11 Mistakes You Make When Brewing Coffee

In general, it is not too difficult to make a delicious cup of coffee. Today there are methods and coffee machines that make this easy and fast. But if we really want to drink good coffee, we need to pay attention to some aspects.

Not using fresh coffee

This is a mistake that seems obvious, but is still often made out of convenience. People often complain that their coffee does not taste good and has no aroma. This can happen if you store coffee for too long or buy coffee that is already old. The reason is, with time, the oils and components that give coffee its aroma are lost.

In addition, ground coffee loses flavor much faster than whole beans. This is why we recommend you buy coffee beans and then grind them right before brewing.

The most relevant factors here are the date of coffee roasting and the date of grinding (for ground coffee). After buying it, consume it ideally within a month or less.

Buying low-quality coffee

It is possible that if we do not have a deeply rooted coffee habit, we have grown up drinking just any coffee. Or that we are generally used to a brand we find in the supermarket. The problem is that if we want to venture into the world of good coffee, we have to start thinking about its quality.

I live in Colombia, the country of quality coffee. However, what you can buy here in the supermarket has nothing to do with quality at all. With some products, I am not even sure if the coffee has not been mixed with soil too.

There is a clear difference between low-quality and high-quality coffee. In fact, many people don’t like coffee because they have the image of a dark and very bitter drink in their minds. Therefore, they think they need to add a lot of sugar or milk to make the coffee taste good. However, a real quality coffee does not need any of these things. In general, we should be able to enjoy it alone, without additives, and feel its different flavors.

The solution? Look up the top coffee brands in your country or choose coffee beans according to their origin. Countries such as Brazil, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, and Indonesia are famous for producing the best coffees. I, too, have discovered only here in Colombia that there is a whole universe of brewing methods and tastes besides espresso.

Not using the right grinding level for the brewing method

There are different types of grinders and there are several reasons for this. Different brewing methods exist and they require different grinds. This is how you get the particular aromas and flavors. Also, different types of coffee machines are designed to use certain grinds. So, if we want to experience an authentic espresso, we need to finely grind the coffee beforehand and use the espresso machine, of course.

Brewing and grind:

  • Extra fine: In this case, the beans are processed to a flour-like texture and used in the Turkish coffee machine. It is also called briki and is used to make Greek coffee as well.
  • Fine: This is how coffee is used to make espresso, making it ideal for espresso machines. It can also be used in Italian coffee machines (Moka pots).
  • Medium: Ideal for drip coffee machines. There is also a medium-fine version, perfect for use in the V60 or Aeropress.
  • Coarse: used for brewing methods that require the coffee to be immersed in water or have more contact with water. It is used in the French press and for cold brews. There are also medium coarse grades that are used in Chemex.

Not measuring coffee correctly

When making coffee, proportions are essential. If we add more than necessary, it becomes too strong, bitter, and even thick. On the other hand, if you use less, it becomes watery and loses flavor and aroma.

This can sometimes happen when we just woke up and barely know how to turn on the coffee maker. But if we really want to enjoy a good coffee, we should try to devote a few minutes to this task. So, make sure you have accessories such as measuring spoons or a scale in your kitchen.

The water temperature is not right

For this error, we need to consider the method of brewing or the coffee maker used. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

Manual coffee machines or brewing methods

One of the main features is that we have to set the brewing parameters ourselves, since they are manual. The most common coffee machines of this type are the French press, the V60, the Chemex, the Moka pot, the Turkish coffee maker or briki, etc. For the first 3, we must use water that has the right temperature from the beginning.

The biggest mistake is to assume that the water must reach the boiling point. The water should have a temperature of about 92 °C (197 °F), that is, just before it starts to boil. At this point, you should remove it from the heat source and proceed with the extraction.

For Italian and Turkish coffee machines, on the other hand, it is ideal if the water is already at this temperature. These are coffee makers that are used directly on the stove, so you usually just wait for the water to heat up. However, this leads to an over-extraction and a too strong cup.

Electric coffee makers

Most coffee makers are electric, including drip coffee makers, super-automatic machines, and espresso machines. These are characterized by being more practical to use since many of their functions are already configured.

Thus, we do not have to manually adjust aspects such as water temperature. However, note that these machines require you to pour cold water since they are programmed to heat it from zero degrees.

Not using the right water

This is a mistake we almost always overlook, but the truth is that the type of water we use also affects the taste of our coffee. If we want to experience a perfect cup that enhances our palate, then it’s time to use filtered water.

Clearly, the most common choice is tap water. However, the quality varies in many places. So if you have the option of using filtered water, all the better. One advantage is that many coffee makers these days come with filters that further purify the water and make the coffee even better. Some newer models of refrigerators also have this feature.

Not storing coffee properly

If we do not store our coffee properly, many things can go wrong. So it is a process that should not be taken lightly. Nowadays, many brands package coffee in bags made of the right material so that it can be stored directly with it. However, this does not make it 100% immune to environmental factors that can harm the coffee.

The main effect of improper storage is the loss of aroma and flavor. If it is stored in the wrong conditions, it will gradually lose the oils and components that make a delicious cup. So if you haven’t paid much attention to this issue, it may be time to do so.

Not choosing the right cup

It is not for nothing that there is a specific coffee cup for each type of brew. The reason is that cup types are based on the amount of coffee you want to brew and on it depends how the coffee will be kept after brewing.

If you prefer cold brew drinks, there is no problem with the type of cup. But if you want to enjoy a good hot coffee, you should check in which cup you serve it. If the cup is very thin, the drink will get cold very quickly, which is very annoying if you have mentally prepared for the opposite.

The material is also important, as some materials retain heat better than others. Thick ceramic and stainless steel mugs are the best choice so that the brew doesn’t get cold unintentionally quickly.

Reheating coffee several times

We have always said that freshly brewed coffee tastes much better. You will be able to experience its freshness, taste and aroma in all its diversity. But it can happen that just when it is ready to be brewed, we have something urgent to do and cannot enjoy it immediately. As a result, it cools down and we have to reheat it. But the coffee will not taste the same as before. If you reheat coffee several times, it will become undrinkable.

It can also happen that in a hurry you let the coffee brew too long. When this happens, it becomes bitter. So if you reheat coffee, it will probably taste even worse.

It is best to try to keep the coffee at its original temperature, meaning it should not get cold. You can achieve this by leaving it in its original carafe or cup on a mug warmer. If you have a drip coffee maker, this is a good option as most of them have plates that keep the coffee warm in the pot. Another alternative would be to keep the coffee warm in a stainless steel thermos.

Never change or wash the filter

Most coffee machines require a coffee filter. It does not matter whether they are paper filters or other materials. Paper filters are generally disposable. So, do not try to use them more than once.

Now, let’s say your coffee machine uses a permanent filter. If you don’t wash it out after each brew, residue can remain and cause a bad taste in your drink later. In addition to constant cleaning, you should also keep in mind that all products have a life cycle. At some point, there comes a time when products need to be replaced for various reasons.

Not maintaining and cleaning the coffee machine

While we’re on the subject of filter cleaning, we can’t ignore cleaning the coffee maker. Maintaining our coffee maker is easier than it seems. Manual devices are often dishwasher safe (or at least some of their parts) or just need to be cleaned with water, soap, and a proper sponge.

However, a peculiarity of coffee makers is that they can calcify. If too much limescale builds up, the coffee gets an unpleasant taste, the machine gets clogged, and may even break down. That’s why it’s important to descale them.

A great advantage is that many machines have cleaning and descaling programs. So you don’t have to do much at all, just carefully clean the external or removable parts, such as the water tanks. But even if your coffee machine does not have such a function, most of them have buttons that indicate when it is time to perform these cleanings.

Now you can be sure that you will always make coffee in the best way.