Want to make coffee as good as your barista? Want those single-origin pour overs at home? With a little bit of effort and minimal investment, you’ll notice a huge difference in the quality of your morning cup of coffee. Our Beginners Guide to Brewing Coffee will get you started.
GET GOOD COFFEE BEANS
Firstly, ditch that huge tub of pre-ground stale grocery store coffee and get yourself a bag of quality, whole bean, specialty coffee from your local third wave coffee shop, or even better, get them delivered fresh to your door.
You may find it difficult to get good beans from your grocery store that are still fresh, so try to hunt down some local craft roasters who take pride in their coffee offerings and roast-to-order.
The difference between paying $12 and $20 for a bag of coffee might seem a lot but when you work it out per cup, it’s a matter of cents. You pay for what you get. And the smell of high quality, freshly-roasted beans...
FRESH ROASTED COFFEE BEANS
Freshness matters. Coffee is at its peak flavor within two weeks of the roast date. Unfortunately, most coffee at your grocery store has already gone stale before it is even purchased let alone brewed. We advise to check your bag of coffee for the roast date and only buy coffee that you’ll consume for within the next week or two.
GRINDING COFFEE BEANS
Buy whole bean coffee and grind just before brewing. As soon as the coffee is ground, it starts to lose flavor immediately. Check out – Grinding Coffee: Getting it Right.
Moisture and heat are enemies to the roasted coffee bean so keep them out of the fridge, the freezer and out of direct sunlight. To keep your beans fresher for longer, store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Do not underestimate how important water is in the brewing process. If your water tastes good, so will your coffee. Try to avoid the tap stuff and use filtered or spring water if possible. If you want to go one step further, check out Third Wave Water.
With new brewing innovations storming the market, there’s never been a better time to brew coffee. If you’ve always used an auto-drip, make sure you're brewer is doing your coffee justice. If you like your coffee cold, check out this in-depth guide to cold brew. Or try giving a manual brewer a chance. With minimal effort and a little investment you can make a barista quality cup of coffee every time. Here’s some tips to get you started.
There are two methods to choose from. If you’re new to the manual brew, we recommend starting with an immersion brewer and then move onto a pour over as your coffee game develops.
The French Press is what we call the ‘gateway’ coffee brewer. Cheap and easy to brew, it produces a full bodied cup in about four minutes. Other easy to use champions of the immersion brewing technique are the AeroPress and the Clever Dripper.
The V60, Kalita Wave and Chemex are some of the most popular pour-over brewers on the market. Producing a clean and sweet cup, pour overs are beautifully designed and boast a therapeutic and relaxing brew process! For even water distribution, a gooseneck kettle is a must.
A grinder that produces a consistent and even grind will give you the best tasting cup of coffee. The burr beats the blade every time. Blade grinders produce an inconsistent grind which will make your coffee taste bitter. If you’re just starting out, try a hand held burr grinder like the Porlex or the Handground. If you’re in the market for something with a bit more umpf, the Baratza Encore is great value for money but if your budget stretches far enough, the Baratza Sette is our top choice. Every time you upgrade your grinder, you’ll taste the difference.
Rinse your paper filters before brewing, this eliminates any excess paper taste and helps warm your brewing equipment. Choose between white or brown filters, while reusable stainless steel filters are another option.
Go gooseneck! It’s the lord of all kettles and gives you full control of your water distribution during brewing. It looks pretty graceful too. If possible, get one with a built in thermometer.
DIGITAL KITCHEN SCALE AND TIMER
Accuracy matters. When you have the perfect recipe for a cup of coffee, it’s hard to replicate it by eye. Measuring your coffee, water and time means you’ll get the perfect cup, every time. It can be daunting at first but is easy to pick up. Check out these recipes and brew guides to get you started.
Pick up a cheap kitchen scale with a 0.1g accuracy to start you off. You can always upgrade to a fancy one, once you’re brewing game is up and flying. Need a timer? Use your phone or try out a coffee app.
Water extracts coffee best between 195 – 205F (water boils at 216F). If you don’t have a thermometer, boil your water and then let it sit for 30 seconds before brewing.
GOOD COFFEE BREWING HABITS
- Preheat your equipment. Your coffee will stay warm for longer if your mug or carafe is warm. Pour hot water into your mug to heat it up while you prep for your brew.
- Brew just enough to drink. If you leave your coffee sitting in your French Press or sat on the hot plate, your coffee will over extract and taste bitter.
- Once you’ve brewed your coffee, do not reheat it. It will taste burnt and bitter if you blast it in the microwave. When it’s cold, discard it and brew a new one.
- Old, stale coffee oils and grounds can ruin your equipment and make your next brew taste rancid. Clean your equipment with hot water or a specialized cleaner.