There is one ingredient in coffee that is often overlooked in making coffee — water! Coffee is 99 percent water, so it’s important to use the right water for brewing.
It is actually more important for brewed coffee to have the right mineral content than it is for espresso. In expresso extraction, the water is at a hotter temperature and it moves under pressure through the espresso in a fraction of a second. The espresso is not in contact with the minerals in the water long enough to have a role in the extraction.
However, in filter or brewed coffee, the minerals in the water definitely affect the flavor of the coffee. The flavor of coffee is mostly contained within the oils, and when we pour hot water over coffee grounds, the heat and the minerals in the water combine to bring out that flavor.
If the water is distilled, or too softened, your coffee will be almost flavorless. The minimum mineral content should be around 150-200 parts per million. Filtered or bottled water should work fine.
The temperature of the water for drip coffee or filtered coffee should be around 203-208F (95-98C)
Another important factor to having great tasting coffee is freshness. When you buy a bag of coffee, check to see if there is a date of when it was roasted. If there is no date, don’t buy it. Whole bean roasted coffee remains fresh somewhere between two to three weeks.
An ideal scenario is the have a grinder, so that when you are ready to drink coffee, you can grind it immediately beforehand. Once coffee is ground, the freshness and aroma diminishes rapidly – usually within a few minutes. Think of opening a soda, or a beer, and leaving it sitting on the counter for a couple of hours, and then drinking it.
It would taste flat. The same principle goes for coffee. Once the coffee is ground, the beans and their oils are exposed to air, and will go stale quickly, regardless of how it is stored.
Speaking of storing coffee, here are some tips:
Store coffee in an air-tight container in a dry, cool, dark place. Avoid exposure to sunlight or sources of heat.
Coffee is porous, therefore it is not a good idea to keep it in the refrigerator, where it can absorb food odors. The freezer should also be avoided, because of the moisture.
Intelligentsia Coffee has a very stylish Brew Guide here:
Stumptown Roasters have a Brewing Guide on their website for several methods of making coffee here: