If you wake up in the morning craving coffee, you already know what I’m going to say: brewing that first round of coffee it is the best part of the day. Whether you’re brewing a single cup or an entire carafe, it fills your house with the incredible aroma of fresh coffee that just makes your whole day better.
There are dozens of fake tips and fables about how to get that perfect cup of coffee. Believe me, I’ve heard it all: everything from leaving just a bit of the old coffee in the bottom of your pot to leaving the oils from the beans in your filter. Some people swear that grinding fresh just before brewing is the only way to go, others advise to buy ground and freeze them to maintain their freshness. Brewing the perfect cup of coffee isn’t all that difficult if you know the steps.
And trust me — doing it the right way can make your coffee experience better than it has ever been before.
The first step to brewing that perfect cup of coffee is ensuring all your equipment is clean. This includes the grinder, scoop, brewer, carafe, and any filters. If you’re using a French Press, it means making sure that the plunger and the screen are completely clear of all coffee grounds. Wash everything with hot water and an oil-fighting dish detergent after each use.
Next step is to make sure you have the perfect beans. Oh look! You have Java Momma — so you’re covered!!
Coffee beans are at their peak flavor within 48-72 hours after roasting, and can quickly lose their flavoring after that. Typically, coffee starts getting weaker after just two weeks. So you want to make sure to only buy the coffee you can drink within that time frame, and try not to stock up on too many bags of coffee that will just be sitting around. If you do happen to catch a special or buy more than you immediately need, you can keep your beans in the freezer to help protect them for up to a month.
And you want to make sure you are using the right grind for the type of brewing you’re doing. An espresso machine requires a really fine, highly packed grind, while a typical autodrip brewing system can use a coarser grind. The French Press will require an even coarser grind to keep them from clogging up its screen.
Now it’s time to actually get to the brewing process. Besides the coffee itself, your water can impact the flavor of your coffee. If your city doesn’t have good tap water, you should use bottled or filtered water. You’ll also want to check your coffee-to-water ratio. The general rule is one to two tablespoons of ground coffee for every six ounces of water. However, this can be adjusted depending on your taste and how strong you like your coffee. And while we’re at it, make sure your water is being heated to the correct temperature. Whether you are heating the water and adding it to a French Press, or adding clean water to a brewer that will heat it for you, you want to make sure the water is heated to between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit before it comes in contact with your coffee grinds. If the water is to cold, your coffee will taste to flat; while if it’s too hot your coffee will be bitter.
Want an easy tip here? If you are brewing your coffee manually, allow the water to boil and turn it off for one minute before pouring in your grounds.
The last thing to consider when brewing your coffee is your brewing time: that would be the amount of time the water is in contact with your coffee grinds. In a drip system, the contact time should be about five minutes. A French Press should be two to four minutes. If you are making an espresso, the contact should only be 20-30 seconds.
Once you have these fundamentals down, you can make small adjustments to help account for your personal preferences. You may want to slow down the brewing time to extract more flavor from the beans. Or perhaps you want to squeeze in a few extra grinds to make your coffee a little stronger. That’s the beauty of brewing coffee: it’s a customizable process so you can be sure to have the perfect cup of coffee every time.