A Home Coffee Primer for Rookies
While there is a sublime joy in sitting down with a good cup of coffee from your favorite shop, making it a daily habit can get expensive. A single $3.00 cup of drip coffee every day adds up to more than a thousand dollars over the year. Learning to brew your coffee at home is a great way to save some cash and bring the coffee shop experience into your own kitchen. Because there is so much to know about coffee, the idea of making it at home can be daunting, but it’s not as hard as you might think. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Start with Quality Beans
In most grocery stores, you can find a seemingly endless aisle of coffee from every corner of the world. Which ones are good and which ones are bad? Everyone’s tastes are a little different, but there are a couple of options to consider to ensure a quality brew.
Your first option (and a very good one) is to buy whole beans and grind them at home. Like many spices, coffee contains delicate oils and flavonoid compounds that are difficult to preserve. Grinding the bean exposes these compounds to light and air, allowing the flavor to begin degrading immediately. To preserve the most flavor, beans should be ground just before brewing. Grinding at home can be done with electric or manual coffee and spice grinders, depending on your budget.
You will want to purchase beans according to your taste. Do you like the deeply toasted taste of large coffee franchises? You will likely want a dark roast. Do you like a more acidic, zippy cup? Then you should buy a light roast. Medium roasts are most popular in America, with moderate acidity and moderate bitterness. Generally, lighter roasts will be more acidic with more delicately nuanced flavors. The darker roasts will contain darker, toasted flavors and a slightly oilier body.
As you consider where to purchase your beans, look for small or local coffee roasters. Small batch roasters can pay closer attention to the quality and character of their beans, which produces a better product. Additionally, they travel fewer miles from the roaster to your kitchen, which means a fresher product.
If you choose to buy pre-ground beans, you should, likewise, scout out a small or local roaster. The major grocery store brands may sit weeks or even months before making it onto the shelf, while local roasters will grind in smaller, more frequent batches and stock them without the extensive travel time.
Control Your Grind
Quality grinders will allow you to adjust the size of the grind. Adjusting the size allows you to control some of the flavor of your coffee, depending on your preferences. While many guides from manufacturers give general recommendations, feel free to experiment with how coarse or fine you like your beans to be ground. Generally, the finer the grind, the more flavor will be extracted. Brewing methods that rely on quick, high-pressure water extraction, such as espresso or the moka pot, will often use a finer grind to extract more flavor more quickly. Slower methods, such as boiling the grinds in a kettle over a fire, will use coarser grinds.
Use Quality Brewing Equipment
Quality does not have to be expensive when it comes to coffee. A simple pour-over setup can cost as little as $10-15 dollars and last years. Some pour-over rigs come with a reusable mesh filter, meaning you can avoid paying for paper filters. Not only is that an economical option, but it is environmentally friendly as well. The pour-over is likely the least expensive method of brewing, but it produces one of the strongest tasting cups of coffee.
Ready, Set, Brew
To create a cup of pour-over, bring your water to a boil in a kettle. Grind enough beans for one cup, about 3 tbsp. of ground coffee. If you are using a pour-over that requires a paper filter, you should place the pour-over above your mug and rinse the paper filter with hot water. Discard the water which has filtered into the mug below. This will help eliminate any papery taste from the filter. Lastly, add your coffee to the filter, then slowly pour your hot water on top of the coffee, pausing to let the brew percolate as needed. Continue adding hot water until you have brewed a full cup of coffee. Enjoy!
While connoisseurs have written more definitive guides on how to brew the perfect cup of pour-over, this method should be simple enough for any beginner. If you are like some of us who would rather refrain from anything involving multiple steps in the morning, you may opt for an electric coffee maker, in which case you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Just as finding the perfect amount of cream and sugar for your coffee takes time and practice, brewing is more art than science, and finding the perfect routine will take time. One of the joys of drinking coffee is the incredible variety in ingredients and preparations. Spending time experimenting with new ways of brewing can help make coffee at home feel exotic and exciting without breaking the bank or leaving the house, and just knowing the basics can take you a long way.
If you’re jonesing for that perfect cup of home brew, visit us at Hugo Coffee Roasters. Whether you want our hand-selected, meticulously roasted beans to grind on your own or our convenient pre-ground, single-serve coffee bags, we’ve got you covered with unforgettably good coffee. And best of all, since we donate 10% of our profits to animal rescue, you’ll be doing good while you indulge.