Having fresh roasted good quality beans is only half of the equation for making the smoothest cup of coffee in the world. The other half of the equation is perfecting your brewing techniques. For recommendations on my favorite brewing equipment; go to the top of any page, hover over the "FAQ" tab, and select "Best Coffee Equipment".
How To Make The Smoothest Cup of Coffee Starts With Great Beans
I hate burnt and bitter industrial coffee, like anything from Charbuks, Yuban, Folgers, or Costco. If you’re going to drink that crap then save some money and just buy a 30 pound bag of Kingsford Charcoal. If you're like me I want a smooth cup of coffee with lots of taste.
In my opinion, Central American coffee beans are generally smoother than beans from anywhere else in the world. My preference is coffee beans, specifically from the Tarrazu region of Costa Rica. Beans from this region have a renowned reputation as being super smooth with strong notes of chocolate and are naturally sweet.
Each year we taste test about two dozen samples of beans from the Tarrazu region. Crazy? Not really. A vast majority of coffee roasters never taste test the beans that they buy. The few roasters that do taste test their beans only taste test about 2 or 3 bean.
Not us. We spend weeks looking for that one special bean that is not only smooth, but also has complexity and integrated flavors of chocolate, nut, and sometimes citrus or floral notes. Yes, this is one bean in million. Why should we go to so much trouble? Because we want what we like. Honestly, I'm roasting for me and what I like. You guys just get the left overs. In other words, if you don't like what I like, then you're out of luck.
Fresh Roasted Is The Key
Nothing on God’s green earth tastes better than fresh roasted coffee. By fresh, I mean freshness that’s measured in hours not weeks. That’s why we at Lake City Coffee guarantee, “From our roaster to your table in 24-72 hours”. You can really taste the difference. On the other hand, most coffee sold in America has been sitting warehouses or on store shelves for months if not years. That’s one reason it tastes so bitter.
If the beans are black, then don’t buy them. Black beans are black because they’re burnt, i.e., charcoal. If coffee upsets your stomach, it isn’t because of the acid. The cause of upset stomachs from drinking coffee is always the result of old stale burnt coffee beans. That’s why even our dark roast is “barely” dark, i.e. dark brown in color, thus keeping the natural coffee oils inside the beans.
Whole Bean Grinding Techniques
First of all, never ever buy pre-ground coffee. The primary ingredient in coffee beans, the part that tastes so good, is the bean’s oil. The minute you grind those beans those oils begin to evaporate. Therefore, always grind your coffee right before brewing it.
Fine or Course Ground
Different grinds produce different tastes. It all depends on what you like. If you're looking for the smoothest cup of coffee, then experiment, trying a fine grind, then a medium grind, then a course grind. Each has its own flavor.
The Mighty Burr Grinder
Make sure you use a burr grinder. Burr grinders describe the type of mechanism in the grinder. Burr is not a brand. If you can see the blades, then that’s not a burr.
Blade grinders are very inconsistent; producing powder, fine grind, medium grind, and course grind all at the same time. In my humble opinion, if you cah, stay away from blade grinders. See my Brewing Equipment page for my favorite grinders.
Coffee aficionados will usually tell you the water should be 200 degrees Fahrenheit. By the time you drink your coffee it should be about 130-150 degrees. Any hotter than that, and you really can't taste the coffee.
For years I used a teapot on the stove, or a cup on the oven, or a hot water dispense near the sink. But the best and fastest way to heat your water is to use a gooseneck electric teapot (unfortunately, 100% of all electric tea kettles are made by slave labor in China). But, it’s fast as a jackrabbit, cheap, and easy. Go to the top of any page, hover over the"FAQ" tab, and select "Brewing Equipment Recommendations" page for my favorite water boilers. There's a beautiful one there
Smooth Brew Coffee
There are a ton of brewing techniques and devices. Some make smooth brewed coffee and others don't. I’ve tired just about all of them. In my opinion, the key to a good brewing system is the amount of time that the water gets to interact with the coffee grounds (steeping time); too little time and you miss the subtle flavors of the coffee, too much time and you pick up a bitter flavor.
Below is my personal opinion on the merits or detractors of the most popular brewing methods. Let’s go from my most favorite (smoothest) method, moving down to the bottom of list with my least favorite. Once again, as I always say "Drink What You Like". If you like something that I don't, then drink it and enjoy it.
This is the smoothest and least bitter coffee that you’ll ever experience. Why? Hell if I know. I just know that it works. But here’s my guess. The water has had time to steep in the grounds.
On occasion, I’ll even heat it up in the microwave. For specific directions, check out my video on my “Brewing Equipment” page.
For hot coffee, the AeroPress brewer is one of my favorite ways to brew the smoothest cup of coffee. The coffee is hot, it’s smooth as silk, and you can taste most of the subtle flavors that God put into that coffee bean.
Notice that I said that you can taste most of the subtle flavors. As one of my customers said, "The AeroPress would make dirt taste good". I agree. That being said, I think the AeroPress makes the smoothest cup of coffee. But what it makes up in smoothness, it leaves a tiny bit of the flavor behind. The AeroPress is fast, easy, and cheap. For precise instructions see my video on my “Brewing Equipment” page.
The French Press is about the most natural and raw form of brewing coffee. If you really want to know what real coffee tastes like, then this it. This method does tend to produce slightly stronger and more tasteful coffee than the AeroPress (see above).
If you're a customer of Lake City Coffee, you're buying one of the worlds smoothest coffees. Therefore, the French Press is a natural choice for brewing. Not only will you get a stronger and very flavorful cup of coffee, but your coffee will also be smooth as silk. For details on how to brew coffee using a French Press, then see my video on my "Brewing Equipment" page.
Slow Pour Over
The slow pour over brewing method is a cross between a drip coffee machine and a french press. Pour the water over the grounds slow enough and the water will pass through so slowly, that the grounds actually foam up, allowing the grounds to steep in the water.
The first time I used the slow pour over brewing method, I was expecting it to taste like a drip machine. Was I wrong. Wow! This is now one of my top favorite brewing methods. To watch me making my first cup of slow pour over, go see my video on our "Brewing Equipment" page.
Really not a whole lot different than a drip machine. That being said, if you pour your water very slowly, then you're basically making a "Slow Pour Over" (See above). I don't recommend the Chemex because it's much more expensive than the Slow Pour Over and, contrary to popular belief, most of the Chemex parts are made by slave labor in China.
I've always hated espresso. Then one day ,a good friend of mine, who's also a customer, made me an espresso using my beans. Holy Mother of God! Man was I wrong. Not only was this espresso strong as an Ox, but it wasn't bitter.
Keep in mind that I'm talking about a real espresso. I'm no fan of foo-foo drinks; lattes, mochas, etc. If it ain't black, it ain't coffee. But then again, I repeat myself, drink what you like.
Just because the percolator was invented and quickly became popular in the late 1800's, doesn't mean it can't make a good cup of coffee. Last year, I went hunting with my son-in-law. No one in that camp would even consider getting up at 4:30AM without a cup of coffee. Using just an old Coleman camp stove, required an old fashioned $12.00 percolator.
Keeping in mind that since the invention of the drip machine, the percolator has been all but forgotten. It even has a reputation for making some of the nastiest coffee on the planet, right next to Cowboy Coffee. The problem wasn't the percolator it was the knucklehead using the percolator. In essence the percolator is a drip machine that keeps dripping the same watered down coffee over and over and over, thus drawing out of the grounds all the bitter molecules, thus making a nasty cup of coffee.
Knowing this, I ground my coffee to a medium grind, added my water, and placed the percolator on the stove. The second that little plastic bubble on the lid started perking, I set my timer for 2 minutes. At the end of 2 minutes, I took the percolator off the stove, pulled out the strainer and pored a cup of coffee. Not only was it "not bad", it was pretty damn good. Real good in fact. Better than a drip machine, that's for sure!
Drip Coffee Machine
The most popular in the US is by far is a drip machine. The problem is that the hot water only gets a few seconds to interacting with the grounds, thus leaving most of the flavor behind. In my opinion, drip machines make mediocre coffee at best. Even the expensive drip machines still produce a cup of coffee that just doesn’t measure up.
Worst of all, I have yet to find a drip coffee machine that wasn't made by slave labor in China.
This is a weird device that sits on the stove and is kind of a cross between a percolator and an espresso machine. The end result is very strong and very bitter coffee, that I wouldn't serve to a pig. Remember my motto "Drink what you like." If you like the Moka Pot, then by God go for it. My advice isn't from God it's just my opinion and I'm often wrong.
The only Moka Pot that I've found that wasn't made by slave labor in China is the Bialetti - Moka Express, which is made in Italy. And for God's sake, don't buy it from Scamazon.
Therefore, as I said earlier, good quality beans and proper roasting are only half of the good-smooth-cup-of-coffee equation. You need to experiment with your brewing technique. Trust me, with just a little bit of experimentation; you can produce the best home brewed coffee experience of your life. Below are some general guidelines.
For any steeping method of brewing coffee, like the French Press, AeroPress, or Cold Brew, or Slow Pour Over there is a balancing act between smooth non-bitter taste and the taste of the coffee. Generally, the smoother coffee, the less flavor. Conversely, the more flavor you get, the more bitter the coffee will be.
Course vs. Fine Grind
You can experiment with this by changing your grinding, i.e. the finer the grounds the more flavor and bitterness. The courser the grind, the more smoothness, but also less flavor.
Amount of Grounds
Like everything else, there's a difference here too. A lot of grounds will give you a stronger, but possibly more bitter cup of coffee. Conversely, lesser grounds will tend to give you a smoother cup of coffee, but less flavor.
For smooth coffee, i.e., not bitter, what I’ve discovered is that the steeping time should be between 1-2 minutes. Longer than two minutes of steeping, then the coffee is too bitter for my taste.
Lake City Coffee
Additionally, we wanted to help teach you how to make a great and awesome cup of coffee as easily and quickly as your great-grandmother did. To that end, we've helped hundreds of people across our great country.
If you have any questions, please let us know.