For many people, coffee is more than morning fuel. Coffee is both a necessity and a luxury these days, something that brings people together. That’s why cafes and coffee shops are everywhere in the world. But, while you can get amazing coffee made by a local barista, nothing is more satisfying than mastering coffee brewing techniques and tricks yourself, so you can enjoy an excellent cup no matter the time of day.
If you are looking for the best way to make coffee at home, then keep reading.
Gather The Basic Gear
It doesn’t matter if you are just starting out with making coffee or having been visiting cafes in your neighbourhood for decades. There are essential coffee brewing items that every coffee-drinking household should have in hand. Some things include coffee mugs, freshly roasted coffee beans, a single cup brewing method (more on that in a moment), a timer, thermometer, coffee grinder, filters, and some good instructions on brewing methods.
You may also want to invest in a pour-over gooseneck kettle and a food scale later on. Planning on trying your hand at latte art? Then you might want to get a full barista coffee kit.
Grind Great Beans Only
You might be wondering why whole coffee beans and a grinder are essential. See, the most important thing is having high-quality ingredients and gear. The flavour of whole, freshly roasted coffee beans is on a wholly different level from supermarket ground coffee. And when you grind it yourself, you are getting the beans at peak freshness. A grinder is a wise investment because you can choose the optimum grind size for the method of brewing you choose.
You should also not be afraid of experimenting with various types of beans and roasts. After all, there is no point in knowing the best ways to make coffee at home if you aren’t sampling the rainbow of coffee beans that are available these days. Finding coffee that you love is a huge piece of the equation.
So, ask yourself what you like. Every coffee region produces beans with distinct flavour profiles. That is why coffee from Central America is bright and acidic while Kenyan coffees taste a little fruity, why Sumatran coffees are spicy and rich and Brazilian beans are lighter and clean.
Don’t Forget Storage
Lastly, the most overlooked part of making coffee at home: storage. Invest in some quality, air-tight containers, since it will keep the coffee beans fresher for longer. Stored correctly, beans will last around 2 weeks. Ground coffee will last 1-2 weeks. You can also store unused portions of coffee beans in the freezer—as long as you take precautions. Package the beans to avoid freezer burn, and once you remove the coffee from the freezer and de-thaw it, you cannot refreeze it. Never put your coffee in the refrigerator, because it absorbs smells and tastes.
Choose Your Brewing Method
Here is where you take a cup of coffee for ordinary to extraordinary. For any of the following brewing methods, use a 1:17 ratio for coffee-to-water. In other words, you have to grab your digital scale to measure out 1 gram of coffee for every 17 grams of water. Another way of writing that ratio is 60 grams of coffee per litre of water. That will help get the rich flavours you long for no matter which brewing method you decide to use.
As a side note, the best temperature for the water is between 88-92°C (190-198°F), or just below boiling.
Now, let’s look at the various ways to make coffee at home:
1. Cafetiere/French Press
What it is: In some places around the world, the French press is also known as the cafetiere. It is a reliable and simple way of getting amazing coffee, cup by cup. The coffee is brewed by soaking ground coffee in hot water for a set amount of time before straining it. The plunger in the press separates your freshly brewed coffee from the grounds before pouring.
How to make your coffee with it: Begin by coarsely grinding up your coffee beans. Pour the coffee into the bottom of the carafe. Take your boiled water and pour it over the coffee. Stir a little then let the coffee brew for about 4 minutes. Put the lid of the French press on and begin to slowly press the plunger down towards the bottom. This separates the grounds from your coffee.
Serve your coffee immediately or separate it into another carafe or pot. If you let it sit in the cafetiere, it will get more and more bitter.
Grind type: Coarse
Brewing time: 4 minutes
Result: Rich and robust flavour with smooth finish
What it is: Invented in 2005, the lightweight and highly portable Aeropress is one of the newest methods for brewing coffee and also widely used. The operation is reminiscent of the French press, but the plunger in the Aeropress adds air pressure that forces the coffee through the filter and into your coffee cup.
Here is a fun fact for you to discuss over coffee with friends: the Aeropress was invented by the same people who invented the Aerobie Flying Disc, which holds the Guinness World Record for the longest human-thrown projectile.
How to make your coffee with it: Boil your water and allow the water to cool slightly. Meanwhile, you can prepare your Aeropress. Put one of the circular Aeropress filters into the plastic cap and pour some water through the filter to remove any woody taste. Take your Aeropress and put it number side down. Do not add the cap yet. Add around 18 grams of fine to medium ground coffee. Next, pour about double the amount of water for the dry coffee. Wait 30 seconds for the bloom then continue adding water—up to around 300mL.
Wait 1 minute before stirring the coffee. Reattach the cap and then turn the whole Aeropress back right side up.
Grind type: Fine to medium
Brewing time: About 2 minutes
Result: Clean and refreshing
3. Pour Over
What it is: The pour over method is one of the oldest methods used for brewing coffee. It involves gently pouring hot water over a filter filled with coffee grounds. This allows for the coffee to slowly drip into the carafe or pot below. In order to perfect your pour over, it is recommended that you purchase a gooseneck kettle, since it helps with precision pouring.
How to make your coffee with it: First, place a filter into the cone dripper over a cup or carafe. Always rinse the filter with some hot water. That gets rid of any residue (which has a woody flavour) and will seal the filter into place. Discard that water. Next, pour your fine or medium ground coffee into the filter. Slowly pour enough water to saturate the grounds then let it sit for around 30 seconds. This first pour is called the “bloom” pour, because it allows for the grounds to begin releasing their deliciousness.
Once you see the bloom, keep pouring the slightly cooled boiling water over the grounds in a circular motion, wetting the grounds evenly until you reach the desired amount of coffee.
Grind type: Fine or medium
Brewing time: 3-4 minutes
Result: Smooth and nuanced flavour
What it is: The Chemex was invented in 1941. You might be wondering what the difference is between a classic pour over and a Chemex. There isn’t much of a difference, honestly. The Chemex vessel is an hourglass flask shape, which is dissimilar from pour over coffee going into a mug or pot. The main difference, however, would be in the filter type. Pour over filters are thinner and more circular but have pointed bottoms. That pointed end draws the liquid towards the vessel. Pour over filters prevent both sediment and oils from getting into your coffee.
The Chemex filter, however, is proprietary (made solely by Chemex) and is much thicker—about 20-30% thicker than standard coffee filters. The fabric feels more like a folded textile. All those layers of fabric remove oils from the coffee, resulting in a truly smooth and crisp cup of coffee. You will know automatically when you are drinking Chemex coffee, because it is an entirely different experience from a traditional pour over.
How to make your coffee with it: Grab your Chemex filter and place it at the top of the flash, lining up the edge with multiple folds with the flash’s spout. Rinse the filter with a little hot water to remove any residue and discard that water before adding coffee grounds. Pour slightly cooled boiling water over the medium to coarsely ground beans, allowing for the bloom pour. Stir slightly then wait 30 seconds.
Afterwards, keep pouring the water in a back-and-forth and circular motion to saturate the grounds evenly. Continuing pouring until you have reached the end or your desired weight.
Grind type: Medium to coarse
Brewing time: 4-5 minutes
Result: Pure flavour and delicate texture
5. Moka Pot
What it is: The Moka pot is also known as the stovetop espresso maker, and it is of Italian origin. If you enjoy coffee that is bolder and stronger than what other methods deliver, then the Moka pot is for you. Cheaper than one of those massive espresso makers, the Moka pot comes in different sizes, allowing you to brew up those tiny espresso shots or even 12 cups at one time.
For one or two people, a three-cup Moka pot is all you really need. Once you master your Moka pot, you will even be able to whip up rich and velvety flat whites and cappuccinos with ease.
How to make your coffee with it: Boil up some water and then pour it into the lower chamber of the Moka pot. Go to the fill line. Next, pour some finely ground coffee into the filter basket. Make sure that the coffee is not compacted all together but also not too close to the edges. Place the filter basket in the bottom compartment of the pot then screw the spouted pot back in place. Place the Moka pot on top of the hob and set it to medium heat.
Remove the pot from the heat as soon as you hear bubbling and hissing. Pour and enjoy!
Grind type: Fine
Brewing time: 5 minutes
Result: A bold, sharp, and strong espresso
6. Cold Brew
What it is: Recently coming into the spotlight is cold brew coffee. This is a great method for those who don’t want to drink hot coffee or who want less preparation and steps. Cold brew coffee is made by letting coarse ground coffee beans soak in the cold or at room temperature for a long period of time, typically 12 hours or more. Then, the grounds are filtered out of the concentrate. Cold brew coffee can be served with milk or water or consumed black.
How to make your coffee with it: Grind up your coffee beans. Add the ground coffee to a pitcher, cold brew maker, or any container that is large enough. Remember to keep an eye on your coffee-to-water ratio (1:17), as adding too much water and not enough coffee will result in slightly flavoured water and nothing more. Give the mixture a stir before placing it in the refrigerator or room temperature for at least a full 12 hours. The longer it sits, the stronger the cold brew will be.
To separate the coffee grounds, you can use a mesh filter that is lined with a cheesecloth or coffee filter. Store your cold brew coffee in the refrigerator.
Grind type: Coarse
Brewing time: 12 hours
Result: Mellow and faintly sweet with a clean finish
What it is: Seen in a number of cafes and speciality coffee shops is the siphon. This is a vacuum coffee maker that brews the coffee with vapour pressure, forcing the water to rise into the uppermost chamber to mix with the coffee grounds. Then, gravity pulls the water back into the lower chamber through a filter. Not only does the apparatus look fancy and will sure be a topic of many conversations, but the resulting coffee is flavourful and bright enough to make anyone an avid coffee drinker.
How to make your coffee with it: Take a siphon filter and give it a light soak in some warm water. Then place the filter into the top component—the hopper—and ensure it is securely hooked to the glass tubing. Next, you fill the bottom component of the siphon—also known as the bulb—with water. You don’t have to boil the water beforehand. Lower the hopper to the bulb and connect them.
Place the apparatus over the burner and turn on the flame. Once the water begins boiling and has risen into the hopper, reduce the heat and add your grounds into the hopper. Stir. Let the coffee brew for around 60-90 seconds before removing the siphon from the heat source. Stir once again. Then wait for about 5 minutes for the brewed coffee to drain back into the bulb before pouring and enjoying.
Grind type: Medium fine
Brewing time: 5-8 minutes
Result: A light, clean, and crisp cup
What About Adding Milk To My Coffee?
You may have mastered making up a pot of freshly brewed coffee, but now you want to add some milk. Coffee drinks like cappuccinos, macchiatos, flat-whites, and lattes all require textured milk. In other words, it’s not cold milk getting poured into the mug. It has been frothed and steamed to the right temperature.
The right temperature for milk is around 65°C. The temperature brings out the natural sweetness in milk and doesn’t denature it. Here’s why 65°C is considered the sweet spot for milk by baristas: If the milk or cream is too cold, it will not flavour the coffee correctly and will wind up tasting just like warmed milk. If the milk is too hot, the texture falls apart (the proteins break down). Anything over 70°C will ultimately burn your tongue, and milk scalds at 80°C.
More Tips To Help You Brew Up Amazing Coffee at Home
We have gone over the essential gear, brewing methods, and the best temperature for milk. After tinkering with different beans and brewing up a few cups, you might find that you want to expand your coffee-drinking horizons just a bit. Here are some ways to make your home-brewed coffee even more delectable:
1. Making your own coffee art
Baristas make it look like a magic trick, especially when they are trying to juggle several coffee orders at once. At home, you have room to play around and see what you come up with. You are going to need some stencils and a stainless steel shaker for cinnamon, chocolate, or pumpkin spice (yes, we said it) to make designs.
To get started, though, you will need to froth the milk without adding any large bubbles. Then, slowly pour the milk into the coffee at an angle. It will take some practice, but since you’re at home, even a mistake will taste delicious.
2. Use good quality water
The best tasting coffee is made not only with high-quality beans but also with clean water. You might think that mineral water would add dimension to the coffee, but in reality, those minerals make it more difficult for the coffee and water to bond, resulting in a weaker brew. Additionally, high mineral content might cause limescale in your kettle or coffee maker.
For those reasons, it is best to use lightly filtered water. Don’t use entirely still water, since that can also cause problems—and it will taste bland.
3. Get the right sized pour over cone
If the size of the pour over cone is too big or too small, it will affect your coffee. If the cone is too shallow, the coffee will taste very hollow and flat. Too big, and it could lead to a muddled flavour. There are many sizes, so choose the ones that work best with the kind of coffee you like to have. Again, you may have to experiment a little before settling on the right flavour profile.
4. Grind your beans last
Want to maximize flavour? Grinding should be the last step before you start pouring your water. Try to limit the ground coffee’s exposure to air to 15 seconds. That preserves most of the coffee flavour.
There are so many kinds of methods for brewing up the best coffee you have ever tasted right in your home. With the right tools and brewing devices on hand, you will be the master barista amongst your friends and family in no time. Don’t forget to stock up on the essentials! And remember to have fun. With that, you are well on your way to coffee heaven.