How To Get Awesome Tasting Coffee at Home

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Jason Coffee
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First a Little Background
I have had so many conversations over the past few months in regards to getting good coffee at home. People ask me all the time, “How come I cannot get my coffee to taste like such and such coffee shop at home? I grind it properly, I use the dosage they say to. What’s wrong? Is it my coffee maker? Why does the coffee I make at home just not taste as good?” And every time I give the same answer, “It’s the water.” Obviously the above mentioned things are very important but the main difference between your house and Starbucks or Peets is the quality of the water. Almost all premium coffee shops at the very least triple filter their water.

coffee steaming

Here’s what happens:

You buy a new at home brewer, you buy premium beans, you have it ground for you to make sure it’s right or you buy a really nice grinder so that your coffee is super fresh and then you take your coffee pot and put it under your tap which has all sorts of nasty stuff in it beside water. Over time the inside of you pot start accumulating minerals and chemicals which again affects the taste of your precious cup of coffee.

OK… So What Do I do?

You can do one of two things now that you know why your coffee at home is sub-par. 1) Throw your current “old trusty” in the trash & buy a new brewer. (Preferable one that heats the water to above 200 Degrees. I recommend Bunn Brewers) 2) If you don’t have the extra cash – clean your current machine with 1 part vinegar, 2 parts water. DO NOT clean it wish soap or any other detergent – that would be a bad move.

Whatever you decide to do remember this – Coffee is 98% water, If you use a sub-par water source then your coffee will be 100% sub-par. (Oh and never use distilled water. Just clean filtered water each and every time.)

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  1. Karen

    Jason would you elaborate on why you suggest not to use distilled water? I have been paranoid about getting mineral build up in my new super-auto so I have been using nothing but distilled. I’ve been thrilled with the coffee ever since I got the thing but there is always room for improvement.

  2. Jenna

    Has anyone tried coffee from Bully Blends? It is a incredibly cute locally owned store, owned by the two nicest people – I found it one day while visiting my grandparents in South Dakota. I like supporting local family business more than big corporations like Starbucks so I decided to check it out. They brew their own coffee and it is by far the best coffee I’ve ever had. You can go to http://www.bullyblends.com if you want to order some coffee; they ship everywhere. They also have an excellent selction of fresh, loose leaf tea.

  3. Cal Francis

    I have used GEVALIA whole bean coffee from their regular coffee club and their Limited Edition bean club since 1992 along with The Coffee Fool whole beans company and agree that WATER must be fresh, filtered (PUR- their 3 stage filter if possible) in addition to having freshly ground beans. I also feel paper filters are necessary to eliminate residue left behind by brewers that incorporate a permanent stainless steel filter. In addition I most certainly agree that BUNN pour over brewers with the shower style head that evenly saturates the ground coffee is the best. I keep unopened boxes of beans in the FREEZER but am told this is not the proper storage method. The key is UNopened boxes! GAGGIA grinders are by far the best with many settings for finding a suitable grind. Next, brew only enough coffee that will be consumed within 15 minutes. Finally, use a light to light-to-medium roast bean. Any darker and one would think chicory had ben added.

  4. Brian

    At some grocery stores they have a Reverse Osmosis water station with refillable containers. I have found this to be both cost effective and very good water for brewing. I wouldnt even think of using our tap water (very hard w/ iron and sulfur) in my coffee maker let alone my espresso machine. Reverse osmosis filtering is the same method employed by most of the bottled water companies for the water they fill the bottles with. It cost me $10 for the container and $0.25/ gallon to refill it.
    In addition to water quality, brewing temperature, coffee freshness, and initial bean quality are key components to great coffee. Most coffee shops have gone to great length to keep all these variables reasonably constant and thus standardize their product.

  5. Allan Mirkin

    I too am a long time coffee drinker and consider myself to be a bit of an authority on really good coffee. Now that I have that established I will proceed to the most cardinal of sins, i.e. instant coffee. I make iced coffe this way. Brew up, that is mix into cold tap water, lots of instant coffee to taste. Into the large jug put a handful of whole allspice, several swizel sticks of cinnamon, cloves if you like and a helping of cane sugar. Mix and refrigerate for as long as you like, at least several days to allow infusion of spices. Pour and add ice and whipped cream. And enjoy!

  6. Neil

    Another informative post. Do you have a particular brand of filtered/bottled water that you recommend? I use bottled filtered water, but would love to know if there is something even better that I could use.

    #MillionairesBlend

  7. Page

    Hi Jason,

    I was wondering if you could recommend an affordable brand/blend for cold-brewed iced coffee. In the summer, I can’t face hot coffee while I’m blow-drying my hair in the morning, so I “double strength” cold-brew my coffee in the french press the night before. I tend to like bold, strong flavors for my coffee. I’ve found that double cold-brewing maintains more of the flavor than simply chilling drip-made coffee, but the cold often takes some of the flavors away, so I try to stick with cheaper blends than I normally would drink hot. Any tips, tricks, or suggestions for a bold blend that is good for cold-brewing?

    Thanks!

    Page

  8. Melissa

    My friends and I had a similar problem when preparing our famous “party punch.” Waco water is famous for being disgusting, and so it didn’t do much for our punch. We started using bottled water, and poof–problem solved.

    #kopiluwak

  9. mrcoffee03

    The water in Melbourne Australia is very pure, however I have a Pavoni single group head machine which has a 2 litre water tank filled by a jug. My concern is over time there must be scale forming in the inside stainless steel tank and it would be great to know how to give it a good clean and flush.
    Great web site that I am following via Twitter.

  10. admin

    That is Awesome Lani, This is why I do what I do!

    Yes, One time through is fine. Most Coffee Shops will have at a minimum triple filtered water but for at home once through is more than sufficient.

    I am glad it improved the taste of your precious coffee. :)

    – Jason

  11. Lani Muelrath

    Jason,

    You inspired me to FINALLY pick up a Britta pitcher yesterday for using with coffee water. I note you say “triple filter” – does that mean 3 times through the filter? My water tastes pretty darn good to begin with (deep well) so I’m thinking maybe one time through should do it?

    I’m enjoying your site – thanks for the Twitter addition to point me to it!

    tia,
    Lani Muelrath
    http://www.thetruthaboutfatlossforwomen.com

  12. admin

    great advice Sarah. If you rinse once or twice after the cleaning this should help avoid any aftertaste from w/e you used whether it be vinegar, baking soda, or powder. thanks for the comment!

  13. Sarah

    Using filtered, clean water is definitely a key point in enjoying an awesome cup of coffee. I wouldn’t recommend cleaning out your brewing equipment with vinegar unless you want the first handful of brews to have a vinegar-ish tinge, though. I use a powdered cleaner you combine with water specially formulated to clean coffee brewing equipment. You can find it at many coffee retail locations. If that isn’t an option, try a mixture of 1 T. of baking soda dissolved in whatever amount of water your coffee decanter holds. Then brew it through the machine. I usually do this twice, and then run just plain water through twice, depending on how long I’ve left things accumulate. :)

  14. Coffeenuts

    Water & freshly ground beans via a burr-grinder are key to success. We use RO (Reverse-Osmosis) water (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reverse_osmosis). RO water is the purist water available to consumers. We purchase our water via our local Aqua-Wise water supplier in 5-gallon bottles and use a gravity fed water cooler dispenser. For those individuals who do not have a local supplier of RO water, small home systems that install under your kitchen sink like this one from Culligan (http://www.culligan.com/en/products/drinking-water-systems/aqua-cleer/) are available. Eliminate poor water quality from your coffee making process, use freshly burr-ground beans and you will finally get to experience coffee at its finest!!

  15. Rebecca

    98% water is correct, therefor the type of water and amount of minerals is vitally important.

    1.
    Water Quality

    Since you probably don’t have a TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) water tester. I’ve found a simple mixture of water to achieve the optimal range of TDS. By mixing 80% Ozarka Drinking Water (NOT SPRING WATER). and 20% Tap Water.

    2. Freshness of coffee

    – Try to find coffee less than a week old. Usually coffee oils are exposed on the bean after a week. Unless it is a really dark roast than oils could be present within days.
    – Air stales coffee so keep it in airtight storage.

    3. Preparation

    Optimally you would be grinding your own coffee at home. If that is the case, make sure to use a Burr Grinder. Blade grinders chop the beans, making a very inconsistent grind. If all your beans are not ground to the same consistency, smaller pieces will be over extracted on larger ones under extracted.

    If you do not have a grinder:

    – Make sure your beans are not ground in a grinder that flavored coffee has been put through. Flavored coffee taints the parts of a grinder. Every coffee put through after, will be effected by the alcoholic flavoring residue left behind.

  16. Adam

    Choosing a new brewer is fine, but a good one will cost you. We use the pour over method. The filter holder will cost you between $2 and $5.

    We roast all of the coffee for my mom’s shop and have never had better coffee at home or away!

  17. Dean's Detroit

    I work from home and have a client who raves about my coffee over Caribou, ‘Bucks and Border’s. He wonders why mine tastes better … I told him that my seven year old daughter reminds me to add the love to it every time I brew, bake or cook something!

  18. drcoffee1955

    The problem comes in two forms one is the machine does not get to the proper temp to go through the coffee and give you the great flavor. Most home Machines are at 212 boil the water which causes it to re-burn the beans.

    Second problem is the dried out ground or even if you grind your own at home you have burnt and dried out beans.

    I have found a solution to the second problem at http://yourcoffeeexpert.com Awesome coffee

    Also the first problem their are several machines that the use the ideal temp from 175 to 190

    Thanks

    Dr Robin Rushlo

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