The most important part of great-tasting coffee is the coffee itself. And the way you brew it also affects its flavor. Here’s how to make coffee taste good.
To make coffee taste good, there are five components. I recommend choosing medium-roast, medium-grind Arabica beans. Watch out for water that’s too hot – it can make your coffee bitter. And for the best-tasting coffee, try either cold brew or a Chemex brew method.
With these tips, you can make a great-tasting cup of coffee. Here are the details for a great cup of coffee.
How to Make Coffee Taste Good
What kind of coffee beans taste sweeter? For sweeter coffee we’re looking for these three things:
- Arabica coffee
- Medium roast
- Medium grind
- Water temperature
- Brew method
1. Use Arabica for Sweeter Coffee
There are two main kinds of coffee on the market: arabica and robusta.
Arabica tastes sweeter. Arabica coffee has sweeter flavor notes (like chocolate, caramel, berries, and nuts) than robusta does.
It’s also good to remember that fresh coffee makes a difference. So we’re talking about freshly roasted, freshly ground arabica coffee.
It may be a little more expensive to buy freshly roasted whole bean coffee. And you will need to grind it yourself, but trust me it’s worth it. Especially if you’re trying to cut out sugar for health reasons.
With good quality, fresh arabica you may not need to add anything. Seriously, it can make that much of a difference.
2. Use Medium Roast for Sweeter Coffee
It’s best to go with a light to medium roast if you want a sweeter flavor from your coffee because it’s easier to avoid bitter results.
Often the darker the roast the more bitter the coffee can taste, especially if it’s not high-quality, freshly roasted coffee. And if it’s over-extracted while brewing.
There can be a fine line between a dark roast and a burnt roast. If the roaster knows their stuff it’s all good, but if they don’t… oops, yuck!
I do enjoy a rich tasting dark roast once in a while, but I need to add something sweet like maple syrup.
I usually prefer a medium roast because I still want that full roasty flavor in my cup but don’t want to add anything sweet. The Z-Wrangler by Kicking Horse Coffee (pictured above) is one of my favorites.
You’ll notice that one of the flavor note descriptions is “sweet,” many medium roast arabica coffees have flavor notes that taste sweet, like chocolate, caramel, vanilla, and nuts.
Light roasts can have more floral and citrus flavor notes which can be great, although I prefer them in iced coffee. But this is a personal preference.
When it comes to coffee you do you. 🙂
3. Medium Grind the Best for Sweet Coffee
Drip and pour over tend to be among the most popular at home brew methods and they do best with medium-ground coffee.
If it’s ground too fine it could over-extract (too bitter), if it’s too coarse it could under-extract (watery, weak coffee). So a medium grind makes getting great flavor easier.
French press is also a popular choice, although I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re after a sweeter/less-bitter flavor in your coffee.
It’s easier to over-extract with a french press, which as we’ve mentioned makes coffee taste bitter. But if you’ve got one experiment with how long you let the coffee sit in the hot water. If it’s bitter try less time and/or a coarser grind.
So for a drip and/or a pour-over brew, you’ll need to use medium ground coffee.
4. Which Kind of Water is Best for Sweeter Coffee?
You should use filtered or bottled water because tap water can have funky flavors that could make your coffee taste worse.
The temperature needs to be around 195°F to 205°F (90.5°C to 96°C)
If you’re using an electric drip machine then you probably don’t need to worry too much about the temperature because the machines regulate it for you.
But temperature makes a difference so when you’re using a kettle (unless you have a temperature-controlled one) it’s best to let your water sit for 30 seconds to a minute off the heat after it has boiled.
If the water is too hot when it hits the coffee more of those bitter flavors could end up in your cup. And as you probably guessed, if it’s too cold your coffee will be watery and weak.
2 Best Brew Methods for Sweeter Coffee
Sweetening your coffee without sugar is not just about what you add or don’t add to it.
Now that you’ve selected the right bean (probably a medium roast, medium grind, Arabica), there’s something else to consider: the way you brew your coffee.
How to brew your coffee so it tastes sweeter
If you want your coffee to taste sweeter without adding sugar you can brew it in a way that reduces some of the bitter flavor notes that end up in your cup.
A couple of my favorite ways to brew sweeter coffee are to:
- Brew with a Chemex
- Brew cold brew coffee
Why Chemex coffee tastes sweeter
The Chemex coffee maker uses special paper filters that help keep some of the oils, grounds, and other things that add to bitter-tasting coffee out of your cup.
Because it is a pour-over type of brew it helps ensure that your coffee does not over-extract (steep in hot water for too long).
Overextraction leads to bitter-tasting coffee.
4 Tips for Smooth Chemex Brewing:
- Use a medium grind
- After your water comes to a boil let it sit for a minute (30-60 seconds) before using it (water that’s too hot can add to bitter flavors)
- Use a medium roast (freshly ground beans are always best)
- Keep your Chemex nice and clean, a dirty coffee maker can make your coffee taste bitter. (More about how to clean your coffee gear.)
I use my Chemex every day.
You can also do a little Chemex hack if you already have a pour-over. Just use Chemex filters instead of your regular ones.
This will work so you can see the difference the thicker filters make, but just remember that they won’t fit perfectly – so they will always perform better in the Chemex maker.
Why cold brew coffee tastes sweeter
Cold brew can taste sweeter than some other brew methods because of what happens (or doesn’t happen) when you slow brew coffee at a cold or room temperature.
At cooler temperatures, some of the oils and acids that create bitter flavors are not extracted, but the sweeter ones are.
Overextraction is not the same issue because we are not using hot water.
To learn all about cold brew coffee and how to make it check out this post.
5 Tips for Making Cold Brew Coffee:
- Use coarsely ground beans (like you would for french press)
- Use a light to medium roast (freshly ground beans are always best)
- Use a 1:4 ratio (1 cup of coffee grounds to 4 cups water)
- Let it steep for 12 to 24 hours in the fridge
- Dilute it 50/50 with water before drinking.
How do you like to brew your coffee? Hopefully, these tips will help you to make coffee that taste good – without adding sugar.
- About the Author
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Dena Haines is a co-founder and blogger on EnjoyJava – and is working to make it the best coffee blog in the world.
She also blogs about travel at Storyteller.Travel and photography at Storyteller Tech. Dena is a partner at Storyteller Media, a publishing company she started with her husband, Bryan.