Coffee is a great way to wake up, however, several coffee brewing factors can affect your morning cup.

Here are the top three coffee brewing mistakes to avoid:

  • Not properly storing coffee

Whether you pre-grind your coffee or grind whole beans before brewing, the key to freshness is storing your coffee properly.

Coffee can quickly absorb odors and so you will want to keep your coffee at room temperature, in an airtight container, away from spices and direct sunlight.

Avoid storing your coffee in the refrigerator or freezer as cold temperatures can stress the packaging and create cracks exposing the coffee to air.

  • Mismatching your grind style

Each coffee brewing machine requires a different style of grind to optimize the taste of the coffee. Grind your coffee too fine for your coffeemaker, you run the risk of having bitter coffee. Grinding coffee too coarse and you will find your coffee is almost tea-like or watered-down.

On a standard commercial coffee grinder, the dial shows 8 grind styles, from coarse to Turkish. Be sure that your coffee grind matches with the style of coffee brewer you will be using.

Most home coffee makers are suited for auto-drip. However, if you are brewing using a pour over, you will want your coffee ground fine. If you are brewing using the French press or cold brew you will need a coarse grind.

If you like to use the Chemex, depending on how much coffee you are brewing at once you will have to adjust the grind size. This way you do not run the risk of over extracting your coffee during the brewing process.

  • Not using clean coffee brewing equipment

Using a clean coffee grinder and coffee maker can dramatically improve the taste of your home brewed coffee.

Over time, oils and coffee grinds build up and can leave off-tasting flavors in your equipment. By using coffee equipment cleaners and regularly cleaning your brewing equipment you help extend the life of your coffee brewer and grinder. We recommend cleaning your brewing equipment at least once a month.

Avoiding these three mistakes and you will be well on your way to enjoying your coffee at home.

“He who would travel happily must travel light.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, French poet and aviator

So, you’re going on a trip? Regardless of if the trip is an early morning drive or late-night arrival, no adventure is complete without your favorite coffee. For this reason, we wanted to provide some tips for packing light while keeping the full flavor of life.

PACKING YOUR BREWING KIT

With so many brewing devices on the market. If your travels have you staying in a hotel or Airbnb, you will have different needs than if you are camping.

First, ask yourself some questions:

  • Will you have access to electrical outlets for a small water kettle heater? Will you be able to heat up water at a campsite?
  • Do you plan on taking a small grinder or pre-ground coffee on your trip?
  • Do you prefer an espresso-like shot of coffee or do you need to brew for multiple cups?
  • Do you prefer brewing with or without a paper filter?

You will want to assure your equipment arrives at your destination in one piece. If you are flying, you’ll need something a bit sturdier than if you are driving to your destination.

TRAVEL LIGHT

Now is not the time to get bogged down by heavy and fragile equipment.

Manual brewers, like the AeroPress are small and packable which make them a backpacker’s favorite.  If you use a French press, you do not have to worry about bringing paper filters and you can brew enough coffee to share.

Give some thought on if you want to take a coffee grinder with you or if you prefer the convenience of pre ground coffee.

DURABILITY

Err on the side of caution. Select coffee gear that will stand up to the rigors of life on the road. Stainless steel can get dinged, but you should still be able to brew your coffee just fine.

TRAVEL FRIENDLY GEAR INCLUDE:

The AeroPress

  • Small, compact, and easy to stash in a day pack or luggage
  • It’s easy to clean and you have the flexibility of brewing a single espresso-like shot or add hot water to craft an Americano-style coffee.

Stainless Steel French Press

  • The Planetary Design French press allows you to brew your coffee and drink out of the French press because of their bru-stop. This press features a plate that separates the coffee from the coffee grounds.
  • The double wall stainless steel is durable and will keep your coffee hot. There is even a model that you brew your coffee and can drink from the press, too!

Hario Skerton Plus

  • This grinder is perfect for small luggage and does not require electricity. This is a great option for those who want to continue grinding their coffee beans before brewing.
  • The grinder base doubles as a storage container for ground coffee.

Electric kettle

  • Available in a variety of sizes and materials. A great option for those who do not have access to a stove or campfire.

HAVE FUN!

Now that you have your coffee kit assembled, it is time to test it out on your first trip.

Remember, adventure is the flavor of life. As your trip needs evolve, we are here to help enhance the flavor of your adventure!

Tips for getting the most out of your coffee.

You have taken the time to select your coffee and now you have brought them home. Now how do you store your coffee?

Here are some helpful tips for storing your coffee so that you get the most out of it.

The original packaging does a pretty good job keeping your coffee beans fresh.
When you purchase coffee from Red Cedar Coffee Co. you will notice a one-way valve on the front of your bag. This valve releases gas from the coffee beans while keeping oxygen out of the bag.

The foil bag protects the coffee beans from moisture and light. It is always best to open one bag of coffee at a time.

Grind your coffee right before you brew.
To maximize the lifetime and flavors of your coffee you will want to grind your coffee right before brewing it. Coffee grinding releases gases and aromas which are important when you brew coffee.

Keep your coffee at room temperature.
Coffee beans can be sensitive to temperature, moisture, and air.

Store your coffee away from spices as coffee can quickly absorb odors. If placed in a cabinet, be sure it is away from the oven.

We suggest keeping your coffee beans at room temperature out of direct sunlight.

While there are various opinions around this topic, we feel that freezing coffee does not help your coffee in the long term. Freezer burn, the potential for packaging to develop micro cracks, condensation and then forgetting it is in the freezer, it is best to keep your coffee at room temperature.

Airtight containers are coffee’s best friend.
The best way to keep your coffee fresh is to remove the air from your storage container. We are fans of the AirScape. The AirScape container has an inner lid with air-valve that forces air out and locks freshness in. The AirScape works great for both whole bean and ground coffee which makes us love it even more.

Coffee is grown in over 50 countries, between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. This area is known as the “Bean Belt” or “Coffee Belt.” It is estimated that there approximately 25 million coffee producers worldwide.

WHAT IS FAIR TRADE?

Fair Trade is a movement that began in the 1970s as Max Havelaar in the Netherlands. The goal of the fair trade movement is to protect and impower producers. In 1988, Mexico became the first coffee origin to sell as fair trade.

Fair trade coffees are typically grown by members of a cooperative. The members are guaranteed a minimum price to protect them from the volatility of the coffee market.

Producers must meet social, economic, and environmental standards in order to maintain their fair trade certification.

THE IMPACT OF FAIR TRADE

Fair trade’s goal is to help provide a more sustainable livelihood for producers and to expand business partnerships.

Fair Trade USA reports that since 1998, sales of Fair Trade Certified coffee has generated over $600 million on financial benefits to coffee producers.

Once the coffee is sold, most of the proceeds go directly to the coffee producers. A small portion, however, will be used for the Community Development Funds.

The Community Development Funds provide the cooperative an opportunity to financially back quality and equipment improvements (i.e., depulpers, solar dryers, farm renovations) or social projects (such as education, clean water projects and health care).

RED CEDAR COFFEE CO AND FAIR TRADE CERTIFIED

Red Cedar Coffee Co. has been roasting Fair Trade Certified organic coffees since 2008. While not all fair trade coffees are certified organic, we have chosen to roast Fair Trade coffees which also carry the organic certification.

Our Fair Trade Certified organic coffees carry the Fair Trade Certified seal on the front label.

Summer calls for colder coffee. Of course, you can enjoy these beverages year-round. Cold brew and iced coffees are brewed differently. So read on to see which option is best for you.

COLD BREW

Cold brew is brewed using cool or room temperature water which results in coffee with lower acidity and a smoother taste. This is because cold brew bypasses a chemical reaction that occurs when hot water hits coffee grounds. This means cold brew is easier for those with frequent heartburn or sensitive stomachs.

Coffee is ground coarse and will steep in water for 12-24 hours. After the coffee has finished steeping, the resulting liquid is coffee concentrate. You will want to mix the coffee concentrate with water, milk, or milk alternative to create a ready to drink beverage.

We recommend a ratio of 1 part coffee concentrate to 3 parts water, milk, or milk alternative. However, feel free to experiment with your preferred ratio.

Cold brew does not mean that you must drink your coffee cold. Just add hot water to your coffee concentrate and you can enjoy a hot cup of coffee.

Cold brew coffee can be made using the Toddy Cold Brew system and the concentrate can stay in your fridge up to 2 weeks.

ICED COFFEE

This is brewed with hot water and is more acidic than cold brew. Traditionally this was done in restaurants as a quick way to serve iced coffee.

The reason this coffee is more acidic compared to cold brew is that there is a chemical reaction that occurs when hot water hits coffee grounds.

Iced coffee can be made in a Chemex or drip coffee brewer and then cooling the coffee down in the fridge. Pouring hot coffee directly over ice and lead to more bitter flavor and weaker taste.

COOL DRINKS WITH COLD BREW

Cold brew gives you the flexibility of creating unique beverages and mocktails.

  • A cold brew coffee float is cold brew coffee with a couple scoops of ice cream.
  • To make a mocktail, add syrups and a dash of bitter and serve in a rocks glass.
  • Mix tonic water and cold brew to create a coffee tonic. Experiment with different types of tonic water flavors or add cherries for a touch of sweetness.

Have you ever cleaned your coffee maker?

If you are like most, the answer is likely never.

It is easy for overlook your coffee brewer and grinder as equipment that needs to be cleaned.

By regularly cleaning your brewing equipment you help extend the life of your coffee brewer and grinder. Plus, you can continue to enjoy great tasting coffee.

CLEANING THE COFFEE BREWER

Coffee brewers often require cleaning in two areas: removing scale in the water tank and removing coffee oils from the sprayhead/brew basket.

Coffee oils are left behind after each brew cycle and can be tricky to remove. But please, do not clean your brewer with vinegar! Not only does it make it extremely difficult to remove the vinegar afterwards, but vinegar can void your coffee brewer’s warranty. Rather, equipment cleaners are designed to dissolve the buildup of oils and are fragrance free.

Descaling powder works in both espresso machines and coffee brewers. If you notice mineral scale build up in your water tank and on the heating element, it is time to clean the tank. Mineral scale builds up over time from the calcium and magnesium that is left behind in the water. If you are noticing that your water is not getting hot enough, or you see flakes of scale floating in the water tank, it is time to use a descaling powder.

Cleaning powders address the need to clean coffee oils from the sprayhead, brew basket and carafe. The cleaning powders do not leave a flavor residue behind in the coffee maker. Cleaning powders are great for removing tough coffee stains from your favorite mug. If you notice oils at the bottom of your Chemex or Hario drip pot, mix some cleaning powder in with hot water and let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing.

CLEANING THE COFFEE GRINDER

Most coffee grinders are not designed to be taken apart for cleaning. With electrical motors and burrs water cannot be used to clean grinders. A word of caution: do not grind rice to try to clean your coffee grinder.

Grinder tablets are specially formulated to draw out the coffee oils from around the burrs and can help prevent clogging. All you have to do is run one packet of cleaning tablets through your grinder, and a little bit of coffee afterwards to remove any bits of tablets left behind by static.

We recommend cleaning your coffee grinder once a month. However, if you are often grinding dark roasts or flavored coffees, you may want to clean your grinder more often because these beans are oilier.

CLEANING AN ESPRESSO MACHINE

Espresso machines can be the trickiest to clean. Espresso Machine Cleaning Tablets are designed for easy rinsing and cleaning of the inner working of your espresso machine. Each model of espresso machine has a different frequency of cleaning schedule so you will want to look at your machine’s user manual and follow the directions outlined by the manufacture. Espresso machine brushes are specially designed to clean the group head and espresso machine screens.

By taking time to clean your brewing equipment you will be able to continue enjoying great tasting coffee at home.

Brewing a great tasting cup of coffee does not require a lot of fancy equipment. With a few tweaks you can get great tasting coffee from any coffee maker.

Here are some tips and tricks to help you brew the best cup of coffee.

Use freshly roasted coffee.

Look for coffee roasters, like Red Cedar Coffee Co., instead of grocery store coffee brands. For some grocery brands it may have taken 6-9 months for the coffee to work its way through their distribution system from being roasted to being placed on the store shelf. By comparison, you can enjoy coffee from a local roaster just days after it was roasted.

Pay attention to water.

Start off with good tasting water since coffee is approximately 98% water. Filtered or spring water can improve the taste of your coffee.   

Clean your grinder and coffee maker from time to time.

Use specially formulated equipment cleaners to make sure your coffee maker brews good tasting coffee. Please, do not use vinegar to clean your coffee maker! Click here for more information on cleaning your coffee maker and grinder.

Weigh out your coffee beans. 

We are often asked “Do you use a measured or heaping scoop of coffee?” Using a digital kitchen scale helps to brew coffee with consistency and accuracy. It is a small step that is extremely helpful to make sure that you are replicating the same brewing recipe each time. Oftentimes a brewing recipe will show a brewing ratio such as 1:16 (one-ounce coffee grounds to 16 ounces water). We find that the brewing ratios of 1:14, 1:15, 1:16, 1:17 works well for most.

Using a pour over? Consider weighing your water, too.

The Chemex and Hario drippers are great ways to brew coffee but can be very difficult to eyeball the right amount of hot water. Place the pour over, filter and coffee grounds onto a digital scale and then tare out the weight. Then, you will want to weight the amount of water you are using (pour the hot water over the coffee grounds). Again, with the help of a digital scale you can with brew consistently.

Grind your coffee before brewing.

Did you know coffee begins to start losing some of its flavor and aromatics as soon as it is ground? Grinding your coffee beans fresh is one of the best ways to brew a more flavorful cup of coffee. Burr grinders are best because they grind coffee consistently.   

Use the correct grind style for the coffee maker you are using.

There are several grind styles when it comes to grinding your coffee. To name a few there is fine, auto-drip and coarse. You want to make sure that you are using the correct grind style for your brewing method. This is important because if the grind is too large, you will end up with a weak cup of coffee. If the coffee grind is too fine for your coffee maker then you end up with a bitter, over-extracted cup of coffee. Most drip coffee makers and single serve units work well on the auto-drip setting. If you are using a French press or Toddy cold brew system, you will want to have your coffee ground coarse.

Preheat your coffee carafe, Chemex or French press prior to brewing.

This is helpful especially during the colder months when heat loss is more noticeable. Heat up some hot water ahead to time and pour it into your coffee maker’s carafe, or your Chemex or French press before you brew. The hot water will take the chill out of the coffee maker and your coffee will stay hotter for a while longer. After sitting for about 10 minutes, pour out the hot water and then brew your pot of coffee. This trick also works great for travel mugs.

Carefully store your coffee. 

Coffee beans can be sensitive to temperature, moisture, and air. Keep your coffee in an airtight container at room temperature and out of direct sunlight. Avoid storing your coffee in the freezer or refrigerator.

Happy brewing!

Did you know coffee begins to start losing some of its flavor and aromatics as soon as it is ground? Grinding your coffee beans fresh is one of the best ways to brew a more flavorful cup of coffee.

If you like to have the flexibility of grinding for different brewing devices or wish to get the most flavor out of your coffee, you may want to consider grinding your coffee before brewing.

BLADE VS. BURR GRINDERS

When it comes to choosing a coffee grinder you have two options.

Blade grinders are ones that have a whirly-style blade (like spice grinders) that spins to grind the coffee bean. These grinders can heat the coffee as they operate due to friction. Many blade grinders have a button that must be held down to grind; depending on who is grinding the coffee, it is harder to achieve a consistent grind on a blade grinder.

Burr grinders have two revolving abrasive surfaces (“burrs”). Burr grinders slice through coffee beans more consistently which is best for brewing flavorful coffee. Look for a burr grinder with numbered settings. This will help grind your coffee consistently.

ELECTRIC OR HAND GRINDER

Electric coffee grinders are plugged into an electrical outlet. These grinders take up more kitchen counter space, and most models provide the option to keep some coffee beans in the hopper. Some grinders have timers so you can replicate your grind time.

If you have the need to travel with your coffee grinder, or do not have the kitchen space, you may want to consider a hand grinder. These grinders are manual which means you are the grinder’s motor. Some brands, like Hario, have burr hand grinders.

WHY WE PREFER BURR GRINDERS

Burr grinders help you brew coffee-shop quality coffee at your home or office. They grind the coffee consistently which takes out any guesswork. These grinders are sturdy, and most will serve you for years to come. That is why we recommend burr grinders.

MAINTAINING YOUR GRINDER

Oils accumulate over time and using the Full Circle grinder cleaning tablet can help you get the most life out of your coffee grinder. If you are grinding dark roast coffees or flavored coffees, you will want to clean your grinder on a more frequent basis.

The grinder tablets have been formulated specifically to remove the coffee oils and residue on the grinder’s burrs and can also prevent jamming of the grinder.

Here is a short article that explains how jams occur and how a little cleaning can prevent them.

The Full Circle grinder tablets we carry in the Tasting Room are food-grade safe and are the same quality of cleaner we use for our grinders.

At Red Cedar Coffee Co. we consider the digital scale as the secret weapon in coffee brewing. Put away the tablespoons and little scoops, and instead use a scale.

Not only does a digital scale take the guesswork out when using a pour over brewer, it helps prevent issues of using too much coffee when using a drip coffee maker.

Weighing ingredients = consistency

Brewing using a digital scale helps to brew coffee for consistency and accuracy. Coffee roasts have different mass which makes measuring by scoop or tablespoon tricky. The digital scale avoids this problem.

Oftentimes a pour over brewing recipe will show a brewing ratio such as 1:16 (one-ounce ground coffee to 16 ounces water). The range for coffee brewing is 1:14 to 1:18. The less water used will brew a stronger cup of coffee, the more water used will brew a lighter cup.

When you find your preferred brewing ratio by using a digital scale you will be able to brew with consistency.

How to use a digital scale for pour overs and emersion methods

For pour over and emersion (French press, cold brew) brewing methods you will want to follow these steps:

  • Place the pour over brewer or French press onto the digital scale
  • Tare (or zero out) the pour over or French press
  • Add the desired coffee grounds into the pour over or French press
  • Tare (or zero out) the coffee grounds
  • Add the desired hot water into pour over or French press

Using the digital scale means you have more control in the amount of water you use. This can be helpful when using a 40 oz. Chemex to brew only 16 oz.

How to use a digital scale for drip coffee brewers

For a drip coffee maker, you can still use your digital scale:

  • Place your flat bottom coffee filter onto the digital scale
  • Tare (or zero out) the coffee filter
  • Add the desired coffee grounds onto the coffee filter

Grams vs. ounces

There are countless digital scales models on the market. Some digital scales, like the Hario brand, measure in grams. Other digital scales allow you to switch from grams to ounces.

Scales that measure in grams will give you a more precise weight when it comes to measuring the weight of water. This is particularly helpful for the Chemex.

Select a digital scale model with the unit of measurement that is easiest for you.

Happy brewing!

In our retail store we are often asked about acidity in coffee. While there’s not a one size fits all approach to answering this question, we have outlined a few points to consider.

The term “acidity” is used a few different ways in the coffee industry.

  1. Acidity can be used to describe the bright and tangy sensation that differentiates higher-grown coffee apart from lower-grade coffee. Tasting notes may describe acidic coffee as sour, citrus, tangy.
  2. Acidity can be used to describe the unpleasant stomach irritant that some coffee drinkers may experience. Sometimes it is due to the reaction the body has to caffeine.
  3. Acidity can be measured on the pH scale, which uses 7.0 as an indicator of neutrality. Numbers over 7 are lower-acid and numbers under 7 are more acidic. Black coffee is considered low on the pH scale around 5.  By comparison, lemon juice has a pH around 2, water is around a pH 7, and baking soda is around pH 9.

There are a few ways to limit the amount of acidity in your coffee.

  1. Choosing coffees that are roasted as medium to dark roasts can reduce acidity in the coffee. However, the darker the roast the more it masks what makes the coffee unique (the origin or “terroir”) and the roast style becomes more noticeable. For darker roasts you may see tasting notes that describe the coffee as bittersweet and dark chocolate.
  2. Try coffee origins (regions) where the coffee tends to have less acidity such as Sumatra, Peru, Colombia or Mexico.
  3. Cold brew your coffee. There’s a reaction that happens when hot water hits the coffee grounds. But using cool or room temperature water and slowing down the brewing process (you need 12-24 hours to brew your coffee) you can reduce the amount of acidity in your coffee. By using the Toddy Cold Brew System that we have in our Tasting Room, you can brew a coffee concentrate that you can keep in your refrigerator. You can add milk, milk alternatives and water to the concentrate to make a ready to drink beverage. If you prefer hot coffee, add hot water to the concentrate and you can continue to enjoy a cup of hot coffee.
  4. Brew using a Chemex Coffee Maker. The paper filters are approximately 20-30% thicker than most paper filters. Chemex Coffee Filters are double-bonded and filter out acidity, bitterness, fats and sediments.

COFFEE RECOMMENDATIONS

A few coffees to consider that have lower-acidity:

  • Sumatran Mandheling (medium roast)
  • Fair Trade Certified Organic Mexican (medium roast)
  • Fair Trade Certified Organic Peru (medium roast)
  • Full Moon (dark roast)
  • Fair Trade Certified Organic Sumatran Italian Roast (dark roast)

BREWING EQUIPMENT RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Toddy Coffee Maker*
  • Chemex Coffee Maker*

*both models sold in retail store