Due to remote conditions, many of us are relying on our bland, home-brewed coffee to get us through the days. But, just because we’re at home, doesn’t mean we have to settle for less.
“There is an abundance of accessories and tools out there that can help you brew a great cup of coffee,” said David Lane, co-founder at Blue Donkey Coffee. “With the right choice and use of accessories, along with always using high-quality, freshly roasted beans, you can brew delicious coffee.”
We may never be able to fully achieve the experience of a favorite local café, but Blue Donkey Coffee's (BDC) product team provides their tips for ways we can improve our home-brewed coffee.
Choose the right filter for your taste. According to BDC’s product team, the three main types of coffee filter materials are paper, metal, and cloth, and each one creates its own, unique flavor. “Paper filters remove most of the oils and sediments from your coffee, creating a light, clean, and crisp cup of coffee,” said BDC. “Metal filters are typically composed of a fine stainless-steel mesh that strains out most of your coffee sediments yet retains the natural oils and micro sediments into your cup. The result typically is a creamier, heavier body, and rich cup of coffee compared to a paper filter. Cloth filters are a great choice if you would like a clean, crisp cup yet would like to retain some of the natural flavorful oils from your coffee. Cloth filters typically yield a medium body, rich, aromatic brew.”
Perfect the water-to-coffee ratio. “Your coffee-to-water ratio essentially determines the strength of your coffee,” said BDC. “With freshly roasted, freshly ground, high-quality coffee, we recommend using 1/16 brew ratio.” In other words, one ounce of ground coffee to 16 ounces of water. “Start at a 1/16 ratio, and you can tweak it stronger or weaker based upon your personal preference.”
Wash the carafe. BDC recommends washing the carafe after each brew. “Over time, with heavy use, your coffee carafe will build up coffee sediments and oils,” they said. “The sediment build-up will indeed affect the flavor of your coffee. Thus, it is highly recommended to use a coffee carafe cleaner to remove those sediments.”
Find the right bean. “The most common types of coffee beans are Arabica and Robusta,” said BDC. “Arabica beans are higher quality, more flavorful beans and typically grown in higher altitude environments. Robusta beans are typically easier to grow, grown in lower elevations, require lower maintenance, and are generally mechanically picked, yielding a lower-grade coffee and flavor. Most specialty coffees are Arabica beans.”
Temp your water. According to BDC, the ideal water temperature for a standard pour-over or drip brew is 200 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. “You can check the water temp with a food-grade thermometer or purchase a temperature-controlled gooseneck kettle,” said BDC. “Also, it is important to use filtered water with any brewing method.”
Detect bean freshness. “There are several ways to detect your coffee’s freshness,” said BDC. “The first is to note the volume of gases and bubbles your coffee releases when you first “bloom” your coffee. To bloom your coffee, pour just enough hot water, temped at 200 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit, over the grounds to soak them and wait about 30 seconds. This will release some of the carbon dioxide in the beans and bubbles will form on the bed of grounds. The fresher the coffee, the more bubbles you will see. Older, staler coffee will be flat, and very few gases will be released.” BDC recommends purchasing whole bean coffee and grinding right before you brew to yield a more aromatic, vibrant, flavorful, and fresh-tasting brew.
Three must-have tools for every kitchen. In addition to always using freshly roasted whole beans, BDC recommends the following tools for brewing great coffee at home:
- A great quality burr grinder: Grinding your coffee freshly, consistently, and evenly is one of the most important aspects of great-tasting coffee. If the grinding is uneven and inconsistent, your coffee will tend to taste either sour, bitter, or harsh. A high-quality burr grinder will ensure your coffee granule size is consistent and even, which will produce a smoother more flavorful cup.
- A food-grade scale: For rich, vibrant, consistent tasting coffee, a scale is highly recommended. A scale will enable you to pinpoint the strength you like and consistently brew your recipe with the correct ratios. Measuring by volume is inconsistent and can vary greatly.
- Temperature-controlled gooseneck kettle: As mentioned before, having your water temperature between 200 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit is crucial to ensure targeted extraction. A temperature-controlled kettle will ensure you are brewing within the targeted temperature every time. A gooseneck kettle is also good to have as it provides more control for you to brew with a slower steady swirling motion to ensure full extraction.