We all want better coffee don’t we? If you are anything like us then you probably live in a thoroughly caffeinated world and you love it! But coffee, as you have no doubt experienced, can be harder than it looks. And in fact the more deeply you delve into the coffee niche the more you see how many factors play into that delicious cup of joe.
In this article we will introduce you to what are a few of the backbones of any good cup of coffee. These are the basic components which form the foundation for a well-extracted and delicious cup of coffee.
Invest in a Burr Grinder
The first non-negotiable if you really want to make good coffee is a coffee grinder. You might be thinking, ‘hold on, that is a bit extreme, what is wrong with my good old pre-ground coffee from the grocers?’ And the short answer is everything.
One thing that few people know is that technically coffee is actually a form of produce. And just like any other produce, it has a prime freshness and a process of growing stale. One way to think of it is would you buy your carrots pre-cut up and after they had been sitting on a shelf for who knows how long?
So if you really want the best tasting coffee, you need to grind your own coffee beans. And while we realise this isn’t cheap, think of it as an investment into better coffee. The other thing to realise is that not all coffee grinders are born equal. The main two types of grinders are blade and burr grinders. The basic equation is blade = bad, burr = good. For a starting grinder we recommend the Porlex Mini as a hand grinder, or the Baratza Encore as a somewhat more expensive automatic grinder.
Use Fresh Quality Beans
The second ingredient in any good cup of coffee is of course the quality of the beans. One axiom in the coffee world is that the flavor of your coffee will never exceed the quality of the beans you use. So one easy way to up your coffee flavor is to buy better beans. The easiest way to do this is instead of buying them from the grocers, look up a local roaster near you or online. The beans will be more expensive, but they will also taste a heck of a lot better. If you are not sure where to start try Lifeboost Coffee.
The other thing to realise is that, as alluded to above, coffee beans do actually lose their flavor over time. So fresh coffee beans have a strong aroma and complex flavour but the longer they sit on a shelf the more generic and carboardish the flavor becomes. The general rule of thumb is that you should aim to use coffee beans within 4-6 weeks of their roast date.
Think about Water
Another thing that beginning coffee brewers often overlook is the quality of the water they are using. I mean if you think about it, coffee is at least 95% water. Consequently, if the water you are using is foul tasting, then no amount of correct technique will make it really taste good. So especially if you live in an area that doesn’t have the best water quality then you ought to think seriously about ways to deal with this issue as regards coffee.
There are basically two ways to do this. Firstly, you can simply switch to only using bought water for your coffee. This is an easy fix and will improve taste but can prove expensive in the long run. The other way is to invest into some form of water filter. These can be bought for not too expensive. Also you can actually buy tablets which purify water specifically for coffee brewing. We have used these and they work a treat. You can find out more about them here (https://thirdwavewater.com/).
Find a Method you Enjoy
Finally, especially as you begin your journey into the world of coffee it can be overwhelming to start with. Even just picking a brewing method can be a difficult choice. What should you go with? Espresso machine? Aeropress? French Press? Pod machine? Pour Over? You get the picture.
And the answer is that there is no right or wrong answer. Don’t just go for what looks the coolest or is the cheapest. But find one that fits your needs and that you will enjoy using. So if you like milk-based coffee then pour overs might not be the way for you and an espresso machine or a French Press might better fit your needs.