Frequently Asked Questions
Want to make the perfect cup of coffee? Follow these guidelines for the best cup of brew.
- How much coffee do I use to make the perfect cup?
The amount of coffee that you use will affect the strength of the finished cup, and should be based on personal taste preference. Industry experts agree that 1 to 1.5 tablespoons (15-25mL) of coffee, per 6 ounce (175mL) cup, will ensure full development of coffee characteristics.
Many roasters and retailers provide recommended serving sizes to be utilized for further guidance.
- What type of grind should I use for my coffee maker?
The grind style you choose will affect the strength of your coffee. Too fine a grind will result in a strong, perhaps bitter, cup, and too coarse a grind will result in a weak cup. The grind must also match the type of coffee machine. Fine grind is for home brewers, coarse grind is for professional machines, bodems and pour overs. Single serve brewers only require that the correct type of pod or cup is used to make a perfect cup. Some consumers like to buy whole beans and grind them at home. When considering grinders for home, be aware that machines that “grind” with discs will offer a more consistent result than those that “chop” with blades. Establishing a consistent grind is key to making a quality cup.
- Does the water I use matter?
A cup of coffee is 98% water. The quality of the water that goes in, determines the quality of the coffee that comes out. Always use freshly drawn cold water, ideally filtered through an activated carbon filter. Avoid artificially softened water which will result in a “flat” tasting cup.
- What is the ideal brewing temperature for coffee?
The performance of coffee machines varies depending on the temperature of the water and the speed at which the water passes over the coffee grinds. Professional coffee shop and fine restaurant machines are specifically designed to achieve water temperatures of 200 degrees F (~93 degrees C) and “draw times” of between 3½ to 4½ minutes per pot. It is difficult for in-home brewers to achieve the same standards, but these parameters can be used as a benchmark for your machine.
- To filter or not to filter?
Some coffee makers do not require filters, but if your machine does, ensure the filter fits snugly in the basket and coffee grounds are evenly spread. This helps to avoid water bypass, which may result in a weak cup of coffee.
- How long will my coffee stay fresh once it is open?
Exposure to oxygen, moisture, and outside odours will affect your coffee. Freshness is optimized by purchasing quantities that can be consumed within 7 to 10 days after opening. If you grind your beans, do so right before brewing for the best results.
- Where and how should I store open coffee grinds?
After opening your package, transfer coffee to an airtight, glass container and store it in a cool dry environment. Minimize empty “head space” in the container. This will help to ensure coffee maintains its full flavour characteristics. There are different opinions as to whether coffee should be refrigerated or kept in the freezer. If you do either, remember that coffee absorbs moisture and outside odors, so an airtight container is essential.
- What is espresso?
Espresso is made by forcing very hot water under high pressure through finely ground, compacted coffee. Tamping down the coffee promotes the water’s even penetration of the grounds. This process produces an almost syrupy beverage by extracting both solid and dissolved components. Espresso is naturally capped with a thin layer of dense, golden froth called crema. Espresso is both a coffee beverage and a brewing method. It is not a specific bean, bean blend, or roast level. Contrary to popular belief, the amount of total caffeine in an espresso is less than a regular brewed cup of coffee because the usual serving size is much smaller.
- What does single origin mean?
Single-origin coffee is coffee grown within a single known geographic origin. Sometimes this is a single farm, or a specific collection of beans from a single country. The name of the coffee is then usually the place it was grown.
- What is nitro coffee?
Nitro-brewed coffee is a new preparation method when cold-brew coffee is infused with nitrogen gas. It is served from a tap. When it is released, the nitro cold brew cascades down the glass, creating a “billowing waterfall effect” as the gas separates out of the coffee and creates a beer style “head” on top (like Guinness). Since nitrogen is a flavourless and odourless gas, it doesn’t alter the taste of the cold brew coffee. But it creates a rich and creamy texture, that requires no cream or ice to be added.
- What is considered a specialty coffee?
The term ‘specialty coffee’ was originally used to describe the range of coffee products sold in dedicated coffee shops. Today it includes higher quality coffees, both single origin and blends, unconventional coffees such as flavoured coffees, and coffees with an unusual background or story behind them.
- How do I choose the right coffee maker for me?
There are a wide variety of coffee makers available to consumers today. When selecting coffee equipment, it is important to consider your lifestyle and what you are looking for… convenience, quantity, quality. If you live alone or typically only drink one cup, choose a one- or two-cup drip model or single-serve machine. Need more? Choose a larger automatic drip or one of the specialty machines, such as an electric French press. Most large models brew 10 to 12 cups. If you enjoy espresso, you’ll generally require an espresso machine.
- What is third wave coffee?
The third wave of coffee is a movement to produce high-quality coffee, and consider coffee as an artisanal foodstuff, like wine, rather than a commodity. This involves improvements at all stages of production, from improving coffee plant growing, harvesting, and processing, to stronger relationships between coffee growers, traders, and roasters, to higher quality and fresh roasting, at times called “microroasting” (by analogy with microbrew beer), to skilled brewing. Distinctive features of third wave coffee include direct trade coffee, high-quality beans, single-origin coffee, lighter roasts, and latte art. It also includes revivals of alternative methods of coffee preparation, such as vacuum coffee and pour-over brewing devices.