The Importance of Water (When Making Coffee)
I didn't intend to write this blog post today, but I had a bold reminder on the importance of water quality after a mishap during a pour-over I made this morning.
In a blend of rush to get coffee in my system and the excitement over another pour-over of my favorite new bean, which should be available in the coming weeks, I added the water to my pour-over at a temperature of around... oh, say... pretty much boiling.
I'll admit, I did it as part of a small experiment in my head. How would this delicious bean be affected if I poured at boiling? Would it really make a difference?
Curiosity thus killed the cat (dad). My new favorite roast landed in my cup and then to my mouth with an overpowering taste of... cardboard. Yuck.
Life is never as sweet without the sour, so in the interest of hoping you avoid the sour, I wanted to make sure I wrote a bit about water quality. I'll try to order these in the order of importance:
Make sure your outfit always matches your filtered water pitcher or else everything will go wrong.
Always use filtered water
I can't stress this one enough. If you start out with water that's tainted with too much chlorine or an odd mineral or grassy taste, you're going to have coffee that probably tastes even worse. That's because water accounts for 90% of your espresso and 98% of your drip coffee (or other higher water extraction method).
That means that using filtered water is super key. I'm a huge snob about water quality in coffee, so I installed an under-sink filter to my cold water tap in the kitchen.
But, a good ol' Brita pitcher will do you a world of good if you want to improve the quality of coffee. Or, just buy filtered water from the store (I used to pour purified bottle water in my coffee maker when I lived in an apartment) to make sure that your water is free from any unwanted influences.
"If I sit by this window every single day in a different cute dress, he'll definitely notice me."
Make sure the water is the right temperature
Here's why I really messed up today, and how you can prevent this from happening to you.
According to the National Coffee Association, who has undoubtedly done some research, the water you're brewing with should be 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit (the boiling point of water is 212 degrees Fahrenheit). Even the slightest difference from 212 to 205 makes a huge difference because the beans can get sort of burnt in the process.
Another issue, which will be saved for another blog post and I'm embarrassed to admit, is that I probably over-extracted the coffee during my pour in a rush to just get some coffee in the morning.
The last thing I'll say, which I'll also cover in another post, is that this makes a great case for drip coffee machines (hint: there's no need for any hate for people who prefer drip coffee. I happen to love it.)
Use high-quality beans
"I only brew the highest quality Folgers in this shop."
This is the section where I shamelessly plug my coffee because it's delicious. Everyone loves their own brand, but drinking better quality coffee just makes the experience all the more worthwhile. Yes, there are times where McDonald's in the morning is needed to keep things going. But, when you can, it's best to enjoy coffee roasted locally and with care.
Oftentimes, that means a coffee that is medium (or "city") roasted so that you get the full expression of what the beans taste like and can appreciate the work that went in to cultivating them. If you're going to drink a darker roast coffee, like our Hump Day Blend, make sure you trust that the roaster has thought carefully about what beans and what blend will make for the most flavorful cup at that roast level.
A medium to medium-dark roasted coffee is going to give you the benefits of delicious flavor, smooth mouthfeel and overall pleasant taste in each cup. That's also why most of our roasts are at that medium level. We want to make sure we give you the full flavor of the bean without burning off the notes that give that bean its distinction.