My friends, don’t settle for drinking gnarly stale coffee that needs 5 sugars and a cup of (almond)milk to be palatable. Today I’m sharing 5 Simple Tips for Making Great Coffee at Home.
My first coffee experience was sipping a café con leche on a school trip to Barcelona.
In college, during the week I chugged down gnarly campus coffee watered down by copious amounts of soy milk. And on the weekends I would slowly savor lattes and espresso from Gimme Coffee, Ithaca’s coffee mecca.
Out of school, I lived in suburban New Jersey where the only coffee shop within a 20 mile radius was a Starbucks.
It was during those dark years I taught myself how to make amazing coffee at home, because it was my only choice. Taking those ten minutes out of my morning to make and savor an amazing cup of coffee was something I grew to cherish every morning. To be honest, it was close to meditative.
Fast forward 2 years, and now I work as a barista on Nantucket. I had always secretly yearned to work at a coffee shop and boy do I love it. There’s so much to learn and love about coffee, but today, I wanted to share some of the game changers I’ve learned about brewing delicious coffee at home.
Even with access to an incredible bevy of coffee from Handlebar Cafe (the shop I work at), I still love making coffee at home. But that’s only because I’ve finally learned how to make it well.
5 Simple Tips for Making Great Coffee at Home
1.) Buy Good Beans
Not to surprisingly, coffee beans are one of the biggest factors when it comes to making a great cup of coffee. While grocery store coffee prices are attractive, the truth is you’ll be missing out on the main source of flavor. Not to get too nerdy on ya, but where and how the beans are grown dramatically changes the taste of the coffee.
Where do I find quality beans?
I would recommend buying beans from your favorite local coffee shop. Usually they’ll have different blends of coffees that you can try there. Or you can ask the barista what they would recommend, based on what you know you like.
It took me a long time to figure out, through trial and error, that I love light roasted coffees from Africa, especially Ethiopia. I would buy bags based off the tasting notes. Usually the tasting notes are some combination of of fruit, nut or spice – almost like wine tasting. If I liked the bag I would look for similar notes, and note the region it was from. If I didn’t, I would do the same and make sure to avoid those things in the future.
2.) Store Your Beans Properly (Not the freezer)
To ensure that you’re keeping your whole beans as fresh as possible, you’ll want to store them in a cool dry place where there’s not a lot of moisture. Yup, that means definitely not in the freezer. It might be tempting to just leave them in the bag, but I would recommend transferring them into a sealable jar to make sure they don’t absorb the moisture from the air (which will effect the taste and quality.)
3.) Grind Your Beans Fresh
This one was a game changer for me. I used to grind my beans at Trader Joe’s when I got a new bag, because then I didn’t have to worry about it. But working at Handlebar opened my eyes to the importance of keeping the beans whole until the last minute. As soon as you grind the beans they oxidize even quicker (aka lose all their flavor).
Instead, invest in a at-home-grinder that way each cup will be deliciously fresh.
4.) Use the Right Ratio of Coffee to Water
I’m guessing if you make coffee at home, you probably use some scoop you’ve had forever to measure out the coffee every morning. At least that was the case over at my place. Then one day I did a little research to figure out exactly what ratio of coffee to water I should be using.
The commonly agreed upon standard is:
- 2 tablespoons per 6 oz of water
- or if you’re using a food scale 1g of coffee for every 16g of water
Start there, and then you can adjust with more or less coffee depending on how strong you like it.
5.) Use a Quality Brewing Method
Please don’t get mad, I know standard drip coffee makers are easy to use and can make a big ‘ol vat of coffee while you sleep, but I promise a little extra effort goes a very long way. If you want a great cup of coffee, one that’s so good you won’t even miss your coffee shop routine, I’m telling you investing in a quality coffee maker like a chemex, french press or an aeropress.
At work we use a chemex for pourers and at home I brew my coffee in a french press. I promise it’s super easy, in fact I even have a step by step guide here: How to Make French Press Coffee.
Using these methods you’ll be able to extract the full flavor out of the beans.
Want to learn how to use these? Stumptown has some great videos!
Other important variables to consider:
- If your tap water doesn’t taste good, try using filtered water
- Make sure your using the right temperature water (195-200 ºF)
Go forth and brew my friends! I promise you’ll have so much fun with it… I apologize if I turn anyone into coffee snobs 😉
- What’s your favorite drink to order at a coffee shop?
- Do you make your own coffee at home?