Is there anything more sublime than the smell of freshly brewed coffee? Even if there is, coffee's delectable aroma should be high up there in our hypothetical list of heavenly scents. Many a sonnet, poem and verse has been written about it.
If you feel very passionately about your coffee — you're not alone, by the way — here are tips to help you make your favourite Colombia Frozen Cherry or Geisha coffee taste even better.
1. Rest your roast.
So, you roast your own Gesha coffee, or you buy it freshly roasted from your local roaster. However, you most likely consume your newly roasted coffee as soon as you get it home. After all, newly roasted is best, right? Well, that's not incorrect, but it's not entirely accurate either.
When you roast coffee beans, they undergo hundreds of chemical changes, including the production of melanoidins, the creation of aldehydes and ketones and the caramelisation of sugars. The rate and the extent of chemical changes also depend on many factors, including the fermentation process the beans have undergone.
Anaerobic coffee, which is specialty coffee resulting from oxygen-less or anaerobic coffee processing, reacts differently to heat. Carbonic maceration coffee is made similarly, except it is flushed with carbon dioxide after. The unique fermentation process used leads to more sugars and acids in either case. Therefore, they may have different heat thresholds and more aggressive flavour profiles that could manifest during roasting.
So, regardless of how your beans were processed, freshly roasted coffee beans need to "rest." This way, newly created, altered and degraded compounds in the roasted beans will have time to settle before you "use" them and extract flavours from them.
How long should you rest freshly roasted coffee beans before you can make pour-over or drip coffee out of it? It depends on many factors, so there's no definite rule.
Generally speaking, however, you can rest your freshly roasted beans for several hours to one day after roasting. However, some beans taste like slop within one or two days of roasting but taste divine after three days.
The only way to get the best drip coffee out of your freshly roasted beans is to test and sample to find your coffee's sweet spot. Grind enough for a cup a few hours after roasting. Grind some again after several hours, one day, two days, and even three days and compare the taste and flavour profiles you get. Whatever you do, don't forget to rest freshly roasted beans.
2. Invest in a good grinder and grind your own coffee.
Never underestimate the effect of grind size on your coffee flavour. To prove that grind size has an impact on your coffee, try to brew different batches of the same coffee using the same coffee-to-water ratio and the exact same technique but using a different grind size each time. You should notice distinguishable variations in the taste of your coffee each time.
So, what's the best grind size? The answer will depend on many factors. The following is MasterClass's general guideline on coffee grind size.
- Superfine – 0.1 mm particle size, like flour, for Turkish coffee
- Fine – 0.3 mm particle size, like fine granulated sugar, for espresso
- Medium-Fine – 0.5 mm particle size, like table salt, for stovetop espresso, AeroPress, and pour-over
- Medium – 0.75 mm particle size, like powdery sand, the type you'll find in drip coffee packets, the best coffee for drip coffee and pour-over
- Coarse – 1 mm particle size, like coarse sea salt, for percolators and French Press
- Extra-Coarse – 1.5 mm particle size, like rock salt, for cold brew
Other factors aside from the coffee-making method matter. You may have to adjust your grind size depending on your extraction speed. Some pour-overs, for instance, take four minutes. Some go for faster extraction of two minutes, tops. If you're extracting faster, you might want to use a finer grind size, and if you're extracting slower, you might want to use a coarser grind.
The beans you're using may also affect grind size to a certain extent. For some reason, you might find that you prefer a finer grind setting for your Geisha Arabica coffee than your Indonesia Tano Batak coffee. How darkly or lightly roasted your beans are may also lead to over or under extraction in your standard grind setting.
Thus, it is essential that you have your own grinder. This will let you experiment with various grind settings until you find the one that works best for your coffee, method and technique.
You don't want just any grinder, either. You want a high-quality grinder so you can get consistent and uniformly sized particles every time. You want a grinder that produces minimal fine dust, which could cause blockages, settling and muddy flavour profiles.
3. Use freshly ground every time.
This is another advantage of having your own grinder. While you need to rest freshly roasted beans for at least a few hours before using them, you need to use freshly ground coffee immediately to ensure minimal loss of flavours.
4. Invest in a good scale.
The recommended ratio of water to coffee typically varies. Some recommend 16:1, while others swear by 17:1. Others prefer less water, so some also like 14:1 and 15:1. In the bloom stage of pour-overs, moreover, experts typically recommend a 2:1 water-to-coffee ratio.
How about you? Which ratio of water to coffee do you prefer? If you don't have a weighing scale, you probably don't know.
If you want consistently great-tasting coffee — that is to say, if you want the ability to replicate your coffee successes — you need a good-quality digital weighing scale. This way, you can measure out both your coffee and water in grams and thus come up with precise water-to-coffee ratios.
The Best Cup Is the Best for You!
A cup of great-tasting coffee is the culmination of a multitude of factors. Variables like coffee varietal, origin, fermentation, roasting, coffee-making method, and technique all have individual and varying effects on how coffee tastes. So, how do you make your coffee taste better?
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Put another way, the proof of the coffee is in the cupping. In short, just continue making coffee, trying different variations of ratios, techniques, coffee types, etc., until you find the coffee that works best for you.
Explore our range of single-origin specialty coffee today and start experimenting to find the best tasting brew for you.