What Qualities Make for a Good Cup of Coffee?

What Qualities Make for a Good Cup of Coffee?

Andrew Blackmore
6 minute read

Did you know that 50% of Americans consume at least a cup of coffee on a daily basis? That’s a whole lot of people sipping cups of this delicious hot drink every day. And who can blame us?

After all, a quality cup of coffee tastes divine and gives you an energy boost to boot. It gets your day off to a good start and puts a smile on your face without fail. As any aficionado knows, though, not all coffees are made equal!

In fact, there’s a world of difference between a good coffee and a bad one. The best coffee is nothing short of liquid nectar: smooth, rich, balanced, and full of intense flavor. The worst, by comparison, is cold, bitter, burnt, and enough to put anybody off.

The good news is that a few simple insights can help you master the art of coffee making with ease. Sound good? Check out our top coffee secrets and discover exactly what makes a first-rate cup every time.

The Bean

First thing’s first: you can’t make a high-quality cup of coffee without a high-quality coffee bean! Even a champion barista would struggle to make a good cup if the beans on offer were bad. For best results, buy beans from a country with a coffee-growing pedigree, where the climate, soil, and farming methods are all conducive to true quality.

It’s hard to find a general consensus on the best coffee growing country in the world (but we make our case for a number of them). After all, everybody has different tastes and preferences, which leads them to favor one place over another. Nevertheless, buy specialty beans from places like Indonesia, Ethiopia, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Guatemala, and you’re sure to enjoy good results.

The Roast

The quality of the beans you buy is crucial, but another secret to success is how they’re roasted. Trust us, give the best beans to an inexperienced roaster and they’ll never taste as good as they could.

That’s because coffee roasting is an intricate combination of art and science. Traditional roasting methods involve gas-based roasting equipment which can be temperamental and difficult to achieve consistency across batches. While newer methods can be more forgiving, most great roasters have to hone their craft for years and be a true coffee expert to prepare the perfect beans. For a premium cup of coffee, then, you should buy your beans from an experienced and reputable roaster.

The Freshness

Roasted coffee is like baked bread. Why? Because it’s best consumed fresh (but not too fresh).

Furthermore, it doesn’t take long for it to go stale and start losing flavor. Its freshness starts to dissipate as soon as you open the package and expose it to air. For ultimate flavor, then, we suggest buying specialty beans from a local roaster that have been:

  1. Roasted within the last several weeks, and

  2. Stored in a vacuum-sealed packet with a one-way vent ever since.

Keep your coffee fresher for longer by storing it in an air-tight container, out of direct sunlight, and at room temperature. Oh, and if you purchase whole beans (instead of the ground stuff), then only grind as much as you need each time. Any excess will go stale much sooner compared to leaving it in bean-form.

The Grind

Different grinds affect your coffee’s flavor profile as well. It’s crazy: the same bean from the same roaster will deliver a totally different cup of coffee depending on how it’s been ground.

Both the taste and level of caffeine differ between finer and coarser grinds. A finer grind makes a sweeter, flavorful cup of Joe, whereas a coarser grind packs a bigger punch of caffeine (but less taste).

Bear this in mind whenever you’re forced to use older, staler coffee beans. In these cases, you’d be better off with a finer grind, which would wring the last dregs of flavor from the aging beans. And avoid mixing different grinds for a similar reason- even a small amount of ground coffee (with a different degree of coarseness) can alter the quality of your cup.   

The Coffee Water Ratio

The amount of water used to make a coffee also impacts the way it tastes. To be more precise, the ratio of water to coffee is what makes the difference!

Like most aspects of coffee-making, there’s no right or wrong answer. The ‘best’ coffee water ratio depends on your personal tastes and the precise method of brewing you’re using (more on these coming up). Some people prefer more water than others, alongside the distinctions in taste and strength that creates.

A simple ratio that many people use is 1 tablespoon of coffee per cup. To enjoy a premium coffee at its best, though, you could try something more nuanced, such as 1 part coffee to 16 parts water, or get very precise and weigh your ingredients. We typically start at 20g of coffee to 325g water with our pour-overs.

The Method

As you’d expect, another major variable in the quality and characteristics of coffee is the way you make it. Good French press coffee tastes different from Chemex coffee, for instance, which is different from AeroPress coffee, and so on. It’s all a matter of individual preference again.

In all honesty, the ‘what’ is less important than the ‘how’! In other words, when you find the brew method(s) you like most, the crucial step to making a quality cup of coffee is mastering the process involved. Remember the information in our previous points, experiment with different variables (e.g. the amount of coffee you use, the length of time you let it brew for, and how long you wait before drinking it), and you’ll soon be a pro.

Time to Make an Amazing Cup of Coffee

There’s no denying it: we’re a nation of coffee drinkers! Tens of millions of Americans consume countless cups of this delectable beverage every day. Are you one of them?

Well, we hope the information in this post will facilitate your daily coffee making endeavors. Keep these insights in mind and you’ll be drinking a quality cup of coffee each morning in no time. Want some premium beans to help you do it?

We can help. Click here to see our fresh roasted coffee selection and never go without a good cup of Joe ever again.

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