This is a great time to do a brewing checkup. If you have wondered whether your brewing method is giving you the full flavor of your coffee, now you have the time to find out.
The tools you will need to do a checkup are your coffee beans, your grinder, your brewer, a kitchen thermometer, a timer and a gram scale.
There are computer apps available that will help you calculate the temperature, the dose and the amount of water to achieve an optimum coffee cup. However, they are using someone else’s optimum taste, not yours.
- Intelligentsia brewing calculator
- Optimal Coffee Extraction
- VST Coffee Tools
- Acaia Coffee
The variables in brewing are Beans, Grind, Brewer, Temperature, Time, Water and Dose. Changing any one of these will change the flavor of your coffee. For your checkup some of these things will stay constant. Keep the same beans and the same brewer as a constant. If you are brewing with an automatic machine you should check the temperature, the water volume and the brew time but they will be constant for each test brew.
Brewing coffee is all about extracting the good flavors from the grounds and leaving behind the bad flavors. Changing one or more of the variables will change the flavor of the coffee.
Brewing temperature is a major factor in extracting the good flavors. The recomended temperature for brewing coffee is 200° F ± 5. Lower termperatures extract sour flavors, higher temperatures extract bitter flavors. Moving the brewing temperatures even a few degrees can improve flavor and body.
Another major factor is brewing time. The longer the brew time the more flavors, good and bad, will be extacted from the grounds. For example, coffee which is thin and sour can be improved by increasing the brewing time.
|Temperature||less acidic, more sour||more acidic, bitter|
|Time||weaker||stronger, less sweet|
|Dose||weak, thin||heavy, strong|
|Water Volume||heavy, strong||weak|
Brew Your Regular Cup
Make the following chart:
Brew your regular cup of coffee but this time measure everything and enter the results into the chart. Set the hot brewed coffee aside.
Brew a “Golden Cup”
The Speciality Coffee Association has a recipe for a “Golden Cup” of coffee. It isn’t perfect because it doesn’t take into account the characteristics of the beans you are using but it is a good starting point. Their recipe is 55 grams of ground coffee for every 1000 grams of water. In a typical ten cup* brewer (600 grams dose) this would be 33 grams of coffee. The temperature should be 200F ±5. Time of coffee-to-water contact: Fine grind 1-4 minutes, Drip grind 4-6 minutes, Coarse grind 6-8 minutes. Brew a cup of coffee with this recipe. Measure everything and put the results on your chart.
Evaluate the Coffees
Now alternately taste these two cups and evaluate both of them on the following characteristics: aroma, flavor, sweetness (lack of bitterness) and body. You can make another chart.
Change Your Recipe
Take the coffee you liked the most and identify which characteristic needs to improve. As an example, you liked your coffee but it was too sour. You should raise the temperature. Another example, you liked the Golden Cup but thought it would be better if it was stronger. To make it stronger, depending on the brew method you could brew it longer, or grind the coffee finer or add more coffee or raise the temperature. Pick the one that works best for your brew method and make a cup. Measure everything and put it on your chart. Evaluate this cup against the other two cups.
Repeat this process until you find the best recipe for the beans you are using. (If you change beans or brewer you should create a new recipe.)
*See My Coffee Pot Lied
Hula Daddy Kona Coffee LLC is a boutique farm in Kona, Hawaii that grows, processes and roasts its own current crop coffee beans. We grow 7 different varieties of coffee and process them using 4 different methods. We roast date every bag of our coffee.
In 2019, Hula Daddy won First, Fourth and Fifth place in the Kona Coffee Competition. In 2018, Forbes Magazine picked Hula Daddy as one of the Top 12 Coffee Roasters in the United States and the only one that grows its own coffee. Also in 2018, Coffee Review selected Hula Daddy out of the thousands of coffees it tastes every year as the Number 1 Coffee of 2018. In 2017, we came in Second in the Hawaii Cupping Competition and in the Kona Coffee Cupping Competition. In 2017, Laura’s Reserve SL-28 received 97 points from Coffee Review and was Number 2 in the Top Coffees of 2017. In December 2016, Coffee Review rated our Laura’s Reserve SL-28 as Number 3 in the Top Coffees of 2016.