We strive to source exceptional specialty coffees from around the world, and we want you to have all the resources you need to brew the perfect cup from home.
Guidelines to Help Prepare the Perfect Cup
Most coffee aficionados agree that brewing good coffee is more difficult than it seems. If good coffee were simple to make, there wouldn’t be hundreds of different styles and methods of brewing coffee developed throughout history, each of them touted by some expert at one time as the key to coffee nirvana.
Coffee is a very personal experience.
A brewing method that works for you may be unacceptable for your friend, simply because everyone has different tastes. Regardless, there are guidelines that can be used with almost any brewing method. It will take some experimentation, but with these guidelines you should be able to develop a brewing method that works for you every time you brew your coffee.
At its most basic, coffee brewing is comprised of three steps:
- steeping ground coffee in hot water until flavor is extracted from the grounds
- discarding the grounds;
- enjoying the coffee.
What’s frustrating is that we can follow instructions religiously with very unsatisfactory results. Surely there must be a magic formula.
It's not magic, but there is a formula. Ignore these guidelines and your coffee will taste bad no matter how fancy your brewer or how much money you’ve paid for your beans.
The Golden Rule: Use Fresh Water And Coffee
Seems petty, we know. But chemicals, algae, and minerals in your tap water will ruin the taste of your brewed coffee. Even if your home tap water tastes good to you, we recommend that you filter it before using it to brew your daily dose.
Buy only the best quality, freshest coffee you can find, and store it properly: buy only enough coffee to last about a week. Store coffee in an airtight container at a cool temperature. Buying whole bean coffee and grinding it just before brewing is the only way to ensure this step is being fulfilled. While brown craft bags may look cool and environmentally friendly these bags are not equipped with one way airlock valves, they are more sensitive to changes in heat, humidity and UV light. Brown craft bags used by many new age coffee companies are still lined with plastic. They have the same carbon footprint as gusseted poly bags with safety seals and one-way valves used here at Hunter Bay. Our bags are more costly, but we are not willing to sacrifice quality for profit on this decision.
You must grind coffee according to the process in which you intend to brew it. For example, in espresso, hot water is ‘pressed’ very quickly through the ground coffee, so the coffee is ground very fine for espresso. In a French Press, the ground coffee steeps in the hot water for 4-6 minutes, so the coffee is ground coarse for this method.
If you were to switch these two grinds and use the same process the following would result. Using the fine espresso grind in a french press would create coffee which has been extremely over-extracted at 4-6 minutes instead of the intended time of ~18 seconds. Using a coarse grind in an espresso machine would create coffee that is nothing more than brown water since this grind was meant for a 4-6min extraction and only received ~18 seconds.
Imagine a coffee bean as a potato. If the potato is cut very finely it will cook much faster in boiling water than larger chunks. The same concept applies to coffee beans.
Water that’s too cool (excluding a cold-process method) results in coffee that is sour and under-extracted. Sadly low quality automatic drip coffee brewers are incapable of delivering water at the correct temperature during the entire brewing process. Pour over coffee (Chemex) or a french press method may allow you to control temperature with more ease using a water heater or simply a tea pot and thermometer.
Time Is The Master.
If the brewing interval is too short, coffee will be UNDER-extracted. Coffee that’s brewed too long will be OVER-extracted. Depending on your grind size and brewing method the amount of time coffee is extracted for will change. Processes with coarse grinds such as french press will have longer extraction times than espresso or AeroPress grinds. To complicate matters even more the pressure created during methods like pulling espresso further reduces the extraction time.