“Help Marc, I have made terrible coffee all my life!”

in Brewing Coffee, Buying Coffee, Coffee Maintenance

Question: I need help – I have made terrible coffee all my life. I have tried everything from Melitta to french press to a Capresso auto drip coffee maker and I can count on 2 hands the number of times it has been good in 40 years. I really appreciate a good cup of coffee, not strong but flavorful. Can you help? I have resorted to exact measurements of water and coffee and still it is awful. Please give me some detailed direction on how to make a good cup of coffee. – Sue

Answer: Wow Sue, I feel for you if you’ve had good coffee so few times in 40 years.  It’s probably a great opportunity to take you on a tour of the site, I think we have LOTS of good advice for you.

  • Buying Coffee: Buy fresh coffee only.  This is generally not the grocery store, although some grocery stores will source from local roasters so that particular coffee hasn’t been sitting on their shelves for too long.  Coffee goes stale like anything perishable.  Ground coffee goes stale even faster.  Buy whole bean coffee that’s been recently roasted, and that generally means finding a local roaster.  A chain store that cares about coffee is a good alternative.  The grocery store should be your last option.
  • Storing Coffee: Whole beans kept in an opaque airtight container at room temperature. Although it’s perishable, do not keep your coffee in the fridge or freezer.
  • Grinding Coffee: Don’t grind your coffee beans until you’re ready to brew them.  Some people like to grind their coffee the night before so it’s ready for them in the morning…ground coffee will begin to go stale overnight and your coffee won’t be as good.  Invest in a coffee grinder.  A propeller grinder is less expensive, but a burr grinder ensures a more consistent grind.
  • Brewing Coffee: The drip-brewing and French press methods are both great ways to make coffee.  Coffee is made of water so use fresh, filtered water.  Take coffee water as seriously as you take drinking water.  Also check out our Coffee Maker Report Card before you invest in a new machine…we’ve tried them all and made it easy for you to make sure you buy the right machine.
  • Coffee Maintenance: Keep the whole system clean.  Coffee is oily and any residue left behind is perishable and will go stale.  Clean spoon, clean spoon ladle, clean coffee maker and coffee pot, clean coffee mug, clean everything!

Good coffee is fresh coffee.  The fresher you make it, the better it will taste.  I hope this helps and I invite you to also check out our Golden Rules of Fresh Coffee to learn more.

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