You love the freshness of barista-made cafe coffees, like those from Starbucks or Barnes & Noble Café and would like to duplicate the quality at home, so you can enjoy the same pleasurable cup. You invest in the more expensive, packaged ground coffee such places have for sale-that should do it.
Alas, you find you get the same flat, bland, weak cup o’ Joe as you did with the lesser beans. What’s going on–the magic must be in the coffee, right? Well, yes-and no.
The magic is simple. The key to achieving barista-quality freshness, depth, and profundity of taste is using freshly ground beans for every batch of coffee that is made. This means that if you don’t own or use a coffee grinder, you are not getting the most out of your home-brewed coffee.
Additionally, if you are using a coffee grinder to grind large batches, you’re making a mistake. This includes both home grinders, and in-store grinders. The in-store grinders are particularly ineffective.
The settings are not accurate (fine vs. coarse) and the residue left behind from other batches affects the flavor of your coffee. Not only have flavored coffees been ground previously, but it is said that coffee oils begin a rapid descent into rancidity after a mere 45 seconds.
It’s an equation and common-sensical-the more surface area of the bean that is exposed, the more flavor is lost. The trick is keeping the beans whole until the moment before use, so the flavor is imparted into the water, not lost into the ethers, or left behind to rot in a grinder.
All top quality barista cafes grind small batches of coffee from whole beans, throughout the day. They never use already-ground coffee. To ensure you always get the best cup of coffee at home, this is really the only secret there is.
Even more inexpensive brands of coffee such as grocery store staple Eight O’Clock coffee, or store brands, will yield superior quality coffee-as long as they are whole beans. While the more expensive brands such as Starbucks and Green Mountain are wonderful, you’ll find absolute quality with any brand of whole beans. This will save money in the long run, easily making up for the purchase price of a coffee grinder. So, buy a coffee grinder, pronto.
Using a grinder is simple. Simply place the appropriate amount of beans in, and grind away. You might want to experiment a little, on timing the grind. In my experience, most people do not grind the beans finely enough to get the most out of the beans. Coarse grinds start at a minimum of 10 seconds, and finer grinds go upward of a full minute.
Remember, the more surface area that is exposed (meaning a finer grind) the more oils and flavor are available. The finer the grind, the stronger the coffee–with a finer grind, less ground coffee can be used to produce the same amount of drink. This is also a money-saver, in that you’ll be using less coffee.
Like I stated before, you’ll want to experiment with the timing, to find the perfect timing for your own tastes and preference. By ‘timing’, I mean counting the seconds while you grind. The inexpensive, simple coffee grinders (all you need) do not have settings-they are push-the-button-to-start-and-stop.
You’ll also want to keep the grinder clean. They are single units, and non-immersible, so the best way is to wipe the bowl area with a slightly damp paper towel. The lid is washable. There’s also a method of using a small, fresh piece of bread to wipe the bowl area.
It sounds weird, but it really works in removing every last bit of coffee and oils. I suppose the moisture and texture of the bread act like a vacuum-whatever-it works well.
A tip about using some of the already ground coffee you may have: you can yield better coffee by putting it in a grinder as well. Just pulse it for a couple seconds, of course. Grinding it will release whatever oils and flavors are still left.
So, in a nutshell: purchase an inexpensive coffee grinder, buy whole bean coffee, and grind a fresh batch of coffee (only as much as you’ll need) every time you make a pot (or cup, press-pot, or whatever your method of brewing may be.) Clean the grinder after each use. That’s it-a grinder, the secret to barista quality coffee at home!