How do you brew a perfect cup of coffee? First, it’s important to understand that there is no single ideal cup. There’s just what you prefer and the best version of it. Perhaps that means something dark, rich and flavorful. Maybe you enjoy a lighter roast, coupled with some cream and sweetener.
In any case, pinning down the kind of coffee you love most provides a starting point from which you can improve. Soon enough, you’ll hit upon a cup that far surpasses anything your local cafe has to offer. Granted, this doesn’t just happen, and you can reach that point much quicker with the right tools and techniques.
With this in mind, here are five tips for making fantastic coffee at home.
Keep it Fresh
A key component of complex and delicious coffee is the aromatic compounds that give the beans their taste and smell. From the moment coffee is roasted, these compounds begin escaping in a process known as degassing. It’s estimated up to 70% of the compounds will have left the bean within eight days.
When coffee beans are ground, this process only happens faster as more of the grain’s surface area is exposed. It’s for these and several other reasons why baristas recommend using fresh, whole bean coffee for your brews.
That said, not everyone has time to grind, weigh, measure, filter and boil whole beans. A coffee maker such as the popular Nespresso machine is a reasonable and convenient alternative. One way you can upgrade your experience is by finding a brand of capsules that are not only delicious and fast, but also better quality and organic.
Use a Scale
Back to traditional brewing methods, the second step is to invest in a scale. You might have heard that you should use two tablespoons for every 6oz of water. While it may work, this approach lacks the precision required for professional brewing. There is a large variation in density and weight among different coffee blends.
In other words, a spoon of one coffee can weigh noticeably more or less than another. Having a scale not only ensures that you know how much is going into your cup, but also helps you make accurate adjustments when experimenting.
Get a Grinder
The size of your coffee particles determines how fast their flavors are released, with smaller pieces extracting quicker. To ensure that each serving brews equally, your particles need to be the same size. A proper grinder (ideally a burr grinder) will enable you to do just that, consistently producing the ideal size for your brew.
Use Clean Water
With around 98% of your coffee cup comprising water, the quality of the liquid you use is more crucial than you might expect. If your water has any taste, texture or smell anomalies, your coffee will as well. That’s why using purified water is key to making fantastic coffee at home.
Some people purchase bottled spring water, though a bottle, jug or faucet extension that contains an activated charcoal or carbon filter is the more economical option.
Invest in Proper Filters
Speaking of filters, be sure to avoid bargain-bin paper coffee filters, as these yield an inferior cup. The best filters are dioxin-free and oxygen-bleached, so look out for those keywords. If you’re willing to splurge a little to get maximum flavor, gold-plated filters are a possibility.
Depending on how deep into the world of coffee brewing you plan on going, there might be a few more things to learn. That said, these tips are sure to make a difference, so remember to put them into action when brewing your next cup.