There is more to a cup of great coffee than simply buying the best beans. How you store the beans, how and when you grind them, and exactly how you brew them play almost as crucial a part in the overall process as your choice of beans. Here, we will help you learn a little bit about the brewing process as well as give some advice as to how you can develop a simple and easy method for getting it just right, every time.
I'll give you the abridged version first and then read on for the full explanation!
1. Store beans in a cool, dry place. Preferably in an airtight container if they will not be used within the first week.
2.Use a good quality burr grinder, and only grind immediately before brewing. Take note of the recommended coarseness of the grind for your preferred method of brewing.
3.Always use a minimum of 2tbsp of ground coffee per 6oz of water (or more accurately a 17.42:1 ratio of water to beans)
4.Brew with your water as close to 200 degrees fahrenheit as you can.
To start off, we'll talk a little bit about storing beans. Our beans come delivered in brown paper bags with tie-tins for closing the bag. This storage device is cheap and effective. It will keep your beans fresh easily for upwards of a week. If you do not plan on consuming your beans within a week of getting them, we encourage you to get some sort of air-tight container to extend the freshness of the beans. This can be as simple as a ziplock bag. Or, if you like getting fancy, there a multitude of glass or stainless steel canisters available with lids that have an airtight seal. I recommend getting one that will fit a full 1lb of coffee beans, as that just makes sense. Beyond that, simply keeping the beans out of direct sunlight (which the stainless steel canister helps tremendously with) and in a relatively cool/dry place will suffice in keeping them fresh. In a cupboard or on the counter away from any windows is perfect. This way you know every time you scoop out your beans, you're still getting great, fresh tasting beans!
Secondly, your next concern should be with your grind. As any coffee connoisseur will tell you, beans are their freshest immediately after grinding. While green beans stay fresh for years, and roasted beans stay fresh for weeks, ground beans stay fresh for mere minutes. Which is why we only sell wholebean coffee. You need to have a coffee grinder right there next to your brewing device so you can get the freshest tasting coffee there is! We cannot recommend enough getting a decent quality burr grinder. The cheap blade grinders will get the job done, but they give you no control over the type of grind, and result in a pulverised bean instead of a ground bean. This will affect the flavor of your coffee, generally negatively. But it isn't nearly the most important element of the process, so if you have a blade grinder don't feel like you have to rush out and get a new grinder simply because we said so. That being said, if you're getting a grinder anyway, it'll be worth the few dollars to get even a cheap burr grinder. They can be had at your local discount superstore of choice for probably $30-$40. If you want to double that price you can get yourself into a really high quality grinder, but you really won't notice much difference in the actual grind of your bean unless you are doing espresso (which is much more finely ground). Choose for yourself how much it is worth to you. The advantage to any burr grinder, and to a further extent the higher quality ones, is that you can control the level of grind. Depending on how you brew your coffee, you will want to adjust the grind accordingly. A drip machine, for example, uses a medium-to-fine grind. But if you use one of the metal reusable filters on your drip you will want to increase to the coarser side of a medium grind to prevent sediment filtering through into your cup. If you use a french press you will want an even coarser grind yet. Any burr grinder that you get should have descriptions for what level to set the grind for your chosen style of brewing. We can get into the science behind it at a later date, but there are specific reasons involving diffusion rates and surface area that play into why you want to alter your grind for these different types of brewing.
Finally, the last step in the process is the brewing. This is one of the most crucial and often overlooked aspects to making your coffee. The water to coffee ratio is a key element to getting the right flavor out of your cup. A highly scientific study using a refractometer (fancy device that measures the concentration of dissolved solids in a liquid) determined that the optimum ratio of water to coffee is 17.42 units of water to each unit of coffee. This is considered the golden standard for coffee brewing, which should be used as a starting point for everyone new to brewing their own coffee. From this point you can tailor your ratio to your own taste. I've found that I like it just slightly richer than this, so I use a tiny bit more coffee in my ratio. Also, if you are using a french press, you will probably find you like it slightly richer. But you'll just have to experiment on your own. If you need help converting this ratio, I like to use a ratio calculator like this to quickly tell me what amounts I need. Simply throw 17.42:1 on the left, then put however many oz of water you are planning to use and it'll tell you how many oz of coffee beans to use. For example, your standard 40oz drip coffee maker would require 2.296oz of coffee beans at minimum. Or you can just use the easy standard of 2tbsp per 6oz of water! That gets you pretty much right where you need to be, give or take. But using a scale is more accurate because depending on the roast, different beans will have different mass to volume ratios so measuring by volume is less accurate. Just be careful with relying on your coffee maker markings, because what they label as "cups" is a different measurement of ounces, not a true "cup" (8oz). Trust us on this,though; you don't want to skimp on your beans! Too weak of coffee will just simply never taste right. You are missing out on the full flavor of the beans if you don't use enough! You're paying a premium for gourmet coffee, you owe it to yourself to brew it so it tastes good!
Oh, and don't forget the final step: water temp. With most machines you have no control, so you just have to rely on what the manufacturer has dialed in on their machine. But if you have control, such as with a french press or pour over, you don't want the water to fully boil. You'll get optimum flavor from brewing at 200 degrees F. Stick to that if you can!
And most importantly, enjoy your coffee!