By: Dan Gentile
Turning water into caffeine isn't quite alchemy, but there are plenty of secrets to making a golden cup of coffee. And unless you're a professional, odds are your equation has some errors in it.
So, to find the most common coffee-making mistakes, we asked for tips from a cast of industry experts including Geoff Watts from Intelligentsia, Joel Shuler from Casa Brasil, Lorenzo Perkins from Cuvée Coffee, and Greg Lorance from Cumberland Farms. Take these to heart, and the best part of waking up will be even better.
1. You're not buying fresh coffee
Serious coffee nerds might look for specific farms, regions, or elevations, but don't worry about that. According to Intelligentsia's Geoff Watts, the best move is to look for coffee that's been harvested within the last six months and roasted within the last couple weeks.
2. You're buying bad coffee
"Great-quality ingredients are the real secret behind all culinary arts," says Geoff. Coffee is no exception. It should be an excellent adventure, not a bogus journey, so avoid these 11 coffee-buying pitfalls.
3. You're not measuring
If you're baking a cake, you'd measure the amount of flour. Same goes for coffee. "If you want to make great coffee at home, one of the best things you can do is get yourself a small digital scale," says Geoff. They're cheap, fun to use, and will take out much of the guesswork. Geoff suggests a 1 to 16 ratio of coffee to water, which Cuvée's Lorenzo Perkins helpfully translated to 60g per L or 2 Tbsp per 6 oz.
4. You're using a crappy brew method
You don't need a crazy-expensive espresso machine, but Lorenzo says a percolator isn't going to cut it. Even a decent drip machine will work, but if you want to level up, try a French press or a pour-over method.
5. You use pre-ground coffee
"Grinding the coffee greatly increases the surface area. This is needed for brewing, but also causes the coffee to stale quickly if it sits around. Buy whole-bean coffee and grind just before brewing. You will be amazed at the difference," says Joel Shuler of Casa Brasil. Furthermore, Greg goes so far as to claim that beans go stale just five minutes after they've been ground.
6. You're not starting with hot water
If you're going to use a drip machine at home, odds are it's not heating the water to a high enough temperature. To hack it, Greg suggests starting out with water as hot as your tap will supply.
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