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  • Writer's pictureD Huang

Getting the most out of my bag of coffee?

Updated: Jun 4, 2023

Do you ever find yourself staring at the bag of coffee that just landed next to your brewing gear and wondering, “Where do I start?” Well, fear not! Here are some tips to get you started.


Look for clue on packaging

1. Clues on your Bag of Coffee

There are usually enough clues on the packaging to help guide you through getting the most out of that bag of coffee. Here's what you should look for:

  • Roast degree: This tells you how dark or light they roasted the beans for, which affects flavour.

  • Roast date: The fresher the coffee, the better.

  • Recommended Brewing Method: Suggestions on how to brew for optimum flavour.

  • Recommended Brewing Recipe: Some roasters provide specific instructions on the amount of coffee and water to use.

A transparent local coffee roaster often provides this info to help you enjoy your coffee to the fullest and is a great starting point.

2. Grinder, Grind and Grind size

In our previous topic, we talked about how ground coffee loses its freshness and flavour quickly. Therefore, it’s best to grind those precious beans only when you’re ready to savour the cup. At work, we call this practice "grinding per order”.

Choosing the right grinder and adjusting the grind size is also key. Not all grinders are made equal. Some are more suited for filter brewing, while others fancy themselves as espresso masters. Once you’ve found that perfect grinder, make the adjustments to match your recipe and taste preferences.

Note: We do not recommend blade grinders for coffee as they are built more so for cutting general spices, nuts and seeds.


If possible, always grind coffee fresh

3. Right Recipe to Flavour

When it comes to brewing, it’s not as simple as tossing water and ground coffee into the mix. It’s an art that involves a secret formula, or as we like to call it, the “brewing recipe” or just “recipe”. This refers to the ratio of ground coffee vs. the amount of water.

The recommended brewing formula to begin with:

• Start with a brewing ratio of 1 gram of coffee to 16 grams of water. Total brewing time 2 mins 30 seconds. • Specifically, using 18 grams of coffee to 289 grams of water will give you the desired 1:16 ratio.

The recommended espresso extraction formula to begin with:

• Start with a coffee-to-espresso liquid ratio of 1 gram of coffee to 2 grams of espresso liquid. Total extraction time of around 25 seconds.

• Specifically using 18 grams of coffee to extract 36 grams of espresso will give you desired 1:2 ratio.

Two more secrets to crafting the perfect recipe tailored to you are (1) focusing on the flavour and (2) being open-minded. Coffee is dynamic so there is no one-size-fits-all recipe. Begin with the suggested recipe on the packaging, then make adjustments to the coffee-to-water ratio according to your personal preference. Additionally, coffee carries its own unique flavours often stated on the packaging, but by keeping an open mind, you might stumble upon hidden treasure troves of flavours within the same coffee.

4. Good Scales and Timer

If you want to take your coffee game to the next level, then having a trusty set of scales is EVERYTHING! A scale is a barista’s best friend!

Weighing coffee grounds, measuring the liquid gold at the end, and timing the brew/extraction all work together to eliminate guesswork and provide us with an accurate representation of what's happening in our cup.

5. The next level of getting recipe/flavour just right.

To develop a recipe that brings out the best in your coffee and that suits your personal preference, we suggest starting with the recommended brewing formula and then working through the flavour you are experiencing.

Here’s a reminder:

• 1:2 espresso extraction ratio or.

• 1:16 brewing ratio.

It also helps to have information such as altitude, processing method, and roast degree when starting this journey, as these three things will have the most impact on your decision towards the direction you take and how you adjust the extraction/brew. In general, the following directions have worked for me:

  • Altitude: Grind finer and dose less for high altitude (> 1400m), grind coarser and dose more for low altitude (< 1400m)

  • Processing method: Grind finer and dose less for natural, grind coarser and dose more for washed.

  • Degree of roast: Grind finer and dose less for lighter roasts, grind coarser and dose more for darker roasts.

These are my go-to simple directions and the underlying key factor lies in the density of the bean, which leads us to another topic for another day - coffee varietals. Ultimately, by combining the coffee varietal with the above information, then it gives us a much stronger correlation to how dense the coffee could be.

To sum it all up, start with the magical formula, explore the flavours, adjust the ratio accordingly and weigh EVERYTHING to get the most out of your bag of coffee.


Choosing the suitable recipe for the right brewing method

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