By Pamela Dickerson

You love your morning cup of coffee. Or maybe it’s two or three cups. You know what roast you enjoy and the perfect way to dress up. But is it possible that a little more coffee know-how can make your cup at home even better? Or have you feeling a little more informed when ordering your favorite beverage at a local coffee shop? As a coffee shop manager, I’ve learned many simple ways that coffee can be changed for the better (and the worst) all with the slightest tweak.

Using the freshest beans is an easy way to improve any cup. Ideally, the beans will be kept whole and not ground until right before use. This is because once the bean is ground and exposed to air, it begins losing freshness within seconds. If you do purchase pre-ground beans, it’s best to store them in a glass or metal airtight container that is kept in a dry, dark place. Only stocking enough beans for about two weeks allows for maximum freshness. I also recommend trying different local roasts as a fun way to see if there is a bean origin you’ll enjoy better than your current favorite blend.

Using the freshest beans is an easy way to improve any cup

Equally important is the amount of beans used and degree to which they are ground. The optimal ratio is two tablespoons of grounds per eight-ounce cup of coffee. So if your home pot brews 12 cups for a full pot, the amount of grounds should be 4.2 ounces (23 Tablespoons). If you’re brewing fewer cups, adjust accordingly or check the recommended amount of coffee grounds to add to your machine. You should also make sure your beans are ground to the proper degree. Many pre-grounds are done to accommodate at home brewing stations. If you grind your beans at home, be sure your grinder is properly set to drip brew grind. If your beans are not ground to the proper degree (meaning they are not adequately exposed to the water), this can leave your coffee with a watered down taste. Once you have the correct measurement of beans and they are ground correctly, dampen the coffee filter before adding the grounds. This allows the oils and full flavors to be extracted from the beans and into your cup.

The optimal ratio is two tablespoons of grounds per eight-ounce cup of coffee.

The final step to ensure a perfect cup is to make sure your machine is bringing the water to a proper brewing temperature. Coffee should be brewed at 195 Fahrenheit. Without the proper water temperature, you’ll find your cup left with a watered-down taste. One option you can try if your machine isn’t up to temp is to pre-boil the water before adding it to your machine. However, the preferred option is to invest in a machine that will properly heat the water to the correct temperature.

Coffee should be brewed at 195 Fahrenheit.

Once you’ve mastered a drip brew, you may be interested in venturing out to other at-home brewing methods. There are two brewing methods I would recommend as drip-brew alternatives. The pour over is ideal for brewing coffee by the cup. This is not only economical for the one cup drinkers; it’s also slightly fuller in taste and a fresher brew to the traditional drip brew. Another great option is a French press, which provides stronger brew that makes two eight ounce cups. This type of brew is great for brunch or someone looking for a stronger, fuller flavored option than the drip brew can provide. Both methods of brewing can be purchased for less than twenty dollars!

If you find yourself with additional questions on what all the options are, your local baristas at the Common Cup Coffeeshop are available to answer all those “I should probably know this” kind of questions. So the next time you get to share your coffee knowledge, you can do it in confidence! Cheers.

Read more about the Common Cup Ministry.