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5 Secrets to Improve Your Coffee Brewing Skills: Expert Tips

brewing coffee

So, you’ve earned your tiger stripes and you know your grounds, but have you truly mastered the art of the brew?

The perfect coffee is a combination of the beans’ quality, the method or machine, and the barista’s skills. I’m sure you will agree that it is both an art and a science, and one that we as coffee lovers take very personally. You’ll know you’ve made it when you perfect the science, perfect the practice, and add your own personal style to your brew.

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The 5 Secrets to Great Coffee Brewing

As a seasoned barista and coffee snob, I’ve been around the block and had my fair share of brews from some of the world’s best baristas. I’ve learned as much as I can from these heroes of the coffee world, always looking to improve my knowledge and techniques.

I’ve also spent years working with and fine-tuning my coffee-making skills around everything from the mechanics of the La Marzocco to the simple subtleties of drip coffee methods.

Double Boiler Espresso Machines
Image Credit: Pxfuel

In this article, I’m going to share some of the best secrets to coffee brewing I’ve learned along my journey. These are the tips and tricks that have helped me to take my coffee to the next level, and I know they’ll do the same for you.

Read on to find out some of the industry’s best-kept secrets to help you on your own coffee journey. I’ll share the tricks of the trade that can help with perfecting your measuring, honing your milk foaming skills, and many more clever hacks to improve your technique.

We’ll walk through the journey from bean to brew, sharing tips for every point on your coffee brewing process. Some of the tips are more general, and some refer to specific methods. All of them are nuggets of expert advice that you can immediately apply to hone your own brewing skills.

Whether you’re trained in the art of coffee making, or a home brewing expert, there’s always something new to learn to improve your skills and technique.

By the time you’ve finished reading this article, you’ll be brewing your best coffee ever.

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Getting the Most Out of Your Grinder

black coffee grinder
Image Credit: Crew, Unsplash

If you don’t have the perfect grinder, there’s hope.

There is a lot of debate around the burr coffee grinder vs the blade coffee grinder. Burr coffee grinders are a little more expensive, and if you can afford them, are worth the investment. However, if you’ve landed up with a blade grinder, all is not lost!

While the burr grinder can easily mill the beans to a relatively uniform grind profile, the blade is known for chopping rather unevenly.

Why does this matter, you ask? Well, having unevenly chopped grounds means you’ll have some big chunks in there, floating around with some little chunks, and who knows how many sizes in between.

As the water moves through the grinds, it responds to the surfaces of these particles. This means that in this inconsistent mess of grind sizes you’re going to get an uneven level of extraction. Some will be over- and some will be under-extracted.

Put simply, you’re going to get a less consistent brew when you have a less consistent grind. And of course, consistency is the key ingredient to great coffee making.

Here is how you can still get evenly milled, consistent grinds out of your blade grinder.

The secret to getting the best out of a blade grinder:

manual coffee grinder with coffee beans
Image Credit: Lukas, Pexels
  1. Grind in short bursts of a few seconds per burst. This prevents burning the coffee as the blades can get hot. Take your time and enjoy this little rhythm. And whatever you do, don’t let rip – you’ll regret it.
  2. Carefully press the lid tightly closed and shake the whole grinder up and down during these short bursts. Imagine you’re shaking up a cocktail ala James Bond!
  3. Once you do this a few times you’ll develop a knack and get a feel for the time and shake that delivers your best size and consistency of grind.

Master the extraction

coffee scale with Chemex brewing
Image credit: Unsplash

Once you’ve got your beans to a uniform ground consistency, they’re ready to be put to work.

Remember that your grounds are your most valuable and central tool to your coffee making. You don’t want to mess them up!

Whatever means you’re using to brew, from a machine to an AeroPress, it’s really important to get your extraction right.

  • You’ll know you’ve under-extracted if the coffee tastes sour, acidic, or salty.
  • You’ll know you’ve over-extracted if it tastes bitter and lacks the coffee flavor.

You don’t want to over-extract or under-extract. You want to get it just right. And this is where it takes a little bit of experimenting. Sometimes it’s difficult to get right the first time, so you may need to play around a bit with a new set of beans, but you’ll get there fastest if you follow this simple advice.

See Also: Extraction and Coffee Brewing: Making the Perfect Cup of Coffee

Featured Image Credit: Maksim Goncharenok, Pexels


Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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