Now for the inevitable list of brewing rules and precepts.
- Grind the coffee as fine as you can make it without losing any through the holes in the filter of the coffee maker. Never grind it to a powder. French press and conventional (non-filter) drip require a medium to coarse grind.
- Use plenty of coffee: at least 2 level tablespoons or 1 standard coffee measure per 5- to 6-ounce cup. You may want to use more, but I strongly suggest you never use less unless your coffee maker explicitly instructs you to. Most mugs hold closer to 8 ounces than 6, so if you measure by the mug use 2 1/2 to 3 level tablespoons for every mug of water. Coffee brewed strong tastes better, and you can enjoy the distinctive flavor in your favorite coffee more clearly. If you brew with hard water or if you drink your coffee with milk, you should be especially careful to brew strong. If you feel that you are sensitive to caffeine, adjust the caffeine content of your coffee by adding some caffeine-free beans.
- Keep the coffee maker clean, and rinse it with hot water before you brew.
- Use fresh water, as free of impurities and alkalines as possible.
- Brew with hot water, as opposed to lukewarm or boiling water (Middle Eastern and cold-water coffees are exceptions). A temperature of 200° F is ideal, which means bringing the water to a boil and then waiting a minute or two before brewing. If you have done everything else right and you are in a rush, however, water that has just stopped boiling will not seriously damage a good, freshly ground coffee.
- In filter and drip systems, avoid brewing less than the brewer’s full capacity whenever you can. If the pot is made to brew six cups, the coffee will taste better if you brew the full six.
Some don’ts: Do not boil coffee; it cooks off all the delicate flavoring essence and leaves the bitter chemicals. Do not percolate or reheat coffee; it has the same effect as boiling, only less so. Do not hold coffee on heat for more than a few minutes for the same reason. Do not mix old coffee with new, which is like using rotten wood to prop up a new building.