We’ve come to our final blog in the series, Why Your Home Coffee Tastes Like Shit. This blog series was inspired by the many mornings in the past few months where I have stared into my full cup of coffee trying to figure out why I didn't want to drink it.
I had an identity crisis there for a bit. Do I even like coffee? Why am I starting a coffee shop if I can't drink coffee? Who am I? What do I believe? Am I even real? Is this all a dream? To be or not to be . . . IS that the real question? It was cyclical.
It's painful when you spend five minutes crafting a cup of coffee and then don’t want to drink it. I’m talking, Episode-VII-Han-Solo-death, painful. Ice-cream-falling-off-cone, painful. Phone-died-on-road-trip, painful.
You get the picture. It’s not fun. The first thing we tried fixing was our water. We had just moved to Kansas City and the water was radically different from Austin’s water. Blog one explains what we did to improve the quality. After we switched our water quality, our coffee became drinkable again. #PTL. Now to be honest, we still have our little bodum burr grinder, but Jon and I are about to take our own advice and get a Baratza grinder for the sake of our sanity. Read all about burr grinders in our second blog. So we’ve come to our last blog. Where we discuss brewing devices and their effects on coffee.
Photo Cred: Prima Coffee
As many of you know, I work at Thou Mayest part-time and the other day this sweet human/customer was asking me if a coffee she wanted to buy was acidic. I told her it wasn’t very acidic at all. She looked puzzled and pointed to another one that wasn’t very acidic and asked me again. Turns out, her husband had been buying all these coffees from us, wanting to get one that she liked, but she always thought they were too acidic. But seriously, none of our coffees are THAT acidic. So I thought for a second. Bing. Bing. Bing. Light went off. I asked her how her husband brewed the coffee for her.
That made sense. The Chemex is known to bring out more acidity in coffee than other brewing devices. I told her to try using a home coffee machine, kalita wave, or a french press instead and see if she liked the results better. That’s exactly what Jon and I did early this fall too. We switched from a chemex to a kalita wave and I’m LOVING LIFE. Sometimes my stomach just can't handle acidic coffee so early in the morning.
So our final point is . . .
your home coffee might taste like shit because of: Your Brewing Device
There are plenty of brewing devices out there to try. Each will slightly vary the final cup of coffee you drink. Depending on what kind of coffee you like, one particular brewer may be your ticket to coffee-drinking success.
I also wanted to dive just a bit into roast profiles, origins and coffee processes and how they can also affect the taste of your cup of coffee. These topics could be individual blog posts themselves, but I want to keep my suggestions short and sweet because the focus of this blog post is simply on brewing devices. I know for a fact you can put a fruit-bomb, highly acidic, natural Ethiopian into a French Press and it will mute the acidity and the flavor. That’s why my customer at Thou Mayest could take the same coffee and enjoy it more in a different brewing device. So my advice; first, analyze your brewing device; second, change your roast profile if you still aren’t happy; third, switch up your coffee origins; lastly, pay attention to the coffee process. That sounds like a lot of things to change, so I strongly suggest just paying attention to brewing devices, get that on lock down, then move forward with the other variables if you still aren’t happy or just want to tinker.
our brewing device guide:
Do you like bold, heavy, non-acidic and dense coffee? >> Try a french press, a coffee brewer, or just eating the beans straight. << Pair with a medium to dark roast coffee. Try a Sumatra single origin. Look for a natural processed coffee.
Do you like smooth, balanced, less acidic coffee?
>> Try a kalita wave pour over, coffee brewer, cold brew, aeropress, or any flat bottom filter brewing device. << Pair with a medium roast coffee. Try a Brazilian or Colombian single origin or blend. Look for a natural or pulp-natural process.
Do you like high acidity, big aromatics, and light silky coffee?
>> Try a chemex, V60, clever, or any conical shaped filter brewing device << Pair with a light or medium-light coffee. Try Ethiopian or Kenyan single origin. Look for a washed processed coffee.
Check out THIS Eater article if you want more information on the three coffee processes: washed, natural, pulp-natural.
Ultimately, your home coffee might taste like shit some days, but that’s okay. It’s about experimenting, tinkering, and tasting. It’s part of the fun. So if one morning your coffee tastes bad, or not up to your standards, be okay with it. Dare I even suggest adding some cream to make it easier to drink. Or you can water your plants with it. That’s fine. But don’t get discouraged. Try again tomorrow.
Right now I’m drinking a natural Ethiopian from Cuvee Coffee, brewed in a kalita wave pour-over and I’m delighted. The acidity and taste are pronounced but not overbearing. It tastes like sweet peach and my grandma’s strawberry jam.
Cheers to the pursuit of brewing coffee that doesn’t taste like shit. It can be a long road, but at least it’s heavily caffeinated and a lot of fun!
Feel free to ask questions in the comments if you still need additional advice! Cheers! Christine Clutton