Easy Coffee Quality Improvement

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Usually I avoid recommendation lists that have commercial intent, but exceptions are made when it might help someone visiting one of our shops. We sell specialty coffee. And we sell coffee paraphernalia. So here is an exception. Thanks to Joanne Chen for this short list of what you can do to improve your daily coffee drinking experience:

“Oh! The coffee’s good today” is something my husband or I murmur on occasion as we slowly come alive with our first sip of the morning. On most days, though, the coffee we make at home is just good enough. We make it the same way every time, but whether we achieve coffee nirvana on any particular day is anyone’s guess. How to brew a great cup mystified me for years — until I decided to get to the bottom of it.

It turns out that even with quality beans, it’s hard to be a good home barista without the right tools. Some of these things are admittedly pricey but entirely worth it, according to coffee experts. For instance, a burr grinder (such as the OXO Brew Conical Burr Grinder, a pick from Wirecutter, a New York Times company that reviews and recommends products), which chops and grinds beans into a consistent coarseness, starts at about $100. And a reverse-osmosis filtration system, which reduces the mineral content in hard water (check the United States Geological Survey site to see if you have it), can cost well over $100.

Luckily, just about everything else is quite affordable. In collaboration with Wirecutter, here are five cheap(ish) things that can vastly improve your coffee-drinking experience — acoustic-guitar playlist optional.

The right storage container

Oxygen interacts with coffee and creates stale flavors. If your beans or grounds come in a sturdy valve bag — which are foil-lined and resealable, with a circular blister near the top — it’s actually best not to transfer them to a storage container. “The bag is enough to keep oxygen out,” said Peter Giuliano, chief research officer at the Specialty Coffee Association. In fact, dumping your coffee elsewhere can disrupt the layer of carbon dioxide that surrounds and protects it.

However, if your beans are not in a valve bag, you’ll need an airtight container. Wirecutter likes the durable and tightly sealed Rubbermaid Brilliance Pantry Storage Containers. In any case, keep your beans in a cool, dark spot, and avoid cabinets above or near the stove. Light, heat and moisture are kryptonite to them.

Beans and grounds vary in shape and size — they don’t settle into that tablespoon or coffee scoop the same way every time. This means you can have differing coffee-to-water ratios. Sometimes you end up with good coffee, and sometimes you don’t…

Read the whole story here.

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