Creating a perfect cup of coffee at home may require you to try out new things. First, you need a cup of coffee you can appreciate—a cup you like drinking every morning. That said, there are some principles to learn before you begin at-home brewing. Once you've mastered the basics, you can try different roasts, origins, and preparation methods. Let's get down to it.
Coffee Grinders and Beans
Finding a Coffee Grinder
Grinders allow you to make a cup of coffee right away from freshly ground whole beans. When it comes to at-home brewing, a good burr grinder is essential. Compared to other grinders, burr grinders have higher consistency in ensuring that the coffee is evenly ground. These are more expensive than blade grinders, but they're totally worth the investment. For at home, we love the Hario Skerton as a great entry level hand grinder. If you don't feel like an arm work out first thing in the morning, the Baratza is a good choice.
Picking the Perfect Bean
Excellent grade beans are the foundation of great-tasting coffee. Look for coffee that's quality regulated, roasted fresh, and shipped quickly after roasting from a reputable source. It's better to avoid stale grocery store beans in favor of freshly roasted flavors. Here at Barista Warrior HQ we're partial to our Salted Coffee from the Barista Warrior Coffee Lab. When we're not drinking our own roasts we love another Portland local, Stumptown Holler Mountain, roasted same day.
Also, it might go without saying, but we'll say it anyway; don't reuse your coffee grounds if you want to make coffee at home. Since you've already extracted the aroma and flavor, you will only be left with the bitter aftertaste - gross.
Storing Your Coffee At Home
You'll want to preserve coffee beans correctly for a fresh and flavorful brew. Just remember that freshly roasted coffee beans are sensitive to temperatures and moisture, so storing them in the refrigerator or freezer isn't an option. Instead, you can set them aside in a cabinet or on an at-home brewing station. This will also help you keep everything in one spot for an easier pour.
It can help if you buy your coffee beans in small quantities. Storing reserved amounts can preserve the roasted flavor and allow you to run through the servings in a reasonable amount of time.
At-Home Brewing Equipment
Beginners can choose from a wide range of brewing equipment, and you'll get varied flavors depending on the brewing equipment you choose. Traditional pour-over brewing devices offer a cleaner profile, while immersion brewing methods have a more robust character. You can browse through our available high-quality Pour-Over Kettle and French Press Coffee Makers. Reusable pour-over filters are also a great option for the budding barista and each one saves 25,000 paper filters from going to the dump!
You might already have a favorite method, so feel free to use it. But don't be afraid to experiment with alternative approaches and equipment. It's nice to have options, and after you've mastered them all, you'll be able to quickly pick the brewing method that speaks to you in the moment.
The Right Ratios
No matter what recipe you follow, you need to pay attention to the measurements of the coffee and water you use. A water-to-ground coffee ratio of 16:1 is an excellent place to start.
Remember, you can always play around with the proportions later. Depending on the brewing equipment and type of coffee beans you're using, the ratio of coffee to water can vary. For example, if you think it's too mild, you may end up using less water to help bring out a more robust flavor.
You'll also want to pay attention to grind size. More granulated coffee is better for grounds that are submerged in water for a significant amount of time. The coffee will be continuously flushed with hot water and left to drain. This drip grind provides an excellent flavor.
For example, you'll want a coarser grind with our French Press because the coffee will be steeped in water for up to six minutes.
Think of Your Water as an Ingredient
When it comes to at-home brewing, approach the water you use as if it were another ingredient. Filtered, clean water is best for soaking coffee grounds. Use a water filter at home to avoid diluting your coffee with minerals from your faucet.
Apart from mineral-rich water, the water temperature you use to brew your coffee also impacts the flavor. 90.5–96°C (195–205°F) is the acceptable range. If you don't have a thermometer, brew for 30–45 seconds after the water has reached a boil. Coffee extraction increases as water temperature increases. Water that's too cold will result in flat, under-extracted coffee, while too hot water will lose flavor quality.
You're more than welcome to experiment with temperature to create your perfect cup of coffee. Use hotter water if your coffee is too sour or cooler water if it's too bitter.
Barista-Quality Brews At Home
To make a flavorful coffee brew, you may need to test out a few brewing methods. Try multiple roasts and brewing method combinations to see which one you prefer.