There’s coffee, there’s good coffee, and then there’s perfect coffee. If you’ve tried the best coffee, you know the difference. Once you have high quality beans and know how to grind them properly, the secret of how to make perfect coffee isn’t hard to learn…because the more complicated steps actually have nothing to do with the brewing process. In this article, we’ll give you an overview of the whole coffee growing, harvesting, processing, and roasting process from start to finish. First though, we’ll take you through the easy part: brewing.
How to Make Perfect Coffee: Brew, Baby, Brew!
No matter how high quality your beans are, if you mess up the brewing process you’re at high risk for a low quality cup. When asking any coffee expert how to make perfect coffee, they’ll tell you that French Press is the best method. Sure, you can still make good coffee in a drip brewer, but we’re not talking “good,” we’re talking great.
Brewing at its best. Why French Press?
French press coffee is fabulous because it’s unfiltered. Unlike drip coffee that passes through a paper filter, French press coffee is made by allowing the water to come in direct contact with the grounds. This allows for better flavor extraction and allows the coffee’s natural oils, and other crucial flavor components to remain in the brew. This is why French press coffee is more flavorful.
French press coffee is also great because it’s easier to customize. By changing the amount of time coffee steeps (i.e. the time that the grounds and water sit in the French press together), you can change the boldness of the coffee. Also, you can add or subtract the amount of coffee grounds that you use to alter the strength of the coffee. Now that you know this, it’s hard to think of how to make perfect coffee without a French press!
How to Make Perfect Coffee in a French Press
Step 1: Boil water
Step 2: Use coarse ground beans. If you have a grinder, grind the whole beans to a French press grind (if your grinder has pre-set factory settings) or the coarsest grind setting on your grinder (if it doesn’t have factory settings). Pour the grounds into the French press.
Step 3: Pour recently boiled water (200 degrees F.) slowly onto the French press until the grounds are evenly saturated. You’ll start to see a “bloom” on the beans. The bloom looks like soap bubbles…but fear not, they are actually a sign that the coffee is fresh. Now, pat yourself on the back because this fun fact made you more of a coffee expert than you were 10 seconds ago! Most casual coffee drinkers don’t even know what bloom is!
Step 4: Set the timer for four minutes. (This is the average steep time. You may find that you have to adjust the time up or down according to your taste.) Four minutes will produce a robust brew and two and a half to three minutes will produce a lighter brew.
Step 5: Press the plunger down into the French press slowly, to separate the grounds from the coffee, and voila! You’ve got your coffee!
Step 6: When you make French press coffee, you’ll see what looks like a little bit of gunk on the bottom of your coffee cup, don’t worry! The “gunk” is actually sediment and that’s a good thing! The sediment is dissolved soluble solids that are naturally a part of the coffee.
Step 7: Enjoy your coffee. Savor every step…and if you’re feeling fancy, wear a beret and pretend you’re in Paris! (Hey, you never know. It could be fun!)
How to Make Perfect Coffee – It’s More Than Just Brewing
Perfect coffee is so much more than brewing and grinding the beans correctly. First, know that not all beans are created equal. Sure, they’re all small and dark brown, but the quality of the beans is super important and what controls this is how they’re grown, harvested, sorted and processed.
Momma Nature & The Farmers
Mother nature knows better than anyone how to make perfect coffee…and how to destroy it. Nature has the biggest influence on the quality of coffee because the weather and the soil have to be just right for coffee growing. Different types of climates produce different types of coffee. (It’s a lot like wine in that sense!)
Farmers Know Just How to Make Perfect Coffee…and Grow it!
So, if so much depends on nature, what control do humans have over the coffee? A lot, actually (yay, one point for Team Human)! While the question of how to make perfect coffee has a complicated answer, the process depends as much on the farmers as it does on nature. Coffee plants, like toddlers, are extremely high maintenance. They need constant supervision, lots of nutrients and TLC, but it’s all worth it when you experience the end result!
Babysitting the Seedlings
First off, coffee plants can’t grow unless the soil has just the right amount of moisture and density. If the moisture levels aren’t perfect, the coffee seedlings will die. If the soil is too dense, the plant sprouts won’t be able to break through it. This is why the seedlings have to be under close watch! The soil has to be closely monitored, agitated by hand (frequently) to keep it loose, with the moisture being checked frequently. On top of this, each seedling needs a diaper change 6 times a day, and two naps. (OK, that’s not quite true, but it sort of feels like it to these dedicated farmers!)
Raising the Plants
Once seedlings grow to full sized plants, farmers have to make sure the coffee plants have the right mix of shade and light. Farmers plant coffee underneath trees that protect them from the sun. (Did you know that coffee beans can sometimes take on the flavor of the plants that shade them? If beans grow on a plant that’s under an orange tree, they may have hints of orange flavor! Cool, huh?)
The coffee plants also have to be trimmed to keep them at 5 feet or under. This allows the coffee plant to use most of its nutrients to produce fruit (rather than using it to grow taller). Taller may be better in sports, but not in coffee!
After the coffee plant grows fruit (cherries), hard-working, hardy men and women pick it by hand! The tricky thing is that cherries don’t all ripen at the same time. The harvesters have to revisit the same coffee plants over and over again. They hunt for ripe cherries and leave the unripes for later. (The coffee plants like the attention. They feel lonely without regular visits!)
Joffrey’s Roastmaster, Chris, knows how to make perfect coffee, and is a stickler for quality control. Chris often pays coffee farmers extra money to incentivize their harvesters to pick only ripe coffee fruits (called cherries). This is one of the many reasons Joffrey’s coffee stands out among the rest! If you try any one of our coffees, you’ll taste the difference. Try one of our best-selling coffees, for example.
Sorting: The American Idol for Coffee Beans
You can’t think about how to make perfect coffee without thinking about sorting. This process removes all of the bad beans that would ruin the taste of the coffee. The sorting (like a lot of the quality control steps) is like American Idol. There are many stages. At each stage, the best beans get to stay and the bad wave goodbye!
After the beans are picked, workers sort them by hand, pick the unripes out, and throw them away. The ripe cherries have a victory party and move on to the next round: processing.
After the fruits finally reach the bottom of the mountain, they’re sorted again, usually in a water tank, that separates the bad fruits from the good. The bad fruits float to the top of the tank, and the good ones sink. The sinkers win trophies and gloating rights, and get to move on to the next round, but the floaters go home! Some lower quality coffee includes floaters and sinkers (because it’s cheaper to do that), but Joffrey’s coffee does not. It’s all about the quality!
Sinkers Celebrate Victory!
The sinkers get to celebrate their awesome victory with a visit to the depupler. The depulper is a machine removes pulp from the cherry.
Cuppin’ The Newly Harvested Beans
Roastmaster Chris actually cups (tastes) coffee right after it’s harvested. Even at this early stage, his trained palate can taste imperfections in the coffee, and he can begin to plan how to make perfect coffee with these beans. If Chris tastes imperfections in the coffee, Joffrey’s won’t buy it. This means that every coffee you see on our site has passed this test. The varietals and blends are a perfect example of great taste.
Weighing in for the Big Match
Coffee beans have to be sorted by size and density. Size is important when thinking about how to make perfect coffee. Why? Beans that are roasted together have to be the same size and density.
The ones that meet the density and size requirements kept. The ones that don’t aren’t. The size and density requirements depend on the species of coffee plant the beans were grown on. Even size and density is important because if beans of different sizes and densities are roasted together, some roast quicker than others, some end up over-roasted, and others will end up under-roasted.
Sip it Before You Ship It!
Before the immigrates to the U.S. (via boat)., Roastmaster Chris tries the coffee again. The coffee beans that meet his high standards in quality win a trip to the U.S. Those that don’t, have to skedaddle! Coffee beans around the world are aware of Roastmaster Chris’ high standards and are pretty scared of quality control checkpoints like this one…but those that pass are elated!
Coming to America!
The coffees we buy are grown all over the world, in places like Africa, Latin America, Asia, and Hawaii. Some of our coffees (the Origins) are named after the countries they come from, but all coffees that you buy from us have to make a long journey to mainland U.S. After these courageous coffee beans finish their boat ride, there’s no rest for the weary. Roastmaster Chris puts them to the test yet again! He cups them once more to test their quality. Those that pass this final test are the winners! Joffrey’s will buy them, they’ll win backstage tickets to meet Chris in the flesh. From there, the beans are hand-roasted with care, passion, and precision; and they’ll end up in your cup.
Roast It, Don’t Toast It!
When thinking about how to make perfect coffee, you can’t forget the roasting! To taste good, the coffee can’t be over or under-roasted, but this is an obvious one. Beyond this, the coffee has to be handled by a Roastmaster who understands all of the different characteristics of beans and how they contribute to flavor of the coffee itself. Roastmasters have to understand what flavor characteristics complement each other and fit will with certain roasting styles. Beans get their flavor from the soil where the coffee plant is grown, the nutrients in the soil, and surprisingly, sometimes from the plants growing nearby. Roastmaster Chris roasts each batch of beans in three or four different ways, and tastes each one. The best tasting batch serves as a model for how the rest of the beans should be roasted.
Good Doesn’t Come Cheap!
Now, you know that the question of how to make perfect coffee starts with a pile of seeds and doesn’t end until after the roasting process. Every stage of this process involves workers who do their jobs by hand, and involves quality control. Every stage of growth and production of Joffrey’s coffee involves Roastmaster Chris’ close supervision and personal quality control. Every single cup of high quality coffee takes five years to produce…and those of us who have tasted it know it’s worth every minute!