We’ve all been there before. Your alarm just went off and you’re beyond groggy and tired. You’ve already had a shower, and while you’re trying to wake up, you still feel that siren’s call coming from your bed.
What you need is a good cup of coffee.
However, for many people, the term “good cup of coffee” can mean a lot of different things. For some people, a coffee that has a slight taste of sweetness is ideal, while for others they want one with a smoother body and isn’t so strong. This isn’t even getting into the conversation on the types of roasts a person may enjoy or if they are a fan of decaf or not.
Coffee brands don’t make this any easier either and the type of commercial coffee machines make a difference as well. Today, there are more and more coffee brands than ever before, and not all are created equally. A bag of Starbucks coffee will be much better than one from Folgers, while coffee from Green Mountain or Gevalia is going to be better than most Starbucks brands.
It can be confusing for people to know just what to actually look out for when deciding what type of coffee they want. Well, luckily that’s where we come in.
Below, we’ve gone over and broken down the top 4 areas you should always consider when deciding what type of coffee you want, regardless of the brand or roast level. This way, you’ll be able to get up and moving even from just one cup.
What to Consider in Coffee
If you plan to ever purchase and make your own coffee, there are a few key and specific areas of focus you want to be on the lookout for. You want to pay attention to the flavor of the coffee, its aroma, the bitterness, and how acidic it is. And another thing to consider is the possible coffee nutrition.
Some people may laugh at this. “Flavor in coffee? Coffee doesn’t have a flavor!” Well, that’s where you’re wrong. Coffee naturally has a flavor – and, while certainly subtle, it’s the truest sign that you’re drinking something that’s actually good or just burnt mud water. Quality coffee will have a level of smoothness even if you haven’t added any cream or sugar. It should have trace hints of other flavors to draw your focus and attention. These can range from brand to brand but should ultimately have a somewhat pleasing taste even before adding anything.
If all you taste, when you take a swig, is bitterness, you know you need to get another brand.
The next area of focus is the aroma. In reality, while the flavor is arguably the most important factor, the aroma is definitely the first you’ll be exposed to. Aroma is basically the flavor for your nose. A good cup of coffee should have you feeling like you’ve drunk a cup just from smelling it brewing.
As such (like flavor), you don’t want to smell “burnt” when coming to the kitchen or about to pour yourself a cup (unless you’re someone that’s into that). Your coffee should share many of the flavors in the aroma.
These can include a more sweet and nutty flavor or a more chocolatey or spicy flavor.
What makes aroma such a great thing to focus on is that, while you’ll get the fullest effect once brewed, you can oftentimes smell the aroma even while in the bag or while still unground.
When it comes to bitterness, people often think that it’s inherently bad – and for good reason. Bitter coffee is generally an unpleasant coffee since bitter-tasting things are generally, well, bitter.
The key, however, is balance. You do want some level of bitterness in your coffee. You just don’t want too much or too little. By having a smaller amount of bitterness in your coffee (less than you’re probably drinking now), you can actually enjoy many of the different flavors that you could initially smell from the aroma (see how this is all coming together?)
Ultimately, you want a quality coffee that has a slightly bitter taste at the front, with a smooth and flavorful taste at the middle and end. Getting one that’s bitter all throughout or at the beginning and middle, with only a slight hint of an aftertaste, is pretty bad coffee and why people associate “bitterness” with innately being
Finally, there is acidity. Like bitterness, acidity is often considered to be an innately bad quality in coffee, with many brands coming out with “low-acid” coffees. It’s kind of like back in the day when we thought that “fat” was inherently bad and that you shouldn’t consume it if at all possible.
Well, it’s kind of the same thing here. Acidity (when it comes to coffee) simply refers to the different acidic compounds found in coffee to influence its overall taste. So, like the point made about fats, acidity in coffee isn’t inherently a bad thing.
When it comes to acidity, the best way you can know whether it’s to your liking is simply by tasting it and determining how strongly the flavor comes out. If you’re a fan of deeper and more muted flavor tastes, getting a darker roast is your best bet. For those that want something lighter and more apt to have the flavors stand out, you’ll want to get a lighter roast, as acidity is more prevalent in lighter roasts and less so in darker ones.
One of the great things about coffee is the fact that it can always be tweaked and played with if you’re willing to invest enough cream and sugar. However, if you are trying to make a good and delicious cup all on its own, consider these four factors. Not only will you be more motivated to wake up in the morning, but you’ll probably end up more alive and energized than ever before.