5 Expert Tips For Brewing Better Coffee + 1 Bonus Tip

Welcome to the captivating world of coffee! We know how exciting this journey can be, but we also understand that it can be quite overwhelming with all the conflicting advice out there. Don’t stress—we’re here to help you cut through the noise!

In this post, we’ll share our 5 expert tips for brewing better coffee, plus 1 bonus tip, that will truly set you apart. These insights are not just easy to grasp but also highly actionable, ensuring you can embark on your journey with confidence while enjoying the process along the way.

So, grab your favourite mug, and let’s get into it!


1. Pick Good Coffee


While it might sound obvious, selecting good coffee is crucial, yet often misunderstood. There are two key aspects to focus on. Firstly, good coffee starts with a high-quality product. In the coffee world, this means ensuring that the beans you purchase are of specialty grade. The primary distinction between specialty coffee and commodity coffee lies in their scores; specialty coffee must score 80 points or above on the SCA Cupping Form. The best place to find specialty coffee is your local coffee shop, rather than supermarkets or large grocery stores, which typically stock commodity coffee. If you’re unsure, ask your local café if their beans are specialty grade or consult your local coffee community.

Once you’ve found your local specialty coffee supplier, ensure that the coffee you purchase is roasted for your intended brew method. There are two main roasting categories: filter and espresso. If you’re brewing filter coffee, look for beans roasted specifically for filter methods and if you’re brewing espresso, look for beans specifically roasted for espresso. It should be indicated on the bag. Filter roasts are usually lighter, highlighting the coffee’s natural characteristics. On the other hand, espresso roasts are typically a bit darker to ensure a balanced extraction with a rich crema.


2. Use Optimal Water


Many people presume that all water is the same, but it actually vary’s greatly, even from city to city. Brewed coffee consists of two main ingredients: coffee and water, with water being the dominant one. Therefore it only makes sense that your water’s quality should be equally as good as your coffee. Water contains minerals that can positively or negatively affect the coffee’s flavour profile. Recent research has identified certain minerals which can enhance flavour, but also minerals (or too much of a mineral) which can diminish flavour.

For espresso machines, this can be a little tricky. Because they often have metal boilers, you need to be mindful of which minerals are present in your water, as they have the ability to destroy your boiler and various parts inside the coffee machine. Hence coffee machines are typically fitted with water filtration systems and Reverse Osmosis units to remove certain minerals while retaining the required ones.

Filter coffee however offers more flexibility in water choice. Options include high-quality tap water, bottled water, and filtered water. There are also many coffee-specific water mineral products available on the market, which allow you to create your own water profile with minerals, such as Apax lab.

Without getting too deep in the topic, a general recommendation is to use water that is approximately 30-150 ppm in total hardness. Most bottled and filtered water falls within this range. You can also buy distilled (pure water) and add your own minerals. We suggest Apax lab mineral concentrates, they’re super easy to use and you can add them post extraction to tweak your brew’s flavour.


3. Consider a good Grinder


Investing in a high-quality coffee grinder is undoubtedly one of the most impactful steps you can take to elevate your coffee experience. It’s tempting to imagine a world where grind quality doesn’t affect the taste of coffee, but the reality is quite the opposite. During brewing, water flows through the coffee grounds, extracting soluble compounds based on the size and consistency of the grounds.

The key to a rich and satisfying cup of coffee is achieving uniform extraction, which is directly influenced by how evenly your coffee is ground. Good grinders offer consistent grind sizes, ensuring each brew is as delicious as the last. In contrast, lower-quality blade grinders often produce uneven grounds that lead to an inconsistent brew with muddled flavours and they generally lack the ability to adjust grind sizes for different brewing methods.

For the best results, we recommend opting for a burr grinder. Burr grinders excel in providing a uniform grind, which is essential for precise and predictable coffee brewing. Some of the top brands to consider include Kinu, 1Zpresso, Comandante, and Varia. With the right grinder, you can confidently refine your brewing process and enjoy consistently excellent coffee every time.


4. Don’t wory so much about the brewer


While it’s true that are countless brewers on the market, some more popular than others, it doesn’t necessarily mean than they are better.

Think of it like cooking: a skilled chef can create mouthwatering dishes whether they’re using a cast iron skillet or a non-stick pan. What matters is how well they know their tools and how they adjust their techniques to suit them. The same can be said for coffee brewers.

So before you rush out to purchase that trendy new coffee dripper you’ve been eyeing, hoping it will magically improve your coffee, take a moment to consider whether you’ve optimised your current one.

The truth is, most coffee brewers are perfectly adequate, it’s just a matter of dialling them in by fine-tuning variables like brew ratio, water temperature, and grind size. Often, these factors have a much more significant impact on your coffee’s quality than the brewer itself. By focusing on mastering these aspects, you’ll likely find that the brewer becomes just another tool, rather than the secret to great coffee.


5. Only change one variable at a time


The key to dialling in great coffee and understanding exactly how each variable affects the final cup is by adjusting only one variable at a time. Dialling in coffee is a complex process, and there are many variables at play. If you change more than one variable at a time, for example – if your coffee is tasting a dry and bitter and dry, and you adjusted the grind size as well as reduced the temperature, it’s difficult to determine which variable was responsible for the change.

Our recommendation is to lock in your brew ratio and grind size first, and to experiment with the lesser impactful variables, such as water temperature and pouring pattern. If you feel like you still need to make further adjustments, then you can experiment further.

Adjusting variables like brew ratio will typically only dictate the strength of your brew, it’s very rare that it will improve your cup. Similarly, grind size dictates flow and how easily water can penetrate the coffee grounds, directly correlating to strength and extraction. Minor changes can make a huge difference.


BONUS TIP – Set realistic expectations


As much as we’d like every cup of coffee to be a revelation, the truth is that not all coffee is created equal. Consequently, not every brew can achieve top-tier quality scores, and that’s perfectly fine. For instance, a coffee rated at 86 points won’t magically leap to over 90, no matter how expertly you brew it. Likewise, searching for floral notes in a coffee that inherently lacks such characteristics is an exercise in futility.

The key to enjoyable coffee brewing is to aim to bring out the best in what you have. Set realistic goals from the start: aim to maximise the potential of the coffee in your hand, rather than chasing qualities it doesn’t possess. By aligning your expectations with the coffee’s true nature, you’ll avoid disappointment and learn to appreciate each brew for its unique qualities.


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