Updated: Apr 10, 2018
Here are some simple coffee brewing tips for making better coffee. Keep these in mind for all brew methods.
Coffee Brewing Tips
Clean equipment – Keep all your equipment clean. If left unclean, coffee oils can be stubborn to wipe away and will make anything that comes into contact smell rancid. When you finish brewing, use the time it takes for coffee to cool down to clean up.
Pre-heat your equipment – Cool temperatures affect coffee extraction. Temperatures from 90-96◦C allow for extraction of the most desirable compounds. Ensuring your equipment is heated before use aids in extraction and keeps your coffee hot.
Pre-soak your filter paper – Remember to pre-soak your filter paper for pour overs and Aeropress. Using hot water kills two birds with one stone, heating the equipment and taking away some of that paper taste. Pour this water away.
Don’t keep your coffee on a hotplate – Continuously heating your coffee makes it stew. This brings out a harsh bitterness. Furthermore, it is best to consume coffee within 15 minutes. The oxidation that helps bring out the enjoyable flavours will soon destroy them too.
Weigh everything – Use your scales to weigh your coffee and water. This allows you to repeat proven recipes for great coffee.
Extracting the Coffee
Grind size – It is important to have the right and consistent grind size for each brew method. It allows for a proper and balanced extraction.
After grinding – Brew your coffee as soon as possible after grinding. Coffee loses 60% of its aromas in the first 15-20 minutes after grinding, so only grind what you need for each brew.
Blooming – This means pre-soaking the coffee. With fresh coffee grounds, after a pre-soak, you will see the powder quickly expand, bubble and foam. This beautiful sight is called the bloom. Always pre-soak your coffee with a small amount of water and wait 20-30 seconds before adding more to complete the brew. This gives the coffee a chance to release carbon dioxide and prepares it for extraction.
Soluble compounds – Different flavour compounds are extracted at different temperatures and rates. These different solids give a range of tastes but as a general rule, the early extracted solids are acidic, the middle are sweet and the late are bitter and astringent. Extract too many late solids and they will overpower the brew. Getting the balance right is important for avoiding under and over extraction.
Water – The Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) count of water matters if you want ‘space’ to extract a coffee’s solids (you do). Bottled mineral water with a TDS count of 80-150 parts per million (ppm) is ideal. TDS information is usually on the label.
Fixing a brew – If the brew is bad or not ideal, only change one variable at a time. Changing one variable (grind size, brew ratio, contact time) makes it easier to trace your changes and hone in on a great brew.
Deeper extraction – The hotter the water, the more the grounds are agitated (moved around whilst brewing) or the longer the contact time (time the water spends in contact with the coffee grounds), the deeper the extraction. Think about these factors when brewing and adjust accordingly to find a balanced extraction (sweet with a great acidity and bitterness).