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Tips & Tricks

How to Brew a Great Cup of New York Gourmet Coffee

The art of brewing a great cup of coffee is less about technique and more about knowing what you like. Strong and robust? Smooth and mellow? Only in the morning? As an afternoon pick-me-up?

Whatever your preference, here are some tips to brew the perfect cup:

1. Know your brewing system. Everything else follows.

Like many of us, you probably have an automatic drip system. These brewers shower almost-boiled water (190-200º F) through the ground coffee and into a carafe. The best machines feature thermal carafes and water temperature controls, and some even have a built-in timer to start the brewing process just as you’re waking up. What bliss! They use either paper filters or permanent gold-plated or gold-tone reusable coffee filters (our personal recommendation). There are also manual-drip brewing systems that work great! These devices allow you to pour just-boiled water over the coffee grounds. The coffee is then collected in the lower portion of the device or directly into your cup.

Another system is the French press. Here, coffee grounds are placed in a canister and just-boiled water is added directly to the coffee. After the proper brewing time (3-4 minutes) has elapsed, a plunger forces the grounds down to the bottom of the pot and, voilà, a great cup of coffee.

When using any carafe or beaker to brew and/or store brewed coffee in, you will get better results from pre-heating the container with just-boiled water. Thermal carafes will hold hot water overnight, so you can warm your carafe before the sun rises.

The percolator brewing method is worth mentioning for a few reasons. First, up until 1971, it was how 90% of Americans made their daily brews.  Percolators re-circulate boiled water over the coffee grounds until the desired strength is reached. While some folks love percolated coffee, this method does not produce the best-tasting coffee. At New York Gourmet Coffee, we recommend using one of the aforementioned drip methods.

2. Use filtered water.

If your water does not taste good, neither will your coffee. We do not recommend using distilled or softened water. Coffee needs the minerals present in water to create the best-tasting brew.

3. Use the proper grind for your coffee maker.

For drip coffee makers, use a medium grind. The result of using a very fine grind, designed for espresso, in a drip coffee maker is a very bitter-tasting cup. If you are using a French press or a percolator, use a coarse or large grind. We recommend grinding your coffee just before you brew.

4. Use the right amount of ground coffee.

The recognized standard amount of ground coffee is 10 grams for every 6 ounces of water, or approximately 2 tablespoons of coffee per 6 ounces. With this amount as a starting point, if your brew is too strong, use less ground coffee. Conversely, if you like it stronger, use more ground coffee. Don’t change the grind.

5. Achieve the proper water temperature.

For maximum flavor, water should be 195º - 200º F. If you are using a manual system, like a Chemex, Melitta, or French press, let the water stand for 30 seconds after boiling. This way it can cool before you begin to pour.

6. Watch your extraction time (the amount of time the water is in contact with the coffee).

With a French press, you control the amount of time that the ground beans are in contact with the water. This should be approximately four minutes. In all other systems, factors like gravity and the construction of the filter basket contribute to the extraction time. Ideally, the water will be in contact with the coffee grounds for 3 – 6 minutes.

7. Keep that coffee hot, without burning it.

If you are making a pot of coffee, chances are pretty good that you won’t be drinking it all in one sitting. But you also don’t want it to taste burnt or bitter, which can happen when you leave coffee on a heat source for an extended period of time. Use an insulated or vacuum carafe to keep it hot; coffee will be much tastier this way. Also, remember to pre-heat your thermal carafe to keep the coffee hotter for a longer period of time.

And there you have it: a great cup of coffee, just the way you love it.