So you’re a fellow coffee lover. Welcome, you’ve come to the right place. Here at Kion, we take coffee seriously—not only the way it’s prepared but also the myriad of health benefits regular coffee consumption offers. However, most of us are missing out on some of the health benefits (and getting the best possible flavor) of coffee by not storing, preparing, brewing, and sourcing our coffee properly.
Here are seven tips for how to brew coffee like a pro in your own home so you never have to pay $8 for a nonfatmochachocalatte at your local coffee shop again.
1. Store Your Coffee Properly
One of the biggest mistakes coffee drinkers make is not storing their coffee in a way that maintains the freshness and quality of taste. Coffee beans are very absorbent, so it’s best to store them away from:
- Direct sunlight
This means (regardless of what your grandmother taught you) you might want to avoid keeping your beans in the freezer or refrigerator. This exposes them to moisture through condensation, as well as odors from other foods. Most of us would prefer our coffee without hints of leftover lasagna, red onions, or broccoli salad.
The best option is to store fresh, whole beans in an opaque, airtight container in a dark place away from moisture or other odors. Not only does proper storage preserve the flavor and aroma of your coffee beans but it also helps to protect beneficial compounds in the beans from oxidizing.
2. Grind Only What You Need
Yes, it’s incredibly convenient to grind an entire bag of coffee at once or buy pre-ground coffee at the store. We won’t argue with that. However, if you’re looking for the freshest cup of Joe possible, we suggest buying whole beans and only grinding what you need for that day.
When coffee beans are pre-ground and allowed to sit for long periods of time, the grounds oxidize and release their oils and gasses, which leads to stale, less flavorful and less aromatic coffee. And who wants that? Not us. Not you. So trust us on this one, embrace your inner coffee snob, and only grind your coffee within 15 minutes of brewing.
It’s also important to use the right type of grind for your brewing method. Slower methods like a French Press call for a coarse grind, while faster methods like espresso call for a finer grind.
3. Use Clean Water
This may seem obvious, but the quality of the water used in the brewing process is another often overlooked factor in making a perfect cup of coffee. If you use ‘hard’ water that’s full of minerals, you’ll typically get under-extracted, weak-tasting coffee. Hard water can also lead to lime and scale buildup in coffee machines, which is no fun to deal with and decreases the life of your equipment.
A good rule of thumb is this: If the water doesn’t taste good on its own, it’s going to make your coffee taste gnarly too. Simple as that. Always use clean, filtered, delicious tasting water when making coffee.
4. Use the Proper Coffee to Water Ratio
The standard ratio for most brewing methods is around 1:17, depending on your personal preference. In other words, 1 gram of ground coffee to 17 grams of water.
If you don’t have a food scale, instead use the ratio of 1:4. For example, 1 tablespoon of ground coffee to 4 ounces of water.
Adjusting this coffee:water ratio is an easy way to tweak the strength of your coffee; less coffee + more water = weaker taste, and more coffee + less water = stronger taste.
5. Prepare and Care for Your Equipment
Another magical tip to make a perfect cup of coffee is to prepare your brewing vessel (if using a manual brewer) or coffee mug by preheating it first. To preheat, just add some hot water to the vessel/cup, and then pour it out. This will help maintain the ideal temperature of your coffee so you’ll never have to stoop to reheating it in the microwave again (no shame, we’ve all done it!).
And don’t forget to take care of your equipment! Keep your brewers clean and dry when not in use, and descale machines on a regular basis. You can use simple white vinegar for this. Most descaling solutions are made from harsh chemicals we wouldn't recommend cleaning your house with, let alone letting soak inside your coffee pot.
6. Adjust One Variable At a Time
If you want to change the taste of your coffee, try first adjusting either the grind or the amount of coffee you use. It’s important to only change one variable at a time; otherwise, you won’t know which change led to your ideal flavor!
Changing the size of the grind can largely influence the taste of your coffee, so feel free to experiment to find your preferred taste. If the coffee tastes too bitter, use a coarser grind; if the coffee tastes sour, use a finer grind.
If you want a stronger, more flavorful coffee, you might want to change up the coffee to water ratios to have more coffee and less water.
Again, what determines the ‘perfect cup of coffee’ is highly personal and depends on your unique flavor preference. You might have to tinker with your process for a bit before you hit the sweet spot – but that’s what makes it fun! If you can't quite get it right (or if black coffee isn't your thing), check out this article on “9 Ways To Spice Up Your Coffee Routine.”
7. Start With Quality Coffee
Even if you follow all of the above tips, you’ll still be missing out on some of the magic of coffee if you aren’t paying attention to the quality of your coffee beans. Most of the commercial coffees on the market today are mass-produced, treated heavily with pesticides, over-roasted, not packaged to maintain freshness, and sit on a shelf for months before making it to your kitchen. This results in a lackluster cup of coffee that is full of agrochemicals, makes you jittery, and worst of all tastes stale and burnt. Gross.
In order to get the most flavor—and health benefits—out of your coffee, look for a source that meets the following standards:
- Certified organic
- Whole bean
- Freshly roasted
- Packaged properly (the gold standard being nitrogen flushed)
- High cupping score (aka tastes delish!)
Kion Coffee meets all of these standards, and then some. Certified organic and roasted for a rich, smooth taste: Our coffee tastes as good as it makes you feel.
Learning how to brew coffee like a pro is meaningless if you don't start with high-quality, freshly ground coffee beans. Once you've got your beans of choice, depending on your strength preference—bold and strong, or mild and light—add an appropriate amount of clean, purified water. For optimal freshness, be sure to grind only what you need and always store your coffee beans away from moisture, heat, direct sunlight, oxygen, and odors.