Many people find themselves pouring cups of coffee morning after morning purely for the caffeine content, wincing at the taste. But it’s possible to get much better flavor by making a few small changes in your morning cup of Joe — and without spending a bunch of money at the local coffee shop each day. Here are five tips to try:
- Find a Small Coffee Roaster
Instead of buying your coffee roasted and ground from the grocery store, invest in freshly roasted beans from a small coffee roasters. These coffee roasting businesses — they might call themselves artisanal coffee roasters — use higher quality beans and small batch coffee roaster machines to produce a superior product. You’ll probably be surprised at what a difference it makes.
- Forget All the Flavorings
Once you’re buying high-quality beans from an artisanal coffee roaster, it’s time to lose all the flavorings that exist essentially to mask the taste of the coffee itself (you’ll lose some sugar and calories, as well, which should be kind to your waistline). If you want to simply mellow out the taste of your coffee, try a small amount of real cream — not milk — and only add sweetener if absolutely necessary.
- Regulate the Water Temp
Brewing coffee with water that’s too hot brings out a bitter flavor in the beans. You need to be particularly careful if you’re using a French press or Chemex method where you heat the water separately. The water should be between 195 and 205 degrees, which is cooler than boiling (water boils at approximately 212 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on altitude and such). If you bring water to a boil and then let it sit for one or two minutes, that should produce the best results.
- Salt Your Coffee Grounds
This tip is a little more controversial, and not all coffee connoisseurs will agree. But you should at least experiment with adding a pinch of salt to your coffee grounds before brewing (not in your brewed cup of coffee!). This can reduce bitterness as well.
- Switch Your Morning Mug
Scientific studies have actually shown that the color of your coffee cup can change the way you perceive its taste. Stay away from white mugs, which tend to make you think your coffee is more bitter than it is. Instead, choose a softer pastel color such as blue, or even clear glass. The researchers who have performed these experiments aren’t exactly sure why mug color influences perception of flavor, but they think it has to do with the way humans have evolved to associate certain colors with toxic or poisonous foods.
Where do you currently buy your coffee? From a small coffee roaster in your local area, or at a supermarket? Discuss in the comments.