Tips For Better Cup of Home Brew Coffee from US Barista Champion

Tips For Better Cup of Home Brew Coffee from US Barista Champion

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Katie Carguilo, the 2012 US Barista Champion and the leader of Counter Culture Coffee‘s West Coast Quality Control department, spoke with The Huffington Post about the best practices to ensure better quality of home brew coffee.

Buy Only Whole Beans

coffee bean and groundWhen presented with the option of whole or ground bagged beans, always select whole. Carguilo says grinding your beans at home, right before you brew, is always going to result in a more flavorful coffee experience. Pre-ground coffee will offer a flatter, duller cup. “Roasted coffee smells a certain way, and grinding it releases the aromatic contents that are in the beans,” she says. “If you grind right before you brew, you’ll be able to brew those scents into the water.”

If you don’t own a grinder, you still choose to buy ground beans. As Carguilo says to purchase the whole beans and grind them in-store. Most specialty cafe and coffee bean distributors have a grinder for customers to use. In this case, you at least know when the beans were ground, and won’t risk buying beans that were ground weeks or months earlier.

Buy a Bag With One-way Valve

Carguilo says coffee beans are typically sold in two types of bags: The heat-sealed bags equipped with a small valve, and the simpler, lined paper bag. The valve works as a one-way airway for the gas that the beans emit, while preventing air from entering. Dry beans are a key to freshness, so coffee kept in a bag with a valve will stay fresh a lot longer than the alternative.

One Way Wave Coffee Bag

Photo Credit: huffpost

If your preferred beans don’t come in this type of bag, you’ve got a few options. You can purchase your beans in smaller quantities, so you’ll have better-tasting coffee in your day-to-day experience. You could also invest in a heat sealer of your own. This is a good, environmentally-sound option for anyone who buys their beans from a bulk bin.

vacuum coffee bean container

vacuum coffee bean container

 Close You Bean Bag While Brewing

This one’s kind of a given, but the better stored your coffee beans are, the more exceptional your coffee will taste. Always close the bag of beans when you’re done using it, and store it in a cool, dry place — like the countertop or pantry, Carguilo says.

Remember, moisture is the enemy of coffee beans. If you like to store unopened bags (never unsealed bags) in the freezer, you’ll need to put it inside another bag to keep it safe. “The bag needs to be sealed properly so it’s not getting freezer burned and the beans aren’t interacting with any moisture,” Carguilo says. She doesn’t believe that freezing coffee dramatically extends coffee’s shelf life, and it might not be worth the extra effort.

Look For Roasting Date

When a company prints the date the beans were roasted, Carguilo says they’re providing “total transparency.” Most coffee brands will provide a sell-by or expiration date, but these numbers are vague because there’s no way to tell how a company gauges freshness. Coffee doesn’t really go bad, Carguilo says, it just loses its flavor. When you know the roasting date, you’ll be able to judge the freshness for yourself. Purchase the bag with the most recent roasting date for more superior coffee.

Choose Light Roasted Coffee For More Dependable Taste

The difference isn’t severe, so if you prefer the flavor of a bold, dark roasted coffee, by all means, purchase it. But if freshness is your main concern, go with light. Carguilo says this type tends to taste a little bit fresher for a longer period of time because the roasting process causes the cell walls of the beans to break down, allowing aroma and gasses to escape more easily. Light roasted beans are more secure in a sense.


Boil Water Before Pour Into Coffee Maker For The Best Cup Possible

Even with those cheap, plastic coffee makers, hot water can make a world of a difference in your coffee drinking experience. Carguilo suggests boiling the water for your coffee machine before you add it to brew. The machine may not be powerful enough to sufficiently raise the temperature of cold sink water, but it is hot water that allows all of the flavors in your coffee to brew.


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