We all know mornings can be brutal, but a good cup of coffee can take you from exhausted to energized in a matter of minutes. What makes the perfect cup of coffee? From selecting the right equipment to finding the right beans, here are ten tips for getting the cup of coffee that will put the most pep in your step.
1. Start with the Right Equipment
Want to stay in bed an extra ten minutes and have a fresh cup of coffee ready when you wake up? A coffee maker that can be preprogrammed the night before may be the way to go. If you enjoy a more hands-on approach, a French press is a fun option (and it makes a bold tasting cup of java). Consider whether you’re the type who likes to linger over your morning cup or is always rushing out the door before choosing your equipment. Coffee lovers come in many forms, from a simple joe enthusiast wanting the ease of a mug of instant coffee to a domestic barista willing to invest in an espresso machine for her own kitchen.
2. Choose Your Water Wisely
If you don’t enjoy the taste of your tap water, you won’t enjoy the taste of coffee made with your tap water. Use filtered water if necessary to get the flavor you desire.
3. Buy Small Quantities of Coffee Often
The National Coffee Association (NCAUSA) recommends buying coffee as soon after it’s been roasted as possible – and only buy what you’ll use right away. That’s because coffee beans lose their freshness quickly, and when freshness goes, flavor goes with it. Aim to buy fresh coffee once every 1 to 2 weeks.
4. Store Coffee in an Airtight Container
Properly storing beans in an airtight container can help whole coffee beans stay fresh for about a month after roasting. Ground coffee will keep its freshness for 1 to 2 weeks. That’s longer than if it’s not in a sealed container.
5. Choose the Right Beans
Seek out 100% pure Arabica beans for a flavor that can’t be beat. Although the alternative (Robusta) may be cheaper, the harsher flavors can leave a bitter taste in your mouth. As for specific flavors, it’s a matter of persona taste. Do you prefer bitter, nutty or sweet? Learn your flavor profile by experimenting with different styles. The ideal cup of coffee has natural sweetness, a balance of organic acids, and an intense flavor that’s neither bitter nor flat. When choosing your beans, seek out roasters who emphasize quality green coffee sourcing and are particular about their roasting.
6. Grind it Yourself
Why should you grind your coffee just before brewing? Coffee has more flavor compounds than wine. When exposed to oxygen, the compounds break down due to the highly delicate and perishable nature of roasted coffee. By grinding your coffee just before it’s brewed, these complex compounds stay intact. It’s a simple step toward the perfect cup of coffee.
7. Don’t Let the Numbers Confuse You
How much water should you use? What about the temperature of the water? What’s the best water-to-coffee ratio? How long should you brew? It’s easy to get confused, but the good news is the numbers are fairly standard regardless of your brewing method. The ideal temperature to brew coffee is 195 to 205 degrees F. If using a French press or filter cone, remove the boiling water from its heat source for 2 minutes before adding to your ground coffee. Use 1 to 2 tablespoons of coffee for every 6 ounces of water. For the French press, use 2 tablespoons per 6 ounces of water. Also when using a French press, brew it for 3 to 5 minutes then serve it or transport it to a thermos immediately. Letting it sit longer will lead to a bitter taste.
8. Reap the Benefits
There may be some health benefits to consuming coffee in moderation. Though not proven to prevent any conditions, there have been studies linking coffee consumption to a reduced risk for type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, certain cancers, heart rhythm problems and strokes. There’s also a new trend called Bulletproof coffee that some weight loss gurus and health advocates recommend for quick metabolization – although other experts warn it may actually cause weight gain. (If you’re curious about the recipe, which combines coffee and unsalted grass-fed butter, check out bulletproofexec.com.)
9. Try New Things
Don’t get stuck in a rut. Whether you always make yourself a cup of black coffee or you’re the queen of fancy mochas, consider mixing it up. Visit a coffee shop and order a latte. Add a flavored cream to your Americano. Try your usual cream-and-sugar coffee black. Experiment with different flavors – including sugar-free syrups – to find what you truly like.
10. Relax and Enjoy It
Turn coffee drinking into a fun ritual. Cozying up next to your sweetie on the couch with a mug in hand as you tackle the Sunday crossword, or meet your friends at your favorite coffee shop for cappuccinos. Even if your only chance to drink it is at your desk while you’re working, find a way to block everything else out (even if just for a moment) and savor the flavors and aromas. Indulge in your senses and let this set the scene for the rest of your day.