There are many factors that can impact the perfect cup of coffee, but to keep things simple and repeatable, we suggest focusing on 4 key variables when preparing the perfect cup at home!
1. GRIND SIZE
The grind of your coffee, known as the coarseness, will affect the amount of surface area present when you mix your beans with water. A fine grind will have lots of surface area, and therefore make a strong coffee, while a coarser grind will do the opposite. It's important to figure out the perfect balance, because while you may thing stronger is better, stronger will also introduce a stronger influence of everything, including the bad flavours, such as bitterness or acidity.
It's important to note that flavour extraction will also change drastically based on the brewing style you choose. Use the chart below as a guide when grinding based on your preferred brewing method.
2. DOSAGE & WATER-TO-COFFEE RATIO
You may be thinking, duhhh of course the dosage of coffee matters - "how much coffee should I use was my first question!". Well did you know that even with the other 3 factors being held constant, you'll may still need to change the water-to-coffee ratio every time you change beans?
A standard go-to ratio is 6oz of water to 1.5 tablespoons of ground coffee. Take it from there and adjust to your preference based on taste!
Believe it or not, the temperature of your water will have a big impact on the rate of extraction. Hotter water will speed up the extraction of everything in your coffee, and in result will affect the end flavour. Try brewing your coffee at different temperatures until you find your sweet spot!
Hint: if you're using boiling water, let the water steam off for a few seconds to cool slightly and avoid scorching (burning) your coffee!
4. EXTRACTION TIME
Extraction time is the final piece to figure out in your effort to create the perfect cup. The longer you leave the water in contact with coffee, the more flavours it will naturally extract. The art is in finding that perfect amount of time where just the right flavours have been extracted (not too few of the good sweet flavours, and not too many of the bitter, acidic ones).
For an espresso shot, the ideal range is between 20 - 30 seconds. For a french press, the ideal range is between 4.0 - 4.5 minutes. An under extracted coffee will generally taste weak and watery, whereas over extraction will result in tones of bitterness.