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I love coffee. I make good coffee at home using a French press and organic grounds, which are pretty expensive. Yet, the coffee is never as good as the best coffee you can get at a coffee shop. What are the tricks to make the very best coffee at home? What do they do at the coffee shops that make it so good? I wonder if I'm doing something wrong.
The water you use makes a difference in the quality of the coffee. If you are using tap water to make your coffee, consider running it through a filter first (pitcher or faucet-mounted). The temperature also matters. Ideally, it should be never be boiling when it touches the grounds. So after you boil the water, you could let it cool for about 30 seconds before adding it to the press. Also, make sure that you're using the right grind for your coffeemaker. For a French press, you want a fairly coarse grind. And lastly, clean the coffemaker well after every pot. Residue stuck to the pot will certainly affect the flavor.
Here's a little trick I learned from my Daddy a long time ago. To take the bitterness out of coffee, before you brew it, add a little "sprinkle" of salt (yes, salt) to the grounds! I've been doing it for years and can really taste the difference when someone else makes it and forgets!
Bee in Virginia
I make the best coffee in town at my house and the "coffee shops" don't come close to the taste I can brew at home, especially when you factor in the cost! Here are my tips for the best coffee:
One more thing, I tried one of those French presses and didn't like it. The coffee always tasted bitter. I did have some luck using one of those if I then filtered the brewed coffee through a coffee filter, but that was too much work, so I just have a regular drip brewer and that works great using the above tips. Good luck and good coffee!
CJ, Certified Coffee Snob
I work in a coffee shop and this is a frequent complaint from our customers. They buy a bag of a coffee that was tasted in the store and loved, only to find that it doesn't taste the same at home. There are several possible reasons for this. First, we only use filtered water when making coffee at the shop. Tap water can ruin the flavor of good coffee. Second, we grind the coffee right before we brew it, so that it maintains as much flavor as possible. The longer the time between grinding and brewing, the less flavor in the coffee. We also store our beans in opaque, tightly sealed bags with all the air forced out, and in a dark, cool place. Light and air exposure can alter the taste of the beans (and you should never store coffee in the freezer). Also, if you buy your coffee from a coffee shop, I would suggest asking the baristas for any tips they might have. We're very friendly and we usually know quite a bit.
Sounds like you're on the right track by using quality coffee and a French press. My suggestion is to use filtered water. I worked in a coffee shop several years ago and we only used filtered water. Also, you might see a difference if you grind the beans fresh before each pot.
Barbara in Boise, Idaho
Like the questioner, I love coffee, and here are a few suggestions to brew the best cup. I suggest using filtered water; I keep a pitcher of it in my refrigerator.
Through the Internet, I found some coffee bean suppliers at sweetmarias.com or u-roast-em.com. From these suppliers, I order green beans from growers all around the world and roast them myself every few days. I use a West Bend hot-air corn popper in my garage (coffee roasting makes a pungent odor), and it takes about 7 minutes to roast 1/2 cup of raw beans, so I do three or four batches at a time. There are other successful methods for home roasting. Then, I use a burr grinder for the coarse grind that is best for the French press method.
There is a learning/experiment curve to making the best cup of coffee, but it comes quickly enough, and now my friends are eager to try the different types that I brew.
Kay in Virginia
Always start with a clean coffee pot and cold water. Use a coffee measure or two tablespoons coffee for a pot. Remove the grounds when the coffee has been made. Do not let the coffee grounds weep into your coffeepot. They will make it sour.
For each basket of grounds to make a regular pot of coffee, I add one teaspoon of granulated sugar. This works the same way that adding sugar to spaghetti sauce works. The sugar balances out some of the acidic taste. This makes for a much, much mellower pot of coffee, and you cannot taste the sugar. Don't make the mistake, however, of adding more. If much more than the teaspoon is added, you will taste the sugar. (Yes, I know this from personal experience!) Depending on how much coffee grounds go into making the French press, you could try lesser amounts of sugar.
Paula in Stevenson, WA
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