The pursuit of coffee perfection is all about controlling the variables. No matter what type of coffee you’re brewing, or how you’re brewing it, here are five universal factors that could impact the quality and consistency of your coffee:
1. The freshness of your coffee
2. The precision of your grind
3. The temperature of your milk
4. The purity of your water
5. The quality of your equipment
In this blog, we’ll look at some simple ways to control these variables and get you brewing like a Japanese coffee master in the comfort of your own home.
1. Keep your coffee fresh
Even a great chef can’t make bad ingredients taste good. It’s no different with coffee. Make sure you’re starting with good quality coffee, that has been roasted with precision. And make sure you keep it fresh.
Coffee can take nine months to grow, three months to pick, two months to process, and one month to roast, pack and send. But left exposed to the air, it will start to go stale in just 12 hours – losing 70% of its aroma.
Our Nespresso® compatible aluminium coffee capsules are completely sealed, and our core bean and ground packs are gas-flushed, to lock in freshness. Just make sure you always reseal the pouches properly, taking care to exclude trapped air before resealing. It should then be stored in a cool, dry place – but definitely not a fridge or freezer.
You can find out more about our sustainable packaging here.
2. Control your grind
Often overlooked, the grind is one of the essential components of coffee mastery. The size and quality of your grind will determine how quickly water passes through, extracting flavour, and will have a significant impact on the end result. The finer the grind, the slower the water will pass through. For example, if you are making espresso, you will need a finer grind. But if you’re making a pour over coffee – then a coarser grind is required.
Before buying a grinder, you should consider things like your budget, the type of coffee you drink, and how many people you’ll usually be making coffee for. For a full guide, take a look at our blog on coffee grinding.
3. Use cold, fresh milk
If you don’t use cold, fresh milk, you’ll get foamy or frothy bubbles in your coffee. A perfect ‘microfoam’ – that velvety texture you get in a good latte or cappuccino – will have bubbles so small you can hardly see them, ensuring a rich, indulgent flavour. To achieve this perfect texture, the air needs to be added at the start of the heating process, and must be stopped before the milk reaches 40 degrees. If you add air after this point, you’ll get frothy, bubbly, tasteless milk. And most importantly, you must always start with cold, fresh milk. So don’t leave your milk out on the side!
4. Use filtered water
Up to 98% of your coffee will be water. And the rate at which different flavours are extracted is directly affected by its purity. So while it might not seem significant, it’s well worth your care and attention.
The only pure water comes from rain and steam. Everything else has something else it’s picked up along the way. When it comes to coffee, some of those additional qualities are actually desirable, in the right amount (e.g. the ‘hardness’ and ‘alkaninity’ of your water). While some of them (e.g. chlorine) you will definitely want to remove.
By using a good quality water filter, you can remove unwanted taste and odours, ensuring the water you use has the right balance of ‘hardness’ and ‘softness’.
5. Take care of your brewing equipment
Whether you’re using an espresso machine, filter, or immersion brewing method – keeping your equipment clean and well-maintained is essential.
Never use abrasive chemicals or steel wool. Most machines can simply be wiped down using a clean, damp cloth. While small hand-held equipment – like a V60 – can be washed in the sink, or often in the dishwasher. Just make sure to check the manufacturer guide first.
For step-by-step advice on how to use different types of coffee equipment, or even maybe a coffee tonic, check out our brewing guides.