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Brewing Great Coffee at Home the EASY Way!
Are you finally tired of powdery, dry coffee? Or just sick of paying $10 for something decent? No matter what your reason, learning how to make good coffee at home isn’t all that difficult. In fact, may I dare say, it can be kind of fun! Seriously.
I love coffee. I don’t think I ever started my day without some sort of coffee in my hand. And if I had, you wouldn’t have wanted to talk to me at that time. I can be a bit crabby without it.
For me, I was a bit captivated by all of the special toys a friend and serious coffee connoisseur had to make his own fresh coffee. He made me a cup of freshly ground coffee that he had roasted himself, a skill I still haven’t tried to master. Nor does it seem I need to.
He explained how simply using a full bean and grinding them yourself can make a huge difference with just this one step. The reason I later learned is that fresh coffee beans still hold a lot of their original oils. Like food fat, oil is the flavor.
And the pre-ground stuff you buy at most supermarkets have been sitting far longer than the recommended one week time period for a ground bean to still hold its optimum flavor.
But grinding the beans yourself, as long as the beans are kept in a nice cool place tightly sealed, the coffee you’ll grind should be a tasty difference than what you’ve been used to.
And then there is the type of grind you use. You can grind your coffee really fine, or really course. each has it’s “best application” which I will talk about soon enough.
And like most great drinks, simplicity is key. Coffee is simply a ground coffee bean filtered in some way with hot water. That’s it. So it’s not as complicated as it seems.
And if you follow a few of my simple suggestions, you’ll not only be making the best coffee you’ve ever tasted, but you’ll be saving a ton of money as well. All pluses!
The Coffee Bean
Buying fresh coffee beans is half science and half art. That’s what makes it fun. Just like grapes that make a fine wine, some beans are better, bolder and more flavorful than other beans. The trick is to find something you already like and start there.
For example, what’s your favorite coffee at your local coffee shop? They’ll usually list where the coffee is from, sometimes right in the name. The name may also have some key words like “dark roast” or “aromatic”. These can all be helpful if you’re going to buy your own.
The best place to get started is to go to a local coffee place that has bags of bean coffee for sale. If you’re really lucky you’ll have an artisan coffee roaster nearby. Usually the owner or employees will know a lot about the coffee they import or sell and can really help you just by you describing what you like. After all, if they match you with a great coffee you can’t live without, then it’s a win-win for all.
But if you have no idea at all, but still want to get started, then simply experiment a bit. I mean it’s coffee, they are all “good” in the way all red wine is “good”. Sooner or later you’ll drink it all, or trade it with a friend or gift to a family member. Whatever.
If you really have no idea what you like, I suggest buying a pound of Guatemalan grown coffee and a pound of African coffee beans from places like Ethiopia to start. These are both great coffee beans and will give you two different flavor spectrums.
The South and Central American coffees are less acidic and more of a medium roast. African coffee is much darker and contains a high acidity making a much stronger brew.
Once you’ve tried both, you’ll be better equipped to make your next purchase. If you like the African beans it means you like a darker, richer coffee. If the South American bean is your thing, then you like a lighter flavor profile with less acidity.
And once you get this part down, then the sky is the limit. Then it’s time to try all of those cool looking coffee drinks like cappuccino, frappuccinos, frozen coffee drinks, or whatever gets your juices flowing. There are a ton of copy cat recipes to guide you all over the internet.
Or you can step up and get something like a French Press or a Moka Pot and experiment with different brewing techniques.
Keeping Coffee Beans Fresh
Always try to store your coffee beans in a glass air tight container. If you can’t use glass like a regular mason jar, then crockery or even an air tight metal container is still preferable.
You don’t want to use plastic as the beans are porous and can soak up the plastic taste and whatever it might leach off.
Always store in a dark, cool spot. And never freeze or refrigerate your coffee beans. Coffee beans will easily soak up the flavors of whatever you have in your refrigerator or freezer, and they can soak up any moisture.
So stick to a tightly sealed glass jar whenever possible.
Grinding Your Beans
There’s a little more to grinding your beans than you might think. First off, you’ll need to grab a good grinder. These gadgets aren’t expensive and a really great Burr electrical grinder is only around $50 to $100. Anything by Baratza, Cuisinart, Hamilton Beach or even the OXO brands should be a quality product.
And you can even start off with a smaller grinder meant for a few cups at a time like I did. They don’t take up counter space and work just fine. I had a Hamilton Beach model that worked great for years and goes for less than $20 on Amazon.
The next thing is to always grind what you need. No more if possible.
Grinding your beans releases the oils in the bean. These oils have a short shelf life, usually no more than two weeks. So to get the absolute freshest cup of coffee possible, grind as you go. This will give you great coffee with less waste.
I you are grinding for coffee and not cappuccino or espresso, then you want to use medium-coarse grind. This allows the best result as far as brewing. Too fine and your coffee will be very bitter. Too course and your coffee will be weak due to the grounds not letting go of enough of their flavor.
Using a Scale
I may sound a little crazy, but using a scale is all about the consistency of your coffee.
Measuring out tablespoons each time is not as accurate as you might think. To test the theory, use a scale and measure out five tablespoons removing the coffee each time. You’ll see that all five measurements will be slightly off.
If you want to consistently make the very best cup of coffee that is perfectly made the way you like it, weighing out your coffee is the only way to really do it.
To start off, try using 10 grams or 0.36 oz. per 6-oz cup. If you find that is too weak or strong, just adjust accordingly until you find what weight works best for your specific tastes.
Obviously this is a piece of equipment that you don’t need at first, but if you can afford to grab one, I do recommend it. Like I said, it’s all about consistency.
How’s Your Water?
Seeing a cup of coffee is simply hot water passed through coffee beans, it’s safe to say that the water is an integral part of making a great cup of coffee at home.
If you’re lucky enough to have a clean fresh water supply or well that gives you clean tasting water, by all means, use it.
But if you’re in a city and the water supply is chlorine ridden or worse, well water with sulpher, use something bottled for your coffee. If you don’t, the end result with be less than desirable. It’s the same idea with ice or anything when water is a main ingredient.
Any water supply that tastes good to you in a cup will taste good in a coffee cup as well. It doesn’t need to be expensive water.