Here are eight suggestions that can improve the taste of your coffee:
You can not make good coffee from bad beans. Beans that were picked more than a year ago, or beans that were roasted months ago will not make good coffee. Supermarket coffee has a 9 month expiration date. it won’t taste bad but it will taste dull and flat. Make sure that the coffee you brew was picked this year and roasted a few days ago.
Use the right amount of coffee. As a start use 10.6 grams of coffee (about 2 heaping tablespoons) for every 6 ounces of brew water. Then adjust the next time you brew either up or down to your taste.
98% of a cup of coffee is water. Coffee brewed with chlorine or other hard chemicals will be flat and have a bitter, harsh taste. Make sure your water comes from either a high quality filter or quality bottled water.
Your water filter will change the taste of your coffee. High quality filters take out chlorine, other chemicals, odors and algae. Low quality filters leave some chemicals and other material in the water. Dirty filters add a moldy taste.
Great coffee is brewed at 200°F. Check the water going into your automatic drip brew basket with a meat thermometer. Coffee brewed below 195 degrees tastes thin and sour. Coffee brewed over 205 degrees tastes bitter and acidic.
Good coffee is brewed from evenly ground coffee beans. Unevenly ground beans will over and under extract, giving your coffee sour and acidic flavors. Use a conical burr grinder to get an even grind.
Coffee beans are filled with oil. When coffee is ground and brewed the oils adhere to the machine. If you don’t clean your brewer, grinder and coffee equipment, the oils will turn rancid and give your coffee a sour or fishy taste.
We serve coffee in our tasting room in ceramic cups. We found that our commercial dishwasher left a detergent film on the cups that affected the coffee taste. We now run our cups twice, once with detergent and once without. If you coffee tastes like detergent it may be the cup.
Coffee beans oxidize quickly when exposed to air. In addition, they also pick up flavors in the air e.g. onions, garlic, fuel oil etc. Ground coffee oxidizes faster than whole bean coffee, so coffee beans shouldn’t be ground until just before they are used. Whole bean and ground coffee should be stored in as close to an oxygen free environment as possible. We store our coffee in an airtight container in the freezer to slow down the oxidation. Oxidized coffee tastes flat with little aroma and no subtle flavors.
Karen Jue Paterson is the owner of Hula Daddy Kona Coffee, a 33 acre coffee farm in Kona, Hawaii. She is a member of the Hawaii Coffee Association, the Kona Coffee Council, the Kona Coffee Farmers Association, the Holualoa Village Association and the Specialty Coffee Association of America. She is also the author of a number of articles on Kona Coffee including: Kona Coffee Farmers at a Crossroad http://www.huladaddy.com/?p=696 How Typica is Your Kona Coffee? http://www.huladaddy.com/?p=710, Crimes Against Kona Coffee http://www.huladaddy.com/?p=1271 and Are Roasters Eroding the Kona Coffee Brand? http://www.huladaddy.com/?p=952