Channel your inner barista and percolate a perfect pot with these tips.
By Beth Janes
Seek out better beansDelicious coffee starts with beans that suit your taste buds. Keep these guidelines in mind when you shop: African beans yield a cup with fruity and floral flavors and less bitterness, says Kenneth Davids, editor of the Coffee Review in Berkeley, California. On the other hand, beans grown in South and Central American countries brew richer, fuller-bodied coffee.
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Do the daily grindFor a more flavorful mug, buy whole beans and grind right before you brew: Grinding releases the beans' oils, but they degrade quickly. Choose a conical burr grinder (such as the Capresso Infinity Conical Burr Grinder, $100), which doesn't heat up grounds, preserving the delicate oils.
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Strike the right balanceTwo level tablespoons per cup of cold water is the standard ratio for drip coffee, but you can experiment to get a taste you like. If your pot tastes acidic, add an extra scoop of grounds (or use less water), suggests Ellen Rogers, manager of coffee excellence for Dunkin' Donuts in Canton, Massachusetts. Beans from lower altitudes-Mexico, Hawaii and the Caribbean-also tend to taste less bitter.
Store smartlyStale beans make for a batch that tastes like day-old dregs. To keep your beans fresh, transfer them from their bag to an opaque, airtight container and stash in a cupboard away from heat and light for up to three weeks. Whole beans also hold well in the freezer for up to about six weeks in a resealable plastic bag (not the paper bag you buy), which helps keep moisture out and prevents other flavors from seeping in.
Sure, it's a latte cash, but the Sirena is based on even pricier several-thousand-dollar Italian models, says Colin Newell, founder of CoffeeCrew.com. And if you quit buying daily $4 cappuccinos in favor of café-quality home brew, you'll have paid for the Sirena in about four months. "It basically does everything right," Newell points out, "whereas most inexpensive versions tend to compromise on something."
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