People who want to like coffee but don’t often say, “I wish coffee tasted like it smells.” No one argues, for the most part, that roasted coffee smells better than it tastes. I used to say the same thing, but now I know that it’s possible to brew a cup of coffee that tastes like it smells.

Most coffee doesn’t taste like it smells and the brewing process is to blame. Most brewing process involve heating coffee many times over a prolonged period of time. Brewed coffee becomes more bitter with each round of heat.

Now think about what your drip coffee maker does. It drips water into the center of a pile of coffee grounds. The center gets most of the water while the edges receive less. The coffee in the center is over-extracted while the coffee on the edges is under-extracted. The uneven brew is already a bad start.

What happens next does even more damage. That poorly-extracted brew lands in the carafe which rests on a large heating plate. The plate heats the coffee over and over again; it works constantly to make the coffee taste more bitter. Percolators are even worse, which explains why “church coffee” usually tastes so awful.

To mask the results of a destructive brewing process we fill our coffee with sugar and cream. Dairy and sugar make anything taste better, even poorly-made coffee. Some have tried to use strong roasts so that flavor and richness have a chance of surviving the brewing process.

There is, however, a way to make drip coffee that tastes like it smells. In other words, coffee that tastes good again. You can use brewing tool called an AeroPress. This great little tool uses some of the principles behind good espresso (finely ground coffee that is evenly extracted with a short heat cycle) to make really tasty drip coffee.

The process is easy and works best with freshly ground beans and a water temperature of about 175º. The result is black coffee that tastes just great on its own. In the past I couldn’t really drink black coffee, but with this brewing process the coffee is so remarkably rich and also smooth, that is, not bitter, that I usually feel like it’s inappropriate to ruin the flavor with milk and sugar.

If you buy an AeroPress you owe it to yourself to try the coffee black for while before instinctively putting cream and sugar in. But, if cream and sugar is the only way you can drink coffee, at least it’s better to start with good tasting coffee instead of the stuff that comes out of your existing drip coffee maker. And if you like coffee that’s really strong, brew a really dark roast in your AeroPress and the result might just knock you over.

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