10 ways to good coffee

cuppa joeAs much as I complain sometimes about my allergy to alcohol, the truth is I don’t miss drinking that much. Sure, I don’t get to try all of the new, cool imported beers, but I also avoid the embarrassment of making an ass of myself at the yearly staff party.

(That said, I also don’t have any excuse for my behavior. Erg…)

What I can’t live without, though, is coffee. Recently I’ve toned down my caffeine intake, for moderation’s sake, but I still need to start off every day with a good, well-brewed cup of Good Morning America. Here’s ten tips from a coffee nerd that you might find helpful in your quest for the perfect brew.

  1. Start off on the good foot.
    None of that Starbucks swill. If you cannot follow this step then you are already beyond help.
  2. A good bean goes a long way.
    Most importantly: Buy beans, preferrably fair trade if you can find it. Pre-ground coffee (eg. Folgers. Maxwell House) is for people with no time, no patience, and no sense of dignity. And that’s not you.

    Contrary to popular belief, dark and strong does not make for a bigger caffeine buzz. Lightly roasted beans are higher in caffeine, but are also have a lighter flavour. Darkly roasted beans are slightly lower in caffiene content, but are stronger, richer and have a fuller flavour.

    The following is a very basic roasting glossary:
    • French: A very dark roast, with lots of oil visible on the dark brown beans. I believe this is often used in espresso drinks.
    • Italian: Slightly lighter than French, an Italian roast is also dark brown and oily. It can sometimes have a slight bitter taste. Used for espresso drinks in cafés ‘round North America.
    • Viennese: Probably in the middle for darkness, with a slight touch of oil. Good flavour, but not in a “curl-your-nosehairs” way.
    • City, Breakfast, or American: Your everyday average roast. Found in diners and restaurants everywhere.
    • Cinnamon: A fairly light roast, for those days when you don’t want to bring your tastebuds to their knees.

    Whatever your taste in coffee beans are, it must be said: flavoured coffee is not only bad for your coffee karma, it’s silly. I’ll take my coffee sans Irish creme, chocolate, hazelnuts, oranges, or any other chemically-added taste abomination, thank you. Also, try to buy Arabica beans: they provide a much better, more flavour-packed brew.

    One last tip: when buying beans, look for at least a little bit of oil on the surface, which kicks the flavour up a notch. Only buy what you can use in 2-4 weeks, to avoid stale, sad beans. Once you’ve bought the beans, keep them in an airtight container away from sunlight and heat, or at the very least, in the fridge.

    It should be obvious by now that good beans make a good brew. If you really care about a good cuppa joe, don’t skimp on ‘em.
  3. Bad water = bad coffee.
    If the water tastes or smells bad before it touches the beans, it’s going to taste bad afterwards. I like using filtered water myself. Also ensure that the water going into your coffee machine or kettle is as cold as possible.
  4. Grind your beans just before you make your coffee.
    This ensures that the oil on the bean gets mixed in nicely with the grinds. I find coffee that has been ground and then sat for a while seems to lose a lot of its flavour. It’s also been said that ground coffee that sits for a while can inherit a rather off-putting bitter taste.
  5. Use a clean machine.
    I prefer making my coffee in a Bodum, but using a percolator or drip machine isn’t the end of the world. Whatever you’re using to make your coffee, it has to be spotless and clean throughout - especially drip coffee makers, which tend to have lots of gross buildup hidden inside. That stuff ends up in your coffee.
  6. Use the right amount of coffee.
    For every six-ounces of coffee you want to make, you need two tablespoons of coffee beans (before grinding). Trust me, if you want true, full strength coffee, this is the way to go.
  7. Put on some smooth, morning funk.
    Al Green’s I’m Still in Love With You is an excellent choice. It’s good for the beans, man.
  8. Stir your coffee before serving.
    This mixes up any wayward oil that might have found its way to the top, and ensures a yummy, consistent drinking experience.
  9. Don’t burn that coffee!
    If you’ve made a few cups, store the extra cofee in a thermos. Leaving it on the element or in the machine will just slowly cook it to death, like those sad-looking chicken breasts languishing on a steam buffet table. You didn’t come this far to let your coffee down, did you?
  10. Have some self-respect.
    Don’t drink reheated coffee. That’s just disgusting.

There’s nothing better on a quiet, weekend morning than sitting down with a big, beautiful cup of coffee (or tea, but that’s a different post altogether), some good tunes, and a good book. I think I’ll do just that right now. Have I forgotten a crucial coffee tip? Post it in the comments.

ISSN 1499-7894
Recent Posts
Contact Archives Web Love Writing Photos FAQs Home