If you’re a true coffee lover, you probably have set views on the correct way to prepare, store and drink your favourite hot beverage. Perhaps you’ve invested in a professional espresso machine and even taken barista classes (like these at UK experience provider Into the Blue) to teach you everything you need to know about making a great cup of coffee?
Well, let’s put your expert knowledge to the test and see if you’re not missing a trick. You may be comforted to hear that even the most seasoned coffee enthusiasts make rookie mistakes, so if you find yourself performing below par in the questions below, you certainly won’t be the only one. Without further ado, here are 6 coffee no-no’s that no self-respecting Arabica aficionado should be making.
- Do you buy ground coffee or whole beans?
Pre-ground coffee beans are the easiest and most convenient way to buy and use coffee but unfortunately they don’t produce the best possible flavour. The process of grinding the coffee beans increases their surface area and heightens their exposure to the air. This means they go stale and lose their flavour more quickly. For optimum flavour freshness, you should always buy your coffee beans freshly roasted but whole, then grind the correct amount yourself at the time when it’s needed.
- How do you store your coffee at home?
All the time and effort of sourcing the perfect coffee beans may be wasted if your home coffee storage is all wrong. The key to making a great cup is to preserve as much flavour as you can, so the importance of correct storage really cannot be understated. Air, sunlight, moisture and extreme temperatures are the 4 enemies of good coffee, so make sure that your beans are kept in a cool, dry cupboard in a dark and airtight container. Contrary to popular belief, keeping your coffee in the fridge is a big no-no on account the moisture created in the packaging.
- What time of day do you drink coffee?
Had you considered the possibility that you’re consuming your favourite hot bev at the wrong time of day? Most people think of coffee as a morning drink – either to kick-start the day or as a mid-morning ‘perk up’. However, research has shown that morning is the worst time to drink coffee. It’s all to do with the level of cortisol (our stress/alertness hormone) in the body which is naturally highest first thing in the morning. Consuming coffee at that time can interfere with the body’s own cortisol production, relying on the artificial stimulation provided by caffeine instead.
- Are you using the correct amount of coffee, and water?
While there are no set rules as to the amount of coffee you must use – after all, some people prefer a weaker or stronger cup – a general guideline is 10 grams (about 2 tablespoons) of coffee per 180ml of water for each serving. Make sure that the hot water has just the right temperature as you pour it – somewhere between 90.6C and 96.1C is what’s called the ‘Goldilocks Zone’, the perfect temperature to allow your coffee to release its compounds properly and develop the best flavour.
- Do you ever reheat your coffee?
If there’s one thing that spoils the flavour of coffee more than anything else, it’s trying to reheat a cup that’s gone cold. Whether you got into the habit of heating up cold coffee in the microwave, adding more boiled water onto pre-used coffee grounds or warming the brew up on the stovetop, a real coffee lover will be repulsed by all these methods. Heating brewed coffee makes the drink more acidic which results in a bitter, unpleasant taste. In terms of your digestive system, this can lead to heartburn and acid reflux. As far as your credibility as a coffee connoisseur goes, consider yourself exposed as a fraud.
- Are you drinking from the right cup?
There’s a thin line between correct usage and personal preference but the cup you use to enjoy your coffee can really affect the flavour. Unlike tea lovers who tend to favour thin porcelain cups or mugs, serious coffee drinkers should look out for thick ceramic or glass cups or mugs that are specifically designed to hold in the heat of the hot liquid – a pre-warmed mug is ideal.