Those who are serious lovers of coffee will know that a lot goes into producing the perfect cup. From temperature to grind, a true connoisseur will tell you every detail plays a part in achieving balanced flavour in your Cup o’ Joe. Many of us who enjoy a coffee, but haven’t quite reached expert-level knowledge, understand this to a degree.
But does it influence the way we care for and make our coffee most days? In the rare occasion, maybe. But generally not.
What we coffee plebs don’t understand, however, is that a wrong step here can actually impact the flavour of your coffee, significantly. Recently I was invited to take a tour of The Wood Roaster‘s home base in Sydney, and here I learnt about a lot of the ways in which many of us (certainly me) mess up our coffee.
Here are a few of the most common coffee mistakes
Did you know that coffee beans have a recommended use-by date? Not because it’s unsafe to consume them after that point, but because the beans go stale rather quickly.
“If they [coffee beans] sit for too long on the shelf, then the beans can go stale which breaks down the flavours in each bean,” Kim Loupis, Founder of The Wood Roaster added over email.
In most cases, it’s suggested you power through your coffee in about a week. So, if you’re storing giant drums of the stuff in your pantry, I would guess that most of that is past its prime.
Ground coffee is worse. While at the Wood Roaster, the team of coffee experts explained to me that once you grind your coffee beans, you have about five minutes before the flavour starts to go. Yes, you read that correctly – five minutes.
Understandably, not everyone has the time or patience to grind their coffee for every individual cup, so if you’d like to extend the life of your ground beans, the Wood Roaster team suggested popping it in the freezer for storage.
N.B: One of the most interesting things I learnt while on this tour is that decaf coffee should taste the exact same as the caffeinated kind. The reason it often doesn’t, the Wood Roaster team shared, is because of (you guessed it) stale coffee beans that are rarely used.
On the topic of ground coffee, it’s also important you ensure the grind setting is correct, depending on how you’re making your cup.
Loupis explained: “Get the wrong grind for the particular brewing method you are using, and your coffee will never taste good.”
He added that as a simple guide you should remember that “If you are using an espresso machine (or similar), it should be a fine grind. For filter or pour-over methods, it should be a medium/coarse grind. For lovers of a cold brew, an extra coarse grind is best”.
Dirty coffee equipment:
Sounds obvious, but a lot of people forget to regularly clean their coffee machines.
“Leftover residue on equipment nozzles can alter the taste of coffee,” shared Loupis.
“Keeping equipment clean and having a good quality water filtration system will also keep your coffee machine in a good condition for longer. This means you won’t have to update your machinery as often and is a win-win for everyone.”
Outside of these key points, Loupis suggests you pay attention to how you store your beans (a sealed container is best) and that you get the temperature right (some coffee machine models have manual temperature adjustment settings, so learn how to manage that correctly).
Master these elements, and you’ll be a coffee pro in no time.