So you’ve bought some really good coffee, it’s been described on the pack or tasting card as having wild flavours like your favourite childhood apple pie, or a nut loaf, or something not at all like the coffee you’re used to.
You pop it in your brewer and 5 minutes later you’re drinking something that tastes like...coffee. Or it’s weak, or muddy, or tastes like leather?!
But here at Goodery we believe good coffee is a little like magic. With the right tricks and the right ingredients, it becomes a whole new experience.
It’s impossible to make good coffee with bad beans, and it’s very easy to make bad coffee with good beans! In this post, I’ll share some tips on how to make the most of your brew (for more detailed information on each brewing method, check out our How to Brew Videos).
Know your beans
Coffee being harvested at the Duromina cooperative in Jimma
Coffee is - to put it mildly - very complex. To read more about the curious complexity of coffee, check out the next blog post coming soon, but for now: every step on your coffee’s journey to your cup has influenced its structure and chemistry, and therefore its taste.
I have found that the lighter and fruitier the coffee, the longer time one can brew the coffee for without detrimental bitterness, for example, our Rwandan Dekunde Kawa from Cocora (find it here) can be brewed longer than our Colombian El Corazon, which allows us to get more intense red fruit flavours. Whereas, the Colombian roast is happier left to a shorter brew time, giving us tasty chocolate orange and brown cinnamon sugar flavours (seriously try it here)
As with all things coffee, the proof is in the cup, so experiment!
Probably THE most important factor to making good coffee after the beans themselves is your grind. It’s really important to grind your beans freshly, as this stops you losing precious and volatile aromatics from the beans before you get to dissolve them in your brew. Buying pre-ground coffee can mean losing that freshness and can result in stale coffee.
We grind coffee in order to increase the surface area that can interact with the water and there is a direct correlation between grind size (and therefore surface area) and extraction rate (an important term meaning how much stuff you get from the coffee beans into your cup of coffee). The smaller the particles of coffee, the more total dissolved solids (TDS for short) you get in the cup.
“Great”, you might say, “we can just make it really fine and get as much stuff out as possible!” Not so fast. You don’t necessarily want all those chemicals in your coffee, as it might make it bitter, or overly strong. Coffee, to a large extent, is a matter of balance, a ‘Goldilocks’ game. Not too fine, not too coarse; not too hot, not too cool. Check out the handy diagram below which highlights other areas of the brewing process as well.
The Goodery Extraction diagram
See our chart below for more information about grinding for the best grind for each method.
Another factor when it comes to grinding is ‘grind consistency’. How much of the grind is this size you were going for, and how much of it is too fine or coarse? The best way to get a consistent grind is by using a burr grinder, rather than a blade or ‘whirly’ grinder. You can find our range of hand and electric burr grinders here.
Making sure you have the right ratio of coffee to water means you’ll end up with the right strength brew in your cup. Check out the chart below to see our recommendations for the perfect recipe.
Between 94-98% of your coffee is made up of water, with the remainder being the TDS we talked about earlier. So it’s really important to use water that is going to help, rather than hinder the flavours and aromas in your coffee.
If you live in a hard water area (like me in Norfolk), then the water that you get out of the tap will be very high in carbonates, which, when in high enough concentrations act as a sort of buzzkill chemical when it comes to the delicious aromatic compounds that we’re looking for in our cup.
Even if you don’t have hard water, it’s likely that straight-from-the-faucet won’t taste as nice as filtered water, as most tap water is treated with pretty un-tasty chemicals. Mineral spring water is great for brewing very nice coffee, as the minerals help extract great flavours, but really, who wants to waste that much plastic? Our recommendation is to use a reusable kitchen filter.
The other factor when it comes to water is how hot it is. You need water that is hot enough to properly extract the tasty chemicals you want but not too hot that you scold the coffee and over-extract and/or denature the aromatics (change the good stuff to not-so-good stuff). I would say anything between 85-95°C should serve you fine, which is about 40-120 seconds off the boil for most kettles.
Here comes the blooooom
Take your time
How long the coffee grind interacts with your hot water will affect the outcome of your cup. Once again, check out our table below to see how long you should be brewing for each method (again this also depends on your taste).
It’s not just how long you brew for in total, but also how much water you put into the process at each stage. In brew methods that involve immersion or filtering, it’s well worth pouring a small amount of water into the grounds for the first 20-30s of the brew. This allows the CO2 that is stored in the coffee to escape, meaning you avoid gas pockets later on in the process. For some reason, this seems to really increase the sweetness in the final cup.
In filtering methods, it’s also worth using ‘pulses’ of around 120ml per 40s in order to highlight different aspects of the flavour profile (sweetness, acidity, body), but this is a finer detail that you can work on as you go.
That's a lot of info...so here's a cheat sheet:
The Goodery Coffee Club Cheat Sheet: General rules for brewing
So when you’re gonna brew…
- Choose your beans according to your taste and how sustainably they’ve been grown and traded.
- Use the right ratio for your method and taste.
- Grind well and according to your method and taste
- Use the right amount of GOOD water.
- Make sure you brew for the right amount of time.
- Let it cool before you drink.
- Make sure you enjoy to the best of your ability.
Join the club
We want to create a space for people who love coffee to learn, share, chat and drink. It’s free, and always will be. Anyone can join, but right now it’s invitation-only.
In order to foster genuine relationships, we ask people to request an invite so we can speak to them individually. That way we can learn more about you, your passion for coffee and how we can help support you. Once you join, we’ll release invitations for you to send to your coffee friends who you feel would be a great addition to our community.
To request an invite head to goodery.co.uk/coffee.
To taste our latest speciality roast, head over to the Goodery shop to check out our latest coffee. We hope you enjoy it and we’d love to hear what you think either via firstname.lastname@example.org or over on social media.