Drinking better coffee

In the last few weeks, as Borealis Coffee has started getting some orders, I've had a handful of people ask me HOW they should be drinking their coffee. Those that have been creatures of the Pod, or fans of a drive-through, seem almost overwhelmed at the idea of making coffee at home. I am thrilled at the idea of converting, or at least opening a dialogue, with those that have fallen into the path of single serve or otherwise abandoned making coffee at home. 

Borealis Coffee is about roasting a line of coffees that everyone can drink without being pretentious. There are plenty of uber-snobs out there that can continue to pay $70 for a half pound. That's not us, we just want to provide your every-day coffee: The coffee you want each morning, the coffee you drink on the way to work, and your Sunday-paper-on-the-patio coffee. That being said…we take pride in our coffee and we've tried to find different selections from different regions that please everyone's palate. We want you to truly enjoy your coffee, because life is too short to drink bad coffee.

My goal in this post is to help the regular coffee consumer have a better cup of coffee, however they choose to brew it. Too many people have been tricked into drinking bad or burnt coffee by way of convenience. I'd like to suggest that a better coffee (like Borealis) does not require a whole lot more work and you'll actually SAVE money by brewing at home.

Step 1: Grind it. Grinding each morning will greatly improve your coffee. A burr grinder is ideal, but if you have a blade grinder, I recommend grinding in small batches to maintain consistency. If home grinding is too much of a pain, we'll be happy to grind it for you.

Traditional coffee brewers should be on the finer side without being pulverized, while a Chemex, French Press, or Percolator is more coarse (think table salt). After a few batches, you'll learn what you like. If it's watery or thin, try a finer grind. If it's bitter or too strong, a little more coarse will help. The longer the coffee is exposed to water, the coarser the grind should be (i.e. is the water passing through it, or do the grinds sit in the water?)

Step 2: The Dose. The rule of thumb for a traditional coffee pot is about 2 tablespoons ground coffee (10 grams) per 8 oz cup.

For a French Press, use about 3 tablespoons per cup. French presses come in a variety of sizes, so dose accordingly. 

For a Chemex (or any slow-pour): I weigh the beans, then grind. I use 25 grams (5 tablespoons) which yields me about 12 ounces in the cup.  A scale is a great benefit when doing a slow pour because you know when you're done. The other option is to measure the water in a measuring cup before you pour.  I'll be posting a totally nerdy ritualistic instruction on how to use a Chemex in the near future.

For a self-packing pod: Most pods take about 10-12.5 grams, or two heaping tablespoons. As of this writing, I'm working on finding the "best" pack-your-own pod and a recommended dose and grind size. The relatively short brew time means that the grind wants to be pretty fine. If it's not "bold" enough or seems thin or lacking of flavor, try a finer grind. If you're buying Borealis Coffee at $15 a pound, that's well below HALF THE PRICE of Folgers, or any of the others pod brands ($51/pound for Folgers according to a NY Times article, "With Coffee, the Price of Indivualism Can be High" Feb 7, 2012).


Step 3: Enjoy it! Taste your coffee, don't just inhale it. You may be surprised that you don't need a boat load of cream and sugar if you're using a higher quality coffee. Different brew methods yield different results. If you've been using a metal filter and find your coffee acidic, try a paper filter. If you don't like the heavy body of your coffee in the French Press, try a Chemex or pour over. 

I know this is a fairly vague instruction manual, but I hope it will help you enjoy your coffee more. It's not rocket science, but at the end of the day it's all about what you like. 

 *Other factors to consider:

Use filtered water. Bad tasting water will make bad tasting coffee.

Water should be between 195-205 degrees F. Boiling water is too hot, try about a minute off a rolling boil.

If using a paper filter, pre-rinsing the filter will help get that papery taste and any paper sediment out of your coffee.

If making adjustments, change one variable at a time: dose, grind size, etc. It helps you really dial in that perfect cup of coffee.





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