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The Secret to a Great Cup of Coffee

Written by Lisette Gavina Lopez.

Knowing how to make a great cup of coffee is one of life’s necessities, and the coffee experts at Project Life are ready to help. Brewing that perfect cup of coffee is a science, and achieving it involves the control of 6 key variables:

Fresh, high-quality coffee

Choose fresh 100 percent Arabica beans from a Coffee Roaster that is committed to quality. The package should be sealed airtight by vacuum or nitrogen flush to ensure freshness. Coffee should always smell fresh when you open the package and it should be used within one week of opening. Oxygen is the number one enemy of coffee, so always store coffee it in an airtight container in the freezer to minimize exposure to air.

Good water

Coffee is 98 percent water, so the quality of your water is extremely important for a good brew. The water used for brewing coffee should taste fresh, have no odor and contain no visible impurities.  Water with 50 to 100 parts per million of dissolved minerals will produce the best tasting coffee. You can check the dissolved minerals level in your tap water using a Hard Water Test Kit  available at your local hardware store.  If you have hard tap water, consider using bottled water, but be sure to test it for hardness too, or check the water brand’s website for this information.

Good brew strength

The standard coffee-to-water ratio is one part coffee to 16 parts water, or in other words, 3.5 - 4 ounces of coffee to 64 ounces of water For your standard home drip coffee maker, use 1 rounded tablespoon of coffee per each 6 ounce cup of water.  You can always add a bit more coffee for a stronger brew or less for a lighter brew.

Grind to match brew method

Matching the grind to the brew method is imperative to achieve good extraction (amount of soluble solids removed from the ground coffee), which is essential to a great cup of coffee. For your home drip coffee maker, use a Drip Grind, which is a medium grind.  If you grind too coarse you will under-extract the coffee creating a grassy or peanut-like flavor, and careful not to grind too fine or you will over-extract the coffee resulting in bitter astringent flavors.

Clean, properly functioning equipment

A good brewer is essential to brewing great coffee, and keeping it clean is most important. Coffee has natural oils that stick to your brew cone and coffee pot. If not cleaned properly, these oils build up and will cause bitterness in your brew, so be sure to clean  after every use with soap and water or consider a cleaning product from Urnex that is designed  especially for coffee equipment.  Running white vinegar diluted with some water through your brew cycle every other month is good way to avoid mineral deposits in your machine. Be sure to run the machine a few times with water only after you clean with vinegar to ensure a clean fresh cup of coffee.  

Holding time

Coffee should be consumed within 15-20 minutes of brewing for optimal flavor, or held between 175 degrees Fahrenheit and 185 degrees Fahrenheit in a closed and insulated container for no more than two hours. Applied heat causes coffee's flavor to change, so letting coffee sit on the burner for more than an hour, or reheating it after it has gotten cold, ensures that even the best coffee will lose its flavor, become bitter, thick, and generally unappealing. Your best bet is to brew your coffee fresh every time.
There’s nothing like a good cup of coffee to warm you up on a chilly morning, give you a burst of energy or simply put you in a good mood. Follow these principles and you’ll be brewing your way to the perfect cup of java.


Lisette Gavina Lopez
Lisette Gavina Lopez

With a rich coffee heritage that spans 4 generations and a lifetime of coffee learning growing up in the Gaviña family coffee roasting business, Lisette actively works to expand her coffee knowledge and that of foodservice professionals and consumers. Her background is in brand marketing in beauty and coffee, and she is lover of food, art, wine, a.. Read more

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