If your morning coffee is your life water, then you’re serious about the fact that just any cup ’o joe won’t do. It needs to be fresh, it needs to be strong, and it needs to be good — and believe it or not, you don’t have to pay $4.00 for a to-go cup to achieve this dream.
Brewing a fresh-to-death cup of coffee at home doesn’t require any fancy, expensive equipment. If you have a drip coffee maker, fresh coffee beans, clean water, and a little knowledge, you’ve got all the tools you need.
David Amos, vice president of coffee at Saxbys, offers his expert, easy-to-do tips for brewing a pot of home-brewed java that will make even your barista proud.
It may seem easier to just stock up on coffee on your grocery run, but if you’re seeking a fantastically fresh cup of java at home, the coffee quality matters — and your local coffee shop that specializes in just that is far more likely to deliver than your supermarket.
“Buy coffee from a quality local roaster whenever possible,” says Amos. “[And] make sure to look at the roast date on the bag to ensure it’s fresh.”
If you have any questions about home brewing or the product you’re buying, local coffee experts take pride in their craft and will likely be thrilled to offer their expertise.
Another perk of buying local: You can feel good supporting small local coffee shops in your community rather than the massive conglomerates.
Trying to decide between pre-ground and whole bean coffee? For freshness and flavor’s sake, the answer is always going to be grinding the whole beans yourself at the last possible moment.
“Coffee loses its vibrancy and a lot of the aromatics after being ground so the time between grinding and brewing is key to getting all of that amazing flavor,” says Amos. So really, you should be grinding your beans within 15 minutes of brewing for the best tasting results.
If you don’t own a grinder at home and that 15 minute window is too tight, take advantage of the store’s provided grinder (Whole Foods and Fairway lets you DIY grind) or ask your local coffee shop’s barista if they’ll hook you up when you buy a bag of beans.
You can also channel your inner “Macgyver” and put your trusty blender to work — the blade is perfect for creating a fresh, coarse grind as long as you work in small batches.
Moderation Is Key
You’ve probably noticed a theme: When it comes to coffee, “fresh” is synonymous with “good.” So while it might be nice to save yourself frequent trips to the store, you should really only be buying seven-to-10 day’s worth of coffee at a time — it’s the best way to ensure your home-brewed coffee tastes like an all-star barista made it.
But, there is a benefit here, as it gives you the opportunity to try a variety of coffees and roasts to see what you prefer without being wasteful.
Measure Twice, Brew Once
“Brewing coffee is more like baking than cooking,” explains Amos. Meaning, you may be tempted to eyeball your measurements first thing in the morning when you’re still cross eyed from a lack of caffeine, but being precise pays off in the cup.
Use a scale if you have one. Otherwise, your coffee scoop or tablespoon measurer will do the trick — one leveled off coffee scoop is equal to two tablespoons, which is what you’ll want to use for every six fluid ounces of water.
“Bad water makes bad coffee,” says Amos. To brew your cup ’o joe, make sure you only use good, filtered water, especially if you live somewhere with hard water that tastes like sulfur. Rotten egg-flavored coffee? We’ll pass.
Your water also needs to be the right temperature for brewing, so make sure your machine can brew at around 200 degrees F (most do). This ideal temp ensures your coffee will extract well during the brewing process.
Or, you can go the French press route, which also requires filtered, very hot water (not quite boiling) for primo taste.