Ask Marc

Ask me something about coffee,

I love fielding answers as well as learning from others. is committed to making sure you are provided with very informative and unbiased answers on coffee.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How much ground coffee should I use to brew 100 cups?

Answer: You either have a lot of guests coming over, or an important exam tomorrow. It would be better to know about the equipment you're using, but the rule of thumb is to grind 1-2 generous tablespoons of whole coffee beans, or use 1-2 regular tablespoons of coffee already ground. Let's assume your guests don't mind a coffee strength slightly above average and go with 1.5 generous tablespoons of whole coffee beans, multiplied by 100 cups for a total of 150 generous tablespoons. There are 32 tablespoons in a pound, or five pounds of coffee beans total. If your tablespoons are going to be generous, why not err on the side of caution and have 6 pounds of coffee beans ready for the big party.

Question: What is the whole bean-to-grind ratio?

Answer: For each mug of coffee you're brewing, use a ratio of 1-2 generous tablespoons of whole coffee beans or 1-2 regular tablespoons of ground coffee. Ground coffee has less air between its parts than whole beans so make the tablespoons heaping with whole beans. 1-2 is a big range so go with personal taste. If you like your coffee strong, use two tablespoons. Otherwise, somewhere between one and 1.5 tablespoons. Don't forget the ratio - it's an important part of making good coffee at home!

Question: Is it OK to freeze coffee to keep it fresh?

Answer: You should not freeze your coffee. It is a misconception associated with keeping most foods fresh that putting your coffee in the freezer will delay its expiration. Rather than going stale as if you left your coffee exposed to air, you freeze the moisture inside the coffee when you put it in the freezer. When the coffee is eventually thawed, that moisture will 'sweat' off of and out of the beans. That 'sweat' is oil and contains most of the coffee's flavor, which you've now compromised. Keep coffee airtight in an opaque container at room temperature, this is always preferable to freezing it.

Question: How do I know what coffee to buy?

Answer: It can be intimidating to be presented with so many options of coffees to buy and not know which to get. If all else fails and you are confident with your source for coffee, go with their Signature Blend or House Blend. But you want to familiarize yourself with the different origins of coffee to really broaden your horizons (no pun intended). Check out our section on Different Kinds of Coffee to get an understanding of the different blends and origins of coffee that you'll see when you shop from a finer source of quality coffee. My personal pick: Guatamalan coffee.

Question: Should you ever pour coffee from the pot before the brewing cycle is done?

Answer: It is a little known fact that the coffee drip-brewed at the beginning of the cycle is stronger (has dissolved with more coffee solids) than the coffee at the end of the cycle. Most coffee makers today come with a stop-brew feature on the carafe that stops the brewing if you remove the pot from the coffee maker. This is an unfortunate development in coffee makers because the coffee poured will be stronger than the next cup poured from the same pot. Let the brewing cycle complete before pouring any coffee. Not only that, I like to swirl the pot once before pouring from it to ensure a consistent mix of coffee.

Question: Why is there different coarseness of ground coffee?

Answer: How fine or coarse your coffee should be ground depends on the brewing method. In the conventional drip-brewer, the coffee should be to a medium grind. In the “Italian” espresso coffee maker, water is boiled to steam and the steam is pushed through the coffee. This calls for a much finer grind to ensure as much coffee solids are absorbed by the steam as possible. In the “coffee press”, hot water sits on the ground coffee for minutes. This calls for a much coarser grind to ensure that there isn’t an overextraction of coffee solids given the amount of time the water and coffee are in contact. Overextracted coffee can look like sludge if a medium or fine grind is used.

Question: What is the cheapest way to enjoy the whole variety of coffees from around the world?

Answer: Boca Java is currently the only coffee vendor I know of –online or brick and mortar- that sells sample packs of coffee for single-pot brewing. Check out their samplers and their baskets of samplers which let you order a great variety of international coffees in one order. Each sampler is sealed so they will not go stale while you start your journey through the world of coffee.