These Common Coffee Mistakes May Actually Be Costing You $$$

Photographed by Alexandra Gavillet.
Brew your coffee at home, they said. It will save money, they said. But what really happens is an entire world of coffee-making is opened up — with confusing, sometimes contradictory instructions. Grind your own beans! Use water at exactly the right temperature! A process that literally just involves adding hot water to ground beans can become incredibly intimidating.
But, there's no reason to wave the white flag yet. In general, we stick to the maxim of brew what you like, be that coffee from a cheap Mr. Coffee or the hipster pour that takes over five minutes of hands-on attention for the perfect cup. However, no matter how you're brewing your beans, there are common pitfalls that we have all been victim to, whether we're aspiring baristas or java newbies.
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Ahead, five common mistakes we make when brewing coffee at-home – and how to avoid them.
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The Problem: Too Many Coffee Grounds

Chances are, you are probably using too many coffee grounds when brewing coffee. For drip, you really only need 1-2 tablespoons for six ounces of coffee. These days, standard mugs run from around 12-16 ounces, meaning you may need to use up to six tablespoons for one cup, but even still, it's easy to fill up cone and basket filters with too much coffee without realizing it. The hot water can only absorb so much coffee, so overfilling with grounds only wastes coffee grounds (and money).

The Solution: Measure out your grounds to get just what you need. You really just need a tablespoon measurer you can keep near your coffee maker, but if you want a more elegant solution, there are plenty of coffee scoops out there. Many have long handles to make it easier to scoop out the last bit of grounds.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amazon.
The Problem: Storing Coffee In The Freezer

Once coffee beans are ground, the flavor slowly begins to change. While some of those changes, over a week or so, aren't a bad thing, eventually the grounds will get stale and lose flavor. This gets worse if coffee comes in tubs, rather than bags, which increase exposure to air. Freezing, which is a common practice, is actually not a great idea, explains coffee expert Eric Grimm. Coffee absorbs smells well, which isn't a great thing if its attracting the odors of an entire fridge or freezer.

The Solution: Instead, Grimm recommends buying coffee like fruit, "often and in small quantities." Get the beans ground at the store, and use it up in a week or so after buying. You'll get a fresher, better cup.
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Photo: Courtesy of Bunn.
The Problem: The Wrong Size Grind

Another reason to avoid pre-ground coffee? It might not be the right size for your brewing method. Most ground coffee you buy in stores is ground to work best with a drip coffee maker. Other common brewing methods, like pour over or French press, require different-sized coffee grounds for optimal flavor. Grinding at home (which is also another solution to keeping grounds fresh) can be imprecise if you're using a burr grinder, and plate grinders are bulky, pricier, and often need replacing.

The Solution: Once again, grinding coffee when you buy it is your best option. If you're at a coffee shop, specify the kind of coffee maker you're using. If you're at a grocery store, you should be able to adjust the grind on the knob on the front of the grinder. Illustrations (and sometimes words) indicate the grind you are getting, with French press at the far left and espresso at the far right.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amazon.
The Problem: Over-Brewed Coffee

You'll avoid this if you are using a coffee brewing method that allows the water to filter through the grounds, but if you are making coffee using a French press, there's a chance you're over-brewing the grounds. French press coffee should steep for around 4 minutes, but, any longer, you'll over-extract the coffee, giving it a sour taste.

The Solution: If you don't want to pour extra coffee into a separate container until you're ready to top off your cup, consider brewing in smaller amounts or using a small French press for single-serving portions.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amazon.
The Problem: Too-Cold Water

A common piece of advice you'll see when reading pour over brewing guides is to let the water sit off-boil for around 30 seconds to get to the optimal brewing temperature, between 195-205°. However, as Serious Eats discovered, that temperature range indicates the ideal temperature once the slurry (water + grounds) is combined. Taking coffee off boiling and pouring it over grounds will lower the temperature quickly to the ideal range. The real problem, as it turns out, is the water cooling too fast once it comes in contact with a cold container.

The Solution: Pre-heat your brewing vessels if you're making French press or pour over. You can do this by pouring plain hot water in first to allow the glass to warm up. Doing this to your mugs as well will keep the coffee hotter longer once you're ready to serve.
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