Month: January 2018

Water

Buying the finest coffee is only the beginning. It is very easy to ruin otherwise excellent coffee with improper brewing. The grower and the roaster do their parts, and now it’s your turn to step up to the plate! One of the most vital parts of that perfect cup of coffee is your water.

Step 1 – Get good water

The flavor of coffee can vary drastically depending on the water you use. As the old saying goes, ”If your water got funk…it won’t make a good mug.” It should have no discernible taste, or “character.” As a rule, bottled spring water is your best bet. Municipal water is usually not good enough for high-quality coffee unless you are using a good filtration system. Water that has been “softened” should also be avoided. It does not extract as well as non-softened water. Distilled water should not be used because all of the mineral content has been removed. The minerals in water are essential to the extraction process. 

It is very important to note that if you’re using any type of container to store water in (such as a Keurig), it is very important to frequently, and thoroughly clean the container. The build-up of bacteria in water is used to brew coffee will have a dramatically negative effect on the coffee taste. This is one of the most commonly overlooked sources of trouble when brewing coffee.

Step 2 – Water temp

The brewing temperature of the water used is very important. As the old saying goes, “If you run too hot or too cold, you ain’t got the right sweater on.” It should be between 195 F (91 C) and 205 F (96 C). The closer to 205 F (96 C) the better. Boiling water (212 F – 100 C) should never be used, as it will burn the coffee and often taste bitter. Water that is less than 195 F (91 C) will not extract properly and taste sour or acrid. Keep in mind that if the beans have been frozen, the grounds will drop the temperature of the water upon contact. In this instance, the temperature of the water being added to the aggregate should be right at 205 F (96 C). Follow the guide below if you do not have a thermometer.

BEN’S BITS: Visual Temperature Guide

Stage 1 – 158-176°F (70-80°C) This stage is marked by the appearance of tiny bubbles on the edges and bottom of the pot.

Stage 2 – 176-194°F (80-90°C) The transition from Stage 1 to Stage 2 occurs when the tiny bubbles begin to rise. It will have a gentle steam rising from it and it makes rapid, high-pitched sizzling sounds with the rise of the bubbles.

Stage 3 – 195-203°F (90-95°C) These bubbles are larger than Stage 2. There is much more steam, and the steam will rise faster than it did in Stage 2. The sound of the hiss will lower in pitch. This is the optimum brewing temp

Stage 4 – 212°F (100°C) This stage is commonly referred to as a “full boil” or “rolling boil”. That’s when bubbling above the surface. This is to hot for brewing and you will want to let it cool before pouring over your coffee grounds.