10 Mistakes You're (Probably) Making While Brewing Coffee
For many of us, the promise of a good cup of coffee gets us out of bed in the morning. But coffee is very personal. Whether you choose to brew your coffee in a single-cup brewer, an automatic coffee maker or a French press, keep in mind there are variables that can affect the quality of the coffee you make. There is a reason the coffee from your local coffee shop tastes better. The coffee is freshly brewed, the beans were just ground, the milk was just steamed and the machine costs as much as a small car.
While we can't all have the fancy machine (and barista to make the coffee), we can take some lessons from coffee shops to brew a perfect cup of coffee at home. Here are 10 of the most common and easily remedied coffee-brewing mistakes that stand between you and a great cup of coffee:
1. Your equipment is dirty.
Make sure all parts of the machine have been rinsed thoroughly and no coffee or soap residue remains.
2. You're using old beans.
If you can't remember when you bought your coffee, it's time to buy some new beans! Only buy as much as you will consume in 1 to 2 weeks.
3. You're using pre-ground coffee.
Coffee that has already been ground is more susceptible to oxidation. Grinding your beans as close to brewing as possible ensures freshness.
4. You're not storing your beans correctly.
According to the National Coffee Association, the main enemies of coffee are air, moisture, heat and light. Unfortunately, most coffee retail packaging doesn't do a very good of protecting your beans from the elements. It's worth investing in an air-tight container (like this one from OXO) for your beans and storing them in a cool, dark place. Which brings us to the next mistake...
5. You're freezing your beans.
Never, ever freeze your coffee beans. All coffee—whether it's whole bean or ground—absorbs moisture, odors and tastes. So, that salmon you have sitting in your freezer? Yeah, your beans are absorbing it.
6. You're putting your grinds in the machine overnight.
We get it, there's nothing better than waking up to the delicious aroma of coffee. But when you put coffee grounds in your machine overnight, they're getting exposed to oxygen and will likely taste stale come morning.
7. You're using the wrong size grounds.
Each brewing method requires a different size of grind (for example, you should be using a coarse grind for your French press and a medium grind for drip brew). Coffee that has been ground too fine is often bitter, but if ground too coarse it may be weak. Check the machine's manual to find out which size is ideal.
8. You have the wrong coffee-to-water ratio.
For every 6 ounces of coffee, you'll need 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds. Using more, your coffee may be too strong and taste bitter; use less and you'll end up with watery, weak coffee.
9. Your water isn't the right temperature.
If the water is too hot, you can scald your coffee, and if it's too low, the flavors will be mellow. The water should be around 200 degrees Fahrenheit, or just before boiling (water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit).
10. You're using impure water.
Tap water often contains minerals that can alter the flavor of your coffee. Use bottled spring water or filtered drinking water.