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Perfecting the Art of Office Coffee

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Not everyone in your office may like you – but chances are, most of them really like coffee. And if you can master the perfect coffee pot brew, you might just move up a notch or two on the workplace totem pole. Here's how to break out of your office's cruddy coffee rut, and make a pot all your colleagues will enjoy.

Buy the Right Stuff

Buying pre-ground coffee might save you a step in the brewing process, but it can also pull out a lot of flavor. Ground coffee gets stale faster than whole beans do, and often the coffee at your grocery store has been on the shelf for months. Opt instead for fresh, whole bean coffee, and buy a coffee grinder (preferably a burr or mill grinder) to keep in the office kitchen. Try to source your beans from local coffee shops, as well, since local roasters usually roast their coffee in smaller batches, meaning the stuff they sell is generally more fresh. According to CNET, you should consume coffee within a month of its roast date.

Store With Care

Freshness is key, and in order to keep your office coffee fresh for longer, make sure to store it properly. Most coffee beans come in vacuum-sealed bags with one-way valves near the top, which allow you to smell your coffee, but don't let oxygen enter the bag. According to Forbes, once you open one of those bags, you're on the clock, and should use up those beans within two weeks. Meanwhile, store them in a space away from light, heat, and moisture. Also consider storing them in mason jars, to maintain that vacuum-seal effect.

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Prep Properly

Grind your coffee immediately before brewing it, to preserve as much freshness as possible. Pay attention to the size of the grind, as well – according to the National Coffee Association, overly fine grounds can create bitter coffee, while grounds that are too course may create a flat-tasting brew. And take care with the water you choose; if your office's tap water tastes or smells strongly, consider using filtered water, instead. Make sure it's cold when you fill your coffee pot.

Measure it Out

You're probably used to eyeballing the coffee-to-water ratio, but Death Wish Coffee Company suggests measuring your coffee to find the perfect flavor ratio. Death Wish's preferred ratio is 2 1/2 tablespoons of ground coffee for every 6 ounces of water, or 1 gram of coffee for every 15 grams of water. Finding the most pleasing ratio to you and your colleagues will take some experimentation, so have fun with it, and find what works best for your office.

Watch the Brew Temp

When you're ready to brew, make sure your coffee maker is reaching the optimal temperature for drip coffee. This temperature ranges from 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, many older coffee maker models don't allow you to manually adjust the temperature, in which case you might need to take some creative measures. If your coffee consistently comes up thin, it might not be reaching 195 degrees Fahrenheit. In those cases, pre-boiling your water in a kettle may help heat it up. Take care not to exceed 205 degrees Fahrenheit, though, or else you may actually burn your coffee.

Keep a Clean Machine

Every now and then, take a moment to disassemble your coffee maker and give it a sniff. If it smells like old coffee, it's time to give the machine a bath. Run equal parts white vinegar and water through the machine until it's about halfway done, then shut it off and wait 45 minutes. Finish the brewing cycle, then run it two to three more times with just water. Finally, wash the removable parts, and inspect carefully for especially oily parts.

About the Author

Brenna Swanston is a freelance writer, editor and journalist. She previously reported for the Sun newspaper in Santa Maria, Calif., and holds a bachelor's in journalism from California Polytechnic State University.

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