By: Tati Amare
If you’re like me in the mornings, you’re probably stumbling over to your coffee machine first thing to get that fix brewing. I personally appreciate everything from a really good latté or cappuccino to homemade Ethiopian and Turkish coffee, so I’m always looking for ways to improve upon the flavor. My home brew is good and does the trick, but I knew there had to be a way to get the same excellent quality we get at the fancy coffee-houses, without the high cost.
In my quest for the perfect cup, I reached out to expert David Latourell to get some masterful java advice for UrbLife.com. We met up at the Intelligentsia Cupping and Training Lab in New York’s trendy SoHo area and got down to business. Here are David’s Top 7 suggestions to extract the best your beans can offer!
1. Clean water. The most essential element, according to David, is good, fresh, cool water – preferably from a Brita pitcher or sink filter. Coffee made with unfiltered water in a part of the country with hard water (water with high mineral content) can cause scale build up in your machine that makes it brew less efficiently and changes the taste of the coffee. But as a general rule of thumb, no matter where you live, filter the water.
2. A clean coffee maker. Not exactly one of my strongest points I’ll admit. David gave me some Urnex Cleancaf to try a while ago, and it was amazing. My coffee machine hasn’t been this clean since I bought it! The product is made of organic ingredients, so there are no strange fumes or after taste.
3. Proper temperature. Your coffee machine should brew at temperatures between 195 – 205° F / 90.5 – 96.1° C. This is important for the machine to extract the maximum amount of flavor from the coffee. Unfortunately most machines under a couple hundred bucks don’t meet the criteria. Sorry people with a $20 plastic “but it was on sale” special – time to upgrade!
4. Grind your own beans! According to David, every coffee grinder is like a snowflake – you’ll never get the exact same grind from two machines, ever. Coffee nerds seeking properly ground bean, no matter how fine or course you like it, are going to have to spend couple of bills to get a quality machine. See #6 for more info
What is the number one problem with grinders, other than quality? Back to our #2: a dirty machine! The grinder should be kept clean by using a food-safe product like Urnex Grindz once a month. Needless to say, my plastic blade grinder has been introduced to the trash bin and a better one has been added to my Christmas list.
5. Get the right grind. For a regular home machine, go for a grind that’s a little finer than sea salt. An espresso machine will require a different grind, so read your user manual before doing it yourself or having coffee ground for you at your local market. Remember, 60% of the flavor of your coffee comes from the grind. We’ll have more fun experimenting with this in the next article…
6. Buy no more than a half a pound of ground coffee at a time. This should last you about a week, giving you the best possible flavors from the pre-ground beans.
7. Store in a cool, dry air-tight container in a cabinet. Chemical reactions from sunlight/heat, air or moisture can kill the flavor of your roast. If you’re going to spend the money on good, fresh ground coffee is important to store it correctly to enjoy it to the every last cup.
Other methods of brewing coffee require different grinds and slightly varying water temperatures, so we’ll take it up a notch next time with more tips!