Improving Your Coffee Part 1 – Achievable Greatness: Grinders and Scales
The easiest way to make a dramatic difference to the quality of the coffee you make at home is to use a grinder. If you don’t already use one, it’s time to take the plunge. Your coffee will immediately taste better, the aroma of freshly ground coffee will permeate your coffee zone and you will be standing on the threshold of a whole world of interesting coffee drinking.
When looking at grinders it’s worth bearing in mind that burr grinders are significantly superior to blade grinders. They are far more consistent, and quality ones will give a lifetime of use (replacement burrs are easy to find and change). Electric and manual ones are available and if you drink a reasonable quantity of coffee an electric grinder is probably the way to go. There is something special about using manual grinders though and getting physically involved in grinding makes for a very satisfying cup of coffee at the end!
Do you have a set of kitchen scales at home? Most folks do, and they can (and should!) be used to significantly improve the quality and consistency of your coffee making at home. We recommend certain ground coffee/water ratios for brewing coffee (there will be more on this in subsequent articles) and scales are crucial kit for making this happen. If you know what quantity of coffee and volume of water you used when a particularly good cup of coffee was made you can then repeat the success whenever you wish. Measuring coffee and water ratios also allows for experimentation – you can tweak your ratios to perfect your brew, repeat successful cups of coffee and leave behind those which didn’t make the grade.
Scales are most beneficial when using soft brew methods (plunger, filter etc) but can be helpful with your espresso machine too. If you hit a sweet spot with your shot one morning you can measure out the next one, combine it with a stopwatch and get the stats on dose, extraction time and volume of shot and use this baseline to help tame the vagaries of heat, humidity and different bean types.
Remember to try different things with your coffee – a different blend or origin, brew method or technique. If you stop by our roastery in Sydenham we’d be happy to introduce you to a variety of coffee, brewing techniques as well as answering any questions (doesn’t have to be just about coffee) you may have. Happy brewing!