If you’re like most coffee drinkers, you brew coffee at home at least some of the time. But are you making any of these 8 common brewing mistakes? Let our Coffee Quality Control Tech, Hillary, walk you through our top brewing tips — so you get a great cup of coffee every time.
Mistake #1: Don’t store coffee in the fridge or freezer! When you store coffee in the fridge or freezer, the grounds can absorb moisture and odors from that space, which will negatively affect the taste of your coffee. Instead, store coffee in a cool, dry place in an airtight container.
Mistake #2: Don’t over- or under-heat your water! Sometimes your coffee will taste off just because it was brewed with water that was too hot, or not hot enough. The ideal temperature is between 195F and 205F. Unfortunately, many home brewers just aren’t strong enough to heat water to the proper temperature for a good cup of coffee, so it’s worth investing in a high quality machine if that’s your preferred method.
Mistake #3: Don’t use a blade grinder or spice grinder! If you’re grinding your beans at home, use a burr grinder. Blade and spice grinders will chop your beans unevenly, leading to a poor extraction that will make your coffee taste off. A burr grinder crushes your beans in a way that gives you a uniform grind, an even extraction, and a better cup.
Mistake #4: Don’t use a dirty grinder! Stale grounds and oils can build up in your grinder and affect the taste of your fresh beans, so it’s important your grinder clean. You can use a commercial product, or grind a scoop of uncooked white rice to clean out old grounds and absorb oils.
Mistake #5: Don’t use the wrong grind for your brew method! Using the wrong grind size for your brewer can lead to weak or bitter coffee, so make sure you know and use the proper grind for your method. Coarse-grind coffee (French press) should resemble kosher or sea salt in texture, medium-grind coffee (drip brewer) should be similar to granulated sugar and fine-grind coffee (home espresso maker) should resemble confectioner’s sugar.
Mistake #6: Don’t use a dirty brewer! Minerals and scale can build up in your brewer, negatively affect the taste of your coffee, so make sure to keep it clean. You can use a commercial cleaning product, or run a cycle of 50/50 white vinegar and water mixture through your brewer to clean it out. Just make sure to run a cycle of plain water through the brewer after that, before you start brewing coffee again.
Mistake #7: Don’t use bad-tasting, unfiltered or distilled water! When it comes to the taste of coffee, the water you use plays a huge role. If you wouldn’t enjoy drinking it from the tap, don’t brew coffee with it. We recommend brewing with filtered tap or bottled water.
Mistake #8: Don’t use an inconsistent or unmeasured amount of coffee! Using too much or too little coffee can drastically affect the taste of your cup, so it’s important to properly measure your grounds. We recommend a 17:1 water-to-coffee ratio, but you can also weigh your coffee according to the specifications of your brew method. From there, you can adjust to taste: if your coffee tastes too strong or bitter, use less coffee, and if it tastes weak or grassy, use more coffee.
Keep these tips in mind to make the most out of your fairly traded coffee whenever you brew at home!