Brewing 101

Brewing 101

by TR Skeie

With all the new crazy gadgets available to us these days, you may find yourself with a lot of questions about how to properly brew your coffee. The great news is that the basic rules for brewing apply to almost all brewing methods!

1. Make sure your gear is clean and ready. Coffee can stain, but did you ever stop to think that those stains carry flavors and odors that can go rancid? Clean your brewer after every use to ensure you taste the coffee and not the pot!

2. Use freshly roasted whole bean coffee. After roasting, you have roughly 10-14 days to use your whole bean coffee. Darker roasted coffee will stale a bit faster because oils on the surface of the bean are exposed to air, moisture, and varying temperatures. Pre-ground coffee will stale at an even faster rate.
Buy your freshly roasted coffee on a weekly basis. Store it in an airtight container at just below room temperature.

3. Grind the coffee to the proper consistency for your brewer. Most home grinders have a setting that corresponds to your brewer. The brew time helps to check the grind you’ve selected. Notice the chart below. If you have a blade grinder, it’s often trial and error or inconsistent, so get to know it well.
Home espresso: grind very fine, and brew for 20-30 seconds
Cone filter or vacuum pot: grind fine, and brew for 1-4 minutes
Commercial drip brewer: grind medium, and brew for 4-6 minutes
French press: grind coarse, and brew for 4-6 minutes

4. Use a measure of two level tablespoons, or 10 grams, of coffee per 6 ounces of water. People usually begin with this rule and adjust it to personal taste. If you stray too far in one direction, however, you will get either too strong or too weak a cup.

5. Use freshly drawn cold water. (Avoid softened water. Filtered water or good tap water work just fine.)

6. Brew at the right temperature. Your water should be heated to just before boiling point and used immediately.

7. Keep it hot and drink it soon. Brewed coffee loses a lot of its character over time. After brewing, hold it in a clean hot thermos and discard after an hour. Don’t ever reheat or microwave coffee!