How to Make Good Coffee at Home: Five Very Common Mistakes

You don’t have to be a fancy barista to make good coffee. Just don’t make these five mistakes. This is how we celebrate International Coffee Day.

Preparing good coffee is easy but sometimes we make it very difficult, almost always due to ignorance. The explanation includes grain selection, roasting, grinding, and beverage preparation. Beyond the taste of each one when it comes to drinking coffee, there are mistakes that can be avoided by changing purchasing or preparation habits. We summarize five actions that should be avoided so that your next coffee cup is better.

1. Never use roasted coffee

It is incomprehensible but it is still sold in supermarkets and is ingrained in many people’s use. Sometimes packers use the word “mix” on the packaging because it serves to mislead, one thinks it is half Brazil, half Colombia, but no. It is not a mixture of origins but of roasts: half natural, half roasted. The roast of the coffee is essential, the less roasts the lighter. In Italy, they like high roasts, while in Northern Europe they like mild ones. But roasting is something else, quite unhealthy, by the way. A process that consists of roasting coffee with sugar. In this way, a burned substance is produced that according to the latest studies can favor the appearance of cancer cells. The roast of the coffee must always be natural.

2. Do not buy ground coffee

Buying ground coffee is like buying an open bottle of champagne, he is right. The coffee bean keeps all the aromas inside, when grinding they come out, and due to the high volatility of the substances that generate them they disappear. The ideal is to buy coffee beans, keep it in the fridge in an airtight container so it doesn’t rust, and grind it at home just before consuming it. The grind size will depend on the brewing method to be used. For espresso machines, the grind should be finer, while for piston, filter coffee machines a coarser grind is recommended. In 1978, a law allowed supermarkets to sell ground coffee, which meant the end of many small local roasters – whom we miss today – and was a scourge on the country’s coffee culture. Luckily today specialty coffee shops (flawless coffees) are helping things get back to the way they should.

3. Do not squeeze the coffee when it is put in the coffee maker or in the porta 

The custom of many waiters of putting more quantity of coffee than indicated and squeezing it into the espresso machine ( espresso in Italian) is a mistake that is also carried over to homes. Seven grams (7 grams) of coffee per cup or 30 grams for every half liter of water is enough. If the coffee is compressed too much inside the container, it will take longer for the water to pass through it, you will get a stronger tasting drink but it will also have carried away undesirable substances. This also applies to Italian or mocha coffee makers and to plunger or French ones. The appropriate thing is to put the right amount and compact it slightly.

4. Do not use more water than necessary

In espresso machines (also capsule machines), during the first seconds of the extraction process, the water carries away the best of the coffee: it releases the most delicate aromas and beneficial substances. If the water is allowed to continue to pass, to get a long coffee, for example, what it carries are aromas of burned, tars, etc. For this reason, to prepare a good American coffee it is preferable to program the coffee machine for a short extraction and then add hot water.

A trick for those who do not like the bitter tones of coffee (due to the caffeine that the plant produces to ward off insects) is to remove the cream. Yes, all the bitter notes are concentrated in the foam that forms in the coffee, which are accentuated in very roasted coffees. It is also curious that the hotter the coffee is, the more bitter it is. As it cools, acid notes appear, which are the characteristics of the best coffees of the Arabica variety.

5. Do not reheat the coffee

Coffee is a drink that is very sensitive to thermal variations, and it also goes stale easily. Making a coffee pot in the morning and reheating the coffee every time you go for a cup is like toasting bread first thing in the morning and challenging it for lunch and dinner, nonsense. Coffee must be prepared and consumed on the spot. If not possible, keep it in a thermos.

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