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Find out our secrets for how to brew the best pot of coffee. I often go to sleep thinking about the cup of it I’m going to have the next morning. I adore it! Whether your morning drink is an estate-grown brew or just the best supermarket blend you can afford, these basic rules from EatingWell Magazine’s editors and contributors will help you learn how to make coffee to prevent unwanted bitterness and virtually guarantee a satisfying cup of coffee every time.

—Jessie Price, Editor-in-Chief, EatingWell Magazine
Coffee

Coffee is basically a hot brewed beverage prepared from ground beans, usually the beans of the Coffea species from some specific regions. The seeds from the tree are separated from the berries to make a finished, stable product: the green one. There are different ways to prepare is, depending on the region and type of tree. Depending on the process used to separate the seeds, different types of it can have varying tastes and aromas. Some regions like Latin America and Africa use a lot of care when preparing and do not seem to have too much of a problem with the aroma and taste of their products.

Rule 1. Buy Fresh Beans

Without question, It is the best when used within days of being roasted. Buying from a local roaster (or roasting your own) is the surest way to get the absolute freshest beans. Be wary of buying bulk ones from supermarket display bins. Oxygen and bright light are the worst flavor busters for roasted beans, so unless the store is conscientious about selling the Fresh, the storage tubes get coated with its oils, which turn rancid. Beans packaged by quality-conscious roasters and sold in sturdy, vacuum-sealed bags are often a better bet.

Rule 2. Keep Coffee Beans Fresh

Always store opened beans in an airtight container. Glass canning jars or ceramic storage crocks with rubber-gasket seals are good choices. Never refrigerate (roasted beans are porous and readily take up moisture and food odors). Flavor experts strongly advise against ever freezing coffee, especially dark roasts. Optimally, buy a 5- to 7-day supply of fresh beans at a time and keep at room temperature.

Rule 3. Choose Good Coffee

Snobbism among the drinkers can rival that of wine drinkers, but the fact is that an astonishing world of tastes awaits anyone willing to venture beyond mass-marketed commercial brands. Specialty coffees that clearly state the country, region or estate of origin can provide a lifetime of tasting experiences. By all means look for 100% pure Arabica beans. The cheap alternatives may contain Robusta beans, noted for their higher caffeine content but harsh flavors. “Nasty” is a term commonly linked to Robusta by Arabica devotees.

Rule 4. Grind Your Own

It starts losing quality almost immediately upon grinding. The best-tasting brews are made from beans ground just before brewing. connoisseurs prefer to grind in expensive burr mills (e.g., Solis, Zassenhaus, Rancilio), but affordable electric “whirly blade” grinders (e.g., Braun, Bodum) will do a serviceable job, especially if the mill is rocked during grinding to get a fine, even particle size. (Scoop for scoop, finer grinds yield more flavor.)

Rule 5. Use Good Water

Nothing can ruin a pot of it more surely than tap water with chlorine or off flavors. Serious coffee lovers use bottled spring water or activated-charcoal/carbon filters on their taps. Note: Softened or distilled water makes terrible coffee—the minerals in good water are essential.

Rule 6. Avoid Cheap Filters

Bargain-priced paper filters yield inferior coffee, according to the experts. Look for “oxygen-bleached” or “dioxin-free” paper filters (e.g., Filtropa, Melitta). Alternatively, you may wish to invest in a long-lived gold-plated filter (e.g., SwissGold). These are reputed to deliver maximum flavor, but may let sediment through if the coffee is ground too finely.

Rule 7. Don’t Skimp On The Coffee

The standard measure for brewing of proper strength is 2 level tablespoons per 6-ounce cup or about 2 3/4 tablespoons per 8-ounce cup. Tricks like using less coffee and hotter water to extract more cups per pound tend to make for bitter brews.

Rule 8. Beware The Heat

Water that is too hot will extract compounds in the coffee that are bitter rather than pleasant. The proper brewing temperature is 200°F, or about 45 seconds off a full boil. (Most good coffeemakers regulate this automatically.) Once brewed, don’t expect it to hold its best flavors for long. Reheating, boiling or prolonged holding on a warming platform will turn even the best coffee bitter and foul-tasting.

Rule 9. Keep Your Equipment Clean

Clean storage containers and grinders every few weeks to remove any oily buildup. At least monthly, run a strong solution of vinegar or specialty coffee-equipment cleaner (e.g., Urnex) through your maker to dissolve away any mineral deposits. Rinse thoroughly before reuse.

The Lesson for Coffee gives you the opportunity to taste many different types of beverages. You’ll learn the difference between dark roast and light roast, and how the roasting affects the taste of each. It also teaches you the importance of keeping the temperature of your coffee mug on the cold side, to maximize the flavor. And finally, it provides you with the knowledge of what type of caffeine you should look for in your cup of Joe.