How long ago? Who said it? I can’t remember.
It was in a conversation about favorite beverages. I mentioned coffee. The person’s response was, “It’s just dirty water!”.
To a coffee drinker like myself, that is bordering on blasphemy. Dirty water??? How could they say such a thing? Obviously, they’ve never had a cup of REAL coffee. They’ve never had my coffee! And they most likely don’t know how to make a great cup of coffee.
So, how can you make coffee that isn’t “just dirty water”? There are four key elements:
1) The right coffee
2) The right equipment
3) The right temperature
4) the right timing
One of the keys to making good coffee is the coffee beans themselves. It’s most often true. “You get what you pay for.” There are many good store and manufacturers brand pre-ground coffee. I prefer beans. They last longer and I can grind them on my own as needed. Some of my favorites are Starbucks (French Roast, Espresso, or Pike Place), Peets (Major Dickerson), or (most recently) Death Wish Coffee (most expensive).
You can purchase any number of coffee makers. Many people are getting into the single cup machines (Keurig, etc). While convenient, they to a major extent limit your coffee choice and your process. You can also purchase a French Press or a Bialetti-type pot, either of which, can process single or multiple cups. You can also purchase a traditional electric coffee pot or a “Mr Coffee” coffee maker (The worst in my estimation!). My goto choice is the Aero Press, which allows you to create a great cup of coffee with little to no granular residue in your cup. With this choice, you will additionally need something with which to heat your water.
Talking about water… Believe it or not, water temperature is the key to tasty coffee. Too hot and the coffee is bitter because you burn the “beans”. Too cool and it’s bland. Either way, you end up with “dirty water”.
I have found that the best temperature is slightly before the boiling point. If you are at the point of a rolling boil, it’s too hot. If there are just a few starting bubbles in the water, it’s too cool. You want it a little beyond the mid-point.
- Grind the coffee beans, but don’t allow the ground beans to sit out for more than 10 minutes.
- Heat the water (somewhat before the rolling boil),
- Fill your cup or mug with hot water and let the cup sit until you feel that you can barely hold it without getting burned.
- Then, dump that water out!
- Straddle the AeroPress atop the cup
- Dump the ground coffee into the AeroPress
- Pour enough hot water into the top to cover the grounds and let it sit for a minute or so
- Pour more hot water to just below the lip of the unit and insert the plunger until it is snug.
- Let sit for another two minutes.
- Slowly push the plunger down being careful not to tip the cup or push too quickly.
- When it reaches the bottom of the AeroPress, you will hear a slight hiss.
- Remove the unit from your cup.
There you have it! A cup of coffee that is not “just dirty water”!
Try it and let me know what you think.
-David H Peterson