This single beverage can be so many things to so many people. A jolt of wake-me-up caffeine; a vice; an addiction; a meal (where my bulletproofers at?); a mood booster or conversation starter. (Wanna meet for a cup of coffee, anyone?) And while the process seems simple — hot water and coffee beans — there are so many factors at play when it comes to truly mastering and enjoying a good cup of joe. Whether you buy your coffee at your favorite coffee shop or make it at home, here are eight missteps you might be taking when it comes to java.
1. Use Tap Water
Filling your coffee pot straight from the tap sound familiar? Municipal water is treated with chemicals in order to kill certain bacteria and microorganisms. It also can contain other undesirable contaminants like chlorine, toxic metal salts, hormones and pesticides. Simply put- unfiltered water doesn’t do the best job of bringing out the flavor in your beans. Some high-end coffeemakers come with a built-in filter, but if you are not using one of those invest in an inexpensive water filter to run your water through before you brew up a pot. Or simply buy gallons of drinking water at the store.
2. Drink your coffee before 10 a.m
I know a lot of us are use to waking up to a cup of coffee every morning, but waiting until 10 a.m. might be just what your body ordered. It turns out that our cortisol levels are elevated early in the morning, and caffeine interferes with the body’s production of cortisol, a hormone that’s released in response to stress. An early-morning coffee habit could lead to your body producing less cortisol and becoming more reliant on caffeine. It also increases a person’s tolerance to caffeine because it replaces the natural cortisol-induced boost instead of adding to it. Try drinking your first cup between 10 a.m. and noon, when your body’s natural cortisol levels have leveled off.
3. Miss the temperature sweet spot
Did you know the perfect temp for brewing coffee is just under boiling? If you use water that is cooler than 195 degrees this will result in a bitter, watery, underextracted cup of coffee. If you use water hotter than 205 you risk scalding the coffee making for an overextracted, burnt or rubbery-tasting cup of coffee. Two-hundred degrees Fahrenheit is the sweet spot, people.
4. Use Single-Serve Coffee Makers
Any Keurig fans out there? Whether you prefer a French press, Chemex, AeroPress or Bialetti espresso maker, it’s definitely time to ditch that Keurig, and here’s why. The K-cups Keurig machines use are bad for your health (hello, plastic #7) and bad for the planet too. The type of plastic used makes them difficult to recycle. Attempting to improve their reputation and sales, the company recently launched a “recyclable” plastic pod. I know most of you enjoy the convenience but is this really the solution to creating millions of single-serve pieces of plastic every year? Be good to your body and Mother Earth. Just don’t.
5. Turn a Blind Eye to Coffee Freshness
The freshness of the coffee bean matters a lot too. Aim to purchase your beans soon after they were roasted (the date is typically labeled on the package), and store them in a cool, airtight container until you are ready to brew. For maximum freshness, grind your beans right before brewing a fresh batch by determining how much you want and only grinding as much as needed.
6. Forget to Clean Your Machine
When was the last time you really cleaned your coffeemaker — like, inside and out? Your equipment needs to be clean to produce a great-tasting cup of coffee. From bean grinders and filters to coffeemakers, each piece must be rinsed with clean, hot water and wiped down thoroughly after each use. It’s important that there isn’t a buildup of oil, which can make future cups of coffee taste bitter and rancid. Also, mold and other bacteria can collect and grow in those little nooks and crannies.
7. Believe All Beans Are Created Equal
The quality and flavor of the cup is mostly determined by the actual bean. Coffee beans differ in many ways, including variety, blend, region, roast and the quality and care that went in to producing them. There are a lot of choices, and the process can be personalized to match your preferences. Before you purchase do your research on the bean’s source to make the best decision for you.
So are you guilty of any of these habits? I’m sure we all are