Brewing Guide

grocery storesSeven Steps To Excellent Brewed Coffee

  1. Equipment
    The cleaner the equipment, the better the taste. Always clean your grinder, dispenser, coffee maker, filter devices, brewing containers and servers thoroughly after each use. Coffee oils, when left to accumulate will develop into coffee tars which will partially dissolve when contacted with either water or coffee, and impart a bitter or astringent flavor into the finished coffee beverage
  2. Water
    When brewed properly coffee contains 98.5% to 98.85% water, using good quality water is essential. Fresh cold tap water or bottled water is recommended.
  3. Temperature
    Heat fresh cold water to 200 degrees Fahrenheit plus or minus 5 degrees. Hold brewed coffee at 185° Fahrenheit, preferably in a preheated insulated server. Never hold brewed coffee on a burner longer than 20 minutes, nor reheat brewed coffee.
  4. Grind & Time
    Use the grind designed for your coffee maker. Too fine a grind for your equipment will produce an over-extracted astringent coffee beverage. Too coarse of a grind will produce a weak flavorless coffee beverage. The grind determines the length of time coffee and water should be together.
  5. Formula
    No one formula will satisfy all coffee drinkers, but with proper brewing conditions, optimum flavor can be achieved using a formula of 14 to 20 ounces of fresh cold water to 1 ounce of fresh ground coffee.
  6. Coffee
    Start with top-quality coffees from a source whose standards you trust. Evaluate the origin of the bean, the roast, the blend and the coffee’s freshness to make a selection most suitable for your taste and the occasion.
  7. Freshness
    Always use fresh coffee. The three elements that most affect the staling process are air, moisture, and heat. To best protect against these elements store your coffee in a cool dry place, avoiding the refrigerator and the freezer. The flavor of coffee deteriorates after roasting when exposed to air. Ground coffee will age more rapidly as more surface is exposed. For maximum freshness, buy roaster-fresh, nitrogen-flushed, portion pack or valve-pack coffee.

More details

Time and grind are directly related. The type of grind will determine the brewing or water to coffee contact time. Brewing time begins when the first water touches the coffee, and the last water has passed through the grounds.

Contact times for 200°F water evenly distributed over a level ground bed of coffee.

Fine 1-4 minutes
Medium (Drip) 4-6 minutes
Coarse (Urn) 6-8 minutes


The amount of water used for brewing coffee determines the strength and flavor of the finished beverage.

No one formula will satisfy all coffee drinkers, but with proper brewing conditions, the recommended formula is 14 ounces to 20 ounces of fresh cold water to one ounce of freshly ground coffee.

Adjusted for water absorption by coffee grounds
0.5 gallon (64 oz.) 3.25/4.5 oz. 11-12 five-ounce servings
(restaurant decanter)
75 ounces 3.75/5.3 oz. 12-14 five-ounce servings (2.2 liter airpot)
1.5 gallons (192 oz.) 9.6/13.7 oz. 33-34 five-ounce servings
2.5 gallons (320 oz.) 16/23 oz. 55-58 five-ounce servings


Less water will usually yield a stronger flavored beverage, while more water will produce a weaker beverage with less flavor.

The strength of the coffee and its percent of soluble solids are the same. Soluble solids are the materials extracted from the ground coffee by hot water. The percent of soluble solids may be measured with a coffee hydrometer or by a dehydration method.


Serve coffee as soon after brewing as possible. Coffee loses flavor and aroma quickly. If brewed coffee must be “held” on a direct heat source, it should be held at 185°F, and for no longer than 20 minutes. Higher temperatures cause coffee to break down quickly, producing a bitter and flat taste. Lower temperatures make the brew too cold and consumers will be dissatisfied. Reheating brewed coffee breaks down the components of the coffee and results in an undesirable flavor.

Thermal servers are the best way to hold brewed coffee at the proper serving temperature because they are insulated, airtight, and no direct heat is applied to the coffee. Sealed containers prevent evaporation and retain aromatic compounds. The best insulated and sealed servers, if preheated with hot water, may hold coffee at acceptable serving temperatures for several hours.

For iced coffee, brew double strength coffee, and allow it to cool before pouring over ice.

Troubleshooting guide: What to do if your coffee just doesn’t taste right

If ground coffee has a stale or rancid odor or flavor:

  • It may not be fresh. For best results purchase coffee in a gas-flushed, vacuum-packed or valve-pack packages.
  • High temperatures in your storage area may have caused the coffee to become stale too quickly.
  • Too much moisture in your storage area may have caused the coffee to become stale.

If brewed coffee has a rancid odor or taste:

  • Check for a dirty filter or urn bag, or brewing basket or gridded riser that supports the filter. If there is the slighted trace of odor on a cloth filter, clean it thoroughly or replace it. Paper filters should be used only once, and discarded if they have picked up foreign odors from being stored too closely to foods and supplies.
  • Check for a dirty urn liner, connecting pipe or faucet. They should be cleaned thoroughly. If the seat-cup in the faucet has an unpleasant odor, it should be replaced.
  • The brewing cartridge, airpot, or serving decanters may need to be disassembled and cleaned thoroughly.
  • The brew may not have been prepared using fresh, cold water.

If brewed coffee tastes bitter:

  • Check for over-extraction. Refer to coffee/water contact time limits in “Brewing Time” section.
  • Coffee may have been held too long at too high a temperature. The time should not exceed 20 minutes unless coffee is held in an insulated server. The holding temperature should not exceed 185° F.
  • Brewed coffee may have been repoured through spent grounds. Water should pass through grounds only once, regardless of the brewing method used.
  • Water may have been artificially softened, extending the brewing time.
  • Too fine a grind may have been used.
  • Do not stack filters. Stacking filters with pre-measured coffee is not recommended and should be avoided at all cost. Pre-stacking filters exposes ground coffee to oxygen, which deteriorates freshness, resulting in a stale, undesirable, finished beverage. Secondly, the fine particles of the ground coffee accumulate on the base of the filter (as they are stacked one on top of the other) and are directly deposited into the finished brew, creating sediment in the cup and producing a bitter and astringent flavor.

If brewed coffee is weak or watery:

  • Too much water may have been used. Use the ratio of 14 to 20 ounces of fresh cold water to one ounce of freshly ground coffee.
  • The brewing time may have been too short.
  • The brewing water temperature may have been too low.
  • Too coarse a grind may have been used. Make sure you are using the correct grind for the equipment.
  • Check for uniform water distribution from the brewer spray head.
  • Make sure the brew is thoroughly mixed.

If there is an excess amount of sediment in brewed coffee:

  • The filter may be torn. If a cloth filter is used, it may be worn, the weave of the material may be too loose, or the thread count is too low.
  • The grind may be too fine for the filter device.
  • Softened water may have been used.

Coffee Profit Calculator

Model changes in cost, price, volume and more to understand the profitability of your coffee program.

Use the Profit Calculator →

Bodys Coffee

Boyds is great coffee made exactly how you like it, equipment installed exactly how you want it, and service provided exactly how and when you need it.

View our coffees →