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How to Avoid Yucky Coffee

Let’s face it, every so often you end up with a truly disgusting cup of coffee. And it’s so much worse when it was made by you! I mean, you always run the risk of someone else making a bad cup of joe, but your coffee is usually ideal! So, what happened and how can you guard against it happening again? Well, it’s not completely fool-proof, but here are some causes of gross coffee and how to mitigate them.   yucky coffee  

Let’s Start with Brewing

An ideal cup of coffee should taste good, that’s a given. But what does that mean? Typically, your coffee should be well-balanced, and robust. It may be slightly fruity or a little nutty or possibly even a bit chocolaty. It could even be buttery, smooth, complex, and aromatic. It ought to be rich and definitely flavorful. But when it isn’t any of these things, we have a problem.   Though you can occasionally smell a bad cup of coffee, it’s usually once you taste it that you find something’s amiss. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done about it at that point–other than adding creamers or flavorings to it… maybe.   But to avoid the problem in the future, you need to know a few things about this particular cup. For example, is it too strong or too weak? Maybe it’s bitter or sour. How about dusty or watery? Each of these can be fixed in the brewing process.  
Too Strong – If your coffee is too strong, the water to coffee ratio is off. Use less coffee or more water when brewing.   Too Weak – Like “too strong”, if your coffee is too weak, the water to coffee ratio is off. In this instance, use more coffee or less water when brewing.   Bitter – When your coffee is bitter, it has been over extracted or too little coffee was used. There are a couple of fixes here. You should use more coffee and to extract less you should use a coarser grind and/or a shorter brewing time.   Sour – Sour coffee happens when it has been under extracted or too much coffee was used. Use less coffee and to extract more you should use a finer grind and/or a longer brewing time.   Dusty – Has your coffee ever had a dusty or powdery taste/feel to it? Surprisingly you need to use more coffee. Not surprisingly you need to extract less with a coarser grind or a shorter brewing time.   Watery – And if your coffee is watery, it is not surprising that you need to extract more with a longer brewing time or a finer grind, but you should use less coffee. Huh.

Moving on to Tools

Sometimes your coffee can be tainted by the tools you use. If you haven’t cleaned your coffee maker in a while you could be transferring some grossness to your cup.   If you grind your own beans, your grinder could be the culprit. Be sure to get all of the ground coffee out of your grinder each time you use it. Stale coffee grounds can cause your coffee to taste anything but pleasant. The oils from the coffee can become rancid as well. Yuck! If you use a burr grinder, use a cleaner like this to remove the coffee grounds and oils from your machine. If you use a blade grinder, unplug it from the wall and carefully wipe it out with a damp cloth.   Storing your coffee properly is also extremely important. Air, light, heat, and moisture can all degrade your coffee giving you a sub-par cup. Make sure your coffee is kept in an airtight container in a cool, dark, and dry place.  

Using Quality Ingredients

To ensure your coffee tastes good, make sure you use quality ingredients. With only two ingredients to worry about, this should be pretty easy. Starting with your water, make sure it is free from any tastes or smells. It shouldn’t take more than using filtered tap water to take care of this. Basically, if you wouldn’t drink a glass of it, don’t use it to make coffee. It is suggested not to use purified bottled water or reverse osmosis water as they are lacking the minerals and nutrients which help the flavor of coffee. And if you really want to go all out on your water, try the Third Wave Water supplement prior to making your coffee.   Finally, your coffee beans may be the problem. Buy freshly roasted pure arabica bean coffee (from CoffeeAM of course!) and, if possible, grind it yourself. If you have it ground, make sure to choose the correct grind for your coffee maker.   As has been mentioned before, keeping a journal of your coffee making is a terrific way to consistently brew your coffee. Recording everything from the type of beans and how they are ground to the amount of water and the length of time brewed will give you insight into your best coffee. Make adjustments and fine tune to counteract any rogue bad cups and always have the tastiest coffee.
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