What suggestions do you have for coffee enthusiasts who are exploring home brewing for the first time?
The flavor in a cup of coffee can vary widely, depending on the beans and brewing techniques. While many coffee shop regulars would love to replicate their favorite flavors at home, they lack the know-how. Brewing a delicious cup of coffee does not have to be complicated, but it may take some time to hone your skills. Read on to learn from our coffee experts how to develop your own brewing skills.
Know your Flavor and Blend
As a coffee enthusiast, your first and foremost consideration is the flavor of the coffee that you prefer. In this area, you need to explore various types of coffee in order to know what your taste buds love. You need to ask yourself if you like your coffee to have a strong flavor or roasted one.
I explored different types of coffee on my business travels. As a businessman, coffee is my energizer, and it’s a great opportunity to taste the coffee of the country where I am traveling. I tasted different blends from different countries, and my top three recommended flavors are Italian coffee which is undoubtedly perfect, Arabic coffee from gulf countries, and the Philippines’ famous Batangas coffee, also known as “Kapeng Barako.” Their tastes and aroma are incomparable.
Select Your Brewing Method
The perfect coffee isn’t any good if it’s not brewed perfectly. There are different types of brewing methods, fortunately, at home. Yes! You are reading it correctly. It can be done at home. Choosing the brewing method is very important as the taste of your final cup will vary depending on the process. The most-popular home-brewing methods are AeroPress, drip machine, pour over, French press, and moka pot. Color differences are noticeable depending on the brewing method that you used. Aside from the taste and color, you can also consider the convenience, price, and also quantity of the coffee it could make.
Grind your own beans
First, buy whole beans and grind them yourself. The single easiest way to create a super flavorful fresh brew is to grind up your coffee beans instead of buying pre-ground coffee. You see, when coffee is ground up, there is more surface area exposed to oxygen, moisture, heat, and light, which are going to rob your coffee beans of all their beautiful flavors. Coffee beans stay fresh for longer than pre-ground coffee. There are some cheap and effective coffee grinders on the market today, which I highly recommend investing in. It’ll change your coffee game before you’ve even started.
Second, the grind size is important, which is another reason to grind your own beans. A French press coffee needs to be brewed using a coarse coffee grind, like salt or sand. Espresso is brewed using a fine coffee grind, which is closer to a powder. This is important because if the grind size isn’t right for the brewing method, you’re going to have either a weak coffee or one that tastes very bitter. By owning a coffee grinder, you have the freedom of switching up your brewing methods when you fancy. If you get these two pieces of advice right, you’re well on your way to brewing a beautiful cup of coffee.
The last thing I would advise is to get the water to coffee ratio right. The golden ratio is two tablespoons of coffee for every six ounces of water. You can play around with the ratio until you find your sweet spot. This might take a couple of attempts.
Tom Bolland has had a passion for coffee for around 4 years now, which grew when he started travelling and visiting countries with different coffee cultures. Now he helps people brew the best coffee possible from the comfort of their own home, on his blog HappyBarista.com.
Sean Yew is a specialty coffee barista and latte artist who got sucked into the depths of the world of coffee. He is the Founder of TheHeartyBrew.com and his mission is to share what he learned with home brewers on how they can improve their brew, and enjoy the true taste of fine coffee.
Choose a Coffee Brewing Method Based on What You Like to Taste
Not all coffee brewing methods are created equal. There are dozens of coffee makers that use various techniques to extract the full flavor of the coffee. Some create a stronger, bolder cup; others create a smooth, clear taste. Depending on which brew method you use, the final taste will end up drastically different. That’s why it’s important to decide first what you prefer to taste in your coffee. Then, decide which brew method to go for.
The classic, tried-and-true French press is a coffee maker that produces a rich, strong, and bold coffee. It uses the immersion method, which means the coffee grounds sit in direct contact with water all the time. This brings about a heavier body in your coffee, or in other words, a mouthfeel that is harsher with a somewhat grainier sensation on your tongue. The French press is also known for accentuating darker, more bitter flavors in coffee. So, if you’re someone who’s brand new to coffee and has never drunk one straight-up black before, a French Press might be too strong and bitter for your taste. If you choose this brew method just because it’s the only one available, you might end up being put off by it and develop a dislike for coffee, when in reality, it’s just a brew method your palate hasn’t grown used to yet.
The AeroPress and the newer Delter Press are known for making coffee that’s smooth, clean, and clear in taste. It’s a fantastic coffee maker to really highlight a coffee’s fruity or floral flavor. It brings out the brightness in a particular coffee bean and works especially well if you’re drinking single-origin coffee beans. The body of a coffee brewed from the AeroPress is light and clear. This is a great option for those who enjoy sweetness and zest in their morning cup. It allows you to develop and grow your taste for coffee by easing you in. I highly recommend this method for those exploring brewing for the first time.
Manual pourover coffee, such as the Hario V60, Kalita Dripper, and the Chemex lie somewhere in [the middle]. Using the percolation method, in which water passes through the ground coffee, these pourover coffee makers allow for a clean, light body in the coffee. They excel at bringing out a coffee’s true flavor and origin but are also robust enough to allow deeper notes (like cocoa and tobacco) to shine through. The pourover method is probably the most popular type of brew method in today’s specialty coffee scene, as its versatility in bringing out a wide range of flavors really appeals to everyone.
So first, decide what you want in your coffee. Do you prefer a stronger, richer cup? Or would you like to start off with a smooth, sweet, and bright coffee? Take it from there, and as you progress along your coffee journey, don’t be afraid to branch out into various brew methods. Even with the exact same beans, you’d be amazed at how the final flavors are brought out in unique ways.
Always Measure Right:
When it comes to brewing your coffee, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the ratio of your ingredients. If you get the ratio of beans to water wrong, your coffee will either be too grainy or too watery, which can kill the taste of your coffee. Consider investing in a good, sensitive digital scale to keep track of the weight of the ground beans to ensure you have the best coffee you can have.
Know Your Notes and Roasts:
This is something that can be a little daunting to new coffee brewers, but the truth is, it’s the most fun part. It’s important to know the different tastes to expect from different types of coffees. This will not only help you gauge the quality of the coffee you’re drinking but also help you determine what type of coffee suits your taste palette.
Liam Coultman is a Sprint Coach and certified PICP Athlete Performance Specialist Coach with a degree in Sport and Exercise Science. Find him at The Speed Project.
Buy a variable temperature kettle
This may sound like an odd tip, but I almost gave up on brewing my own coffee because the taste was always harsh and gravelly. I thought I was doing something wrong. Then, I decided it must be the beans and almost went back to my store-bought coffee. [Finally,] I realized I was letting the kettle completely boil, which made the water too hot, which caused over-extraction and meant there was a loss of quality in the taste. One easy way to waste expensive Ethiopian beans!
With enough things to do already, I really didn’t want to be checking the water temperature every time I made a coffee (too cold also ruins the taste). Buying a variable temperature kettle took that out of the equation and allowed me to start making some great-tasting coffee. You want the temperature of the water to be between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. So, just make sure the kettle has a setting to accommodate this [temperature range], and you’ll be good to go.
When you are looking to explore brewing for the first time, you have to be willing to experiment to get it right. Nothing that is good comes easy. It may take you a few tries to actually get it right, and when you have the technique down, you may want to change the bean or product, meaning that those techniques may need to change once again. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you use an entire bag of beans to get it right. Everything comes with practice, and nobody makes a good cup of coffee every time. At least not without being an expert.
Yker Valerio is a coffee blogger who writes to help coffee enthusiasts enjoy all the coffee pleasures. After more than 10 years as a management consultant, Yker is a full-time content writer specializing in coffee, food, and travel. Find him at Bonvivantcaffe.com
1. Get Specialty Coffee Beans: I would start with specialty coffee beans. Buying freshly roasted, high-quality coffee beans is a great place to start. Moreover, if your local roaster offers cupping sessions, they are a great opportunity to learn more about the aromatic profile of the coffee you will get.
2. Take notes: Another trick I use is to keep a coffee tasting journal. I [take notes] so I can improve my brewing techniques and learn what my favorite coffees are.
3. Roasting levels: Trying different roasting levels is great to experiment with different brewing methods. Medium and light roasts taste completely different. It was one of the more eye-opening experiences I had with coffee when I started.
Measure your coffee grounds
One of the biggest mistakes first-time coffee brewers make is not using enough coffee grounds. Brewers should use one tablespoon of ground coffee for every six ounces of water. Many new brewers believe that using too much ground coffee will result in a stronger brew. The strength of the brew is based on how the coffee is roasted, not how much you use. Using too little coffee will result in an over-extracted, bitter brew.
Another mistake first-time brewers make is over steeping when using the French press brewing method. French press coffee should be steeped for only four to five minutes. Steeping longer will result in over-extracted, bitter coffee. If you prefer a stronger brew, use a darker roast when brewing in a French press.
Tonya Lawson is the Founder of Simply Caffeinated, a website dedicated to providing helpful information on all things coffee.
Start with AeroPress
The best brewing technique to start with is AeroPress. There are so many videos on YouTube and blog posts for methods to get the best coffee from it. Pair your AeroPress with a decent budget grinder, say the JavaPresse manual, and for under $100, you can make amazing coffee at home or at the office. Then, you can start to go to town on “dialing in” your perfect coffee.