There are those who like coffee. And then there are those who love it. The former are amateurs. They down their cup of joe without much thought. All they see in their mugs is a brown liquid that will jolt them back to life.
The latter are coffee aficionados. Connoisseurs. Addicts. They treat their coffee as a sacred ritual. When they take a sip of coffee, they are hit by an intense spectrum of flavors and aromas. They savor all of them, mull over them and make mental notes for future reference.
But both groups of coffee drinkers have one thing in common: They both seek the perfect cup of coffee. In fact, the best coffee. The amateurs unknowingly, the addicts with a passion that is sometimes mistaken for madness. The good news is: Brewing a fantastic cup of java is easier than you think. You see: A good cup of coffee is more of a science than an art.
Why Your Coffee Tastes like Crap
There could be many reasons why your coffee tastes less like a little moment of heaven and more like muck.
If you love buying your coffee in bulk... Stop right now! As soon as coffee leaves the roaster, it starts losing its freshness and consequently, its flavor. Coffee tastes much, much better when it's fresh so only buy ahead for a week or two. And don't forget: Whenever possible, look at the roast date as opposed to the expiration date. As for storage: You've probably heard that keeping coffee in the fridge will keep it fresh for longer. However, that's only true for brand new (i.e., unopened) coffee. Unless you store opened coffee in a completely airtight container, it will absorb not only moisture (which will make it go bad extra quickly) but also odors from other food items kept in the fridge.
Instead: Store your coffee in a dry environment at room temperature.
Here's a good way to see if roasted coffee is of high quality: Put a tablespoon of coffee on top of a glass full of ice water. If after a few minutes the coffee stays on top of the water, it's been roasted properly.
If it leeches into the water, the coffee beans are either under-roasted or over-roasted.
Grind size can either make or break your coffee. But here's the catch: Grind size depends on your preferred brew method.
- Espresso = extra fine
- Moka pot coffee = medium
- AeroPress = medium to fine
- Pour over coffee = medium to medium-fine
- Drip coffee = medium to medium coarse
- French Press = coarse
Of course, the above are just guidelines. You'll have to test the grind sizes for yourself.
As a rule of thumb: If your coffee tastes too weak, try a finer grind. If it tastes too strong, go for a larger grind.
Incorrect water temperature
Getting water temperature just right might seem like an exercise in futility, but trust us, it can make a huge difference to your coffee. Water that is too hot leads to over-extraction and bitter-tasting coffee. Water that is too cold on the other hand leads to under-extraction and weak (and sometimes even sour) coffee. The ideal water temperature is anywhere between 195°F to 205°F.
Bad water quality
Don't just assume that filtered water is the best. Minerals found in tap water can actually improve the way that your coffee tastes.
The key here is to know whether your tap water is hard or soft because then you can purchase beans best suited for it. You can check the type of water that runs in your geographic area online. When in doubt, go for locally roasted coffee (local roasteries usually tailor their coffee beans to the area's tap water). Of course: If your tap water smells or tastes weird, opt for filtered or bottled water instead.
This one's a no-brainer. And yet most coffee lovers neglect to clean their equipment. You might think, 'Surely I don't need to clean my coffee maker after just one use?'
But you do. Be careful that there are no grounds left behind for they can make your future coffee taste bitter. Rinse your equipment with hot water and then use an absorbent towel to dry it. And don't forget to clean your bean grinder too!
You shouldn't overlook the amount of time that the coffee grounds are in contact with the water either.
For example, espresso is brewed in 30 seconds or less whereas French Press coffee needs to be steeped for 2 to 4 minutes. If your coffee tastes a little off, you are either over-extracting (brewing time is too long) or under-extracting (brewing time is too short).
The weird one: the color of your mug!
As bizarre as it sounds: The color of your mug can influence how you perceive your coffee's intensity. Basically: If you like bold coffee, you should drink from a white mug. If on the other hand, you prefer milder coffee, you should use a darker mug.
Why Robusta Coffee Is Bad and Arabica Coffee Good
In general, Arabica beans are deemed good and Robusta beans bad. But have you ever wondered why? And what even is the difference between the two?
It's really simple:
So, does that mean that you should avoid Robusta beans like the plague? Not necessarily. You might find that you prefer Robusta coffee. It all comes down to your personal taste.
Finland is the coffee capital of the world. Hardcore coffee fiends (14 percent of Finnish men and 6 percent of Finnish women) consume more than 10 cups of coffee a day there, probably because of the chilling cold (temperatures can drop to minus 40 degrees in Northern Finland). But Finns don't gulp down their coffee in solitude or secret. Drinking coffee is considered a social activity. Furthermore, most coffee is served with cake. There's even a word for that: kakkukahvi (coffee and cake). Excuse us while we pack our bags and get on the first flight to Finland.
Coffee Pods: Are They Worth It or Not?
Single-serve coffee containers of pre-ground coffee, also known as coffee pods, are gaining popularity. Today, you'll find pod machines in Michelin-starred kitchens, hotel restaurants, and homes across the country.
Nespresso capsules are probably the most popular, but you've probably heard of Kraft's Tassimo and Nescafe's Dolce Gusto too. But what is it that makes coffee pods so popular? One word: Convenience. Coffee pods save time. Like, lots and lots of time. With coffee pods, you can enjoy a cup of coffee in two to three minutes. And it's going to be a fairly decent cup of coffee at that. That's another thing about coffee pods: they offer consistency of taste without the hassle of making sure that you get your measurements, bean variety, and water temperature just right.
Furthermore: Coffee pods allow you to choose from a wide variety of coffee drinks, starting with a good old americano and ending with specialties such as latte macchiato. And the best thing is: Coffee pods don't leave a mess. But coffee pods are also quite controversial. Why? Because they're rather difficult to recycle. In fact, Hamburg, the second-largest city in Germany, banned coffee pods from all their council buildings three years ago for that exact reason. Also, if you're particular about how you like your coffee, you might notice that pod coffee is not quite the same as coffee prepared by hand. In addition, coffee pods are expensive.
Ranking Starbucks Blends, from Best to Worst
Starbucks is known as a coffee giant for a reason. Not only does it offer coffee lovers innovative drinks the world over, but it also provides them with their very own blends. Choosing a Starbucks blend is no easy feat, however, especially considering that they have so many. The below coffee blends have been ranked from best to worst, based on coffee junkies' reviews.
Find Your Brew
The first step to making an exquisite cup of coffee is finding your preferred brew.
Walk into any Italian kitchen, and you will more than likely see a "caffettiera" (or as we call it, a Moka pot). A nifty little coffeemaker, the Moka pot was invented back in the 1930s by a man named Luigi di Ponti. It was quickly scooped up by Alfonso Bialetti, a Piedmontese man who wasted no time in turning this ingenious contraption into one of the most iconic symbols in the world. Moka pots make delicious espresso at a minimal cost. However, the coffee can sometimes taste over-extracted (i.e., bitter). Here's how to make the best coffee with a Moka pot:
It was in 1852 that a French metalsmith received a patent for what was to become known as the French press. The patent detailed a contraption for filtering coffee made from a plunger and a flannel screen. It was a simple idea. But also a revolutionary one. Which is why it's so surprising that it was not perfected until the early 20th century, this time by an Italian. A French press produces coffee that is clean and strong. However: It takes some practice before you get the hang of it. In fact: If you're not careful, you can end up not with the best coffee you've ever made but with sludge at the bottom of your mug. Here's how to use a French Press:
Forget saving up for a thousand dollar espresso machine. Coffee snobs the world over are raving about AeroPress, an ingenious coffee making device that costs less than 50 bucks and yet yields some of the best coffee. The AeroPress was created by Alan Adlet, the inventor of Aerobie (a type of frisbee that set the Guinness World Record not once but twice). Tired of trying (and failing) to make a decent cup of coffee for one in a drip machine, Adlet decided to create a coffee maker of his own. As with all of his previous inventions, he was successful. The AeroPress not only delivers impressive results in terms of the way that coffee tastes but is also incredibly simple to operate. Best of all, it leaves hardly any mess. And get this: Even though filters for AeroPress are insanely cheap, you can actually reuse them. Adler did so himself, much to the amusement of his wife (she made a good point when she said that he had all the filters he could want). So what makes AeroPress coffee taste so damn good? The short steep time which makes for a sweeter cup! Here's how to use AeroPress:
Drip coffee machine
Your parents choice when it comes to coffee makers, a drip coffee machine is reliable and convenient and has been so since 1954, which is when a German man named Gottlob Widmann created it. The best thing about drip coffee machines is that you can do other things while the coffee is brewing. Not only that: Most drip coffee machines can make a lot of coffee (some have 12-cup options), so you also save time. On the downside, the coffee won't taste as good as it would if another brew method was employed. There's a reason why coffee connoisseurs ridicule this device. Plus, if you don't clean your drip coffee machine properly, you risk mold. But if you're after convenience, here's how to make the best coffee using a drip machine:
The manual version of drip coffee, pour over coffee was invented in the early 20th century. Pour over coffee is known for its ability to eliminate coffee sediments and oil that often make the coffee more bitter. What you get is pure coffee, nothing else. It was this purity that Melitta Bentz, a German housewife, was seeking when, in the early 1900s, she tore a piece of blotting paper from her son's notebook and placed it inside a tin pot in which she had made some holes. She then added some ground coffee and poured hot water over them. Most coffee fiends are familiar with what happened next: The water dripped through the paper, right into the cup, and the very first mug pour over coffee was made. The pour-over method extracts the flavor of every type of coffee bean, thus giving you the best coffee possible. You're basically allowing every single coffee bean to speak for itself. And of course, pour over coffee makers look pretty darn sleek, so you're guaranteed to impress your guests.
Unfortunately, pour over coffee makers also come with a hefty price tag. Not only do you need to buy a dripper with the filter, but you also need to invest in a kettle with an extended neck, a conical burr grinder (to grind your coffee beans evenly), a scale (to measure the grounds and the water) and a timer (to observe brew time). And not only that: The whole brewing process takes between three to five minutes, but that's not including prep time. So it's not exactly ideal when you're rushing to get to work in the morning. Finally: Cleaning a pour over coffee maker is also a chore, and you will need to purchase a long-handled brush. Here's how to make pour-over coffee:
If you're super serious about your coffee, you shouldn't skimp on a home espresso machine. There are a few different espresso machines on the market. Manual espresso machines are ideal for those who don't mind putting in the work. They allow you to control every single aspect of the process and potentially end up with the
On the flipside, you can easily screw up and end up with muck. Attractive but costly, manual espresso machines are best suited for coffee connoisseurs or baristas. The most sought-after espresso machine on the market, a semi-automatic espresso maker, is easier to use than a manual machine but still gives you lots of control. Some semi-automatic models are costly, others affordable. So, you have to shop around. Next, we have a fully automatic espresso machine. These machines are straightforward to use, and they're not that expensive either. However, you have less control over your cup of coffee. Also, more electronics means that more parts can break. Finally, there's the super automatic espresso machine. These machines are the easiest to use. On the downside, they don't give you any control. Most super automatic espresso machines boast additional features, such as built-in grinders. Consequently, they can be quite pricey. Here's a short video on the evolution of the espresso machine:
Why Coffee Can Cause Hallucinations
Damaged liver, increased blood pressure, irritability and exacerbation of bladder problems are just some of the adverse effects associated with drinking too much coffee. And get this: Too much coffee can make you hallucinate!
So how much coffee is too much? In general, you shouldn't have more than 400 milligrams of coffee a day, which is around 4 cups of coffee. If you're like most people, you doubtless have your first cup of coffee right after waking. And you think that it makes you feel more alert. But you're wrong. You see: According to science, the best time to drink coffee is three to four hours after waking. Why? Because when you wake up your body produces quite a lot of cortisol, a stress hormone that can make you feel alert or anxious. Add caffeine, which also increases cortisol, and you are likely to feel jittery right after drinking it. But a few hours later? You'll crash. As for your last cup of coffee of the day... For sound sleep, ditch coffee after 2 p.m. If you drink coffee even six hours before bed, you still risk disrupting your sleep. You might not lie awake for hours on end. But you'll probably experience sleep fragmentation.
Many regard Theodore Roosevelt as one of the best U.S. presidents. When he wasn't busy coming up with ways to better his country, he read poetry, danced, boxed and wrote (he penned more than 35 books not to mention countless articles, essays, and speeches). He probably wouldn't have been nearly as prolific if he didn't consume almost a gallon of coffee a day. His son said that Roosevelt's coffee consumption was closer to a "bathtub."
Coffee Terms Every Self-Respecting Coffee Lover Should Know
The Pressing Questions You Never Bothered GooglingEverything you've ever wondered about coffee answered in one spot!
Is there caffeine in decaf coffee?
Yes! But in most cases, not very much. For coffee to have a decaffeinated label, 97 percent of the caffeine must be removed from the beans. If you're still worried that a cup of decaf coffee will stop you from catching z's, opt for Arabica coffee (it contains significantly less caffeine than Robusta coffee).
Does coffee make you poop?
Coffee contains compounds, such as caffeine and chlorogenic acids, that stimulate your bowels. Decaf coffee has the same effect whereas milk and cream can further increase your desire to poop after a cup of coffee. The urge to go to the bathroom after drinking a cup of joe does not affect everyone though.
How many calories does coffee have?
It depends on what you mean by "coffee." An espresso has one calorie. A plain cup of brewed coffee has two calories. And instant coffee has four calories. Add extras, and the number will increase. For example, McDonald's cappuccino has 130 calories whereas Starbucks latte has 220 calories.
Is organic coffee better?
Because no synthetic pesticides are used on organic coffee, it is certainly more environmentally friendly. However, it's hard to say whether it's better for your health. Pesticides are still used, albeit natural ones. And there's no guarantee that organic coffee is of higher quality either.
What is bulletproof coffee?
A coffee, oil, and butter concoction that is a substitute for breakfast. It looks a lot like a latte. Its alleged benefits include suppressed hunger, better mental focus, and steady energy.
What is cold brew coffee?
Cold coffee. But it's different than iced coffee. Where iced coffee consists of espresso-based coffee beverage poured over ice, cold brew coffee is brewed cold. Coffee aficionados claim that the cold brew method highlights the qualities of coffee beans that go unnoticed in hot water brew. Here's how to make it:
Is coffee healthy?
Probably. According to the latest research, coffee can reduce Parkinson's disease, liver disease, and type 2 diabetes. It also boosts cognitive function and might even decrease overall mortality. However, excessive consumption of unfiltered coffee can increase cholesterol levels. Furthermore, if your body metabolizes coffee fairly slowly, you are at an increased risk of heart disease.
A Fleeting Moment of Perfection
By now you've probably realized that a wide variety of variables influence whether your cup of coffee tastes like battery acid or a miracle in a cup. The thing is: The only way to find, let alone brew that perfect cup of joe is by falling in love with this complex, frustrating, and invigorating beverage. You'll taste many, many bad coffees, spend a lot of money on coffee beans and turn your kitchen into a huge mess. Eventually, you'll experience a moment of fleeting perfection in the form of a coffee cup. And then it'll be gone. The search will be on again. But you won't mind. You'll happily spend the remainder of your life exploring the world of coffee. Because now you're one of us: A coffee freak. Welcome to the club!
What is your favorite way to make coffee? Tell us all about your obsession in the comments!