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Easy Tips and Tricks for Making a Better Cup of Coffee (Without Spending a Lot!)

Updated on October 29, 2008

You should be drinking better coffee. Seriously, it's not that hard to make a very good cup of brew, and it's not really about the money either (although for those with deep pockets, there are some pretty impressive machines out there!).

You should be drinking better coffee, but if you’re like the vast majority of us, you settle for mediocrity.

No more!!! Learn a few easy tips and tricks and see how much better your morning cup becomes.

Easy steps to better coffee

1. Freshness Matters

You wouldn’t buy old and stale food, so don't settle for stale-old coffee either. Green (unroasted coffee) retains it flavors for ages, but once coffee is roasted it starts losing its aromatic notes within about a week and a half. Those roasted beans sitting in the supermarket "plastic tubes" are very unlikely freshly roasted – and anything in a package on the shelves of a supermarket is very very unlikely freshly roasted.

If you want a fresh roast, you have 2 basic choices. Either roast your own (it's not actually that hard, and can even be done with a hot air popcorn popper!) or buy from a source that roasts locally. Not all that hard to find actually, just pop into any locally owned café and ask for a take home.

2. Grind as you need it.

Buying whole beans is far preferable to using pre-ground coffee. Ground coffee starts deteriorating within about 20 minutes after grinding. If you are currently using pre ground coffee, you will see an enormous improvement in the quality of your brew by grinding your own.

The best machines for grinding are burr style grinders, which actually grind – as opposed to cheaper grinders that are actually just mini blenders, and which produce an uneven and over-heated grind.

3. Use Filtered Water

Any chlorine or sulfurous notes in your tap water will diminish the quality and taste of your coffee. Use filtered water (Britta style fridge water filers are fine for this) and get a better cup.

4. Use the Right Gear

Either spend enough on a quality machine, or go manual – cheaper brew-style coffee makers will make a poor cup of coffee.

If you aren’t ready to spend 100$ or more on a machine, a French press (plunger style) coffee maker can be had for about 10$, and a plastic cone with paper filter will actually make a better cup of coffee than most brew machines.

(Cheaper machines fall short in several ways. They sometimes don't heat the water to the correct temperatures, they sometimes don't effectively wet the coffee grounds and they often miss-time the process.)

5. Keep Things Clean

The oils in coffee will go rancid in time. Those coffee oils will stick to your gear. Make sure to clean any part of you machine that is touched by your coffee, every time. De-scale your machine once a month. If you use a French press, be sure to clean the filter well.

6. Don't Skimp on the Beans

Use a rounded tablespoon of ground coffee for each 8 ounce cup.

7. Drink it Now!

Don't keep coffee sitting on the heating element. If you use a French Press, don’t wait for more than about 4 minutes before pouring off the coffee.

A few easy steps to a much better brew. Enjoy!


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    • nancynurse profile image

      Nancy McClintock 5 years ago from Southeast USA

      I love my morning coffee and enjoyed reading your tips to better coffee. thanks so much