Congratulations! You survived 2021! While that fact is enough of an accomplishment, perhaps you’re looking for more in 2022 — a way to shake things up and ensure your days are filled with joy, excitement, and of course, great-tasting coffee.
Luckily, brewing better coffee at home is one of the simplest things you can do to improve your day. You don’t need a ton of fancy gadgets or expensive tools to brew a better cup. Instead, try out these simple tricks to start your 2022 in the right direction.
Coffee Brewing Tip #1: weigh your water
Most automatic brewers have lines on their water reservoirs to mark off cups of water, sort of like a measuring cup. If you know your brew ratio, you might be inclined to use these markers when making coffee, and until I saw this YouTube video from coffee expert James Hoffmann, I would have happily filled water to the level four cup level, knowing that a little more than two cups of water would brew a half liter of water.
Hoffmann’s video shows that the cup lines can vary wildly from brewer to brewer. What looks like two cups on one machine can actually read as two and a half cups, or less than two cups. The only way to accurately know how much water you’re putting into your brewer is to weigh your water. If weighing your water every time you brew sounds too finicky, do it once with your preferred measuring cup — once you know where the water is supposed to hit in that vessel, you can more or less replicate the right amount of water each and every time. Or try measuring your water with a reliable measuring cup: the ones made by OXO ($20.99) are exceptionally accurate.
Coffee Brewing Tip #2: buy smaller amounts of coffee more frequently
We’ve talked about freshness in the past, but if you’re always searching for the freshest beans, try varying up your buying habits. Instead of buying coffee every two weeks, try going for smaller amounts more frequently.
Most roasters have shifted to smaller formats to give their customers more flexibility and at Trade, you can choose how often you get coffee delivered to you. Not only does this ensure your coffee is as fresh as can be, but you can also try more varieties of coffee as you cycle through smaller amounts.
Coffee Brewing Tip #3: start a cleaning regimen
How long has it been since you cleaned out your coffee carafe? If you don’t know the answer, it’s been too long.
No matter how well you extract your coffee, dirty coffee equipment will always mask the beautiful and delicate flavors of your brew. Coffee oils accumulate over time, which can make coffee taste old and rancid. If you look through your coffee mugs, you’ll likely see some dark rings inside: those are old coffee oils, and they accumulate in anything that brews or holds coffee.
You don’t have to clean too often — rather, set a recurring reminder on your phone to clean your brewer every few weeks. Cleaning brands like Urnex and Dezcal make soaps and descalers for home use and include easy-to-read instructions that’ll help you determine how often you should clean your machine.
Most cleaning products simply require a good soak or running a brewing cycle with cleaner, so you don’t have to spend time — or elbow grease — keeping your equipment in tip-top shape.
Coffee Brewing Tip #4: replace your burrs
You’ve likely heard that burr grinders are preferable to blade ones — burr grinders gently “crush” coffee beans to ensure uniformity in grind size. However, burrs need to be changed based on how often you use your grinder.
Most burr sets are made of steel, which loses sharpness over time, kind of like kitchen knives. If you bought your grinder from a trusted brand like Baratza, their customer service line can walk you through how often you should replace your burrs, how to order new ones, and how to install them. Not only will you get better tasting coffee, but you’ll feel like a home improvement wizard in the meantime!
Coffee Brewing Tip #5: try brewing side by side
I used to teach middle school math and science before I worked in coffee. One of the many lessons from my days of teaching that I’ve carried with me through my career is how useful the scientific method is for learning new information and discovering the effects of different variables on a final product.
Coffee brewing is like the world’s quickest science experiment, so try brewing a few cups side by side, changing one variable at a time. If you think your coffee tastes flat but you’re not sure why, try brewing a cup on your usual grind setting, and then another with a different one — but be sure to keep all the other variables the same!
Coffee Brewing Tip #6: don’t be afraid to play with variables
Like the suggestion above, all coffee brewing is a science experiment, which means you can play with variables. Many of the variables of coffee brewing don’t require any new tools or deep understanding of coffee to try out and explore, but changing a variable will teach you something about what’s happening in the cup.