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6 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Brewing Your Specialty Coffee (for beginners)

No one wants to be that person that always makes mistakes brewing specialty coffee.

We all struggle on those Monday mornings, and for most of us, we have just enjoyed two days off. So it’s not uncommon to reach for your coffee and brew up a Monday morning (or every morning), coffee to kick start another week ahead.

It is without a doubt millions of people around the world start their days with a coffee ritual, however, no matter what kind of coffee you like to brew up, for a big percentage of these people, many mistakes are being made, and a great specialty coffee brew quickly turns into a not so great coffee brew.

No one wants to start their day with a bad cup of coffee right?

Why ruin a perfectly good specialty coffee, not only is that obviously wasteful, but you will be technically losing hard earned money that you have just invested in your chosen coffee, only having to buy more, and most likely repeat the same mistakes.

If you are looking to improve your daily coffee taste and quality for many years ahead, or you are just looking to impress your mates, then before your next specialty coffee brew, be sure to avoid these 6 common mistakes.

  1. Not using fresh specialty coffee?
  2. Not measuring correctly?
  3. Not using the right water temperature?
  4. Not cleaning your coffee maker?
  5. Not using good quality specialty coffee?
  6. Not storing correctly?

Are you using fresh specialty coffee?

This may seem obvious, however, easily forgotten. Ensuring you are using fresh coffee and not reaching to the back of your cupboard for that forgotten bag of beans, could be one of the most common mistakes when brewing specialty coffee.

Although for most specialty coffee addicts, it can be pretty easy to see a forgotten and stale looking made up coffee brew, it is not so easy spotting old coffee grind and beans. Like most delicious organic things we are blessed to have on our planet, coffee will also not last forever.

When using old coffee, the strong compounds found within the bean that give it those famous addicting flavours will dissipate, quickly sabotaging your brew before you even begin, resulting in a very bitter and sad start to your morning. 

Another tip to consider on your next coffee shop, (although monitored in most retail shops), when buying your coffee bean or grind, be sure to check the roasting date, you will want to use your specialty coffee within the first month from its roasting date to ensure you are able to make the best brew possible.  

Finding it hard to get time to go buy fresh coffee? Then there are plenty of coffee subscriptions out there that take care of everything for you, and deliver fresh coffee right to your front door. So no excuses right?

Are you measuring correctly?

Another common mistake when brewing Specialty Coffee, and this one we have all done it before. 

You wake up at the crack of dawn half asleep, grab your coffee and pour it into your maker without really thinking, splash in some water and what do you get? One terrible coffee.

Whether you are half asleep or in a rush to get out of the house, ensuring your coffee measurements are correct is something you need to take some care in, otherwise you will end up with some pretty nasty coffees.

If you are really after that perfect brew, we recommend for you to invest in kitchen scales, however, something as simple as measuring spoons will also do the job. This will ensure your measurements are bang on every time, even if you are walking around half asleep.

Are you using the wrong water temperature?

This is something we all get wrong at some point, and if you are like me when I first started brewing my own specialty coffee, then you are probably pretty familiar with burning or scouldering your coffee from the water you have just boiled, quickly destroying the true coffee flavour that you should be creating.

On the other hand, maybe you are brewing your coffee with water that is too cold, or just a touch warm? This will then provide you with a weaker tasting coffee, not to mention a pretty miserable drink, as a good brew should be enjoyed at a perfect hot temperature.

The ideal coffee brew is said to be brewed at a temperature between 90 – 96 degrees, or 195 – 205 fahrenheit. Now not all of us are going to be having a thermometer at hand, therefore, I would recommend that once you have boiled your water, ensure you let the jug sit for at least a minute or two, before pouring it into your coffee. 

However, if you really want to get it right, then investing in a good water temperature thermometer is the way to go.

With the correct water temperature range, your coffee will be able to release its compounds efficiently and properly resulting in a great coffee brew. 

On a side note, it is also important to consider your water quality too, as bad quality water can alter your coffees taste and aroma.

Are you cleaning your coffee maker?

We all get a little lazy now and again right? There is nothing wrong in putting your feet up once and awhile, however, if you are a frequent coffee drinker, and use your same coffee maker multiple times a day, then if you are not cleaning your coffee maker after each use, you are simply going to struggle to get the taste right.

No matter what kind of coffee maker you prefer to use, a regular clean will ensure you will avoid this common mistake when brewing specialty coffee.

For some it’s obvious, for others not so much, however, if you are not cleaning your kit, then you are setting up yourself with a coffee that not only will have a burnt stale taste, but also a coffee full of grind, which has got to be one of the worst experiences when consuming coffee.

More importantly (and on more extreme cases), if you are not cleaning your coffee maker, you are potentially going to be leaving a lot of bacteria and/or other contaminants that will ruin your coffee. 

No matter how good the quality of your specialty coffee is, not to mention consuming these nasty’s is bad for your health, and could make you eventually become sick.

Are you using bad quality specialty coffee?

We all know, you get what you pay for, and this couldn’t be anymore accurate when talking coffee. 

Of course sometimes you come across an overpriced bean, but generally if you put in that extra few dollars or two, then you are going to have that extra quality in your coffee.

Do yourself a favour and treat your taste buds to some of the best specialty coffee on the market. Of course some of us are on a bit of a budget, therefore, keep an eye out for some deals, however, I would not recommend purchasing that ‘bargain’ coffee.

Although this may seem attractive, it is a common mistake people are making. In order to make some of the best coffee, then you are going to need to buy some of the best coffee bean.

Generally the cheaper coffee will be pre-ground, and although this is convenient, and yes there are some pretty good pre-ground coffee brands you can pick up from your local supermarket, to have that extra edge, avoid the pre-ground stuff and purchase the whole-bean coffee.

You may be surprised, sometimes convenience can be overpriced, so you may even find a whole-coffee bean brand to be cheaper then its pre-ground version. 

Then the process of grinding your own coffee will release fresh gases and oils that hold all the top quality flavours.

Are you storing correctly?

Storage, a pretty common mistake people make when it comes to any kind of produce, especially if you are dealing with fresh produce. Just like most organic consumables, coffee too is very important when it comes to where you are leaving it.

Generally we never bother to think how we are storing coffee, it’s already in its bag or tin, so you probably just throw it in a random cupboard or somewhere by the kettle. 

Although this may be somewhat ok in most households, you still need to consider that shelf life alters specialty coffee flavour, so you must take care with its storage and avoid this mistake when brewing specialty coffee.

Remember if you did not already know, not all coffee bags and/or containers are designed to store your coffee, especially for longer periods of time. 

Oxygen and especially humidity will no doubt ruin your coffee, therefore, store your coffee (pre-ground or whole), in high-quality airtight coffee canisters, ensuring these are left in cool, dry places that are away from light and extreme temperatures.

Conclusion

We think it is fair to say, no one is perfect, and we all make mistakes, even those experienced coffee lovers and/or baristas. 

In order to become better, it is important to remember we all learn from our mistakes, however, avoiding these in the first place will ensure you are making some of the best specialty coffee brews possible, for you and your friends, and will most likely help reduce your regular coffee expenses due to limiting the wastefulness that comes with coffee brewing errors.

Avoiding these 6 common mistakes will bring you pride in your specialty coffee making journey, and most importantly, improve your daily coffees taste and quality for many coffee brews to come. 

So hit your next daily coffee ritual head on, full of confidence and with no common mistakes.

If you find that your are struggling with your specialty coffee brews, feel free to share in the comments below so we can help. 🙂

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