How to Brew a Perfect Cup of Coffee

Upgrade your morning brew with these tips for buying, storing, and more.

cup of coffee next to coffee beans and coffee grinder

Shop and Store

Skip the beans from the plastic bins at the store, since exposure to air, light, heat, and moisture can spoil the taste of your brew. Instead, buy coffee beans directly from your local roaster or in sealed packages from the grocery store. Keep them in an opaque, airtight container at room temperature for up to three weeks from the roast date. Don’t store beans in the freezer; the moisture can ruin your java’s flavor and aroma.

Roast and Grind

Coffee beans start to lose their flavor immediately after grinding, so buy whole beans and grind them right before brewing. Most coffee beans reach their peak within about 10 days after roasting — so purchasing beans directly from your local roaster is one of the best ways to get a high-quality product. The best coffee roasters always print a roast date and location on the package.

Check the Label

Conventional coffee beans are one of the most chemically treated crops in the world, so for a cup without a side of pesticides, pick an organic brand. You can support coffee farmers in developing countries by choosing Fair Trade Certified beans, which guarantees that growers are paid a fair wage with a fixed minimum. And if you can, opt for shade-grown coffee, which is better for soil health and biodiversity than beans grown on full-sun farms.

Brew Better

Coffee is brimming with antioxidants, which may be one reason coffee drinkers are less likely to suffer from heart failure and type 2 diabetes. Still, too much java can lead to unpleasant side effects. If drip coffee upsets your stomach, consider espresso — the shorter brew time means fewer irritating compounds wind up in your cup. Want your coffee with fewer jitters? Blend in some fats, which may slow caffeine absorption in your bloodstream. (For some of our favorite Bulletproof-coffee recipes, go to “3 Ways to Make Bulletproof Coffee”.)

This originally appeared as “Coffee” in the October 2020 print issue of Experience Life.

is an Experience Life senior editor.

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