OK, by this point you have bravely gone to the local roastery/coffee store, chosen from the myriad of names and flavours and arrived home clutching your precious prize. You place it on the counter and find yourself looking at your coffee brewer as suspiciously as if it was your 15-year-old’s date shuffling at the doorstep.
Will you treat my precious properly? Bring out the best qualities and deliver safely into my arms?
Here are some helpful pointers to prevent your coffee maker from being grounded (alright, please groan now, I’ll stop flogging that metaphor).
One of the primary rules to getting good coffee from any type of brewer is to use “good” water. Coffee is approximately 97 per cent water and three per cent solids, so guess what you will be tasting along with your coffee?
A large detrimental component to your coffee’s flavour is chlorine in the water. We know it is in there, but the idea is that you then remove the chlorine before you drink the water.
A simple Brita-type pitcher works in a pinch, but the best thing you can do is install an in-line filter system for all your drinking/beverage-making water.
A simple two-stage charcoal and micron filter will more than adequately remove chlorine taste as well as heavy metals and most bacteria.
Once you calculate the cost of buying bottled water, not to mention the number of pesky plastic containers bumping around, a system is inexpensive and convenient.
If nothing else, leave your water in an open container overnight and most of the chlorine will have dissipated from the water.
A softener is not needed, as most minerals in the water actually add to the flavour (except sulphur!, as some well owners know).
Although calcium build up will affect your machine’s performance, in a home setting this is easily taken care of by regularly running vinegar or other calcium removal products through your machine.
The next secret to getting a great cup at home is having a brewer that gets the water to the correct temperature as it goes through. This is where most machines are found lacking.
With the rise of specialty coffee, more attention has been paid to proper extraction temperatures and with darker roasts becoming more common in the menu, a higher temperature needs to be achieved in order to do the coffee justice.
One of the better brands for temperature is Krups or Gaggia. Another good bet is (I can’t believe I’m about to say this) companies such as Starbucks, that are specialty coffee oriented, often sell a high-quality brand with their name on it.
You can rest assured though, that the one you got for $25 is not going to have enough juice to get your water to 190-195 degrees F. This is largely why your coffee never tastes at home like it does from your favourite café.
Lastly, now that you’ve spent care and attention to removing chlorine from your water, don’t add it back in using a bleached filter. There are many unbleached or oxygen bleached filters on the market now, use them and think of all the happy fishes with only one head in the Great Lakes.
OK intrepid coffee drinker, forge ahead in the world and make your mark knowing that you are empowered to make a good cup of coffee at home now.
And just think of all the compliments from your dinner guests!
Zola Doré is the owner/roaster of Midnight Sun Coffee Roasters in Whitehorse. Comments and questions about coffee are welcome. Or you and your friends can join her in a coffee-tasting session. Find out more at www.yukoncoffee.com.