Coffee Brewing Tips from the Pros

Today, we continue our series we like to call, “Let’s take some great stuff from our pals at Equal Exchange and publish it on our blog.” (Luckily, they don’t mind this.) Upper Valley coffee lovers, check out some of these awesome tips and how-to videos from the folks who know fair trade coffee like nobody’s business.

Brewing Tips from Equal Exchange

 Originally published on the Equal Exchange website

Download the Brewing Tips brochure

How to Make a French Press

How to Brew with a Clever

How to Brew Coffee with a Aeropress

The 3 Basic Elements

Coffee is 99% water! Use only the cleanest, freshest water available. It’s best not to use distilled water in which the natural minerals have been removed because coffee interacts with these minerals to naturally enhance the taste. Bottled spring water or filtered tap water is ideal.

Water Temperature
The perfect temperature to brew coffee is between 195˚ and 205˚F. Since many automatic drip brewers average only 850 watts of power, it’s important to make sure that your brewer’s capacity is at least 1,000 watts as this is required to bring the water temperature up to the proper range. When brewing manually with a French press or filter cone, remove your kettle of boiling water from its heat source and let it sit 2 minutes before pouring over your ground coffee.

When you purchase whole bean coffee, it’s best to grind your coffee right before brewing, although it’s perfectly acceptable to grind your coffee when you buy it. Your goal is to achieve the right grind for the right brewing method:

  • coarse grind for French press brewing
  • medium-coarse grind (aka. “regular’) for automatic drip brewers
  • medium grind for filter cone method
  • fine grind when making espresso

You may also purchase Equal Exchange drip grind coffee that has been ground and vacuum-sealed to preserve freshness for automatic drip brewers and filter cones.

Coffee-to-Water ratio
Whatever method of brewing you use, the general standard is 1-2 Tbsp of coffee for every 6 oz of water. For the French press, use 2 Tbsp per 6 oz of water. Automatic drip brewers, on the other hand, tend to produce a desirable brew when using as little as 1 Tbsp per 6 oz of water. You’ll want to experiment and adjust depending on whether you prefer a stronger or milder brew.

Brewing Time
Once your coffee finishes brewing, the flavor and quality begins to deteriorate. In the case of the French press, after it’s brewed 3-5 minutes and the coffee grounds have been pushed down to the bottom of the glass vessel, we recommend that you transport the coffee into a thermos, or serve it immediately; if left in the press, the coffee will continue to brew and become bitter. In general, we recommend that you transfer coffee from any method of brewing into a stainless steel thermos or an insulated carafe to keep it hot for the next cup.

Storing Your Coffee
Storing your coffee in an airtight glass or ceramic canister is optimal. Properly stored coffee can stay fresh up to two weeks and should not be refrigerated, nor is it necessary to keep it in the freezer. For maximum freshness, we recommend purchasing only as much coffee as you will consume in a 1 1/2 to 2 week period.

Thanks to our friends at Equal Exchange for the great tips!


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Ken Davis

Ken Davis is the Co-op's senior copywriter. Email him at