New to the world of coffee? Don’t know how to get started? Here are common mistakes to avoid and tips to make your perfect cup of joe.
Putting some beans and water in a coffee maker sounds easy enough. But, while the concept of coffee is rather simple, it can come with some difficult technicalities, especially if it’s your first time.
If you find yourself struggling to make your coffee taste just right, it might be time to do some troubleshooting. We’ve compiled a list of the most common mistakes you can make when brewing coffee plus some ways you can fix it.
7 Common Coffee Mistakes
1. Using the wrong beans
There are different types of coffee beans that can affect the flavor, strength, and brewing method of your coffee. Light, medium, and dark roasts determine the strength and overall aroma of coffee.
These three types of beans have been roasted the same way, but at varying times (9-20 minutes) and temperatures. For example, light roast coffee beans are high in caffeine and acidic, while dark roast coffee beans more bitter with much less caffeine. Depending on your preference, you’re going to want to pick the bean roast that will give you your desired flavor.
Additionally, if you don’t have a coffee grinder, be careful not to buy whole bean coffee instead of ground coffee. Coffee cannot be brewed with whole beans, and it might be very difficult to manually grind coffee beans without the correct tools.
2. Burning your coffee
In order to manually brew your coffee, you need to heat up your own water. Whether you heat your water in a kettle or stove, don’t wait for your water to boil! Using boiling water to brew can burn your coffee, and you’ll be left with burnt, acidic, and bitter coffee. If do so, you’ll get that same taste when you reheat and microwave your coffee after it goes cold.
The recommended temperature to brew coffee is between 195 to 205 degrees, which is just below the boiling temperature of water. Any temperature below that won’t let the coffee extract completely from the beans, and anything higher than that can scorch the coffee beans. If you end up accidentally boiling your water, just remove it from the heat and wait a minute until the bubbling ceases before brewing.
3. Wrong ratio
There is technically no “wrong” ratio because it really depends on your preference and the type of coffee you want. You may find that your coffee is either way too strong or not strong enough. If you want a more diluted coffee, use more water, and if you want stronger coffee, use more coffee beans.
To be more specific, the “Golden Ratio” for coffee is 1-2 tablespoons of ground coffee with six ounces of water. You can always experiment with your ratio until you find the best one.
The same idea goes for any creamer, sugar, and milk to adjust your sweetness. It might take a while to figure out your preference, but add in little by little as you go. The trick to remember is that you can always add in more, but you can’t remove less.
4. Brewing method
The way you brew your coffee can determine the kind of coffee you get as well. Most if not all households use an automatic coffee brewer. However, there are other options to manually make your coffee if you want more control.
Coffee makers with a big pot aren’t necessarily made to give you premium quality coffee, its purpose is to make large quantities of coffee in a short amount of time. Pour over is a popular method because it gives the user more control of the brewing process. French press is a quick method that produces smaller amounts of strong coffee.
5. Making too much
The typical coffee maker is designed to produce multiple cups of coffee, which is why they are in work offices and family households. Too often we overestimate how much water and coffee we actually need for just ourselves. Chances are you should be making much less than you think.
The average cup of coffee is only about 8 ounces. Making too much isn’t necessarily bad, however, the main downsides of making more coffee than you need is having both cold and wasted coffee if you don’t end up drinking it.
If you don’t want to make too much, instant coffee products usually offer “single-serve” packets. These are ideal for commuting, work, school, and especially camping because you only need to add hot water to make your coffee.
6. Grinding your beans too much
A common mistake made with coffee beans is either grinding the beans too much or too little. The texture of your coffee grinds determines the strength and flavor of your coffee.
Additionally, the method you use for brewing your coffee is how coarse or fine you should grind your beans. For example, extra coarse coffee grounds are used for cold brew because it prevents the coffee from turning bitter during the overnight brewing. On the other hand, fine coffee grinds are used for espresso coffee because it allows the coffee to extract in a compact space, which results in a much stronger and denser flavor.
Here’s a break down of the different levels of coffee grinds for different brewing methods:
- Extra course: cold brew
- Course: french press
- Medium: drip coffee, automatic brewer
- Fine: espresso, moka pot
7. Not cleaning your coffee maker
Your coffee maker is much dirtier than you think. If you’ve never cleaned the inside of your coffee maker, chances are there’s a lot of dirt, mold, and bacteria buildup in there.
Your coffee maker is essentially a chamber that traps in moisture, the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive in. Not just the coffee pot but also the filter, water chamber, and any other compact areas of your machine. A dirty coffee maker can cause your coffee to taste stale, bitter, and acidic.
It’s important to regularly and thoroughly clean the inside of your coffee maker in order to prevent potential harm to your health. This goes for any coffee utensil or machine as well!
Everyone has a unique way of making coffee. There are certainly some do’s and don’ts when it comes to getting your caffeine fix, but you can easily avoid them with a little effort and research.
It might seem intimidating or confusing at first, but with some trial and error, you’ll find the routine that works best for you. Good luck!