18 September 2017

5 Ways to Make Better Coffee

For the coffee afficianados, connoisseurs, and otherwise who may be reading this, you can skip this one, if you wish, because nothing said here will be news to you.

The rest of you, listen up!  We're going to talk about important matters pertaining to the muddy brown substance you've been having the nerve to call coffee. No, put down the can of Maxwell House. You won't be needing that here.

There are a surprising number of you out there who are blissfully unaware of all that goes into making a real cup of coffee. We're going to rectify that today.

(I don't know why, but this seems to be an especially pervasive problem in small evangelical churches for some reason. There's a joke in my family about the three things to look for in a church you’re thinking about attending: solid Bible teaching, brotherly love, and terrible coffee. Because then, and only then, do you know you’re getting the real thing. How? Well, do you think you'll stay for long in a church whose primary attractive force is it’s coffee?  But I digress...)

Enough said.  Let's get down to business.

1. Buy your coffee in whole-bean form. Grind it (at home) no more than a few minutes before brewing. (If you buy it already ground, it will taste like potting soil in about three days.) A good rule of thumb is to buy coffee in vacuum-sealed bags only, never in cans whether metal or plastic. No need to break the bank, either -- there are plenty of good quality, moderately priced coffee brands out there these days.  I particularly recommend Eight O'Clock and Green Mountain, although there are others.

2. Use filtered water. Don't use tap water. If it doesn't taste good when you drink it straight out of the tap, you can't very well expect it to make good-tasting coffee, either. Although better than tap water, I'm told that distilled water shouldn't be your first choice either. Supposedly this is because it's missing the trace minerals and whatnot that contribute to a superior-tasting finished product.

3. Make your coffee at the proper strength. Although mostly a matter of personal taste, the "official standard" coffee measurement is 2 tablespoons of coffee per 6 ounces of water.  Regardless, if you can see through the coffee to the bottom of the cup after you've filled it, it's too weak.

4. Brew in an automatic-drip pot or French press. I don’t recommend using a percolator because percolators force water through the grounds over and over again, and the coffee tastes muddy and burnt after it's been through this ordeal.

Similarly, I don't recommend Keurig single serve pods for the best tasting coffee. They're convenient, sure, but convenience definitely sacrifices flavor in this instance. Not to mention, Keurig pods are as expensive as cr@p.

5. Serve the coffee in paper cups if you’re going disposable. I would generally discourage using styrofoam, even though it's cheaper. Besides the fact that it's flimsy and, well, not terribly classy, styrofoam has been known to leech plastic polymers into hot coffee, allegedly contributing to serious issues like brain cell damage and bad-tasting coffee. I want to have my wits about me well into old age, or at least enjoy what I'm drinking in the meantime, so I'd definitely give styrofoam a pass.

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