There are many questions floating around the Internet about coffee. Why is it better to buy whole coffee beans? Why does artisan, speciality coffee taste so much better than any bought at the supermarket? And why should you invest in coffee tools and accessories? In this post, we’re giving you the best 10 coffee tips straight from our Founder James, that will ensure that you make coffee at home like a pro.
Before you even start thinking about your coffee beans, you need to look at an aspect of coffee brewing that is often forgotten – your water. We suggest that next time you make coffee you try using filtered water rather than regular tap water. This is because unfiltered tap water contains minerals, many of which can negatively affect the flavour of your coffee. Sulphates are particularly nasty because they accentuate bitterness in brewed coffee.
It’s especially important to use filtered water in the UK because some areas (London) have extremely hard water which won’t unlock the maximum flavour potential from your coffee.
Why not test out your very own home coffee and water experiment? Grab a bag of coffee (beans or ground) and taste test one with tap water and one with filtered water.
Interested in the science behind water for coffee? We answer the question on Why Does Filtered Water Make The Best Coffee?
Speaking of equipment, it is vital that your equipment is cleaned properly. James explains that coffee is a very oily product, and that’s why regular cleaning is absolutely necessary. However, this isn’t just for heavy-duty equipment such as an espresso machine. Your Aeropress, French press or V60 need to be properly scrubbed too. If coffee oils build up, they will turn rancid and negatively effect the next cup of drink you brew. Furthermore, if you’re not using filtered water, limescale can also build up in your equipment and negatively affect the taste of your coffee.
This is one of the tips that James swears by! To brew fantastic coffee consistency, you’ll first need to measure how much ground coffee you are using, plus the amount of water you will pour over the coffee to make your perfect cup. This is called the coffee to water ratio or brew ratio. For example, 1 gram of coffee to 18 grams of water (meaning for every unit of coffee you should use 18 units of water). You’ll never be able to get this precise a measurement if you’re not using a digital scale – if you do, your coffee quality at home will increase exponentially!
Now let’s discuss your actual coffee beans. We always source the highest-quality coffee that we can get our hands on. For us, that means using speciality grade coffee, which is within the top 3-4% of coffee produced worldwide. Our coffees are generally very rare and exclusive because they are produced by some of the best farmers who’s passion, care and attention to detail is beyond those of commercial grade coffee farmers. But why?
The answer is simple. We choose to pay a higher price for our coffees because it incentivises the farmers to produce the best tasting coffees they can. This isn’t just because we want delicious coffees though, it’s all about creating a sustainable supply of coffee for the future and to support the farmers’ livelihoods.
It is also vital that the coffee you are using is as fresh as possible. There’s a reason why small-batch, artisan coffee like ours tastes infinitely better than any you might buy in the supermarket. This is because small-batch beans are roasted immediately before being sold. Supermarket coffee will often sit in storage for months before being sold. This immediately ruins the potential flavour you would experience in the cup, because coffee is best drunk within the first few weeks after being roasted.
Enjoy our freshly roasted coffee and we promise you’ll notice the difference.
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To really ‘up your coffee game’ you’ll want to buy whole coffee beans and grind them fresh at home. I know it may feel like a real hassle, but it’s one of the most game-changing tips we can share with you if you’re looking to improve your coffee at home. James compares the ageing of coffee to bread. If you left bread out on the kitchen side, the oxygen would almost immediately start to effect its quality and texture. Pre ground coffee is no different, the flavours will deteriorate almost immediately leaving you with less aromatic coffee which has the same effect on taste in the cup.
Having said that, buying freshly roasted pre-ground coffee is drastically better than buying pre-ground from the supermarkets because it’s still been freshly roasted just before shipping.
Another factor to consider, especially if you grind your beans yourself, is the grind size and if it is right for the brewing device or equipment. you’re using. This is one of the more complex areas in coffee but with a little bit of practise, you’ll get it right in no time. A Cafetière will need a coarser grind than other equipment as due to the fact the grounds are saturated in water for the total brew time, unlike a Hario V60 or Aeropress which filters through a paper – these both need a medium grind setting.
Ultimately, your palette is the best tool for deciding what the best setting is. Adjusting and then tasting is the sure fire way to discovering the best brew.
Insider reported that many people order ‘extra hot’ coffees, not knowing that this is probably the best way to ruin their latte. This is because high temperatures will scald the milk and compromise the overall flavour of the drink. However, it isn’t just milk that reacts badly to very high temperatures. For the best flavour, your coffee grounds need to be brewed in water that is hot, but not boiling. Somwhere between 90-96C is the ideal water temperature, meaning that you’ll need to let your kettle cool very slightly before pouring the water onto your perfectly prepared coffee grounds. There are many solutions such as temperature controlled kettles but either a thermometer or waiting around 30 seconds off the boil is a good rule of thumb.
Timing is crucial when it comes to your coffee. You don’t want to under-brew, because then your coffee will be weak and flavourless, and you don’t want to over-brew, because then it’ll be terribly bitter. Make sure that you always follow the timing instructions, and that you set a timer on your phone. This sounds simple, but it’s easy to let time slip away from you, and it really will make a huge difference.
Visit our brew guides or how to videos to learn more about timing and recipes.
Finally, to round up our Top 10 Coffee Tips That Will Transform Your Coffee At Home: we’re leaving you with one final tip that’ll really pull out the sweet, juicy notes in your filter coffee. It may even leave you thinking how coffee can even taste this way. Note: this wouldn’t apply to espresso, flat whites, lattes, cappuccinos etc. This is for freshly brewed filter style coffee only.
You can’t properly taste something very hot – your tongue is impacted by heat. Conversely, cold iced drinks have “less flavour” because the cold effects your taste buds.
James recommends that once you’ve brewed your filter coffee into your Cafetière, V60, Aeropress or other device, taste the coffee at different temperatures as it cools. You’ll notice the drink gradually changing. Different flavour notes and characteristics emerge along with pronounced acidity which changes the brew considerably.
Those were our top 10 coffee tips, straight from our experts here at Balance! Follow these, and you’ll be making the perfect cup of coffee in no time.
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