How to Make Good Coffee at Home, Simplified
Crafting a really tasty cup of coffee isn't rocket science, but there are some fundamentals that, if you decide to follow them, can result in a cup of java that is, well, memorable.
So, the question of how to make good coffee at home is a legitimate one and can be answered with eight, not-too-difficult tips. The good news is that they can apply to just about any brewing method, with a few modifications. So, whether you prefer a simple 4 cup coffee maker, a 12 cup model with all the bells and whistles, love the clarity of a pour over, a french press brew, or any other brewing method, keep these eight simple suggestions in mind.
If you're the type of person who will drink anything that is put inside a coffee mug, no matter how dark, thick, runny, or ugly it is, these nifty tips may not move you to action.
But for anyone else who yearns to brew a cup of coffee that will make you sigh with pleasure, read on.
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How to make good coffee at home - eight simple tips
1 | Buy fresh coffee beans and keep them fresh
When it comes to brewing tasty, rich coffee, there is no substitute for fresh, whole coffee beans. Is it required? Of course not.
But if you are serious about learning how to make good coffee at home, take a few minutes to see if there are local coffee roasters in your area. Check out their websites, give them a call, take a trip over there and see what they have to offer and how often they roast their product. I'll bet that before too long you'll have found your favorite roast!
And if not, no worries, there are always efficient online options for purchasing freshly roasted coffee. If your lifestyle and budget dictate that a trip to the local grocery store is as far as you're going for your coffee beans, no worries.
Almost every food market offers a variety of ready-to-purchase, whole bean coffee.
Once you have the little beans in hand (yes, whole beans and not ground), the best way to store them is in an airtight container at room temperature. They should stay fresh for about a month.
Air, moisture, heat, and light are not friends of our little coffee beans. Keep that in mind and you'll always remember how to store them.
2 | Quality matters, to a point
Serious coffee aficionados with a budget to accommodate will often gravitate toward a higher end coffee roasting source. That's cool.
But you know what? In the process of learning how to make good coffee at home, it isn't all about how much you paid for the beans.
Brewing and enjoying coffee is a lifestyle choice, but it's also a budget-related decision for many of us.
My advice as a serious coffee lover (probably in the 'snob' category) who lives on a modest budget is to find the best tasting coffee bean that suits your palate and won't break the budget.
I've purchased Major Dickason's whole bean coffee from Peet's many times, from the grocery store aisle, and it makes a very satisfying, hearty and full-bodied cup of coffee.
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3 | Grind your own beans
When you make the decision to purchase whole bean coffee, it naturally leads to the next tip, which is to grind your own beans. Always, always grind your own beans for the absolute tastiest, freshest cup of java.
As soon as a coffee bean is ground up, the oils inside the bean start to break down. You want to grab all that coffee-flavored goodness as well as the caffeine boost that comes with it.
I know what you're thinking. "Now I have to buy a coffee grinder."
Yep, you are absolutely correct. The art of making a tasty and satisfying cup of coffee at home will not cost you hundreds of dollars (unless you want it to), but it does require a couple of fundamentals, with a coffee grinder being one of them.
You can opt for a snazzy model that does just about everything for you, or you can spend a lot less and have a simple coffee grinder that gets the job done. It's up to you, my friend.
The coarseness of the grind will depend on the type of coffee you're making. Unless you're preparing a french press style of coffee, a medium to fine grind is what you'll want.
How much coffee to use? The standard measurement is 6 ounces of water to 2 tablespoons of ground coffee. Noteworthy tip: most coffee cups hold more than 6 ounces of liquid, so keep that in mind as you decide how many beans to grind.
If you're preparing a 12 oz. mug of coffee, most coffee drinkers will tell you to use 3 tablespoons of coffee. Of course, if you enjoy a strong cup of coffee (like me), you'll use more.
Ultimately it's a personal preference, so start with these tips and fiddle with it until you find the brew strength that is most satisfying.
4 | Not just any water
If you're giving these coffee brewing tips consideration, you'll want to keep this next piece of advice in mind, especially if you've invested in some quality coffee beans and gear.
The water the flows from your tap is probably not the best choice for brewing your java, even though it is (or certainly should be) safe to drink. It is possible that your tap water contains traces of aluminum, copper, and manganese, among many other compounds, which could impart a slightly acidic or metallic taste to your tap water.
Transferring that metallic taste to a cup of brewed coffee could be, well, kind of gross.
Again, it is a personal preference. For me, I prefer a filtered water.
One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to do this is with a pitcher filter, which uses an activated carbon filter to remove impurities, odors, and chlorine from your tap water. Or, you can install a faucet-mounted filter, or use the filtered water from your refrigerator if you have one. Just remember to change the filter according to the manufacturer recommendations.
Bottled spring water is always an option, but again, see how the coffee tastes and decide if it will work for you.
Bottom line? Remember that water is a crucial element in a delicious cup of coffee.
5 | Use a quality filter
The old saying, 'you get what you pay for' holds true for coffee filters. The cheapest brand is not necessarily going to give you the result you're after, if making a good cup of coffee at home is your goal.
The experts will tell us to look for oxygen-bleached or dioxin-free paper filters (e.g., Filtropa, Melitta).
Some coffee lovers opt for a reusable gold-plated filter. Yes, you have to clean it each time, but if you don't care to use a paper filter it could be a great option.
6 | Use enough coffee
For me, there is nothing worse in my world of coffee than a wimpy, weak, tasteless brew.
Unless you absolutely love the taste of weak coffee (and I'll forgive you if you do), don't skimp on the coffee, my friend. Frugal as you may be, if you truly want a delicious cup of coffee, you have to ante up with enough product to get the result you want.
Again, it is a personal preference. I can't tell you that if you use 'X' amount of freshly ground coffee, you'll love the result. Remember that we're factoring in the brand of coffee, the type of water, the process of brewing, and the amount of coffee used.
Do a bit of experimenting, keep track of how much coffee you're using, and see what you enjoy the most.
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7 | Water temperature counts
Most coffee experts agree that the most desirable temperature for brewing coffee is between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit (or 96 degrees Celsius). I happen to agree with the experts.
Why does it matter? Well, a water temperature that is too high, or too low, prevents the coffee bean from reaching its full expression of flavor. And that my friend, is a sad thing.
If the water temp is too high, the coffee grounds can become over-extracted. The flavors and aromas are released too quickly and the coffee can taste bitter and unpleasant.
If the temperature of the water is too low, the extraction process will not fully develop and the coffee can taste flat and sour.
If you plan to brew coffee with a method other than an automatic coffee maker, an electric water kettle is the way to go. I set mine to 200 degrees and just wait for the bell. Literally. It's a no-fail way to ensure that your water is at the proper temperature for perfect brewing.
8 | Keep your gear clean
As with any small appliance, keeping your coffee gear clean and in good working order is essential. Nothing can muddy up a cup of java quicker than a dirty coffee maker.
Same goes for the electric kettle, the coffee grinder, the reusable filter...I think you get the idea. Be kind to your coffee gear and it will serve you well.
Learning how to make good coffee at home doesn't have to be complicated or cumbersome, even if you're a beginner to the world of coffee-making. While there certainly are other considerations, we can talk about them another time.
Keep these eight simple coffee-brewing tips handy and you'll be on your way to making a delicious, memorable, tasty cup of java!
Candi Randolph is a coffee lover, blogger, and content creator who loves to share her knowledge with the coffee-drinking world. You'll often find her tending to her coffee bar at home, deciding which method to use to brew her next cup of java. Life is full of important decisions.