Has your relationship with coffee grown a little...tepid?
Sure, you love it and you'd never leave it. But the depth, the body, the delicious complexity that you fell in love with years ago, seems to have faded a little. You've settled into a set-it-and-forget-it routine, and the flavor just isn't what it used to be.
Most of the time it doesn't bother you too much--you just brew, pour, and go about your day. But every now and then, you notice it.
A stranger at your favorite coffee shop, eyes closed in a blissful inhale before sipping.
A barista locked in a mysterious dance with an airpot machine.
A friend whose voice trails off as they carefully sift grounds and add water to their French press.
What secret do these people have?
What are they doing that you aren't?
Why does their coffee taste so damn good?
It may surprise you to learn that the same principles behind a happy relationship apply to brewing a dynamite cup of coffee.
Keep reading for guide to getting the (coffee) love you want.
1. Find your favorite beans
You’re a specific person, with specific needs, desires, and tastes. If the beans you have on hand aren’t doing it for you, there’s no shame in shopping around. There’s a wide world of coffee out there, from single-origin to blends, from a barely-there light roast to deep, toe-curling dark roast. Don’t guilt yourself just because grocery store breakfast blend was good enough for your parents. You’re your own person, and you deserve to find your perfect match.
If the wealth of options is overwhelming to you, there’s someone in your corner: your local barista. Their knowledge of coffee makes them skilled matchmakers for someone who is in the market for a new brew. With just a few questions and maybe a cupping or two, they’ll be able to set you up with a microroasted coffee that really “gets” you.
2. Pick the right brewing method
Everyone has their happy place—a special spot that brings out the qualities you’re most proud of, that lets you do your best thinking, that makes you extra conscious of your purpose. Your coffee is no different. Each type of coffee is best suited to a specific brewing environment that helps its flavor and body really shine. For example, a French press is ideal for the deep flavor of a dark roast, while a light roast is better suited to a filter system like a pourover or a drip coffeemaker.
3. Grind fresh
Assuming you already have your favorite high-quality, microroasted beans on hand, it's worth taking a little extra time each morning to grind them fresh. Each bean is full of compounds that contribute to flavor, aroma, and body, but these compounds are fragile deteriorating quickly when exposed to light and air. Taking the time to grind just what you need preserves these precious flavor compounds for each future cup. And while you’re at it, make sure you’re grinding the particles to the right size for your brewing method.
4. Check your water
In love, sustaining passion is less about big gestures than about how you deal with the little details. When it comes to the water you use to brew your coffee, those details matter a lot. Your coffee won’t tell you, but we will, that it’s imperative to start with cold, filtered, freshly poured water. (If you don’t like the flavor of your water, your coffee won’t, either.)
Then it’s a matter of heating that water to the right temperature for—you guessed it—the variety of beans you’ve chosen. For a dark roast, a water temperature between 170° to 200° will protect your beans against a bitter flavor due to over extraction. For a light roast, using water in the 206° to 208° range will ensure that you extract all the flavors without leaving any acidic aftertaste.
5. Brew for beauty
We’ve all heard someone say it: “It’s not what you did; it was the way you did it.” Your coffee responds the same way. Drowning your grounds with an unmeasured cascade of steaming water will yield a flat-flavored, weak-bodied cup. But when you approach the process as a thing of beauty, your coffee will respond in kind. Start by rinsing your filter (if you’re using one) with hot water, then add grounds and pour just enough water over them until they get puffy. Give it about 40 seconds to let the flavor compounds “bloom,” then slowly continue adding water. For optimum flavor, use six ounces of water for every 1 tablespoon of grounds (2 tablespoons if you prefer it stronger). Being intentional will bring out the best in your coffee.
6. Brew in the moment
Unless you’re making coffee for a crowd, opt for quality over quantity. Brew just the amount of coffee you can enjoy in 30 minutes or so. Letting coffee sit for hours at a time, only to reheat over and over, hurts you just as much as it does the flavor compounds in your brew. Like a heady summer romance, thinking too far down the road will only kill the vibe. Live in the moment, and drink every cup like it’s your last.
Even with the best beans in the world, it takes some effort and dedication to create a cup you love. But that first heady sip in the morning is all you need to know the extra work is worth it.
What brewing method makes you feel the love? Which KCW beans set your heart aflutter? Share your best loved coffee-at-home routine on social media and tag us @keweenawcoffeeworks.