5 essential rules for making coffee

The Ultimate Guide on How to Make Coffee Taste Good: The 5 Essential Rules

The Ultimate Guide on How to Make Coffee Taste Good: The 5 Essential Rules

June 10, 2021

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For some people, that first cup of coffee in the morning can really set the tone for the whole day. It may be that thing that revs you up and gets you prepared for your busy day ahead, or it may be that quiet and peaceful time that allows you to just take a second and contemplate your day.

In either case, a bad cup of coffee can really throw you off your game.

That is why it is so important to get that first cup of coffee (and perhaps the first of many subsequent coffees in your day) right every time. To help you achieve this worthy goal, keep reading for the 5 essential rules on how to make coffee taste good.

Ready for Rule #1?

Rule #1: Use Fresh, Whole Beans (and Keep Them Fresh)

Grind Your Own Beans

Of course, your choice of coffee is essential if you are looking for how to make coffee taste good. There is no question that buying and grinding up your own beans results in superior coffee every time when compared to the pre-ground variety.

That is because once ground, coffee beans almost immediately begin to lose their freshness and flavor. In fact, once the ground coffee is exposed to oxygen, you can taste the difference in brewed coffee within just 20-30 minutes!

If this seems hard to believe, try to experiment with it yourself by brewing coffee after it has been freshly ground and compare it to brewed coffee that has had time to sit after being ground. You may be surprised by the difference in taste! If you do not have a way to grind them up at home, consider picking up a grinder.

We’ve previously reviewed manual grinders and we found that the Javapresse manual grinder is one of the best you can get. It is also one of the best sellers on Amazon.

Last update on 2021-06-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you are looking for an electric burr grinder then you can’t do better than the Niche Zero which we have also previously reviewed.

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Buy from a Local Roaster (If You Can)

While it is important to freshly grind your beans, it is also important to buy and keep them fresh. If you want the freshest beans possible, you may want to consider buying them straight from a local roasting company, as after coffee beans have been roasted, they tend to be at their freshest for only 2-3 weeks. This may not be possible for everyone, of course, but if you are serious about your coffee and it is within your budget, you will likely not regret making that extra effort!

Alternatively, you can get the freshest coffee by roasting your own coffee beans and we have two articles on this very topic ‘How to roast your own coffee beans in 8-easy steps‘ and ‘Ultimate guide to home coffee roasting.

Store Your Beans Properly

When you store your coffee beans, make sure they are not exposed to any light, air, or heat. This means that if you purchase them in a bag, make sure they are transferred to an airtight container after they have been opened as soon as possible.

Two of the best-selling canisters to store your coffee beans are the Veken Coffee Canister and the Coffee Gator Stainless Steel Coffee Cannister.

Last update on 2021-06-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Now that you have your coffee beans stored properly, where do you put them? You may think that keeping your stored coffee beans in a fridge will help prolong their freshness, but that is not the case! Roasted coffee beans are porous, which means they can easily absorb other food odors and moisture. Instead, keep them on your counter or in a cupboard at room temperature.

However, if you want to keep your coffee beans for longer you can freeze them. We discussed freezing your coffee beans in our post on ‘When does coffee expire and can it go bad?’

Rule #2: Use Filtered Water at the Right Temperature

Filtered Water

You cannot talk about how to make coffee taste good without mentioning water, as the water you choose does make up most of your cup. Water straight from the tap can affect the taste of your coffee due to chlorine or the presence of other minerals that are commonly found in most hard water.

brita longlast everyday water filter pitcher isolated on white background

You can use something like a Brita pitcher to filter out some of the minerals, or, ideally, you could try Third Wave Water mineral packets. These packets are specially made to optimize your water for coffee, so if you add a packet to distilled water, it will ensure that you have the right amount of minerals you need for the best-tasting coffee.

third wave water new packaging mineral enhanced flavor optimizing coffee brewing water

Note that you do not want to use softened water or distilled water on its own for coffee, as some minerals are essential to achieve the best-tasting cup.

Water Temperature

The ideal water temperature for brewing coffee is between 195 and 205 degrees. If you do not use a manual brew method of making coffee, test the water temperature of your automatic coffee maker to see if it is getting somewhere within that range. If it is not, you may want to consider a new machine!

If you use water below 195 degrees, your coffee grounds are likely being under-extracted, resulting in a sour-tasting coffee. On the other hand, if your water temperature is above 205 degrees, your coffee may get over-extracted, resulting in a bitter-tasting coffee.

Rule #3: Choose the Right Coffee Brewer

As mentioned in rule #2, an essential component of how to make coffee taste good is water temperature, so if you find that your brewer is unable to get to that optimal temperature, it may be a good opportunity to change up your favorite coffee-making method.

Unless you are prepared to spend the money on an expensive automatic machine to get all the ideal conditions for optimal coffee brewing, you may want to consider a manual coffee brew method.

Yes, they will require a bit more work on your part, BUT they are relatively inexpensive and produce an arguably superior cup of coffee when compared to your average automatic coffee maker. Two of the most popular manual coffee brewers today are the French press and the pour-over brewer.

focus photography of french press
Photo by Rachel Brenner on Unsplash

The French press is an immersion brewer that will yield you a bold, flavorful coffee. If you are new to manual coffee making and do not want to endure a steep learning curve, this is probably your best option. The Mueller is one of the best-selling French Presses you can find.

person holding glass pitcher
Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

The pour-over coffee maker can help you achieve a cleaner-tasting cup of coffee if done correctly. This method gives you the most direct control over your final cup of coffee, so there can be a lot of trial and error before you get things just right for your personal preferences. The Bodum is one of the best-selling pour-over coffee makers you can find.

No matter what manual coffee maker you choose, you will likely not regret your choice as both will make fantastic cups of coffee. And if you do not like the first cup of coffee you make with one of these, it can be easy to change up some of the variables like the water temperature, how long you let it brew, and the ratio of coffee to water. Speaking of which…

Rule #4: The Coffee to Water Ratio

If you are looking for balanced strength and flavor in your coffee, then the best coffee to water ratio to go for is about 1 gram of coffee for every 15-18 grams of water. If you like your coffee on the stronger, more concentrated side, try for a 1:15 ratio. If you like it less concentrated, try for the 1:18 ratio. We have briefly covered coffee to water ratios (also called brew ratios) in a previous post.

Now, it is important to note that these coffee to water ratios may not be for everyone. If you are serious about learning how to make a good cup of coffee, though, it may be worth it to experiment with different ratios of coffee to water to find out what works best for you. And once you do find that optimal ratio, write it down!

Rule #5: Clean Your Coffee Making Equipment

If you use a manual coffee maker, perhaps you are already doing this regularly, as there are only so many parts to it, and the process is pretty straightforward: take it apart as much as you can and clean it with soap and water. But if you use an automatic coffee maker, as most people do, you may not think about cleaning it very often. You may clean the pot and the filter as it is easy to see when those get dirty, but what about the inside of the coffee maker?

The reservoir may only hold the water in your coffee maker, but it can still get dirty, not to mention germy (not a real word but it sounds good). In addition to possible mineral buildup from the water, the reservoir can also be an ideal breeding ground for yeast and mold, as it is a damp and dark place most of the time. This can affect the taste of your coffee and potentially make you sick if not cleaned regularly.

Fortunately, it can be easy to clean your whole coffee machine with just a few simple ingredients that you probably already have at home. Try these steps to help clean your automatic drip coffee maker.

How to Clean Your Automatic Drip Coffee Maker

Step 1: Gather materials

  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Coffee filter

Step 2: Mix Vinegar and water

Fill the reservoir of your drip coffee maker with vinegar and water at a 1:1 ratio. The vinegar will both sanitize your coffee maker and break up those mineral deposits.

Step 3: Brew, turn off and wait

Pop in a filter and turn on the drip coffee maker. Turn the coffee maker off about halfway through the brewing process and let everything soak for at least 30 minutes.

Step 4: Turn brewer back on and rinse

Turn your brewer back on and let it finish its cycle. Get rid of the filter and pour out any remaining vinegar. Run clean water through the machine to rinse out the rest of the vinegar.

After you have all this down, you can then start experimenting with different flavors and ingredients to perfect each cup of coffee you make, unless you just prefer a strong cup of black coffee that is.

If not, try some simple syrup, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, or even a scoop of ice cream to create a cup of coffee every coffee lover will be scrambling to try.

Now that you know how to make coffee taste good, who is ready for a cup?

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