How to Coffee
How to Coffee was created to answer some of the common questions we get regarding coffee in general.
Does Coffee Go Bad?
One of the most common questions we get has to do with coffee freshness: does coffee go bad? Yes, it does. Though it may not happen exactly the way you think.
Coffee beans, like all agricultural products, are best when fresh. Coffee beans don’t go bad how you would normally think. They don’t grow mold (at least, normally) because there is very little moisture in the beans after they are roasted. Coffee does go stale though. Coffee beans are considered a dry good, which means they have an extremely low moisture level. This keeps mold and other things from growing on them.
As soon as coffee beans are roasted, they begin to let off carbon dioxide. The chemicals start transforming the cell structure of the bean and starts to break it down. The best flavors of the beans start to become bitter and dull. In fact, roasted coffee is only at peak freshness for 2-3 weeks! Pre-ground coffee only has 20-30 minutes! Why? … Oxygen. Oxygen is critical for life, but it also accelerates the speed at which things deteriorate through a process called oxidization. Oxygen breaks everything down, especially organic things like coffee, and the more exposed something is to oxygen, the faster it will decay. That’s why pre-ground coffee loses its freshness very quickly – because there is so much surface area for oxygen to do its work. For whole bean coffee, after the first 2-3 weeks of roasting, the delicate, complex flavors of the coffee start to decline rapidly.
Here’s what we suggest: buy coffee beans roasted within the last 7 days. 7 days is a good standard – fresh enough to give you another full week of peak freshness, but loose enough that you can easily find beans this fresh online or at a local café
How much coffee do I use? What is the right grind?
Let’s talk about all the elements that work together to make a great cup of coffee.
The first ingredient is water. Coffee is 99% water! You want to use the cleanest, freshest water available. Don’t use distilled water in which the natural minerals have been removed because coffee interacts with these minerals to naturally enhance the taste.
Water temperature is important. The perfect temperature to brew coffee is between 195˚ and 205˚F. When brewing manually with a French press or filter cone, a goose neck water pot with a temperature measure is best. If you don’t have a method of measuring the temperature on your pot, remove your kettle of boiling water from its heat source and let it sit 2 minutes before pouring over your ground coffee.
The grind matters to extraction. When you purchase whole bean coffee, it's best to grind your coffee right before brewing, although it's perfectly acceptable to grind your coffee when you buy it. Your goal is to achieve the right grind for the right brewing method:
- coarse grind for French press brewing
- medium-coarse grind (aka. "regular') for automatic drip brewers
- medium grind for filter cone method
- fine grind when making espresso
The Coffee-to-Water ratio - Whatever method of brewing you use, the general standard is 1-2 Tbsp of coffee for every 6 oz of water. For the French press, use 2 Tbsp per 6 oz of water. Automatic drip brewers, on the other hand, tend to produce a desirable brew when using as little as 1 Tbsp per 6 oz of water. You'll want to experiment and adjust depending on whether you prefer a stronger or milder brew. In reference the general standard, start with a heaping table spoon and adjust from there.
Store your coffee in an airtight glass or ceramic canister. Properly stored coffee can stay fresh up to two weeks and should not be refrigerated, or is it necessary to keep it in the freezer. For maximum freshness, purchase only as much coffee as you would use in a 1 1/2 to 2 week period.