5 Ways To Up Your Coffee Game
Written by: Garrett Oden
I know what it’s like. It’s going to be a full day. You’re probably not getting enough sleep. You deserve a coffee experience that gives you peace and focus and helps you appreciate the small things.
Your daily cup of coffee is more than hot liquid in a mug. It’s a chance to launch your day on the right foot with a rewarding, rich, and balanced experience.
To achieve the peaceful moment and rich sensory experience that a great cup of coffee has to offer, you actually have to brew great coffee. I’d be honored to help you do that with these 5 ways to up your coffee game.
1. Buy Fresh Coffee
If you’re used to buying your coffee beans or grounds from the grocery store, I urge you to stop! A couple grocery stores carry fresh coffee, but for the most part, these stores are notorious for selling old, stale coffee beans (and not caring about it).
Don’t trust the “use by” or “best by” date on those bags. They are meant to deceive you and keep you from realizing the truth: coffee tastes dramatically different when it’s super fresh, just like any other agricultural product.
Read: How To Read Coffee Packaging Like A Pro
Freshly roasted coffee beans haven’t lost all their aromatic natural oils and the cells haven’t broken down to create a soupy, muddy flavor - yet. Think all coffees basically taste the same?
Fresh coffee can feature wild flavors. Blueberries, brown sugar, rose, the forest - there’s a lot of flavor variation in fresh coffee. But old coffee all tastes bitter, dull, and lifeless.
Generally, coffee beans have about two or three weeks of peak freshness once out of the roaster before it begins to decline rapidly. Pre-ground coffee has about 30 minutes after you open the bag (seriously).
Your best bet at buying fresh beans is to get them from a reputable specialty coffee shop or roaster that proudly prints a “roasted on” date on their coffee bags. That’s the true sign of roasting transparency! For more on reading coffee packaging, check out this guide!
Read more about why fresh coffee is the best coffee.
2. Grind Your Coffee Just Before Brewing
Pre-ground coffee only has about 30 minutes of peak freshness once you open the bag and expose the grounds to oxygen. This is due to the natural process of oxidation, which browns apples, makes bread stale, and rusts iron.
If you want to experience fresh flavor from fresh coffee, there’s no option other than grinding your own beans just minutes before brewing. This may be an additional step for your morning routine, but once you taste the difference, you’ll never go back.
Having your own burr coffee grinder is 100% essential to stellar coffee, which is why we consider it the most important piece of coffee gear you can own.
Speaking of burr grinders, we're giving them away for FREE when you try out the JavaPresse Coffee Club!
3. Check Your Water
If you live in an area with hard water (that’s most of us), you’ll see a big difference between using tap and purified water for your coffee.
Calcium and other highly concentrated minerals tend to mute the sweetness and ripe flavors of coffee. It doesn’t ruin them entirely, but it keeps the flavors from being as crisp and clear as you deserve them to be by imparting a minerally taste.
If your water source has more than 150ppm of minerals in it, I suggest looking at a couple options.
- Filter Pitcher - These work to a minor degree and will only do so much to filter out the calcium. If your water is very hard, you’ll want to try another approach.
- Purified Water - While purified water isn’t ideal for coffee brewing (a low concentration of minerals help bring out flavor), it’s better than very hard water. Try mixing ½ tap and ½ purified water and go from there.
- Built-In Filter - If you’re interested in a heavy duty system for more than just your coffee, there are plenty of home filters that can attach into your plumbing that will bring down your hardness to your desired level.
Read: Is Hard Water Destroying Your Coffee's Flavor?
If you’re not sure if this is something you need to worry about, consider this rule: if you don’t really like to drink it, you won’t like it in your coffee.
4. Brew Your Coffee Manually
Regular ole drip coffee pots make coffee, but they don’t do it very well. Most are plagued with water pouring and temperature issues. Some catch fire when you’re not looking.
High dollar ($200+) coffee makers avoid these common issues, but it’s difficult to justify that price when you can get a manual pour over cone or french press for close to $20 (10% the cost!).
Read: Getting Started With Specialty Coffee: Essential Equipment
Manual coffee brewers are empowering and can open you up to a whole new world of coffee. Pour overs cones, french presses, the Aeropress - there are so many ways to make coffee, all of them offering a high level of control to you.
If you think your coffee could turn out better, you have the power to change it by slightly altering the brewing time or water pouring speed. With an auto drip pot, you are extremely limited in your brewing adjustments and often have to settle for less-than-great coffee.
Manual brewing puts in the middle of the coffee experience from start to finish. The aromas rise from the pour over cone or french press as your pour hot water in. The grounds swirl, rise, and fall in the coffee slurry. It’s a rewarding process to take part in - one that can completely change your morning [morning routine article].
Read: How Manual Coffee Brewing Can Change Your Life
Not only is manual brewing fun, but it produces stellar coffee that is vibrant and full of flavor. Trust me, manual brewing will win your heart and taste buds over very quickly!
5. Keep Your Gear Clean
If your gear isn’t clean, your coffee’s flavor won’t be either.
Mold is notorious for growing in drip pots on built-up coffee oils and calcium deposits. While this can be stopped and cleaned, it’s much easier to keep simpler manual brewers clean, as they are built with only a couple parts.
Read: 5 Things That Ruin Your Coffee
At the very least, run a dedicated coffee cleaner through your drip pot or soak your manual devices in it. If that’s not available, you can mix water and vinegar together to kill any bacteria and break down the calcium that’s surely been building up.
Manual brewers win in this category by a long shot. They are easy to keep clean and are much less likely to threaten your health by hiding dangerous critters from you.
Try implementing just one of these things to start off. I have a feeling you’ll quickly implement the rest once you’ve experienced the mental, emotional, and sensory rewards of great coffee.
Of course, these tips will only work if you're using high-quality, freshly roasted coffee beans. If always staying stocked with great, fresh beans is a challenge, check out our JavaPresse Coffee Subscription.
We source the best coffees in the world, then roast and ship them to you within TWO hours - so you know they're super fresh. And... wow... you can taste the difference!
Thank you for the information!! That explains alot.
Sure hope I win! Now I really want to see the difference.
Have a blessed day….