To a coffee-lover, the right cup of magic beans brewed to absolute perfection is worth any amount of money and any drive time necessary to get to it.
But wouldn’t it be even better if that same magnificence could be found at home?
Whether you want to save money, cut your morning commute, or slice calories from your java, these nine tips can help you brew better coffee in your own kitchen.
1. Whole Beans are Better
Sure, you can buy already ground coffee, but part of the reason you love your favorite barista’s concoctions is that they use whole beans.
When you switch to a whole bean coffee maker, you get the aromatic pleasure of roasted coffee as it degasses. After the beans are ground, the compounds that cause this scent evaporate slowly, and so does the flavor they came with.
With whole beans, you grind them before you brew, so you get the most intense flavor and fragrance!
2. Learn the Pour Over Method
You can’t rush the perfect cup of a coffee. A typical cheap ground coffee machine spews out bitter results that have to be doctored with flavoring. But when you use whole beans and switch to the pour over method, your coffee is ready to drink immediately.
This method is a favorite for coffee aficionados around the world. It’s essentially the same process as a drip coffee, but you’re doing it by hand strategically.
After you ground your beans, you’ll place them in a filter and pour hot water through them. The water will drain into your mug like usual, but there are some tricks to this method that create a blissful final cup of coffee!
3. Measure Your Ingredients
Every person’s idea of exactly the right measurements for the ideal cup of coffee is different. Once you learn what yours are, measure your ingredients accurately every time.
Like any new recipe, when you use a new coffee or blend new flavorings, pay attention to how much you use. Remember that beans and pre-ground coffee can have different sizes and densities, so always use a scale to measure the weight, not the volume.
4. Invest in a Grinder
Not every coffee machine comes with a good grinder. How your beans are ground determines the degassing process, which is what releases the flavor. The smaller the grinding particles, the faster the degassing.
The key is to make sure that your beans are ground to the same size, at the same rate, to keep this process and flavoring consistent. You need control over how your grinder breaks down your beans.
One of the best grinders to do this is a burr grinder. You can choose the grinding size of the beans you want, based on the setting on the machine.
5. Choose Your Fineness
The method of brewing you prefer is going to determine the fineness of your coffee grounds. If you’re opting for fast brewing, you can end up with bitter coffee if the grind is overly coarse. But if you brew it slowly, the grounds need time to release their flavor, so they can’t be too fine.
Playing around with the settings until you find the brewing time and taste you love will help you choose the right grinding fineness.
6. Your Water Matters
One of the reasons your coffee shop’s brews might be better than yours could be the water you use. Are you pouring straight from the sink into your machine? That’s a major coffee faux pas.
Most coffee is water, not grounds. Just watch how it pours out of a gas station machine if you don’t believe it!
Well water or tap water has a flavor to it. If you don’t want your coffee diluted with odors or other unnecessary tastes, use purified water or water that comes from a filter system.
7. Keep the Water Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold…
Yes, like the type of water you use, the temperature also must be just right.
The temperature of the water as it hits the grounds affects how fast the flavors are extracted and which part of the grounds’ flavors are pulled out.
For the professional, standard optimized temperature, use a thermometer to make sure your water isn’t brewing until it’s between 195 and 205 degrees F
8. Let the Coffee Soak
No matter which method you choose to use to brew your coffee, it’s important to make sure all of the grounds are fully saturated before you start. This can be a little tricky, since everything has to be equally wet for the same amount of time.
In the pour over or French press method, check for small areas of dry coffee by stirring it gently after you add the water.
9. Be Willing to Try New Things
Even after you found the ideal coffee maker, the most delicious beans, and the exact ingredient measurements, it’s okay to try to switch it up occasionally.
New flavors, machines, and brands are showing up all the time. You may not need to improve on your own version of perfection, but if you don’t dip your coffee mug into the unknown once in a while, you might be missing something amazing!
Having your magic cup of coffee on hand, on demand, is its own type of bliss. Once you have figured out how to brew your own delicious blend while you’re still in your pajamas, you may never need a coffee shop again!