How to Get A Perfect Cup of Coffee

By Samantha Knowles

The key to making a really good cup of coffee does not need to be complicated, nor does it require expensive machines, or a trip to Starbucks every morning. If you follow these simple rules, you will be on your way to that perfect cup of coffee.

The best model for making super coffee (and I am quite the coffee expert) is to first: drop the automated version of your coffee maker and invest in a good manual system. The reason for this is simple: most automated coffee systems (the home versions) simply cannot control the temperature of the water (of which you will learn is critical to a good cup of coffee) and ultimately will leave you with a bitter/acidic taste. At the core: bad stuff in = bad stuff out.

Having said all of this, there are some really great tips to making Starbucks quality at home and it doesn’t have to break the bank. Follow these tips and you will be on your way to a wonderful cup (or cups) of coffee every day!

The Coffee: You have to begin with good coffee. Find a quality local roaster or supermarket that sells freshly roasted beans. Take home a quarter of a pound of a few different kinds of coffee and try them out. Make note of how they are roasted. When you take the beans out of the bag, smell them. Smell the coffee again after you grind them. Even if you like your coffee with milk or cream, try a few sips without anything added. Taste it. Consider what you are tasting and smelling as you would with a glass of wine. And make sure you try coffees from different parts of the world–Latin America, Africa and Asia. If you like a particular coffee, you might want to take a look at some of the Web sites listed below to see what the coffee guys have to say about it.

Grind your own beans: Grind your beans, don’t buy them already packaged. Grinding your coffee beans can literally make the difference between an average cup of coffee and a great one. It may sound a little fancy, but if your goal is really good coffee, it is worth this extra step. The grinding process simply allows for more contact between the water and the beans. More contact means more

Use the proper temperature: Make sure your brewing temperature is correct. The optimal temp is between 195-205F. If you go too hot, your coffee will take bitter or acidic- yuck.

Check your brew time: Don’t rush the brewing time- the flavor depends on it. If you have a drip system, it should take about 5 minutes. With a plunger pot, the drip time should be about 2 minutes.

Use Enough Coffee: One of the biggest pitfalls in making good coffee is simply using too little. The water you are using flows through coffee grounds so thusly if you use too little, you will get weak coffee (bad). A good rule of thumb is to make sure you use 2 tablespoons for every six ounces of water. If you follow this guideline, you will always have flavorful coffee.

Make sure you store properly: Don’t buy more than a week’s supply at a time. Store coffee in a dry airtight container. You need not freeze it.

Use fresh water: Good coffee always starts with fresh (cool ) water. If you put in tap water with a bunch of chemicals, you can guarantee your coffee will take acidic no matter how strong the brew, or how great the coffee beans.. Whenever you can- turn to fresh water that has been filtered.

Use enough coffee: Avoid using sparing amounts of coffee. When water flows through the coffee it extracts all of the fabulous flavours, so using too little coffee will result in a weak cup. I like to use two tablespoons of ground coffee; however if you like it on the weak side, try it with just the one tablespoon or add some extra milk.

Invest in good equipment: It probably goes without saying but, keep your equipment clean. Cleaning containers and grinders every couple of weeks removes oily buildups – try running a strong solution of vinegar through your coffeemaker as this works well to dissolve away any mineral deposits. Just make sure you always rinse thoroughly before you use your equipment again.

Ultimately, the key to good coffee is three things: beans- good water- and good equipment.

Happy Coffee Making!

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