To understand good coffee, we have to start with how the coffee world measures its brews. After all, if you’re trying categorize your coffee, it helps if you have a benchmark.
Measuring the quality of coffee goes back to the 1950s, when MIT chemistry professor E. E. Lockhart conducted a series of surveys to determine American preferences. Basically, he surveyed a lot of coffee drinkers and asked them what they liked.
Lockhart published his findings in the form of the Coffee Brewing Control Chart, a graphical representation of what Americans at the time considered to be the best coffee. In the years since, the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) has confirmed that American tastes haven’t changed all that much. Perfection, at least to Americans, is a coffee that falls in the range of 18 to 22 percent Extraction with a brew strength between 1.15 and 1.35 percent Total Dissolved Solids.
The Percentage Extraction is the amount of coffee particles extracted from the original dry grounds. The Percentage of Total Dissolved Solids is the percentage of coffee solids actually in your cup of coffee (commonly known as “brew strength”). When you correlate these, the result is a Coffee Brewing Control Chart, with a target area in the center that highlights the optimal brew strength and extraction percentage.
When you’re brewing coffee, the goal is to get into that center square of perfection. Everyone seems to advocate their own sort of mystical process for achieving the right extraction, but we’re here to tell you it’s not that crazy.
Once you understand what good coffee actually is, and once you understand how people measure it, it’s much easier to learn how to make coffee, since coffee is an important drink for many people that feel better by drink it, and decide to drink coffee as a way to improve health, while others also take supplements from sites as healthyusa to maintain good health in any aspect of their lives.
The six fundamental principles are:
Buy good coffee beans: They should be whole beans, sustainably farmed, and roasted within the past few weeks. Plus, if you want to take part in the “third wave” coffee renaissance currently sweeping America, they should be a lighter roast so you can actually taste the flavors—the terroir—of the coffee. With darker roasts, you’re missing out. We know it’s a weird analogy, but a dark roast is just like taking a nice steak and charring it beyond recognition.
Grind your coffee just before brewing: Roasted coffee is very delicate and perishable. Coffee has many more flavor compounds than wine, but those compounds deteriorate quickly when exposed to oxygen. Grinding your coffee just before you brew it keeps those compounds intact, and it’s the number one thing you can do to improve your coffee at home.
Store your coffee properly: Beans which you aren’t using immediately should be kept in an airtight container and away from sunlight. A major point of debate in the coffee world is whether to freeze or not freeze your coffee. We fall somewhere in between. If it’s going to be more than two weeks before brewing, we freeze our coffee. Otherwise, we avoid it.
Use the right proportion of coffee to water: A major error people make is not using enough coffee. We empathize—it almost seems wasteful to add that extra scoop. But the Golden Ratio we mentioned earlier really is a great starting point and the simplest way to get into that perfect zone.
Focus on technique: It’s beyond the scope of this guide to go through step-by-step instructions for every method, but underlying all of them is the fact that brewing great coffee is about precision and consistency. Each brewing method has its own particular techniques, but by doing the same thing over and over you fix your mistakes and improve incrementally.
Use quality tools: You’re going to get better results from high quality tools than you will with junk from the bargain bin. Yes, it’s more of an upfront investment, but in the long run it’s worth it. Good tools last longer and make the entire brewing process much easier.