The Fundamentals of Coffee Brewing

The Basic Fundamentals of Coffee Brewing for a Great Cup

Most of us are guilty of it, but may not remember – care to remember – or simply won’t fess-up...

There was a time when we were all just learning to enjoy coffee. That first sip of a most excellent brew made you feel warm and fuzzy and just plain whole inside. After you finished that delectable cup you thought, “hey, I could be enjoying this heavenly brew every day! All I need is a coffeemaker and ground coffee, right?” To that sentiment we say: Well, Sort of…

Before the day of ‘specialty coffee’, an automatic coffeemaker and one filter filled with pre-ground coffee was all anyone thought they needed. Drinking that type of brewed concoction took a little getting use to and was often describe as an ‘acquired taste’. At that time, coffee was not made to be sipped, savored and enjoyed. Its sole purpose was to mentally revive the drinker from their peaceful night’s slumber, get them ready for the day ahead and possibly warm them up if it was a chilly morning.

Thanks to many decades of trial and error, we now know how to get a better tasting (and downright delicious!) brew. To help keep us on track – because reminders are good, right? – Below are a few fundamentals for brewing great tasting coffee:

  • Grind Size: While it might be tempting to purchase that large, economical can of pre-ground coffee from your local grocery store, it’s not always the best option when attempting to brew a palatable pot. Some might be surprised to hear this, but grind size is a very important part of brewing great coffee. Too large of a grind and your coffee might come out weak and too small of a grind and your coffee might come out bitter or sour. Each brew method (automatic drip, manual pour-overs, French press or even pulling an espresso shot) requires a slightly different grind for the best outcome. When brewing with an automatic drip coffeemaker, we recommend a grind that is found somewhere in the middle of an espresso grind and a French press grind. Those more experienced might say – that’s a wide range! It is, but this generalized range provides some place to start while also allowing each person to customize the grind size according to their taste and equipment.
  • Ratio: The water to ground coffee ratio is also very important, because too little coffee and too much water may come out weak and produce an almost tasteless cup, while too much coffee and too little water can be quite overpowering. For the Bonavita 8-cup coffee brewer, a good starting point when brewing a full pot is 70 grams of coffee. Start here and taste the results, so the next time you brew you can adjust the ratio according to your taste.
  • Water Quality: Using clean, filtered water may sound like the obvious thing to do, but some regions of the world do not provide top-notch water right out of the tap. If you live in one of those areas, try filling your coffeemaker’s water tank with water filtered by a Brita-type pitcher and see if you can taste a difference in your fresh brew.
  • Brew Temperature: According to the Specialty Coffee Associate of America (SCAA), the optimal temperature range to brew a tasty cup or pot of coffee is between 195ºF – 205ºF. However, if you brew with an automatic drip coffeemaker, there’s not much you can do to control the temperature. If you are keen on choosing an automatic coffeemaker that brews within the recommended temperature range, check out SCAA’s currently certified home coffee brewers for a list of some of the best brewers on the market.
  • Clean Equipment: This also may seem pretty obvious, but it is all too easy to let your coffeemaker brew for months without providing the thorough cleaning it deserves. Cleaning your equipment regularly means you are always brewing the best coffee possible. Depending on what equipment you use, neglecting your cleaning routine can result in an automatic coffeemaker that literally stops brewing! While this may be an extreme scenario, it is definitely one to keep in mind. This caffeine-less tragedy may happen to you on a morning when you need coffee the most and when you least expect it.

For those that have had a mind-bogglingly great cup of coffee, once tasted, it’s hard to go back to the average and mundane. So, let’s pay homage to those that came before us and sacrificed their taste buds and pallets to some pretty awful coffee before they achieved and spread the word of greatness. We thank you kind and oh-so-brave souls, from the bottom of our caffeine loving hearts. ♥

If you love visuals and recaps, check out our Fundamentals of Coffee Brewing Pinterest board!