However, like most things in life, there’s always room for improvement—especially when it comes to making the best coffee possible. To learn more about coffee making from a pro with years of experience in the field, we recently caught up with Maciej Kasperowicz, a Q grader, coffee expert, and director of coffee at Trade Coffee, a subscription coffee company connecting small roasters across the United States to coffee lovers. Kasperowicz shared with us some of the most imperative modifications to make to your coffee for more flavor and better results (including why a burr grinder is more important than a coffee maker or the importance of sourcing from specialty roasters whenever possible).
- Maciej Kasperowicz, coffee expert and Q grader
5 ways to make your coffee even more flavorful
1. Always buy fresh, high-quality coffee whenever possible
According to Kasperowicz, how flavorful your cup of joe will turn out has more to do with where you’re sourcing it from than how you’re actually preparing it. “There are a ton of decisions you can make that’ll make your coffee taste better or worse, and while recipes and technique are important, I think most of them happen before you even start brewing your coffee,” Kasperowicz says.
“There are a ton of decisions you can make that’ll make your coffee taste better or worse, and while recipes and technique are important, I think most of them happen before you even start brewing your coffee,” Kasperowicz says.
First and foremost, Kasperowicz says buying quality coffee should always be a top priority for achieving the tastiest coffee possible. This is why he suggests trading in your store-bought grocery store coffee for specialty roasters whenever possible. “There’s no shortage of awesome specialty coffee roasters out there—and I’m thrilled to work with many of the best at Trade—and if you’re buying coffee from a can at the grocery store, upgrading to one of those roasters will get you better flavors,” he says.
2. The best coffee doesn’t have to be the most expensive one, either
Much like a bottle of wine, the price of coffee doesn’t always equate to its quality, much less its flavor. “Price definitely isn’t everything. Finding the right coffee for your taste is just as important and, indeed, a huge part of what my job entails,” Kasperowicz says. To that point, he explains that the cost of coffee beans is often dictated chiefly by the effort and resources needed to produce them, not their flavor or quality.
Generally speaking, Kasperowicz notes that coffees with wild fruity flavors, like pineapple and jasmine, tend to hover around the $30 mark; meanwhile, medium roast coffees with a deeper chocolatey flavor might be between the $15 to $20 range. Thus, it’s important to keep in mind that finding the most flavorful type of coffee best suited for your taste and palate has little to do with how much it costs.
Generally speaking, Kasperowicz notes that coffees with wild fruity flavors, like pineapple and jasmine, tend to hover around the $30 mark; meanwhile, medium roast coffees with a deeper chocolatey flavor might be between the $15 to $20 range.
3. Your coffee grinder is more important than the brewer
This may be a bold statement, but according to Kasperowicz, although all of your coffee-making equipment is important and impacts how good your coffee will turn out, the coffee grinder you use can make or break a cup of joe far more than the coffee maker itself. The logic? “A burr grinder, which uses interlocking discs or cones to grind your coffee, will always be better than a blade grinder, which is basically a tiny blender because it’ll produce a more even particle size. If you have to choose between one or the other—say if you just can’t upgrade to a burr grinder right now or you’re traveling and that’s the only option—I think I’d actually choose to get the coffee pre-ground on a burr grinder over freshly ground with a blade, especially if it has been freshly roasted,” Kasperowicz says.
The quality of your coffee grinder, in turn, determines the quality of your ground coffee and plays one of the most critical roles in your final product’s flavor. “Freshly ground coffee is better than pre-ground coffee because you lose some aromatics as the coffee is ground and sits around, and oxygen has more surface area to attack those grounds and make them stale,” Kasperowicz says. Thus, if deciphering between a better maker or grinder, he says, always go for the latter.
4. Go the extra mile and always aim for consistency
According to Kasperowicz, consistency is key when it comes to the flavor of your coffee. “There are a lot of different amounts of effort you can put into coffee brewing. Are you going to use a scale to measure your amount of coffee and water? If you’re using something other than an automatic brewer—which rule, by the way—are you going to time yourself and weigh the water as you’re pouring it?” Kasperowicz asks.
Although he’s well aware that not everyone may have the time (or, frankly, the interest) to go these extra lengths when making a cup of coffee, Kasperowicz believes putting in the extra effort will be worth the effort in the end. “You can improve your brewing, especially your consistency and ability to make adjustments, by putting in some extra effort, like measuring your ingredients and recording the brewing times,” he says.
5. Don’t be afraid to try something new
Kasperowicz says you shouldn’t be afraid to switch up your coffee-making routine every now and then. “I think the biggest mistake people make when home brewing is that they don’t make simple adjustments that they could make to make the coffee better suit their individual tastes,” he says. According to him, the best way to enhance your coffee-making abilities is to pay close attention to what you taste in the coffee every time and adjust accordingly. Get the pen and paper out, folks.
That said, Kasperowicz notes that there are many variables when making coffee, and even the smallest tweaks can play a major role, which can seem intimidating at first. However, he says playing around with different grind sizes is a great place to start. “Grind size is a surprisingly easy one: If your coffee tastes too bitter, grinding a little coarser can often fix that. If it tastes sour or not sweet enough, grinding a little finer can help,” Kasperowicz says. Meanwhile, adjustments to brew strength are another easy avenue to explore. “If a coffee doesn’t taste strong or intense enough for you, using a tiny bit more coffee in your next brew—or a little less water—can be an easy fix,” he says.
“Grind size is a surprisingly easy one: If your coffee tastes too bitter, grinding a little coarser can often fix that. If it tastes sour or not sweet enough, grinding a little finer can help,” Kasperowicz says.
TL;DR? According to Kasperowicz, the best cup of coffee is the one that tastes good to you. That said, below is his favorite way to make pour-over coffee in a Kalita Wave brewer as flavorful as possible. (By his standards, of course.)
A coffee expert’s go-to pour-over coffee recipe
Yields 1-2 servings
30 grams of medium-ground coffee
500 grams water
1. Start with 30 grams of medium-ground coffee and 500 grams of water in total.
2. Then start your timer and pour 60 to 70 grams of that water onto that coffee and watch as the carbon dioxide starts bubbling out.
3. At 45 seconds, do your first big pour, getting up to around 250 grams of water. At 1:15, pour 50 more grams of water, and keep doing that until you’ve reached 500 grams.
An RD shares the benefits of coffee:
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