Abby's Guide to Coffee Makers
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Abby’s Guide > Coffee Makers > Guide > Coffee Makers - Keys to a Good Brew

Keys to a Good Brew

Here is a quick lesson in brewing good coffee. With these keys in mind, picking a coffee or espresso maker will be a little bit easier.

The components of coffee — coffee beans and water — are a good place to start. Coffee first. There is a huge variety of coffee available out there. Caffeinated, de-caffeinated, instant, imported, and flavored are just some of the choices. Taste and budget can influence what choices you make. Obviously, starting with a good quality bean can improve the taste of your coffee. Another factor in coffee bean taste is freshness. Many coffee makers will suggest buying whole beans and grinding them just before use. Like with any other food, it is kept its freshest whole (think of an apple).

Another pointer is to store your coffee at room temperature if it is used daily. Freezing or refrigerating coffee actually causes warm air to condense to it whenever it is taken out of the cold air in which it was stored. Moist coffee beans are no good. Also, store your coffee in an opaque, airtight container so that light and oxygen cannot reach it. The other component of coffee is water. Ninety-eight percent of coffee is water, so make sure the water you use tastes good. Some people will even use bottled water to make their coffee. It is important for the water that you use to be heated to just the right temperature. Starting with cold water and heating it just to a boil is great (195° to 205°F). If the water does not get hot enough it cannot extract enough of the coffee beans' flavors. If it is too hot, the coffee will taste too bitter. The other key to ingredients is their ratio. Too much water and the coffee will be weak. Too much coffee bean and the brew will be bitter and overpowering.

The finer you grind the coffee, the more surface area that comes into contact with the water. The most pleasing elements of the coffee bean will dissolve first and the unsavory elements will take longer. So, if the method uses a long brew time, you want to make sure the grounds are coarser so the elements take longer to dissolve. When using a short brewing process, such as in making espresso, it is best to use a finer grind of coffee bean. For something like the French press, use a coarser ground because the water and bean stay in contact for a longer period of time.

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