Coffee lovers! If you’re like me, you’ve probably either invested in some fun coffee gear for at-home delights or you’ve just gotten creative in your concoctions. As we head into the holiday season, let’s keep the caffeine going so we can gear through the darkest time of the year with warm brews and sultry scents.
Since most of us have been home for most of the year, this blog will focus on at-home brewing methods that are (hopefully) accessible to a wide range of folks!
1. Use Fresh, Whole Coffee Beans
Coffee grounds are fine and dandy. But whole coffee beans make for an incredible smell and taste that is both complex and delicious. The aromatic compounds in roasted coffee beans simply can’t compare to grounds.
After roasting, coffee beans go into the process of degassing. This is where the flavor gets really real. But after about 8 days, up to 70% of those delicious compounds will be gone. So the more time goes on, the more flavor you lose. Grinding coffee can make this process happen ever faster as it exposes more surface area of the bean to the air.
But using free coffee and grinding it right before you brew it up will ensure the most flavorful cup of your coffee dreams!
2. Use a Scale
There’s a fairly standard rule of using 2 tablespoons of coffee for every 6 ounces of water. This measurement can definitely brew you a wonderful cup of coffee, but if you want to take your coffee-brewing capabilities to the next level, try being more precise in your measurements.
Depending on the bean and blend, coffee will vary in size and density. So one tablespoon of one been might differ greatly from one tablespoon of another. Using a scale will help you measure the weight instead of the volume. This will ensure you that no matter what kind of coffee you’re using, you’ll know exactly how to get the best cup.
3. Make Sure to Use the Right Amount of Coffee
We all know that the amount of coffee you use in relation to the amount of water you put in will determine the strength or weakness of the cup. The more coffee beans, the stronger the cup, and the fewer coffee beans, the weaker. So how much coffee is too much and how much coffee is too little?
Try differentiating it based on the blend you’re brewing. If you have a blend that’s sweet and silky, try doing a ratio of about 1:12 or 35 grams of coffee to 400 grams of water. If you have a brew that’s more delicate and acidic, try using a ratio of 1:14 and see how it turns out!
4. Invest in a Burr Grinder
An expert grinder simply cannot be understated in the world of coffee. The particle size of each coffee ground will determine just how quickly the flavor of the bean will be extracted. Smaller particles extract faster than bigger particles. So if all of your grounds are the same size, all of the particles will brew at the same rate.
If you’re able to control the exact size of your coffee ground, you’ll have a lot more control over the brewing process as a whole. Burr grinders can help you do just that. They allow you to repeatedly produce a specific grind size. Even more, they have 15 unique grind settings for you to explore. This way, you can produce the perfect grind or find new grinds to adjust your brew as needed.
5. Determine the Correct Coarseness or Fineness of Your Grind
Different brewing methods call for different grind sizes. Generally, the two best rules of thumb for determining the right size is time and taste.
Pour over recipes tend to aim for coffee to be brewed within three and a half minutes. If the coffee brews too quickly though, it means the grind was a little too coarse. If it brews too slowly, that means the grind was too fine.
If you’re looking for a general guide, here’s one below:
Espresso = fine grind
Pour-overs and AeroPress = medium grind
French Press = coarse grind
Adjust your grind settings and over time, you’ll find that the time and taste will bring you even closer to that delicious homemade coffee.
6. Use Filtered Water
Guess what? 98.5% of brewed coffee is water. This ultimately means the quality of your water is going to play a huge role in the quality of your coffee.
Use purified water to ensure the best morning cup. Some places have tap water pure enough for brewing, but most of the time, you’ll want to use filtered water. You can use a Brita filter or even bottled water. But if you’re using bottled water, just make sure it’s not distilled. A little bit of minerality will help the brew to perfection.
7. Use Goldilocks Water
By that, I mean make sure your water temperature is just right. The optimal water temperature for most brews is between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature of your water can not only affect the speed of extraction but also what gets extracted. That pleasant acidity and distinct flavor won’t come through in a cup brewed with water below 195 degrees Fahrenheit. And water temperature above 205 degrees Fahrenheit will make for a bitter outcome.
Brewing just right will help bring out the sweetness and complexity of most coffees.
8. Pre-Heat and Pre-Wet Everything
Before brewing, make sure anything that will come in contact with your coffee is as close to brewing temperature as possible. This way, the brewing device won’t have to steal heat from the water during the brewing process.
When brewing a pour-over, also make sure to prepare your filter by wetting it with hot water. Then let it drain. This helps bring the filter to the correct temperature and also washes away any undesirable paper flavor.
9. Bloom Your Coffee
It really is just as cool as it sounds. When you first pour water over your coffee grounds, you might notice that the coffee starts to bubble up. This is called the bloom and is caused by the Co2 being forcefully expelled from the coffee. The presence of CO2 can negatively affect your brew by pushing water away from the ground and preventing extraction, so the bloom is an important step in the brewing process.
Be sure to add a small amount of water at the beginning of the brewing process. Then wait 30 seconds or so for the coffee to bloom before adding more water.
10. Saturate Your Coffee
Make sure that during your brewing process, all coffee grounds are in contact with the water for the same amount of time. With a French press, it might look like the coffee is fully saturated, but there are often dry pockets here and there. To make sure you avoid this common pitfall, give your coffee a slight stir right after you add water during the bloom phase.
Isn’t that what quarantine has been all about? Different brewing methods and different coffees are the best way to explore from the comfort of your own home. Get creative and find methods that work for you. And most importantly, enjoy!