How to Make Better-Tasting Coffee

How to improve your morning cupHow to improve your morning cup
When someone like John Moore, vice president of sales and marketing for Dallis Bros. Coffee, tells you, "A great cup of coffee is no small miracle," you believe it (Photo Credit: Maryse Chevriere).

In Pictures: How to Make Better-Tasting Coffee

There are, after all, so very many things that could go wrong - or rather, have to go right - in the production process. On the farm, the quality of the soil has to be correct, berries need to be picked quickly and efficiently (sometimes by hand), and then must be delivered to the mill's reception bin within mere hours. Once through the mill, the beans need to air dry on a concrete patio, where they are exposed to the elements and require being agitated and raked on a regular basis. Then there's the mechanized drying, storing, sorting, and bagging - each step with its own set of crucial details and risks to be managed. That goes for the work that's done at the roasting plant, too.

Related: The Perfect Hot Chocolate

But beyond the coffee farm and the roasting plant, in the end, some of the responsibility of making a good cup falls on you. Are you using the right grind of coffee for your chosen brewing method? Is the quality of the water you're using good, and have you heated it to the right temperature? Are the beans fresh? Have you been storing them correctly?

All of this and more can affect the quality of the coffee you make for yourself at home. So to that end, we've culled together some expert advice and general rules of thumb for you to use as a guideline for brewing better-tasting coffee.

© Maryse Chevriere© Maryse ChevriereIt's a Grind
It's important that the size of the coffee grind corresponds to the brewing method you're planning on using. Coffee made with a French press, for example, needs to have a coarser grind, whereas something like espresso or Turkish-style coffee requires a very fine grind. And if you're serious about making better coffee at home, experts like Moore will tell you that it's worthwhile to invest in a good home grinder and grind as you go. (The burr-style grinder is a favorite among coffee geeks and will run you about $100-200).

© Maryse Chevriere© Maryse ChevriereGet It While It's Hot!
Drink your coffee right after it has been freshly brewed. Sure, it may seem obvious and logical, but it's an important piece of advice to keep in mind especially when you're measuring out how much coffee to make. Because the flavor of coffee starts to deteriorate soon after it has been brewed and becomes more bitter the longer it sits on a warmer, most advise only making as much as you plan on drinking immediately.

© Flickr/heliosphan© Flickr/heliosphanPay Attention to the Roast Date
Especially among today's better-quality specialty brands, it is becoming increasingly more common to find detailed information about the coffee printed right on the bag. Case in point: The "roasted on" date, which in many ways acts as a "best by" date. The closer a coffee is to its roast date when you consume it, the more intense and aggressive the flavors will be.

© Flickr/Allan Ferguson© Flickr/Allan FergusonTips for Storing
As coffee is quite the temperamental product, there are not many environments that coffee beans or grinds find "friendly," so to speak. "Coffee hates air, light, heat, and moisture," explains Moore. After you first open a bag of coffee, he recommends storing the rest in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. And don't make the mistake of storing coffee in your refrigerator or freezer, as it risks absorbing some of the flavors of surrounding ingredients.

© Flickr/mr. tee hee© Flickr/mr. tee heeGive Your Coffee Machine a Good Scrub (Just Not with Soap)
When you've gone to the effort to make a really good cup of coffee, the last thing you want is to end up with a cup that doesn't reflect that freshness because it's been a while since you last cleaned your machine. You don't want to taste the remnants from last month's batch in this morning's cup, after all.

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- Maryse Chevriere, The Daily Meal

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