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Ah, coffee…my favorite morning ritual and source of caffeine. (As co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Coffee & Tea and a frequent contributor to Fresh Cup Magazine, I’ve given coffee a good deal of thought.)
Brewing a great cup of coffee seems easy, but how often does yours taste like it does at a local coffee shop? (Never?) The good news is, unlike other culinary endeavors, making good coffee is more about technique than splurging on gadgets. A bold and delicious cup is attainable at home if you avoid these common mistakes. Don’t worry if you spill coffee on your carpet, we’ll show you how to get the stain out.
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Mistake #1: Using Water that isn’t Hot Enough
Many commercial drip brewers never reach the ideal temperature (195 to 205 degrees) for perfect coffee. Water in this range extracts the most flavor from the beans. Switch to a French press or pour-over method (Chemex or a ceramic filter), where water just off a boil is poured over ground beans and steeped for three to four minutes. These generally cost around $30, which is cheaper than the average electric brewer.
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Mistake #2: Using Beans that were Ground a long Time Ago
Buying pre-ground beans is a no-no. The minute coffee beans are ground, they start to release their nuanced flavors. The longer you wait to brew, the more the flavor will have diminished. Grind whole beans in the grocery aisle or do it yourself at home: Invest in a low-cost blade grinder or spring for a burr grinder for an even finer grind. Power it up while the water is heating up. (For bonus points, amp up the flavor by adding spices to your beans.)