General Coffee Preparation Points
The following sections touch on some of the general points we recommend for making a delightfully flavorful cup of coffee. They are simply starting points, so have fun and experiment with them to come up with the combination that best meets your taste preferences.
To preserve the flavor of your coffee beans, you must protect them from moisture, light, and above all, air. That’s why at Seattle’s Best Coffee, we package our beans still warm from the roaster in our special flavor-lock valve bags.
To ensure you experience all the unique flavors of our coffees, take the following steps when storing your coffee: Always keep your coffee in an airtight, opaque container and store in a cool, dark place between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Coffee will remain fresh in our valve bags for up to fourteen months if unopened. If you purchase larger quantities of coffee and have opened the valve bag (but go through the coffee slowly), store your beans in several small airtight containers. This will keep the beans you don’t use right away fresher longer.
Just as inferior beans can affect the taste of your coffee, so can poor quality water. Always use fresh water. If your tap water tastes fine to drink, it should be fine for making fresh coffee; however, if you notice any traces of chlorine, iron, or other peculiar tastes, use quality bottled or filtered water.
The wrong grind can quickly destroy the flavor of the very best gourmet beans. If the grind is too fine, the coffee will be bitter and over-extracted. If the grind is too coarse, the coffee will taste weak and sour. Make sure your coffee beans are specifically ground for the chosen brewing method.
Some of our recommendations for achieving a perfect grind using a top-loading blade grinder are listed below:
Coffee press – Coarse grind – 15 seconds
Drip brewing – Medium grind – between 20 and 25 seconds
Espresso – Fine grind – 25 seconds
Making great coffee is a balancing act. The wrong proportion of coffee beans to water can have the same negative effect on the taste of coffee as using an improper grind. Use fewer grounds and your coffee will be weaker; add more grounds and it will be stronger.
At Seattle’s Best Coffee, we’ve found the best water to coffee ratio is one tablespoon of coffee for every five ounces of water.
Don’t forget the importance of the temperature of your water in making great coffee. Water temperature determines which coffee flavors end up in your cup. The ideal water temperature for all brewing methods (except espresso) is “water just off the boil” (195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit). Bring water to a boil and let it cool a few seconds. Water cooler than that will not capture the full flavor of the beans. Plus, never boil or reheat coffee — it literally boils away flavor. Use a thermal carafe instead; it will keep coffee hot up to two hours without losing any of its flavor.