Best Ground Coffee
However you like to brew your coffee, there are 6 key tenants to absolutely nailing your java and making it into the best ground coffee. While you can always brew it differently, the hard science behind how coffee works is consistently a pillar of great coffee you can rely on.
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1. The Golden Ratio
Making coffee is just like following a recipe. You get some ground coffee beans, run some hot water through them, coffee.
Easy right? But there’s a little more to it than that of course. You’ve got to measure it too!
Measure my coffee?
It might sound pedantic, but measuring out your coffee beans and water seriously makes a massive difference to your coffee. What’s more, you consistently get a great coffee every time.
Afterall, you wouldn’t just throw some eggs, flour, sugar, and water together expecting to make a cake. You need to combine all your ingredients in a particular ratio.
It just so happens that coffee has a particular ratio that’ll give you the best brew and it starts with preparing the best ground coffee
Of course everyone has their own preference; that’s why you’ll always want to tweak the ratio a little to your taste.
The golden ratio is 2 tablespoons of coffee per 6 ounces of water.
But we’re not only talking about nailing that perfect ratio, we’re talking about consistently nailing it. I say, don’t measure it in tablespoons and ounces, measure it in grams. It makes for easy tweaking.
2 tablespoons of coffee per 6 ounces of water translates into 1 gram of coffee per 17 grams of water.
With a 1:17, if you were wanting to use 600ml of water, that would be 35 grams of coffee.
Now we’ve got some good numbers we can tweak there.
Want your coffee stronger? Try 1:15, that would be 40g of coffee for 600ml of water.
Want it a little weaker? Try 1:18, that’s 33 grams of coffee for 600ml of water.
Me? I like it really strong; I’ve teetered that ratio over to a gnarly 1:12. Don’t judge.
2. The Perfect Temperature
Did you know that the temperature you brew your cup of joe at really does make a massive difference to the taste?
Brew it too cold, you’ll get one disappointingly under-extracted coffee. It’ll taste thin, watery, sour and just all-round not very exciting.
On the other hand, if you brew it too hot, you will over extract the coffee. You will extract lots of flavor, but with the good taste, you’ll be bringing out some nasty, harsh, bitter flavors too. You'll also end up burning the coffee and will be left with an astringent aftertaste.
It’s super common that coffee makers will bring their water to a boil, show it to some ground coffee, and wonder why it tastes bitter. Well, even the best ground coffee can be ruined with an improper extraction.
According to the National Coffee Association, the ideal temperature for brewing coffee is between 195°F and 205°F (that’s 90.5°C to 96.1°C).
You don’t need a fancy temperature controlled kettle. A cheap and cheerful thermometer to check you’ve got your water temperature just right can be the difference between night and day for your brew.
Then again, many coffee machines will get the temperature just right so you don’t have to.
What do we recommend buying? Easy, the Fellow Stagg EKG Electric Pour-over. It is matte black, super efficient and it sits beautifully on any coffee bar.
3. Filtered Water
It makes sense once you think of it, but it’s also one of the most overlooked tricks in the coffee cookbook.
Use filtered water, or bottled mineral water, to brew your java. Afterall, if you use nasty-tasting water, you’re going to make some nasty-tasting coffee. Even if you are using the best ground coffee, your brew will suffer from bad water.
Whether you opt for some crisp bottle spring water, or just running tap water through a Brita filter, either will guarantee that nothing is interfering with that amazing coffee flavor.
Just make sure you don’t use distilled water. Lovely minerals in your water contribute toward a great coffee.
4. Grind Your Beans, But Grind Them Right
Freshly brewed coffee is the best coffee. Want to know how to make your coffee even fresher?
Grind your beans at home. While pre-ground coffee will still make a good cup of Joe; coffee made from freshly ground beans will take your coffee game to another level. You actually lose around 70% of the flavor within 15 minutes of grinding. If you need to buy ground coffee, make sure it comes nitro-flushed or has a recent roast date.
When you grind your beans, you want to be able to control the size of the bits it’s ground into, and you want them all to be consistently of that size. If the grinds are different sizes, the coffee may have portions of under and over extracted coffee within the end cup of joe.
The Right Grinder
There are two types of coffee grinder: one kind is exactly the right kind, the other is best for just grinding spices. They are burr grinders and blade grinders.
A blade grinder is just like a small blender. It will chop randomly at the beans. You will get small bits, big bits, and eventually a fine powder. What’s more, you have zero control over the size you grind your coffee to.
A burr grinder is just like a salt or pepper mill, but for coffee beans. It uses burrs to crush your beans down to whichever size you want. When the beans can’t be ground any smaller, the bean bits fall between the burrs.
If you want a finer grind, you adjust the mechanism so the mechanism is closer together. If you want a coarser grind, you move the mechanism further apart.
A burr grinder is the best grinder to grind your coffee beans at home.
Simple manual burr grinders can be pretty inexpensive, but you could even just use a salt or pepper mill.
The Right Grind For Your Brew Method
Depending on which brewing method you plan to use, you will want to use just the right grind size for it.
When you grind coffee into a finer and finer powder, the flavor will extract into water quicker and quicker. So if you’re using a slow brew method, like French Press, you will want a fairly coarse grind for a slow extraction. If you’re going for a faster brew method, like espresso, you will want a much finer grind for a faster extraction.
Choosing the right grind size for your brew method will make sure you don’t over or under extract the flavor from your beans.
- Coarse. This grind is what you want for brewing with a French Press.
- Medium. A medium grind is what you want for drip, Aeropress, Chemex, and pour over methods. It resembles fairly rough sand. If the method involves water slowly falling through coffee, usually involving a paper filter, then a medium grind is the way to go.
- Fine. A fine grind is exactly what to use for an espresso and when using a stove-top moka pot like the classic Bialetti.
All burr grinders are different, so whichever grinder you use will take some tweaking to find that grind size sweet spot. It can take a little bit of trial and error, but when you get it right, you know you’ve got it right.
Although we recommend a manual grinder since the internal components are typically of a higher quality, giving it a longer lifespan, we know the convenience is just as important. If you don't want the 30 second workout and need an electric burr grinder, we recommend the Baratza Encore Burr Grinder.
5. Buy Local, Freshly Roasted Beans
In my never ending quest to make the best and freshest coffee possible, I discovered that some beans just don’t cut the mustard. Don’t put mustard in your coffee.
Did you know that coffee beans can go stale? When were the beans in your supermarket roasted? You see where I’m going with this.
Coffee beans make the best coffee possible around 7 to 10 days after their roasting. So that really takes knowing when your beans were roasted to hit that sweet spot.
There are small coffee roasting companies, just like Black Ink Coffee, all over the world.
By choosing to get your coffee beans from your local roaster, you are not only getting the absolute best beans possible, but you are supporting businesses in your local community as well as the farmer who grew those coffee beans just for you.
6. Store Them Right, Store Them Airtight
So you’re measuring out your coffee; you’ve found that golden ratio. Using clean, filtered, tasty water at just the right temperature. You’re grinding the beans yourself and using beans from your local coffee roaster.
What else can you do to up your coffee game?
Make sure you store the beans away safely when you’ve made your coffee. After all, you want them just as fresh for your next brew.
The ideal container for coffee beans is something airtight. A glass Kilner jar is just about perfect.
You also want to store them in a cool, dark, place. A kitchen cupboard or dark pantry is ideal. If you don’t have a dark place, then a ceramic jar is the natural upgrade to that Kilner.
Store your beans in something airtight in a cool dark place. They’ll be perfect and ready to go for the next time you want a hot mug of Java.