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Hey, hey, hey, it’s National Coffee Day!
OK, sure, to those of us who are fully addicted, every day seems like it should be National Coffee Day, right? But coffee is one of the many potables and edibles with an arbitrary national day appointed to it. Coast to coast, chains and little shops alike are offering specials and freebies, from Dunkin’ Donuts to Starbucks to smaller franchises such as Peet’s.
But if you don’t have the cash to blow on a Grande pumpkin spiced latte—which at the Starbucks nearest our office costs a cool $5.17—you should keep on making your own at home, you money-saver, you. We got on the horn with Todd Goldsworthy, who dominated the competition to take home the United States Brewers Cup, a sought-after coffee industry title, earlier this year. Goldsworthy is Coffee Guru (a real, fantastic title) at Southern California-based Klatch Coffee, and arguably the best home coffee brewer in America. We wheedled five fabulous tips—which work with French press, Chemex and drip coffee alike—out of him for a better cup of joe.
1. “First and foremost, buy fresh, locally roasted beans.” Goldsworthy warns that the “best by” dates stamped on bags might range in age from 6 months old to up to a couple years old. (Cue stale coffee disappointment.) Instead, look for coffee bags that have the roast date stamped right on there. He likes his beans “between one and three weeks off roast [after that date} to max out flavor.
2. “Store your beans right.” Get them out of the fridge. And out of the freezer. And out of that bag you bought ‘em in. “The best way is in an airtight container stored in a dark cupboard,” warns Goldsworthy. Coffee beans’ enemies are air, heat, and light. “All are going to start to make coffee stale.”
3. “Invest in one piece of equipment: a nice burr grinder.” A lot of folks skip this step, buying the cheap whirly-blade grinders that create inconsistently sized particles of coffee. The result? “An inconsistent brew,” says Goldsworthy. A good analogy is roasting a sheet pan of vegetables: Chop the potatoes in different sizes, and half will be cooked, while a quarter are overcooked, and another quarter are undercooked. Same goes for the water “cooking” those coffee particles in your French press. A burr grinder ensures evenly ground beans, which “maximizes flavor potential.”
4. “Get the ratio right.” Don’t be afraid to bust out the kitchen scale to brew coffee. Goldsworthy is a one-ounce-of-coffee-to-14-ounces-of-water sort of guy. That goes for drip, French press, Chemex, pour-overs—everything. “One ounce to 16 ounces is standard, but I like my coffee stronger,” he says. (So do we!)
5. Use one smart quick temperature guesstimate. “Bring water to a boil, shut off the heat, and wait about 30 seconds before you start to pour.” It should land you with water that’s about 205 degrees, which is a pro move. This “affects extraction of coffee,” says Goldsworthy. “If your water is too cold it’s going to under-extract coffee. Too hot will bring out bitter elements.”
No good. In honor of National Coffee Day, start brewing right.