Sometimes stopping by the shop might be a hassle. Sometimes, you might see that it's getting a little expensive picking up a single dose of caffeine several times a week. Maybe you like the ritual of making your own brew. No matter what your reasoning, eventually just about every coffee lover is going to brew a cup at home. Inevitably though, this home experience usually fails to live up to the cup you get in a cafe.
What happened!? Can your home cup ever be as good as the cafe version?
Yup, and in this multi-part edition of Mad Goat University, we're covering all the ways you can start brewing better coffee at home. Right now. Let's get started, shall we?
***NOTE: This article does not cover home espresso. That's an article for another time.
Coffee is Water
Brewed coffee is about 94-98% water, and for optimum flavor potential the water needs to have a certain mix of dissolved minerals in it. The quality of water going in to a brew is absolutely critical. We cannot stress this enough. You will never, ever, have great coffee at home unless you have great water. In most cases this means, at a minimum, ditching the tap water. Tap water has chlorine, fluoride, and other treatments that affect flavor and texture. Unless you allow tap water to sit for 24 hours, it will rob your coffee of some of the flavor subtleties you might be paying for in high quality specialty coffee. Even if you do allow it to sit, there's no way to know what treatments have been given to your local tap water.
Will specialty coffee made with tap water still be good? Yes. Will it be the best it can be? No, and at Mad Goat we're all about helping you make and enjoy coffee that's the best it can possibly be. That begins with water.
Filtered tap water is the first and easiest step you might take. This will filter at least the off-flavors from your tap water, but it's not going to do anything about the dissolved minerals. A simple Britta pitcher or other home filtration system should be fine. Just be sure to change your filters.
If you have a reverse osmosis system, read below.
Many people report that purchasing spring water in gallon jugs gives them good results. It's probably true that you'll get better results than tap water, however spring water is very inconsistent so you can't be sure what the mineral breakdown is going to be in there any better than you can tap water.
Many people might have an RO system and think that's obviously best for coffee, but because the RO method basically strips water of the essential minerals and leaves it slightly acidic, coffee made with RO water can be flat and lifeless. The same is true of distilled water, which is another great starting point. However, with these waters you are halfway there!
You've taken out everything and have a clean water slate. You just need to add the proper minerals back to your water. For that, we recommend Third Wave Water. They are small packets pre-mixed with the correct mineral recipe for great coffee. Simply drop a capsule in a gallon of your own RO or distilled water, or some you picked up at the store, and enjoy! You can also mix your own minerals, but for ease of use you can't beat Third Wave Water.
So, yeah, water is important.
Our next brew tip is on the grind of your coffee. Such a small thing may not seem like it matters, but few other things are going to impact the quality of your coffee like the grind. Find out why!