What makes one coffee taste better than another?
How to make coffee taste better? We’re on it!
Picture the scene. You have two cups of coffee. One tastes okay (ish) but the other, oh my, is incredible! Fresh and vibrant, it is brimming with all the fanciful flavours you’ve ever wanted. So, what’s its secret?
Starting off right (a pre-tip for you)
Kick things off the right way with good – no, the best – quality beans. Using instant stuff won’t get you any further than a flat-tasting cup. Instead, you need hand-picked small batch coffee beans, freshly roasted by a skilled roaster who knows what they’re doing (hey, Head Chimp Andy).
But as you are here on our website and reading this article, we guess you’ve already got this one sussed. So let’s get into the nitty-gritty and discover five factors that can make a coffee taste better!
(Pssst… not got the beans sorted? No worries – just head to our online shop and order a bag today!)
Measuring the coffee grounds
Using scales to measure coffee does sound like a faff (hello, isn’t that what tbsps are for?), but it really is worth it for the perfect cup.
Each brewing method has its own recommended coffee to water ratio, which tells you how many millilitres of water you should use for each gram of coffee. Coffee to water ratios are precise. We’re talking gram-precise here; this isn’t the time for best guesses.
Take the AeroPress; it has a recommended ratio of 1:16. This tells us we need 16ml of water per gram of coffee. If we’re using 240ml of water (the amount your AeroPress can hold), we know that we’ll need 15g of ground coffee. Why? Because 240 divided by 16 is 15g. We can tell you that this equals two heaped tablespoons, but in the same breath we’ll tell you that everyone’s interpretation of ‘heaped’ will be slightly different. Avoid the guesswork, grab a set of scales and voilà: better coffee in the bag.
Bang-on brew time
Along with grind size, brew time is key to achieving the right extraction.
The brew times for each coffee making method are different. You’ll want to leave the coffee and water to steep in your cafetiere for two minutes before stirring and then leaving for two minutes more.
The brew time for a V60 will be between two and five minutes and can be altered by changing the grind size. Finer grounds will make the water work harder to find the gaps. This will increase the brew time and give you a stronger-tasting cup. Just don’t let the grounds and water get cosy for too long, or you’ll run the risk of over-extraction.
It might take a bit of trial and error to find a brew time that’s best for you, but you’ll know when you’ve found it – the first sip will leave you on cloud nine!
The right roast for the brew method
We don’t do preachy here at TC, so we’re not going to say you have to pair a certain coffee with a particular brew method.
What we are going to do is hand out a few tips to help you find a fab small batch coffee for your brew method. Brew methods each have a roast type they are naturally suited to. Let’s start with pressure methods (espresso, stovetop). These aren’t best for lighter roasts as pressure accentuates acidity and light roasts are more acidic. Try a medium or dark roast instead. Lighter roasts are fab in a cafetiere, and in a Chemex, so don’t go putting them in the corner!
Here’s a quick summary:
- Cafetiere: light roast
- Filter: light roast
- Espresso: medium/dark roast
- AeroPress: medium/dark roast
- Stovetop: medium roast
- Cold brew: dark roast
Getting the water temperature spot-on
What else could be the secret behind that standout mug of joe? Can you feel it in your water?
When you’re in a rush, it can be tempting to bung the water straight in the brewer as soon as it’s boiled (have we just invented a tongue-twister??). However, water that’s too hot can scald your lovely coffee and cause its bitter compounds to extract.
The Speciality Coffee Association have strict guidelines when it comes to coffee cupping. They state that the:
Cupping water temperature shall be 200°F ± 2°F (92.2 – 94.4°C) when poured on grounds.
Ideally, you want your water temperature to be somewhere between 195°F to 205°F. Unless you’re making a cool cold brew. Obviously. Water within this range will help to extract the water-soluble flavour compounds and give you a well-extracted, balanced cup.
You can use a thermometer or probe to get it inch-perfect or leave a standard kettle to cool for 30 seconds before using.
Or maybe it was paired with something tasty?
A slice of cake is obviously going to make you smile, but did you know that certain food pairings can bring out the flavour nuances in your coffee?
Chocolate is a failsafe coffee snack. Go for a choccie treat that mirrors your chosen coffee. Strong coffee fans want to go for intense dark chocolate, while light roast lovers should try a quality white chocolate with floral or berry-like flavours. Keeping things samey will ensure your treats add to each other rather than stamping out their partner’s flavour.
Bit of a curveball, but how about trying something salty? Salt accentuates flavour in food and drink – it’s why we add it to our cooking – so naturally salty food like bacon and cheese can help you taste your fave coffee in a new light. Don’t knock it ‘till you try it!
All good coffees start with great beans – get yours here!
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