Brewing Coffee 101

Brewing Coffee 101

Brewing a great cup of coffee is a craft that takes time and patience to learn, but no matter what brew method you choose, we have some tips that will help you on your way to becoming a coffee expert.

Adding clean fresh water to French press

1. Use clean, fresh water.

Because coffee is 98% water, it’s important to have the best water possible when preparing it. Clean, fresh water is also essential to proper extraction. Filtering your water will further reduce impurities and improve the overall flavor.

If you’re going to use water from the tap, make sure it’s cold. Cold water has more oxygen than warm or re-boiled water and will brighten the flavors in your cup.

2. Use the correct water temperature.

For brewing coffee, the proper water temperature is between 195-205°F. If the water is too hot, it will scald the coffee; the results will be bitter and over-extracted, with burnt and sometimes rubbery notes in the cup. If the water is not hot enough, the result will be under-extracted, displaying sour, bitter flavors and a thin, watery consistency in the cup. At home, proper temperature can be achieved by letting the water rest for a moment after coming to boil. When in doubt, use a thermometer.

When using a pour-over or other manual brewing method, it’s best to use water that’s on the hotter side, keeping the coffee slurry at about 200°F.

3. Pre-heat your brewing equipment.

Pouring hot water into a cold glass vessel will immediately drop the temperature of the water and can lead to an under-extracted cup of coffee. Warming your brewer before brewing will prevent this from happening.

Preheat coffee brewing equipment with hot water

4. Measure your coffee and water every time.

One way to ensure consistent brewing results is to measure your coffee and water. The water-to-coffee ratio should be between 15:1 and 18:1 depending on desired brew strength. (Translation: roughly 2 tablespoons per 6 oz. of water.)

We recommend using a scale if you have one, to ensure you're measuring correctly.

Ground coffee in a small glass cup

5. Start with fresh roasted whole bean coffee.

Once coffee has been roasted, it becomes sensitive to light, heat, air, and moisture. It’s best to keep coffee in whole-bean form in an air-tight, light-fast container to ensure freshness until you're ready to brew.

Grind only the amount of coffee that you need each time, and make sure to have the proper grind setting for the method of brewing. If the coffee is ground too fine, the results will be bitter and over-extracted. If the coffee is ground too coarse, the results will be watery and under-extracted.

Cup of whole bean coffee

6. Timing and consistency are everything.

The amount of time that coffee grounds are in contact with water, as well as the amount of agitation given to the coffee while it blooms, are important factors in brewing. Manual brewing methods require simultaneous focus on time, flow rate of the water, and the amount of agitation (or stirring) during the brewing process.

The key is to select a recipe and be consistent. For example, try to finish pouring the water for a manual drip in a given amount of time. Or keep track of the contact time and brew cycle when using a French press. Try stirring the coffee and water the same way during the brewing process. Also, use the same amount of water each time for pre-infusion.

7. Brew only what you plan to drink.

You deserve to drink good coffee, and reheated coffee is not good coffee! Neither is hot coffee that has gone cold. The longer that coffee sits, the more acrid and unpleasant flavor compounds will come forward in the cup. To fully appreciate the quality of your hard work, drink your coffee within 20 minutes of brewing.

Now that science class is out, get to brewing!

People sitting at wooden table sharing brewed coffee