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The Coffee Commandments

We maintain an almost fanatical devotion to coffee, advocating for good beans and best brewing practices, and evangelizing for our favorite cafes and roasters. It's only appropriate, then, that we should share the commandments of coffee brewing. There were ten, but the tablet containing other five commandments was used to clean a burr grinder in Brooklyn last year and was lost to history. Here, for your elucidation, are the remaining five:

Thou Shalt Purchase Good Whole Bean Coffee: By "good," we mean beans that are carefully sourced, expertly roasted, packed and shipped fresh, and not allowed to sit for extended periods of time. The kind of beans, in other words, that you're not likely to find on your supermarket shelves. Third Wave, whether from HiLine or your local favorite... not Gevalia, not Starbucks.

Purchase a Grinder: I mean, verily, those beans aren't going to grind themselves. Some roasters -- including HiLine -- will grind to order so that you're not only getting fresh beans, you're getting the proper grind for your favorite brewing method. However, that tends to be the exception, since most pre-ground beans are a lowest-common-denominator "general purpose" grind that might be fine for a drip coffee maker, but won't work for espresso or French press. You're also left up the proverbial creek if you need to switch your prep. Grinding your own lets you brew French press or espresso in the morning, and change grinds to brew a carafe for company later in the day.

Mind Thy Technique: If we may be so profane: don't half-ass your technique. Beyond the grind, the weight and ratio of coffee to water, water temperature, brew time and storage time all factor into how good your coffee will taste. If you're new to this, or trying a new brewing method for the first time, Google is your friend. Which brings us to our next point:

Whole Bean Coffee, Nespresso Pods, Coffee Subscriptions and More


Be Thou Unafraid to Experiment: Coffee is as varied as the people who drink it. And like people, if you want to bring out the best in your beans, it doesn't help to treat all varieties alike. Some coffees thrive in a KONE, but would lose much of their flavor and nuance if you introduced a paper filter or Chemex. In other cases, a bit of filtration lets flavors shine through that a less subtle brewing method would simply turn to mud. While some brewing gear can seem (or be) prohibitively expensive, it's easy to build quite the arsenal on a limited budget.

Thou Shalt Support Thy Charming Local Indie Cafe: Even if you geek out on grinding and brewing your own coffee, keep a coffee notebook, and own as many coffee gadgets as Imelda Marcos owned shoes, there's a lot to be said for supporting your favorite local cafe or coffee shop. You're keeping money in the community, supporting small business, and joining in a community of people who really love their coffee. Boost your caffeine karma (and read our guides to coffee shop etiquette here and here). For a different take, follow Coffee Commandments (no relation) on Twitter: