Part 1 of 3
by: Christine Clutton
Let’s start by saying that today’s blog post is not for everyone. If you are one of those lucky people who make their coffee in the morning, walk out in your robe to get the paper, wave to the mail man, and then watch the rest of the sun rise as you savor each perfect sip of your delicious drink - then I both admire and envy you, but this blog post is not for you.
If you look like this human in the morning, then disregard this blog post all together.
And no. We did not pay for the rights to this photo. But why should we? I'm bitter about how happy he looks. I wish this were me. Because you coffee-perfecting-people are my inspiration. You people are my muse. How I wish I could like the coffee I brew at home every day so easily, so blissfully. If I just described you, or at least the part about enjoying your morning coffee, then continue to make the coffee just like you do, however you do it, every day. You lucky sons of guns, cherish it. Don’t take that paradise for granted.
If you happen to be on the other side of the coin. On the side of the coin where I lay, disenchanted, disillusioned, and distressed by your morning coffee, then this blog...this blog is for you. This blog is for all the geeks and pour over technique freaks out there like me that just HAVE to try every method, every roast, every water source, every grind size, to find the “perfect” cup of coffee.
My old boss used to say, “The best cup of coffee is simply the cup of coffee you like best.” I.e. drink it how you want. Brew it how you want. If you like it, then drink it that way. But what if you DON’T KNOW how to make that “cup of coffee you like best”?
That leaves you in a predicament now doesn’t it? So we decided to create a blog post (actually, a total of three blog posts) to discuss some simple ways to attempt to make that cup of coffee you love best. We thought this blog would really just be a jumping-off point for all other bewildered home baristas to chime in about what they have tried that has helped them perfect (or at least nudged them in perfection’s direction) with their morning cup of coffee.
If you have a tip or trick then PALEASSSSE chime in below in the comments with your advice. For the love of GOD do not keep your coffee secrets to yourself. There are people like us in the world just trying to enjoy our morning coffee and we need as much advice as possible.
Here is what I have found has helped nudge us in the general direction of greatness with morning coffee.
Your coffee might taste like shit because of: your water
Coffee is 99% water (or something like that, haven’t exactly done the math). And therefore, your water quality, and what minerals are in the water (or not in the water) play a huge part in that finished cup of coffee.
If you are SUPER sensitive to the taste of water, then comment below because I think we should create a support group for this or something. I cannot drink unfiltered water. I simply can’t. In Austin, the water quality is so terrible, I would sometimes triple filter my water. And you know - that helps! It really does. Having nice clean water, truly helps.
What else helps? Having a filter that ADDS back minerals that help pull and extract the GOOD parts of coffee, out of the bean. An example would be the BWT which you can buy on amazon for $30 (including three filters). This water filtration system adds back magnesium which is an essential mineral in coffee extraction. Jon and I were not happy with our coffee for about two weeks, we got this bad boy in the mail and BAM, we can drink the coffee again with great joy.
There’s also a new company out there called Third Wave Water that creates little vials of minerals that are perfectly suited to add to one full gallon of filtered water that adds in a precise blend of magnesium, calcium and sodium to bring out your coffee’s natural acidity and sweetness. Jon and I had a sample of this and tried it out recently. We really could tell a difference in the overall cup of coffee. They sell for $15 a 12 pack which gets you a 12 full gallon of filtered and mineral added water ready for brewing.
And if you really want to go on an adventure, you can try making your own water. There are recipes floating all around the internet. For example, THIS. Most just require some baking powder, epsom salt, deionized water, and...beer. Because beer improves all science experiments.
Another little tidbit we’ve read is that most roasters naturally roast to fit the water profile of their city. Example, if you find THE BEST CUP OF COFFEE EVER on your recent vacation to Amsterdam and come back home all excited to brew that last bag here in the states, you may just be disappointed. But it might not have anything to do with you. That roaster may have roasted their beans to taste AMAZING with the water source they use in their city. Your water may just be different, and therefore, make the coffee taste differently.
If we are wanting to get really crazy, we could go into discussions about RO systems, and measuring out TDS levels. BUT, the average home barista doesn’t have that luxury. Even the crazy ones like me. So for now, our advice is to filter, add back some minerals, and try out different local roasts until you find the one you like best. More suggestions? Add in the comments below!
Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 of this blog!