What makes a good coffee? A Quick Guide

Making coffee every day, is a standard procedure that often doesn’t require a lot of work and thought, since after countless times of preparing coffee on a daily basis, it becomes “muscle-memory”. So, you go through this process without thinking too much of it. However, it doesn’t matter what coffee you drink, but what process you go through to make your coffee.

The method that you make your coffee can differ depending on the person that is making it, but there is a list of “golden rules”, that you should follow, to make your coffee flavorful and to avoid any mistakes that could happen during the making of this tasty drink.

The process of making a good coffee is a continuous (sometimes tedious) task, that above all else, should be fun. This way it will be easier for you to make your coffee and go through the method of making it in no time!

Coffee Beans

What makes a good coffee
Beans

Starting from what can only be described as “the base of any coffee”, are coffee beans. When you are shopping for coffee beans, you should keep in mind that, there are 70 types of Coffea, which is the plant that coffee beans are produced from. The ones that dominate the market are Arabica beans and Robusta beans.


Arabica beans have more flavor than Robusta beans, since Robusta beans are “infamous” about having more caffeine compared to Arabica. If you are looking for your coffee to have a sweeter taste, then you should choose Arabica Beans over Robusta beans, because they have more sugar than then Robusta beans and they “carry” inside of them double the amount of sugar!


Always, be careful when you are shopping coffee cans from supermarkets. These type of coffee cans, have a mix of low-quality Arabica beans with large amounts of Robusta beans. Such products, can lack freshness and what is worse, is that coffee companies don’t deliver their fresh coffee beans in every part of the world.

Are you an instant coffee or espresso blend fan?

For those who love instant coffee, then this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but all the coffee beans in there are Robusta. The same can’t be said for the famous espresso blend, because the making of the blend is a mix of Arabica with Robusta beans.

One can argue that even a good coffee bean, if you are grinding and brewing it incorrectly can lower the quality of your coffee and leave you feeling disappointed in the final result. This is why, you need to follow a simple rule in choosing the right coffee bean. Always choose a coffee that is freshly ground and roasted over one, that is left stale after being freshly ground and roasted.

Water

water in coffee

Something that you often neglect, when you are brewing coffee is the quality of water, that you are using. You should always pay attention to what coffee manufacturers prefer, when you buy their coffee brewing equipment. Such information is found in the instructions manual that comes with your brewing equipment.

A recent study shows that “hard water” is good at grabbing the flavorful compounds of coffee, because of the added positive ions. Magnesium and Calcium ions are the most efficient at grabbing the flavor compounds of coffee, without simultaneously altering the taste of coffee.

Aroma

One of the six senses that you possess is smell. Your nose is the “first judge”, when it comes to tasting something. A bad smell is going to encourage you to try out what you have in front of you, whether this is a food or drink.


When it comes to what makes a good coffee, aroma comes with experience. The more time you spent tasting coffee and trying out new flavors, the better acquainted you will be with coffee and its many aromas. Coffee should have an aroma, that welcomes you to sit down, taste it and enjoy every sip of it. As time passes, you will be able to understand how a coffee is roasted and how this can be linked with its coffee flavor.


A good coffee should intrigue you to try it, from its aroma alone. So, the next time you brew your coffee, keep in mind what aroma it has!

Flavor

The “second judge” when it comes to tasting coffee is… you probably guessed it already, your mouth!


Your mouth is filled with receptors, this is why you react differently to everything you eat and drink. Flavor helps you perceive, what components your coffee has, from its aroma, flavor, body, acidity, sweetness-bitterness all the way to its the aftertaste.


A good coffee should balance all of its components accordingly, without one overpowering another. Having a taste of coffee could reveal many of its secrets, just like the storage and brewing method.

Acidity

In science, acidity is connected with the pH of the said mixture, but when talking about coffee, it is linked with tingling/numbing of the tongue or the dryness that can come after drinking coffee, around the tongue, among many others.


It is often hard to separate acidity from flavor, but keep in mind that acidity has nothing to do with the bitterness of a coffee. The most common acids that can be found in coffee are acetic acid, citric acid, malic acid and phosphoric acid.

Acetic acid is associated with a sour taste and a sort of vinegar smell


Citric acid is known for its sourness and can be found also in lemons and limes


Malic acid is sour and often has a taste of metallic, but in a smooth way


Phosphoric acid tastes slightly sweeter than all the others.

A coffee’s acidity level plays a huge role when it comes to the overall quality. As you can see above, acidity can have different flavors. Coffees that have high acidity are described as bright with a clean finish, while those with low acidity feel smooth, making the flavor last in your mouth!

Body

What makes a good coffee

The easiest way to describe the “body” of a coffee, is the impression that you have, when the coffee covers your tongue and whirls around your mouth, until you drink it.


There are three different levels when it comes to the body of the coffee, and these are light, medium or full. Each one of these levels describe the body of the coffee differently. Everything has to do with the thickness, heaviness or viscosity of the coffee, when the coffee “rests” in your mouth.


The body of a coffee has to do with the preferences of each coffee lover. Light bodied coffees feel watery. On the contrary heavy bodied coffees feel heavier.

Roasting

roasting coffee

The roasting process is what adds “character” to your coffee, since its main role is to cause the coffee beans to change shape and expand in smell, flavor, density and color. However, the amount of caffeine, which the coffee beans hold doesn’t change that much with roasting.


A study from 2013, shows that the more you roast your coffee, the less it has of these beneficial phenols. This could make an instant coffee fan worried, but to relief you from stress, during the freeze or spray during process, doesn’t destroy those acids.

Lighter versus Darker roasts

Lighter roasts will allow the coffee bean to have more of its original flavor, while darker roasts make the coffee bean more difficult to separate from other types of coffee beans.

Grinding

It is highly recommended to grind your own coffee beans, to maximize the quality of your coffee. However, don’t forget that ground coffee lasts only for a few hours, if you don’t take measures to maintaining it properly. Lastly, the more you grind your coffee beans, the more you will get out of them.

A coffee grinder in this case scenario, is what certainly gets the job done. Grinding your coffee just before you are about to brew it, helps preserve the coffee’s flavor and aroma.

Brewing

You should always choose the brewing method, that suits your needs better. Brewing plays such a vital role, when it comes to making coffee and is often a factor that can break or make your coffee

Aftertaste

The final part of what makes a good coffee is aftertaste. Aftertaste is the most overlooked aspect of the coffee experience.


You often tend to not pay attention to the coffee’s aftertaste, since you might be drinking your coffee in a rush to get to work or combing it with a snack. Different types of coffee beans tend to give different aftertastes to your pallet.


All the other characteristics of what makes a good coffee play a vital role when it comes to aftertaste

Last thoughts

The quest for finding what makes a good coffee is an individual task that might differ from one person to another, since just like beauty, it is in “the eye of the beholder”. This is why the purpose of this article is to make your coffee experience as good as it can get and provide you with a few tips along the way, just so you can power through the day.

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