Coffee’s Biggest Enemies

Coffee’s biggest enemies are oxygen, moisture, heat and light.

Always store opened coffee beans in an airtight container. Glass canning jars or ceramic storage crocks with rubber-gasket seals are good choices. Never refrigerate (roasted coffee beans are porous and readily take up moisture and food odours). Flavour experts strongly advise against ever freezing coffee, especially dark roasts. Optimally, buy a 5- to 7-day supply of fresh beans at a time and keep at room temperature. If possible grind fresh the amount that is needed.

While it may not seem like an important ingredient, coffee is 98 percent water. The type of water used when brewing greatly affects the final taste. Always use clean, fresh water that is filtered and free of impurities –avoid soft water or tank water. Water heated to just off the boil (195º-205ºF or 90º-96ºC) does the best job of extracting the coffee’s full range of flavours. Water that is too cool will mute the flavour and dull the coffee’s aroma.

Different brewing methods require different grinds. A grind that is too fine will trap water and result in a bitter, unpleasant brew. A grind that is too coarse leaves coffee weak and without distinguishing characteristics or flavours. Over-extracted coffee tastes much worse than under-extracted coffee, so when in doubt as to the brewing method, always err on the coarse side. Coffee connoisseurs agree that the best coffee – thick, rich and truest to its flavour profile – is made in a traditional coffee press. A coffee press requires a coarse grind.

Sweetness. Balance. flavour. A truly good coffee will have all three of these in spades: a natural sweetness that carries through each sip, a good balance of organic acids, a pleasing mouth feel that makes for a cup that’s lively without being bitter, flat, or rough, and an intensity of good flavours that add up to deliciousness. Seek out roasters who are discerning in their green coffee sourcing and meticulous in their roasting.