Baby Steps!

I just recently saw What About Bob. My family quotes it often and I was always out of the loop, so I educated myself. And when I watched the quite funny movie I found it had some universal tips that can even help the at-home coffee brewer in you. Use baby steps.

Here is the first small and reasonable goal you can make before you even have a scale. That goal is to take care of your beans. This means properly storing them.

There are a lot of myths about how to store your beans and even how long they’re good for. Jamie cleared the air for us.

After beans have been roasted for two weeks you lose the ease of making a great cup of coffee. They’re not going to taste how they should.

“We’ve all done it. We’ve all bought the pound of coffee and its two and a half weeks, three weeks down the road and you still have the quarter of a pound and you don’t want to throw it away because it’s expensive, so we brew it. And that’s fine. It’s just not gonna be great. It’ll be an ok cup of coffee.”

So what about the freezer? Can you keep it in a tin, ground up until you want to use it?

Not exactly.

You can keep the coffee in the freezer and it will stay good longer to a certain extent. But Jamie says it needs to be a long-term decision.

“It’s not something where you store it there and then take it out every morning. If you are to choose to put your coffee in the freezer it’s because you purchased more you can drink in the time its fresh.”

The steps to properly freezing your coffee are as follows:

Do not open the bag of coffee. Keep it sealed in its original package. Take that bag and put it inside a Ziploc bag and make sure to get all the air out.

Once the coffee is in the freezer you freeze any liquid content. Just because the moisture content of beans isn’t high doesn’t mean it’s not good for the bean. Every time the bag is pulled out there’s an opportunity for condensation. You don’t want that. It destroys the integrity of the bean every time it happens. So, only let it defrost once. Don’t even open the Ziploc bag until it’s room temperature.

If you have the right amount of beans to use in a two-week period you should keep them in an opaque, airtight container.

While your coffee is properly stored there’s another step you can take at home before major purchases need to begin.


I’m a journalist, so my joke is always I write. I don’t do math. But, you’d be surprised with how many numbers and measurements go into making a good cup of coffee. Most of the time I still use a chart.

For as much as I dislike using numbers I’m still very thankful for them, because knowing your ratios makes what could have been a bad cup of coffee a lot better.

This is great for all you readers who don’t have any coffee gadgets (yet). The only thing you’ll need is your electric coffee brewer, which you probably already have, and a scale. (There will be a whole post about scale brands and prices. Plan to spend around $30.)

To make better coffee at home you need to control your water to coffee ratio.

Let’s break it down. This is how Jamie explains it:

We weigh coffee and water in grams, because it’s the easiest. For every gram of coffee you use you should have between 16-18 grams of water.

You’re looking for a ratio of 1:16, 1:17, or 1:18.

It’s easy math, even for me. Jamie says to take your electric coffee brewer’s carafe and tare it out on your scale. This means to weigh it and then pretend like it’s not on the scale anymore. All electronic scales should have a tare button.

Next, fill your electric coffee brewer’s carafe with water and weigh it. Write that number down. Pour your water into your brewer and then divide the total water by 16, 17, or 18, depending on the brew strength you want, the smaller the number you divide with the stronger the coffee will be. The number you get is how much coffee to use.

The equation:

X equals the amount of water in grams

Y equals the amount of coffee in grams you use


This is just the beginning of great coffee. Don’t let it overwhelm you though! Remember, think of it as baby steps.


About Chelsea Kallman

I am a Barista Journalist - a baristaist, journalista, barnalist? Anyway you pour it, I love coffee and writing about the whereabouts, who-abouts and what-abouts of it. Follow me @chelseakallman on Twitter! View all posts by Chelsea Kallman

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