Billions of people all around the world begin their day with coffee. In 2019, 64% of Americans over 18 drank two and a half cups of coffee daily. Over a year, that is 150 million Americans, 400 million cup a day or 140 billion cups of coffee a year. 79% of people drank their java with breakfast, preparing their caffeinated brew at home. Use of single-cup brewers are on the rise, up 50% in the past five years. Sure, they are quick and easy to use but why not make this important morning pick-me-up the best it can be? You can craft robust, flavorful, perfect coffee at home using low tech, high taste, small batch methods.
All About the Beans
Your coffee is only as good as the bean from which it is brewed. Quality is important.
- Buy beans fairly close to the roasted by date; the older the beans, the more acidic the flavor.
- Don’t use beans too soon after they’ve been roasted.
- Purchase your beans from your favorite coffee shop, like Los Gatos Roasting Company, Palo Alto Café, or Red Rock Coffee in Mountain View.
- For maximum flavor, only grind what you need.
- Store your beans in an airtight container or squeeze extra air out of the bag.
Water is a fundamental ingredient of coffee and plays a vital part in the taste.
- Use clean, fresh water
- Coffee interacts with the minerals in water, naturally enhancing the taste
- Bottled spring or filtered tap water is ideal
- Avoid distilled water in which minerals have been removed
The Daily Grind
How your beans are ground is just as crucial as the beans themselves.
- Ditch your blade grinder; they are inconsistent
- Go for a burr grinder or burr mill for a uniform grind. A good grinder, either a hand-crank or electric, provides the ability to choose the grain size.
- Choose the right coarseness for your brewing method-coarse for pour-over methods and fine for espresso
- If you prefer to skip the daily grind, have your local coffee shop grind the beans for you.
Take Your Temperature
Brewing at the optimal temperature ensures the height of flavor and aroma.
- Water should be between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit
- Too little heat results in flat, under-extracted coffee while too much heat will degrade flavor
- Duration of brewing depends upon the method used
Get Your Ratio Right
How strong do you prefer your coffee at home? The typical standard is 1 to 2 Tablespoons of coffee grounds for every 6 ounces of water. For those who are serious coffee aficionados, use a kitchen scale to measure the coffee grounds in grams.
- French press: 2 Tbsp grounds per 6 ounces of water
- Pour over/drip: 1 Tbsp of coffee for every 4 ounces of water
- Automatic drip brewers: 1 Tbsp grounds to 6 ounces of water
The Method Matters
There are a number of ways to extract a superior cup of coffee at home using low tech tools. These devices make the most of your bean, allowing you to tailor the strength of your small batch brew.
- French press: This immersion method requires a course grind and only takes four minutes to brew. Be sure to decant it all so the robust flavor doesn’t get muddled and sludgy.
- Pour over filter: The ultimate in low-tech and small batch, the plastic or ceramic pour over filter has a high return filled with superb flavor and aroma, one cup at a time. Take a look at this step-by-step pour over guide.
- Aeropress: This compact, single-serve, easy to clean contraption brews coffee by using air pressure to push the hot water through the grounds and into your cup. Great for at home or on the go.
- Chemex: This glass carafe is another pour over method, using a filter (paper or mesh), a slow pour pattern, and a bit of finesse. Check out these details on how to achieve the best Chemex coffee.
Sure, automatic drip and single-cup coffee makers are great and easy to use. But when you want a truly extraordinary, barista-level brew, try one of these simple methods. Be sure to get the best beans, grind them daily, and use filtered water at the optimal temperature. You may just find that your morning ritual is as much about enjoying the coffee-making journey as it is about the coffee itself.