Food & Drink

Every Way We've Been Screwing Up Our Coffee, According to Indianapolis Roastmasters

Quills Coffee
Quills Coffee

The best part of waking up? If you're in Indianapolis, it's probably not Folgers in your cup. Instead, it's most likely (hopefully) a quality cup of coffee from one of the many local roasters we have in town. This town has become somewhat of a coffee capital, with an endless sea of roasters doling out quality java with top-notch beans. These folks take pride in the coffee their brewing, and nothing pisses them off more than seeing someone (read: most people) completely fuck it up... which is why we asked them exactly how we're screwing up our morning -- and afternoon and evening -- caffeine fix.

Using gross water

“It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that coffee is mostly water. If you live in a city like Indianapolis with super-hard water, you really need to make sure you're filtering or softening before you brew. Not only will hard water calcify your brewing machines if you're not careful, but it also doesn't taste good. At all.” - Stephen Hall, Tinker Coffee Co.

Grinding it too early

“It is best to grind as close to brewing as possible, preferably right before. So buy a grinder. Burr grinders are better than blade grinders, but any grinder is better than buying pre-ground.” - Andy Hassler, Blue Mind Roasting

Shopping for the wrong kind of coffee

“Cut it out with the coffee that prides itself on being ‘100% Arabica.’ That's kinda like buying wine that claims to be ‘100% grapes.’ Arabica is a species of coffee (the other major species is called Robusta), and about 75% of all the coffee produced in the world is Arabica. Look for coffees that highlight the farm where the coffee was grown, or mention the actual coffee producer or farmer by name. If you see that information on a bag of coffee, you can be pretty sure the roaster spent a lot of time carefully sourcing for quality and taste.” - Stephen Hall, Tinker Coffee Co.

Quills Coffee
Quills Coffee

Reheating your cup

“Applying heat to brewed coffee causes acid degradation, in which the tasty acids that give your coffee a lively fruitiness break down into more bitter compounds.” - Michael Butterworth, Quills Coffee

Buying coffee without a roast date

“As soon as it’s roasted, it starts oxidizing, and grinding it only accelerates that. People will buy ground coffee and not use it for weeks or months. [Hubbard & Cravens doesn't] even pre-grind coffee that's to be brewed in our shops. It’s ground one batch at a time, just before it is brewed.” - Tim Carter, Hubbard & Cravens

Blue Mind Roasting
Blue Mind Roasting

Doing bad math

“There is a supposed ‘golden ratio’ that's different according to everyone, but most coffee nerds currently hover around 1:16 or 1:15, coffee to water. If you updose and use more coffee, you have a better chance of not over-extracting, but then could under-extract and have weak (and wasted) coffee.” - Sam Sveen, Uel Zing

“Take control of your brewing by learning to measure your ground by weight. Instead of relying on a scoop, weigh your beans out on a scale. This allows you to be precise and dial in your taste preference easily. For instance, if your coffee is too strong, you can weigh five grams less in your pot. I recommend starting with two grams per ounce of water.” - Andy Gilman, Bee Coffee Roasters

Brewing with lukewarm water

“Improve your brewing with 200°F water. Do you use an electric coffee pot? Those are notorious for having poor heating elements that never reach 200°F. Pre-boil that water on the stove before putting it in the reservoir. With proper water you will get a better extraction and bring more of those great flavors.” - Andy Gilman, Bee Coffee Roasters

Hubbard and Cravens Coffee
Hubbard and Cravens Coffee

Skimping on a quality grinder

“A good grinder is the first place to start. I always say even extraction is the name of the game. And for even extraction, you need even-sized particles. For even-sized particles, you need a good burr grinder. You should also play around with grind size. The finer the grind, the easier it is to extract flavor because there is more overall surface area of coffee. But it's also easy to over-extract and burn it. It's a delicate dance between too fine and too coarse.” - Sam Sveen, Uel Zing

Freezing your beans

“Putting coffee beans in the freezer to keep them fresh... actually pulls the oils out of the bean and damages flavor. It is always best to keep your beans in an airtight container in a cool dry place like a kitchen cabinet on an outside wall (but typically cooler in those). Also, use fresh beans within two weeks of purchase.” - William Powell, Monon Coffee Company

Drinking it too fast

“Some people aren't experiencing their coffee optimally because of the way they're consuming it. Sit down, take a deep breath, and really allow yourself to enjoy it.” - Josie Hunckler, Rabble Coffee

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Carson Quinn is a writer in Indianapolis, and she'll doctor up her coffee any way she damn well pleases. Follow her on Twitter @NewsCarson and Facebook.