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“.
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 acquire about 20 samples of beans from this region. Yes, we taste test all 20 samples. Crazy? You bet. 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. 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 grinders.
Smooth Brew Coffee
There are a ton of brewing techniques and devices. Some make smooth brew 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 of the most popular brewing methods. Let’s go from my most favorite (smoothest) method all the way down to the bottom, where you’ll find the coffee very bold and somewhat more bitter. It’s all a matter of personal taste.
This is the smoothest, least bitter and most flavorful 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. Sometimes, the next morning, I’ll even heat it up in the microwave. For specific directions, check out my video on my “Brewing Equipment” page.
For hot coffee, this is my all time favorite way to brew the smoothest cup of coffee. The coffee is hot, it’s smooth as silk, and you can taste all the subtle flavors that God put into that coffee bean. With my Costa Rican Tarrazu Don Roberto beans, black coffee actually tastes smooth. 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 stronger and bitterer coffee. 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.
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.
Slow Pour Over
Same as a drip machine except poured by hand. This method may produce a slightly better cup than the machine.
Really not a whole lot different than a drip machine or slow pour over. All three methods taste the same to me.
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 strong, similar to drinking a raw espresso with nothing in it. In some bizarre way, I kind of liked it. It seems to me that Moka Pot coffee is strong coffee for sure, but not near as bitter as an espresso machine.
Yes I know this is a hot topic, since many people spend hundreds of dollars, if not thousands, on top-of-the-line espresso machines. Espresso machines were designed to make coffee fast (espresso = Italian for the word “fast”).
The end result is coffee that’s thick and very bitter. Maybe that’s why the latte was invented, to make espresso palatable by adding milk, chocolate, caramel, whip cream, cinnamon, and sprinkles. This is not my cup of tea. BUT if you love it, then great. 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!
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.
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.