When someone asks me what makes a perfect cup of coffee, I have to say that it depends on many variables. While it probably seems obvious that great coffee starts with great beans, there are many factors that make coffee beans great and some of those dwindle in time.
Where were was the coffee grown?
Coffee from different regions and even from different farms have their own characteristics. Here in wine country we are familiar with these defining characteristics of terroir.
What is the roast profile?
Coffee beans are roasted anywhere from very light to very dark. The different coffee roasts in turn will either highlight or mask flavours and components of the coffee bean. The lighter the coffee beans are roasted the more acidic the coffee will be. As a general rule a darker roast will produce more bitterness. Each coffee will produce different tastes depending on the roast profile, and choosing a roast along this spectrum is a matter of personal preference.
When was the coffee roasted?
When the coffee was roasted has a bearing on how well the flavour profiles will show up in the cup. Ideally one should only purchase coffee that has been freshly roasted and that they will be able to consume within two to four weeks of the roast date. Beyond this timeframe coffee will continue to deteriorate in flavour, and increasingly lose its appealing qualities.
When and how were the coffee beans ground?
Coffee will deteriorate much more quickly once it has been ground. Ideally, coffee should be ground just prior to brewing as this will ensure that the coffee retains as much of its flavour as possible. A burr grinder is ideal because it will ensure that the coffee is ground to a consistent size.
Every brewing method requires a different grind. These range from very fine almost powder like grounds for Turkish coffee to a very coarse grind for a french press or percolator.
What kind of water are you using?
The water you use is important as it has an effect on the taste of your coffee. If your tap water has a strong odour or taste you might wish to consider using bottled or filtered water.
How much coffee are you using to brew your coffee?
The ratio of coffee to water is important. As a starting point I recommend one to two tablespoons of ground coffee for every six ounces of water, then adjust to your personal taste.
How long does your coffee take to brew?
The time that the coffee and water are in contact is important. For drip coffee this should be about 5 minutes. French press should sit 5 minutes before plunging. A shot of espresso should run around 25 seconds. Cold brew should steep for 12 to 24 hours.
As a final aside, I like to encourage that you try to enjoy your coffee with as much thought as you put into the preparation. Enjoy the aroma, notice the flavours. It took many people and processes to bring it to your cup.
We are FRESH, we are LOCAL, and we DELIVER.
submitted by Teri