What is the Secret to Brewing the Perfect Cup of Coffee?

People always ask us why our coffee tastes so good. Be it at the end of a delicious meal that we just prepared for you, or that perfect cup of coffee to accompany that fabulous brunch.

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee:

We all have one of "those friends" who is the self professed "coffee snob", (aka "expert") and they preach to heavens that the spoon needs stand up by itself in the cup because the coffee has to be "intensely strong to be the perfect cup of coffee." But does it really?

coffee beans

Or perhaps it's you who have the undying need for a "strong cup of coffee" in the morning to get the hitch out of your giddy-up and get your day started. So you trot off to your favorite Bodum French Press, Chemex Pour Over or the trust dusty drip coffee maker, or fancy schmancy espresso machine, and start piling in a truckload of extra beans or grounds. But why? Is it because you think it will get you a better tasting cup of coffee? or perhaps a bigger jolt of caffeine boost?

The truth is more coffee, doesn't mean a better, stronger, or more caffeinated cup of coffee.

*mic drop*

Let's take a look at the basis of what a cup of coffee actually is, shall we? It's basically roasted coffee beans, that have been pulverized into some degree of powder, and had water poured thru it, to create that flavorful elixir. One would then assume that adding additional coffee grounds or beans that hold the actual mind jolting caffeine, flavor compounds, and oils that we all crave. Right? Wrong.

The chemical interactions that take place when water meets coffee, is where the magic happens for perfect coffee flavor extraction. We get these beloved coffee flavors when the hot water dissolves the oils, and compounds in the ground beans. These aromas, color, and chemical compounds then move from the ground bean, into the water, and then mix together in harmony.

With coffee, there is a finite amount of flavor and caffeine that we can extract from the beans in order to maintain quality in the final product. Over-extraction happens when you take too many of the water soluble aroma and flavor compounds out of the beans. This leaves your coffee tasting like your truck stop coffee that's been sitting on the warmer all day .. icky.. bitter, and virtually flavorless.

Whereas, the opposite of over-extraction in coffee, is under-extraction. Under-extraction happens when you haven't passed enough water thru the coffee to dissolve the flavor compounds out of the beans. Sadly, the result of under-extraction leaves your coffee tasting again, icky.. sour, with a touch of salinity.

If over-extraction and under-extraction lend for nasty coffee, what's right in the middle?

latte art on the perfect cup of coffee

What is the perfect ground coffee to water ratio?

The secret is a perfect extraction, not too much, not too little.. right in the middle. The diamond-clad ratio for the most perfect cup of coffee is a ratio of 1 part coffee to 16 parts water.

Whenever you add more coffee grounds than this, your basically just wasting expensive coffee. This isn't going to garner you a bigger caffeine buzz, nor a "stronger cup" of Joe. It will lead to extraction issues and flavor profile problems that no matter how much you've spent on that pound of black gold, will leave you regretting that purchase.

Of course there are other contributing factors to why your coffee doesn't taste "perfect", such as water temperature, minerals in the water, grind size, brewing time, cleanliness of your machine. But the biggest factor in brewing the perfect cup of coffee is the coffee to water ratio.

dark roast and light roast coffee beans side by side

But I like big and bold coffee flavors!

Cool, so do I! Just like in wine, everyone has their favorites. The only person's opinion who matters, is your own! If you like those more robust coffee flavors, deep notes of toast, leather, and dark chocolate.. great! Then Dark Roast coffees are for you! Carefully buying the right high quality beans is also super important, not doubling up on the quantity of grounds you're using to brew.

I've personally tasted hundreds of different coffees from all over the world to hand-pick our signature dark roast coffee, the winner was Weaver's Coffee Peru Organic (San Rafael, CA). If you really enjoy a well balanced organic coffee with bold flavors that is perfectly roasted.. give them a try!

But I need more caffeine in my cup!

Great, but please DO NOT buy the "extra caffeinated" gimmicky coffees that are on the market today. If you need a higher dose of caffeine in your coffee, then look to the lighter roasted coffees instead. Regardless of what style of coffee you purchase, do remember for the perfect cup of coffee, it's always a 1:16 ratio of coffee to water.

Now that you've got the secret, go brew yourself that perfect cup of coffee and enjoy!

Popular Coffee Brewing Methods:

Until next time,

Chef Sean


Check out more AWG Private Chefs blog posts with helpful tips & tricks for "Easy, Effortless Entertaining" recipes, product suggestions, and more! 

About the Author: Chef Sean Andrade is a Certified Master Chef, Sommelier & Wine Educator, and chef-owner of AWG Private Chefs. With over 25 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, Chef Sean has traveled all over the globe to learn, taste, source ingredients, and develop recipes.

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