Opting for a good creamer and coffee sweetener means you use something that boosts, not obliterates, the spectacular aroma of the drink.
19. Brewing too much coffee at once
The idea of brewing the coffee for the day may seem convenient, yet this approach sacrifices some the taste. Experts believe brewing one cup at a time maximizes your chances of getting the perfect flavor.
So, if you’re having a couple of guests (or even a party), you may well opt for more substantial amounts of coffee, but remember to stick to the one-cup-at-a-time model on other occasions.
20. Forgetting to replace or rinse the filter
Like every part of the equipment, the filter matters in creating a pleasant aroma. So, as soon as you make your brew, get rid of the paper filter. If your machine is equipped with a filter basket, rinse it.
A reusable filter needs to be rinsed after every brew. When you notice the drink doesn’t taste as good as it used to, although you haven’t changed anything, the reason can be that the reusable filter needs to be replaced.
21. Using old coffee beans
You might have found yourself in the following situation already. You buy the same brand and type of coffee, but suddenly it starts to disappoint you. Where’s the fantastic smell you’re used to? Just check the roasting date – most likely, that’s the reason.
Like it or not, coffee beans can provide their best taste only during several days after the roasting time. Over time, the volatile compounds giving the beverage its fantastic feel evaporate leaving the beans bland or even bitter. That’s precisely why quite a few people take the trouble to roast their coffee or buy from a local roaster.
Checking the roasting date is something to be done every time you buy coffee. Also, make sure you use the beans as soon as possible. Four weeks are enough for the beans to lose much of their flavor, so we recommend that you use them within a month or less.
22. Taking too little coffee
The recommended amount of ground beans for a 6-ounce cup is 2 level tablespoons, for an 8-ounce cup – around 2 3/4 tablespoons.
23. Sticking to a single brewing method
Exploring tastes means exploring brewing methods, too. While you probably don’t fancy trying a new technique at 6 a.m., choose a moment for this. You’ll discover how different can the taste and aroma of the same beans be depending on the equipment.
24. Not using a kitchen scale
While putting too little coffee may steal some of the fantastic flavors, using too much is equally damaging. Buying a kitchen scale will help you make sure you get precisely the amount you need.
25. Failing to warm your cup
Have you ever thought why some coffeemakers have a cup warmer? Helping the coffee stay hot longer is just one of the reasons. To prepare the cup for the beverage, pour some hot water in it while the coffee is brewing. Then, pour it out and wipe the cup dry.