Coffee Myths May Be Ruining Your Morning
Coffee may seem simple. You just grind the beans, put them in your coffee machine and run water through the grounds, right? While you'll certainly end up with a cup of coffee that way, you might find that it's not quite up to your standards. If you want to brew the perfect cup of coffee, consider some common coffee myths that could be keeping you from achieving the best quality.
The Right Roast
One of the most persistent coffee myths is that dark roast beans contain more caffeine than their lighter counterparts. In fact, it's just the opposite. Coffee beans lose a tiny bit of their caffeine the longer they roast, so light roasts pack a slightly bigger punch, though not enough that you're likely to feel the difference.
More noticeably, darker roasts also tend to look more oily than lighter roasts. As a bean roasts, oils from inside are pulled to the surface, giving the bean an oily sheen and a slicker texture. Many people mistakenly believe that oily beans are a sign of quality. However, even the best light roasts will lack the oily finish of a poor-quality dark roast.
Once you've got your beans settled, it's time to grind them. Don't just turn on your grinder and let it go to work, though. The grind level of coffee is one of the biggest factors that determine its taste. Finer grounds allow more oils, and thus flavor, to be extracted in a shorter time. Using finely ground coffee with a long brewing time, however, will extract too much oil, leading to bitter coffee. You should use fine grounds only for specialty methods such as espresso or Turkish coffee. For your automatic coffee maker, it's best to stick to a medium grind. If you're using a French press coffee maker, your beans should be coarsely ground, since they'll be steeping in the water for quite some time.
What About Water?
Just like grind size, water temperature can have a surprising effect on flavor extraction. Water should be slightly below boiling point to best extract coffee's oils. Most pros recommend a range between 195 and 205 degrees for best results. If you brew below that temperature, your coffee can taste weak, but go too much higher and you'll be pulling the unpleasant, bitter oils from your coffee along with the tasty ones.
On the subject of water, it's best not to just use whatever comes out of your kitchen faucet. Filter your water first for best results, or use bottled water if that's not an option or your tap water still isn't up to snuff. If that seems overly picky, consider that there's more water in your coffee cup than there are coffee oils, so bad-tasting water will be noticeable. A good rule of thumb is if your water tastes bad on its own, it'll also make a bad cup of coffee.
Sort Out Your Storage
So now you've got the knowledge you need to make a good cup of coffee. Before you turn your kitchen into a coffeehouse, however, consider how you're storing your beans. Try to buy only enough beans to last you one or two weeks, since they lose their flavor quickly when they're sitting around, especially in an open container. And don't even think about putting them into the refrigerator or freezer to extend their lifespan. Especially in the refrigerator, beans will absorb whatever moisture and odors are around, leaving you with gross, possibly unusable beans. You also risk letting condensation form and ruining your coffee entirely.