Five ways to make better coffee
Written by William HansonThe English Manner, The UK’s Leading Etiquette and Protocol Training Institute 310 310
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William joined The English Manner in 2008 before taking ownership in 2019. He is widely regarded as the freshest and most trusted authority on etiquette and civility, with his relative youth and old-fashioned values making him an arbiter of modern manners.Connect with William Hanson on LinkedIn Follow William Hanson on Instagram
3 July 2023
Call me a snob, but coffee is only worth drinking if made properly. Our on-the-go culture has meant that many of the millions of coffee outlets we now have worldwide compromise on quality to satisfy everyone’s caffeine addiction.
Even at home, ‘plug and play’ pod machines may give us a cup of something hot in seconds but at the expense of good taste.
Here are some tips to immediately make a more enjoyable cup at home.
Spoiler alert: ditch those pods!
The biggest mistake made when preparing coffee is to use boiling water.
Almost every coffee expert insists on using water that’s around 90 degrees Celsius / 194 degrees Fahrenheit, regardless of the type of coffee you are preparing. Boiling water burns the beans and produces a burned, bitter taste. Even if you use pre-ground, mass-produced coffee, adjusting your water temperature is easy.
If you don’t have a variable temperature kettle, boil the kettle as usual and let the water sit for a few minutes before pouring over the grounds.
While we’re talking water, try to use filtered water – especially if you live in a hard-water area like London. It’ll improve the flavour but is also kinder to your kettle.
You don’t have to be as extreme as using bottled mineral water like Evian – you can buy a filter jug (Brita, for example) and fill the kettle with that.
In the interests of water conservation, this one is perhaps only to be saved for special occasions – but once a kettle has boiled, don’t reuse the water and boil it again. Use freshly drawn water from the tap (or filter jug).
When you boil a kettle it removes some of the oxygen from the water in the process; when you boil it again, it continues to remove the oxygen and can dull the taste (the same applies when making tea, too).
Storing coffee in the fridge is not recommended as fridges can be moist environments, and the beans will absorb the flavours of other foods around them as they are porous. If you want your aromatic nut-roast to taste like raw chicken or vegetables, however, go ahead.
Store beans in an air-tight, dark container in a cupboard away from direct light. Freshly roasted coffee usually loses flavour after a month, so try not to keep beans hanging around for too much.
If you want to keep them in the freezer, however, do so in a vacuum-sealed bag. When you want to use them, let them defrost before unsealing them.
Grinding beans fresh when you want to consume them will also produce nicer-tasting coffee. Pre-ground coffee may be less messy, but they’re also less tasty.
Burr grinders are recommended to ensure an even grind.