Cold water - Be sure you are using cold water when you are making your coffee. If the water in your area is bad then get a filter or buy a good quality bottled water.
Good Quality Coffee- Be sure you are using a good quality coffee bean. Shop around, and do what many chefs do, get to know your coffee purveyor. Find out where they buy their beans, do some taste testing.
Grind It Fresh - Grind the coffee just before you use it, and make sure you use the proper grind. It is different depending on the type of coffee you are brewing (drip, French press, perculator, etc).
Good Equipment - Make sure you have a good coffee maker, it can make a world of difference.[/list=a]
Finally, there are some great books on coffee that can really help you understand how coffee is grown and how it reacts when it is roasted, ground, and brewed. One I would suggest is for sale in the ChefTalk Store (shameless plug I know, but it is a good book). Check out:
Nicko is right, and always remember it is 3oz. water to every tablespoon of coffee, this may seem excessive,but it is necessary. If you like a weaker brew always thin out the finished cup or pot with more hot water, like a Cafe'Americano. If you brew with more water to less coffee, you actually get a lot of bitter elements in the final brew, so remember:
3 ounces water to every tablespoon of ground beans.
Thanks to ChefJulie, Nicko, and chefjohnpaul!! I looked up the smellthecoffee.com website - very informative. I also found almost a whole chapter on coffee in (of all places) the New Joy of Cooking. They recommended the same ratio as was mentioned above. And, in addition, they recommended using a "gold-washed" metal filter, instead of a paper filter - for the best flavor. I'm going shopping for coffee beans and catering a medium size party next Monday night. I'll let you know how the coffee came out. Thanks again ..... Bayou
We have a reverse osmosis water conditioner at home, and it provides wonderfully pure water for drinking and cooking. Where I live the water is full of dissolved minerals (the aquifer flows between layers of limestone), so a water softener system is a must if you want to avoid calcium-caked pipes after a couple of years. Softened water tastes horrible, so we opted for an RO system and love it. I don't have to buy bottled water. It's been well worth the investment. I can use less coffee, tea, etc. because I don't have to cover up the taste of purification chemicals.
Happy to report that the "dinner for 10" came off great, and the coffee (mocha-java) seemed to be well received. Our local water comes from Artesian wells, and is very pure. So, I didn't use bottled water this time. I did follow the ratio listed above.
The second a coffee bean is finished roasting, time, temperature, and the air around us work against it to compromise its quality; a perfect bean becomes less so with every passing hour, losing flavor and character the longer it’s stored. Jerry Baldwin, chairman of Peet’s Coffee & Tea of Berkeley, California, estimates that 90 percent of the coffee most Americans drink is stale—a surprisingly high statistic, but one that a little knowledge can help ameliorate. Founded in 1966, Peet’s was one of the first companies in America to proffer specialty roasts of coffee and insist on roasting it (as well as serving it in their shops) according to methods that guarantee the best cup possible.
The purchase date of your coffee isn't nearly as important as the roasting date, so when buying coffee, look to be sure it was recently roasted. Jerry recommends buying beans in small quantities to prevent them from sitting for too long in storage; any coffee you’ll use within a couple of days can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator; the rest should find a spot in the freezer, where the beans will keep for up to a month.
To achieve the freshest flavor, grind your coffee just before you brew it. Small grinders are inexpensive and easy to find—just be sure to wipe them out with a paper towel after each use. When grinding the beans, gently rotate the grinder to ensure that the beans are evenly ground.
Using the best water available is essential when making coffee; if your tap water has an unpleasant taste, you can purchase a purifying filter. One problem inherent in many coffeemakers is that the temperature of the water isn’t hot enough when it pours over the ground beans; what results is a blander, far less interesting brew. For best results, Jerry recommends using a press pot, also known as a French press, instead of an electric coffeemaker.
In a kettle, bring water to a boil, then let it stand for about a minute. Use two level tablespoons of ground coffee for each six ounces of water, or two ounces per quart. (Follow the same instructions if you’re brewing decaffeinated coffee, but increase the ratio slightly to enhance the flavor. If the brewed coffee is too strong, you can add a bit more water to dilute it.) Place the coffee in the press pot, and pour the water over it. If it bubbles, this is another sign of its freshness; fresh coffee releases gas as it comes into contact with hot water, a process called blooming. Gently slosh the water in the pot to saturate all the grounds, and allow them to steep for two to three minutes. Carefully push the press pot’s top (which contains the filter) to the bottom of the pot, and pour the coffee into heated mugs.