Did you know that coffee quality depends on a combination of factors? Having high quality, fresh beans of course helps. But clean, good-tasting water is also a must for the perfect cup, as well as clean equipment. There are even more brewing variables. You must keep the water at right temperature for the right amount of time while brewing. Brewing is less pushing a button to make coffee, it is somewhat of an art form.
Fascinated? Here are some commonly asked coffee questions.
At What Temperature Should Coffee Be Brewed?
Whether you want to impress at your next coffee club meeting or have purchased gourmet coffee online and want to make the most of it, you need to know what temperature is right for brewing. According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), a water temperature of between 92 – 96 degrees C, or 195 – 205 degrees F is ideal. Brewers should avoid boiling and then cooling the water to the proper range. If water is too cool the brew turns out sour; water boiled too rapidly loses dissolved air, rendering the coffee flat.
What Is The Perfect Water Quality?
Of course, great coffee needs great water. Even the best coffee can taste better when brewed with quality water, preferably bottled or filtered tap water. Sink-based filters or carafes tend to perform better than tap water alone. Water should also begin cold. Hot water loses some of the dissolved air and can pick up minerals from your pipes, but water heated directly by your coffee maker or stove can avoid some of these additives.
How Much Coffee Should I Use?
A standard cup uses six ounces of water. The standard measure of ground coffee, therefore, is 10 grams or just over a third of an ounce. To simplify that further: it’s two tablespoons. Ground coffee absorbs water, so you are typically left with five and a third ounces of coffee.
If you prefer a larger cup of coffee, use approximately 3.75 ounces of ground coffee per half a gallon of water. If that’s just a little too strong for you, simply reduce the amount of coffee until your desired strength is reached.
But of course, for the best cup of coffee, you should always use whole bean coffee and grind it yourself. This means you should always grind a little more than the ground coffee volumes listed above.
How Can You Keep Coffee Hot?
For best results, brew a fresh batch whenever you feel like coffee. To keep it hot for shorter periods of time, or for traveling purposes, use a thermally insulated cup that will reduce the loss of aromatics and retain overall flavor.
Instead of continually heating and reheating your coffee, it is best to try and maintain it’s initial heat. Optimal flavor can be achieved by keeping the coffee at high temperatures of at least 170 degrees F. Insulated containers that have glass internals, while they may be delicate, tend to hold heat the best and have the least effect on the taste of coffee. Quality stainless steel cups are great as well.
Coffees with substantial residual residue, such as those made with a French press device, don’t fare too well when kept hot for extended periods as the sediments continue extracting, rendering the coffee somewhat bitter. If you’re planning to brew a carafe of coffee and sip it all morning, it’s best not to brew with a French press.
Direct heat, such as that from a warming plate, should never be applied to brewed coffee, or not for more than a few minutes at a time anyway. Continued heating just burns the particles of coffee in the water, making the coffee bitter. This is mainly a concern for auto-drip coffee makers that usually keep a hot plate on the coffee after brewing.
As for reheating coffee in a microwave – this is a controversial subject. The main issue here is the uneven heating that microwaves are known for. Some say that parts of the coffee tend to overheat, making it taste unpleasant and spoiling the entire cup. No coffee maker is perfect at removing sediment from the coffee, and uneven heating can cause this sediment to settle and overextract.
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