Brewing a Great
Cup of Coffee
There are myriad ways of brewing a great cup of coffee. The basics, however, are universal:
- Start with fresh, good-tasting cold water.
- If you choose whole beans, grind your beans just before brewing… and be sure to choose a grind appropriate for your brewing method (coarse for a coffee press, less so for a vacuum pot and fairly fine for an auto-drip).
- Measure your coffee. This is largely personal preference, but a good place to start is between one and two tablespoons for each six ounces of water. Err on the side of more coffee–too little coffee makes a bitter, not weaker, brew… and you can always dilute a strong brew with additional hot water.
- Brew your coffee using clean equipment.
- Enjoy your coffee immediately...or store it for an hour or two in a thermal carafe.
- Store unopened coffee bags in a cool, dry place. We eliminate most of the oxygen in our bags by flushing them with nitrogen (an inert gas that won’t cause staling). After you open the bag, store your beans in an air-tight canister.
Savoring the Cup
Cupping coffees is one of the most unique aspects of our craft. When we “cup” coffees, we formally evaluate their qualities using very precise sensory criteria. Cupping is not just the realm of coffee experts. You can use some of the same criteria when judging your morning brew. Here’s how:
- Breathe deep. Smell the just-ground coffee before it’s brewed. The fragrance speaks volumes about the coffee’s origin and the care of its processing.
- Brew. Breathe deep again. The aroma of brewed coffee also varies dramatically from origin to origin. Coffee can be: woodsy, earthy, citrusy, fruity, smoky, or nutty.
- Take a sip. Is it bright? This pleasing tang on the tongue is acidity. Acidity does not refer to the PH level of the coffee.
- Take another sip. Is the coffee earthy, nutty, fruity, toasty? There is huge diversity in the flavor of coffee from region to region, or even within a specific region. Try a few different blends or regions!
- And another sip. How does the coffee feel? What is its weight or texture? Full-bodied coffees may be buttery or even syrupy. Light-bodied coffees are more tea-like.
- Now you’re really starting to enjoy the coffee. How does each sip finish? The sensations that remain in the mouth when the coffee is gone are the finish, or aftertaste. Some coffees impart a sweet, lingering finish; others are more direct, even abrupt.
- Before you know it, a full cup has elapsed, and you’ve been immersed in the wonderful wealth of sensoral information held within a single cup. Think about that coffee’s balance, how all of its individual flavors and taste sensations come together. Great coffees are balanced – great coffees have a whole composition that is greater than the sum of its parts.