What is good coffee?

Originally posted at Coffee Bean Junkie Blog. See the full article HERE.

“I am a firm believer that every coffee drinker should drink good coffee. The problem is, though, defining good coffee. Is it coffee that is made a certain way? Is it coffee made from certain ingredients? Is it purely subjective, depending on each person? Or is it just a combination of these three things? I think so. I believe good coffee is crafted, made with select ingredients, and tastes good to the drinker.

Good coffee is crafted. I looked up the definition of craft in the dictionary and it says that it means to “exercise skill in making (something).” I truly believe that to make good coffee that you must have some (at least some) skill at creating a cup. It’s something that anybody can easily learn. We’re not talking rocket science skill level, though, some can take it to that level. There are certain steps that you should follow to get a basic cup of good coffee and I don’t mean scooping pre-ground beans into Mr. Coffee and pressing start. It means using a certain amount of water, coffee, and time, paired with a good brewer. It just takes a little work, mindfulness, and patience.

Good coffee is made from good ingredients. I have mentioned in previous articles that the process that coffee goes through to get to your mouth is a long trek across many lands and hands. At any point along the way an amazing lot of beans can be ruined by carelessness whether intentional or not. Good coffee should be made from quality beans, that have been processed and roasted with care. The beans should be used relatively soon after roasting, and only ground just before drinking. The other ingredient, water, is just as important. Make sure and use good clean water that tastes good. And if you use milk in your coffee, get some good tasting milk that enhances your coffee and doesn’t hide it. (I think, though, that if you discover good coffee you may not need the milk any more.) If all this seems to be overwhelming to you then just take it a step at a time. Start with freshly roasted beans and see how much your experience improves. Grow from there.

Good coffee tastes good to the drinker. The beans can be thirty dollars a pound, roasted to perfection and made by a world class barista but it can still taste mediocre to the person drinking it. Everyone truly has different tastes and may find the best to be just ‘OK.’  And that is ok. The point is to find what you like and prepare it, or have it prepared right. Drink what you like, but don’t be afraid to try new beans or even the same that you didn’t like before but from a different roaster. One roaster may bring out a different taste that you may enjoy more. Another factor that can change the taste of a cup of coffee is the experience. Surroundings, ambiance, and company can all influence your memory of a cup of coffee.

You may be thinking at this point that you don’t have time to spend crafting coffee every morning. You can always get up five minutes earlier; but you can also take the time to slow down. Our lives are so rushed that it would be good to give your mind a five minute break and just focus on one thing. You will enjoy your coffee that much more knowing that you made it and you made it good. Alternatively you can find a shop near you or on your way to work that can make a good cup of coffee for you. Just make sure it’s one that will craft a cup for you. How will you know? Ask! Ask the barista or shop owner about the coffee, it’s origin, and how they make it. If their answer is “I don’t know,” or “I just push the button and it comes out,” then you are in the wrong place.

I’m not saying that every cup of coffee is always going to be perfect. In fact it’s good that some aren’t; it makes us appreciate that much more every good cup we drink. Sometimes you just have to have coffee and will resort to using a Keurig or Starbucks or you even may be a firm believer that the aforementioned may be good enough for you. I challenge you to try the coffee I have described above, and see if good enough can’t be better. The pleasing taste and subtle flavor produced in a good cup of coffee is worth it to slow down and discover them.”