September 12


Eliminating Common Brewing Mistakes: A Barista’s Guide to Achieving Perfect Coffee with Your Coffee Maker

Coffee maker mistakes a barista's guide for better brews

Have you ever wondered why your homemade coffee doesn’t taste as good as the one you get from your favorite coffee shop? It’s not just about the quality of the beans or the brand of the coffee maker. There are several common mistakes that people make when brewing their own cups of coffee, and fixing them can make all the difference in the flavor and aroma of your morning cup.

One of the most essential aspects of brewing a great cup of coffee is getting the temperature right. This is where many coffee makers on the market fall short. They often heat the water to levels that are too high, resulting in a burnt, bitter taste. Rebecca, a coffee expert from Roasty Gardens, notes that “you’ll need water between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit for the best brews.”

Another mistake that people often make is using stale beans. It’s worth noting that even the best coffee maker won’t be able to make a great cup if the beans are past their prime. The oils in coffee beans start to break down and turn rancid over time, resulting in a flat and dull taste. To ensure a fresh and flavorful cup, make sure to always use freshly roasted beans and store them properly.

The grind-sets on coffee makers can also be a stumbling block. Different brewing methods require different grind sizes, but many people don’t take this into account. For example, if you’re using a French press, a coarse grind is essential, while for an espresso, a fine grind is necessary. Experimenting with different grind settings and finding what suits your taste is essential for brewing the perfect cup.

Additionally, forgetting about the coffee-to-water ratio can have a significant impact on the taste of your brew. Kelsey Waddle, a scientist from the coffee brewing team at KitchenAid, says, “the general rule is two tablespoons of coffee for every six ounces of water.” However, this ratio can be adjusted based on personal preference and the strength of flavors you desire.

When it comes to coffee, the devil is often in the details. From the temperature of the water to the freshness of the beans and the grind size, there are many factors that can make or break your brew. By learning from the experts, practicing the right techniques, and not being afraid to experiment, you’ll be well on your way to brewing better cups of coffee right in your own kitchen.

1 Buying the wrong coffee maker

When it comes to brewing the perfect cup of coffee, the coffee maker you choose can make all the difference. Investing in a high-quality coffee maker is essential if you want to achieve the best results.

One of the most common mistakes people make when buying a coffee maker is not considering their brewing preferences and needs. There are different types of coffee makers available, each with its own design and features that affect the taste and quality of the coffee they produce.

For example, if you prefer stronger and bolder coffees, a French press or a pour-over coffee maker may be the best choice for you. These coffee makers allow you to have more control over the brewing process and extract more of the oils and flavors from the coffee grounds, resulting in a richer and more intense cup of coffee.

On the other hand, if you prefer a milder and smoother cup of coffee, an automatic drip coffee maker may be more suitable. These coffee makers are convenient and easy to use, with programmable options that allow you to adjust the brewing time and temperature. They’re also great for making larger quantities of coffee, so if you often brew for a group or have a busy household, an automatic drip coffee maker is worth considering.

It’s also important to note that different coffee makers require different grind-sets for optimal results. For example, a French press requires a coarser grind, whereas an espresso machine needs a finer grind. Using the wrong grind size can result in under-extraction or over-extraction of the coffee, leading to a weak or bitter taste.

When choosing a coffee maker, it’s worth considering the different brewing methods and finding the one that suits your taste preferences and lifestyle. Don’t forget to take into account the amount of counter space you have available and the ease of cleaning the coffee maker, as these factors can greatly affect your overall coffee brewing experience.

To help you make an informed decision, we’ve consulted with coffee experts and tested various coffee makers to determine which ones consistently produce great brews. We’ve also compiled a list of the most common mistakes people make when buying a coffee maker, so you can avoid them and enjoy better coffee at home.

2 Buying budget beans

2 Buying budget beans

When it comes to buying budget beans for your coffee maker, there are a few things to keep in mind. Different coffee makers have different requirements, so it’s important to consider the machine you’ll be using before making a purchase.

First, think about the roast level. Darker roasts tend to have a stronger and more robust flavor. However, they also tend to lose some of their acidity and complexity in the roasting process. If you prefer a bolder and more intense cup of coffee, a darker roast might be the way to go.

Next, consider the beans’ origin and flavor profiles. Some beans might have fruity and floral notes, while others might be more nutty or chocolaty. It’s all about personal preference, so take the time to explore different flavors and find what you enjoy the most.

When choosing budget beans, it’s important to pay attention to their storage and freshness. Coffee beans start losing their flavor as soon as they are roasted, so buying beans that have been sitting on the shelf for a long time might result in a stale cup of coffee. Look for beans that have a roast date on the packaging and try to buy them as close to that date as possible.

Experts recommend buying whole beans and grinding them just before brewing. This ensures that the coffee retains its freshness and flavor. Investing in a good quality burr grinder can make a big difference in the taste of your coffee.

If you’re on a budget and looking for an all-in-one solution, there are pre-ground options available in the market. However, pre-ground coffee tends to lose its flavor and freshness more quickly, so it’s not the ideal choice for coffee enthusiasts.

Lastly, don’t forget to consider the water quality. The taste of your coffee can be greatly affected by the quality of the water you use. If you live in an area with hard water, using filtered or bottled water might help improve the taste of your coffee.

To sum up, when buying budget beans for your coffee maker, consider the roast level, flavor profiles, freshness, grinding options, and water quality. Experiment with different beans and find the ones that suit your taste. Making small changes and avoiding these common mistakes can result in a great cup of coffee every time!

3 Not matching your maker to your beans

3 Not matching your maker to your beans

One common mistake many coffee enthusiasts make is not matching their coffee maker to the type of beans they are using. Different coffee makers have different capabilities and are designed to bring out the best flavors from specific types of beans.

For instance, if you have a french press, it may not be the best option for finely ground beans. French presses work best with coarse grounds, which allow the coffee oils to infuse into the water and provide a rich and full-bodied flavor.

On the other hand, if you have an espresso machine, using coarse grounds will result in weak and under-extracted coffee. Espresso machines require fine grounds that allow for a high-pressure extraction, producing a concentrated and bold flavor.

It’s important to consider the grind size that suits your specific coffee maker. Many coffee makers offer different grind settings that can be adjusted to suit the type of bean you are using. For example, the KitchenAid coffee maker offers multiple grind settings, allowing you to experiment and find the perfect grind size for your preferred taste.

When choosing a coffee maker, it’s also important to consider the brewing temperature. Different types of beans require different water temperatures to bring out their flavors. For example, light roast beans often require a higher brewing temperature to release their delicate flavors, while darker roast beans can be brewed at a lower temperature to avoid over-extraction.

Forgetting to match your coffee maker to your beans can result in disappointing and underwhelming coffee. It’s important to read the instructions and recommendations from the manufacturer, as well as learning from baristas and coffee experts for better brewing techniques.

Remember, the design of the coffee maker may look sleek and stylish, but if it doesn’t match the type of beans you typically use, you’ll end up with subpar results. Take the time to consider your preferred beans and the type of coffee maker that will bring out the best flavors.

4 Overstuffing your beans

4 Overstuffing your beans

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when using a coffee maker is overstuffing your beans. It may seem like a good idea to use more coffee grounds for a stronger cup of joe, but it can actually result in poor taste and weak flavor.

When you overstuff your beans, the water has a hard time extracting the rich oils and flavors from the grounds. This can lead to a weak and watery brew. Additionally, overstuffing can put strain on the coffee maker and cause it to malfunction or break down.

To avoid overstuffing your beans, it’s important to use the recommended amount of coffee grounds for your particular coffee maker. This information can usually be found in the user manual or on the packaging of your coffee maker. The recommended amount often varies depending on the size and model of your machine.

Another factor to consider is the grind size of your beans. Different coffee makers require different grind sizes to produce the best results. For example, espresso machines typically require a fine grind, while French press makers need a coarse grind. Using the wrong grind size can also lead to overstuffing and poor flavor.

It’s also essential to store your coffee beans properly. Stale beans can result in a weak and lifeless brew. To keep your beans fresh, store them in an airtight container in a cool, dark place, away from heat, sunlight, and moisture. Avoid storing them in the refrigerator or freezer, as this can introduce moisture and affect the flavor.

If you’re unsure about the optimal grind size and coffee bean storage for your specific coffee maker, it’s best to consult an expert or refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations. They can provide you with the necessary guidance to achieve the best brews.

By avoiding the mistake of overstuffing your beans and paying attention to the right grind size and storage methods, you can enjoy a flavorful and satisfying cup of coffee every time.

5 Forgetting your grind-sets

5 Forgetting your grind-sets

If you want a sweeter and tastier coffee, you need to pay attention to your grind. Many coffee makers on the market are designed to brew coffee with pre-set grind sizes, which is fine for most people. However, if you want the best results and a more customized brew, you need to consider learning about grind sizes and adjusting them according to your taste preferences.

Rebecca, a barista and coffee scientist, notes that the grind size you choose can have a significant impact on the flavor of your coffee. She tested different grind sizes using the Philips All-in-One Coffee Maker and found that each grind size produced a different flavor profile. For example, a fine grind resulted in a stronger and bolder taste, while a coarse grind produced a milder and weaker brew.

So, why is grind size so important? Well, it all comes down to how the water interacts with the coffee grounds during the brewing process. If the grind size is too fine, the water will have a harder time passing through the compacted grounds, resulting in a slower extraction and potentially over-extracted flavors. On the other hand, if the grind size is too coarse, the water will flow too quickly and not have enough contact time with the coffee, resulting in a weak and under-extracted brew.

When it comes to choosing the right grind size, there are a few general guidelines to follow:

  1. For espresso machines, a fine grind is essential. The water passes through the grounds at high pressure, so a finer grind allows for more extraction and a richer flavor.
  2. For French press, a coarse grind is best. The water sits with the grounds for a longer period, so a coarser grind prevents over-extraction and produces a cleaner cup.
  3. For drip coffee makers, a medium grind is usually recommended. This allows for a good balance between extraction and brew time, resulting in a well-rounded and flavorful cup of coffee.

It’s important to note that these are just general guidelines and can vary depending on personal preferences and the specific coffee beans you’re using. Some people may prefer a slightly finer grind for their French press, while others may like a slightly coarser grind for their espresso machine.

Rebecca advises coffee enthusiasts to experiment with different grind sizes to find the one that suits their taste preferences. “Don’t be afraid to change things up and make mistakes,” she says. “That’s how you learn and discover new flavors.”

Mistake Grind Size Result
1 Too fine Over-extracted, bitter coffee
2 Too coarse Under-extracted, weak coffee
3 Wrong grind for brewing method Inconsistent and unbalanced flavors

So, next time you waddle over to your coffee maker for a brew, don’t forget to consider your grind size. It can make all the difference in creating a great cup of coffee that suits your taste buds.

6 Not getting your ratios right

One common mistake when using a coffee maker is not getting the ratios right. The ratio of coffee to water is essential for brewing a great cup of coffee. If you’re not using the right ratio, your brews may taste weak or too strong.

When making coffee with a French press, the general rule is to use a ratio of one ounce of coffee for every 8 ounces of water. However, this ratio can change depending on your coffee preferences. For a stronger brew, you can increase the amount of coffee, and for a milder cup, you can use less coffee.

For drip coffee makers, the rule of thumb is to use approximately two tablespoons of coffee grounds for every six ounces of water. However, this ratio can also be adjusted to suit your taste. If you prefer a stronger cup of coffee, you can increase the amount of coffee, and if you prefer a milder cup, you can use less coffee.

It’s also important to consider the coffee roast when determining the ratio. Darker roasts tend to have a stronger flavor, so you may want to use less coffee compared to lighter roasts. Experimenting with different ratios based on the roast can help you find the perfect balance.

Another factor to consider is the grind size. Finer grounds extract more quickly, while coarser grounds take longer. Adjusting the grind size can also affect the ratio of coffee to water. If you’re using a finer grind, you might want to decrease the amount of coffee, and if you’re using a coarser grind, you might want to increase the amount of coffee.

Keep in mind that different coffee makers have different brewing profiles, so it’s important to follow the instructions for your specific machine. For example, espresso machines require a different ratio compared to drip coffee makers.

In summary, getting your ratios right is essential for brewing the best coffee. Experiment with different ratios based on your preferences and the coffee you’re using. And always remember to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer of your coffee maker.

7 Forgetting to let your beans bloom

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when brewing coffee is forgetting to let your beans bloom. This step in the brewing process allows coffee grounds to release trapped gases and expand, resulting in a more balanced and flavorful cup of coffee.

When coffee beans are roasted, they release carbon dioxide gas, which can affect the taste and aroma of the coffee. Allowing the beans to bloom helps to release this gas and improve the flavor profile of the final brew.

To let your beans bloom, start by grinding your coffee beans to the appropriate size for your brewing method. Different brew methods require different grind settings, so it’s worth experimenting with different options to find the one that suits your taste best.

Once you have your coffee grounds, add them to your brewing device of choice. If you’re using an all-in-one machine, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for adding the grounds.

Next, pour a small amount of hot, filtered water over the coffee grounds. The water should be heated to the correct temperature for your brewing method. It’s best to use water that is between 195°F and 205°F (90°C and 96°C) for optimal results.

Allow the water to sit on the coffee grounds for about 30 seconds to a minute. During this time, you’ll notice that the coffee grounds begin to bubble and release aroma. This is the blooming stage, and it’s an important step in the brewing process.

After the blooming stage, continue pouring the remaining water over the coffee grounds until you reach the desired amount of coffee. As the water flows through the grounds, it will extract the flavors and oils, resulting in a rich and flavorful cup of coffee.

Forgetting to let your beans bloom can lead to a less flavorful cup of coffee. Without this step, the trapped gases can cause uneven extraction and a bitter taste. So, next time you make coffee, don’t forget to let your beans bloom!

8 Don’t use tap water

To brew the best-tasting coffee, it’s important to consider the quality of your water. Many coffee makers recommend avoiding tap water and opt for filtered or bottled water instead. There are a few reasons why tap water may not be the best option for brewing your favorite cup of joe.

  1. Impurities: Tap water often contains impurities such as minerals, chlorine, and other chemicals. These impurities can impart off-flavors and affect the taste of your coffee. Using filtered or bottled water helps eliminate these unwanted elements.
  2. Mineral content: Tap water may vary in mineral content depending on your location. High mineral content can result in a heavier mouthfeel and a bitter taste. On the other hand, low mineral content can lead to a flat and dull brew. It’s best to use water with balanced mineral content to bring out the flavors in your coffee.
  3. Heat and coffee grounds: Tap water often has a higher temperature compared to filtered or bottled water. When brewing coffee, the heat from the water extracts the oils and flavors from the coffee grounds. Using tap water that is too hot can lead to over-extraction and a burnt or bitter taste.
  4. Machine maintenance: Using tap water in your coffee maker can also affect its performance and lifespan. Mineral deposits and limescale can build up over time, resulting in clogged valves and reduced brewing efficiency. This can also lead to the need for more frequent cleaning and descaling.

To ensure the best brews, baristas and coffee experts recommend using filtered or bottled water for your coffee maker. This will help to enhance the flavors, aroma, and overall quality of your coffee. So, next time you brew a cup of coffee, don’t forget to consider the water you use!

9 Consider temperature

When it comes to making a perfect cup of coffee, temperature plays a crucial role. Forgetting to keep an eye on the temperature can result in an unpleasant taste and weak brew.

One of the mistakes many coffee drinkers make is not cleaning their coffee machine regularly. This can impact the temperature of the water and affect the flavor of the coffee. So, it is essential to clean your coffee machine regularly to ensure consistent temperature and flavors.

Expert baristas recommend using a temperature range between 195°F and 205°F (91°C to 96°C) for brewing coffee. This range is considered optimal for extracting the best flavors from the coffee beans. However, keep in mind that different coffee drinks may require different temperature profiles.

For example, if you’re making an espresso, you’ll want a higher temperature to properly extract the oils and flavors. On the other hand, if you’re brewing a French press coffee, a slightly lower temperature will work better to avoid over-extraction.

Proper temperature also applies to milk when making specialty drinks like lattes and cappuccinos. Heating the milk to the right temperature will ensure smooth and creamy textures. A heat range between 150°F to 155°F (65°C to 68°C) is recommended for steaming milk.

It’s worth noting that not all coffee machines provide precise temperature control. If you’re a true coffee enthusiast, investing in a high-quality machine like a Moccamaster or a tested and fine-tuned option is a great choice.

Remember, temperature plays a crucial role in bringing out the best flavors in your coffee. So, don’t underestimate its importance and follow the scientist’s advice to achieve a perfect brew.

10 Not keeping it clean

Keeping your coffee maker clean is essential for better brews. Neglecting to clean your coffee maker can lead to a build-up of oils, food particles, and mineral deposits, which can affect the taste and quality of your coffee.

Rebecca, a coffee expert from the Moccamaster team, says that not cleaning your coffee maker makes it harder for the water to flow through the machine properly. This can result in slower brewing times and weak, under-extracted coffee.

If you’re not cleaning your coffee maker regularly, you may also notice a funky taste in your coffee. This is because stale coffee grounds and oils can accumulate over time, causing your brews to taste off.

There are three main areas of your coffee maker that need regular cleaning: the carafe, the filter basket, and the water reservoir. Emptying and rinsing the carafe after each use, washing the filter basket, and wiping down the water reservoir will help keep your machine in top shape.

It’s also important to descale your coffee maker regularly to remove any mineral build-up. Descaling instructions can usually be found in the user manual or on the manufacturer’s website.

When cleaning your coffee maker, make sure to use a non-abrasive cleaner and avoid harsh chemicals that could damage the machine. It’s also a good idea to give your coffee maker a deep clean every few months by running a mixture of vinegar and water through the machine.

Remember, keeping your coffee maker clean is an easy way to ensure better-tasting coffee. So, don’t skimp on the cleaning and you’ll be rewarded with great-tasting brews every time.

11 Not learning how to steam

One of the most important skills for a barista is knowing how to steam milk properly. This is especially crucial when it comes to making drinks like lattes and cappuccinos, where the quality of the steamed milk can make or break the beverage.

Many coffee makers come with a built-in steam wand, which allows you to steam milk for your drinks. However, if you don’t know how to use it correctly, you may end up with disappointing results.

Steaming milk is not as simple as just sticking the wand in and turning it on. There are several factors to consider, including the angle of the steam wand, the position of the tip, and the amount of steam and heat you’re using. All of these factors can affect the texture and taste of the milk.

For example, if you don’t position the steam wand correctly, you may end up with large bubbles and froth that is too airy. This can make your drink look unprofessional and can result in a weak and diluted taste.

On the other hand, if you don’t use enough steam and heat, you may end up with milk that is too cold and does not have the desired texture. This can result in a drink that is not as enjoyable to drink and may leave you longing for that creamy and velvety texture.

If you’re a beginner, don’t be discouraged! Steaming milk is a skill that takes practice to master. To start, make sure you have fresh, cold milk. Place the steam wand just below the surface of the milk, at a slight angle. Turn the steam on full blast and let the milk spin in a whirlpool. Once the milk reaches around 150°F (65°C), turn off the steam and give the jug a few light taps on the counter to remove any large bubbles. Then swirl the milk gently in the jug to incorporate any smaller bubbles.

By following these steps and practicing, you’ll soon be able to steam milk like a pro and create cafe-quality beverages at home.


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