By Carolyn Malcoun, contributing food editor for EatingWell Magazine
I really love the whole experience of making coffee: the aroma of a freshly brewed pot wafting through my house, the smell of it as I raise a cup to my lips, the warmth of it filling my body and the flavor–oh, the flavor!
But if you’re a coffee drinker, you know how much a bad cup of coffee can ruin the experience. Here are 7 coffee-making myths to watch out for to ensure you brew a perfect cuppa joe.
Myth #1: Bulk coffee at the grocery store is the best product to buy.
Oxygen and bright light are the worst flavor busters for roasted beans. Unless the store is conscientious about selling fresh coffee, the storage tubes can get coated with coffee oils, which turn rancid, so be wary of bulk coffee from supermarket display bins. Your best bet to get the absolute freshest beans is to buy from a local roaster (or roast your own). At the grocery store, opt for coffee beans packaged by quality-conscious roasters and sold in sturdy, vacuum-sealed bags.
Myth #2: The best place to store your coffee is in the freezer or refrigerator.
Roasted beans are porous and readily take up moisture and food odors, so the refrigerator is one of the worst places to store coffee. Flavor experts strongly advise against ever freezing coffee, especially dark roasts. Optimally, buy a 5- to 7-day supply of fresh beans at a time and keep at room temperature in an airtight container.
Myth #3: Pre-ground beans taste just as good as if you ground your own coffee.
Coffee starts losing quality almost immediately upon grinding. The best-tasting brews are made from beans ground just before brewing.
Myth #4: Distilled water is the best water for brewing coffee.
Softened or distilled water makes terrible coffee–the minerals in good water are essential. Also bad? Tap water with chlorine or off flavors. Serious coffee lovers use bottled spring water or activated-charcoal/carbon filters on their taps.
Myth #5: The type of coffee filter you use doesn’t matter.
Bargain-priced paper coffee filters yield inferior coffee, according to the experts. Look for “oxygen-bleached” or “dioxin-free” paper filters. Alternatively, you may wish to invest in a long-lived gold-plated filter.
Myth #6: Boiling water is the perfect temperature for brewing coffee.
Beware the heat. Water that is too hot will extract compounds in the coffee that are bitter rather than pleasant. The proper brewing temperature is 200°F, or about 45 seconds off a full boil. (Most good coffeemakers regulate this automatically.)
Myth #7: A French press is a better way to brew coffee than drip coffee makers.
Not if you’re concerned about your health. Boiled or unfiltered coffee (such as that made with a French press, or Turkish-style coffee) contains higher levels of cafestol, a compound that can increase blood levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Choose filtered methods instead, such as a drip coffee maker.
What’s your secret to making the best coffee?
Carolyn Malcoun combines her love of food and writing in her position as contributing food editor at EatingWell. Carolyn has a culinary arts degree from New England Culinary Institute and a degree in journalism from University of Wisconsin–Madison. Carolyn lives in Portland, Maine, and enjoys cooking, gardening, hiking and running in her free time.
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