Coffee is a delightful drink that is enjoyed by many people around the world. If you’re used to drinking instant coffee, then it’s time to change that habit and go for a much more rewarding taste experience. Most people don’t know how easy it can be to make their own gourmet coffee, whether they drink it at home or in a cafe.
There are dozens of different styles out there that you can choose from, each one providing its own unique flavor and caffeine content. Here are 4 secrets that will help you to make the best cup of coffee you’ve ever had.
1. Consider Buying a Coffee Machine
You might be aware of this already but home coffee machines are relatively cheap and will help you in so many ways. If you have a sweet spot for espresso-based drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, or macchiatos then buying an espresso machine would be a great choice – it’s definitely worth the initial investment. On the other hand, if you love a quality espresso coffee then buying yourself a Breville Barista Express will give you quality cappuccino every single time at the press of a button – it’s that easy! It even comes with a built-in grinder so you won’t have to spend extra money on a separate one.
Another great feature of this machine is that it has an integrated precision conical burr grinder on demand which means you can save time preparing your delicious coffee. Furthermore, it delivers the precise amount of freshly ground coffee straight into the portafilter for your preferred taste with any bean roast.
Also, a great option can be the DeLonghi Lattissima Plus which functions as an espresso machine and milk frother in one – it’s perfect for making quality espresso drinks that will impress your friends and leave them craving more!
In case you don’t want to buy two separate machines or you think that grinding the beans could potentially damage your machine, buying one with a built-in grinder is an equally good choice.
2. Know Your Beans
The first step to making a great cup of coffee is knowing how to buy the beans. Coffee beans are like bread; if you don’t use good ingredients, you’re not going to end up with something that tastes very good. For many people, their only exposure will be at their local supermarket where they’ll see bags of pre-ground coffee labeled “arabica” or “robusta.”
Like most marketing, this can be misleading as it doesn’t tell them much about the quality of the coffee inside. The difference between the two comes down to acidity and taste. Robustas tend to have more caffeine than arabicas but also taste very acidic and sour compared to arabica’s which are sweeter.
If you know your beans, you’ll be able to make better choices. You can start by looking at how your beans are roasted; dark roasts tend to taste harsh while medium roasts are slightly sweeter. Also, make sure you’re buying whole coffee beans as ground coffee will go stale faster.
3. Use the Right Ratio of Water to Coffee
Our next step is knowing that not all cups of coffee are equal. What’s written on the side of your cup might say 8 fl oz (240 ml) which means that 2 tablespoons (12 grams) would be a good amount of grounds for 1 cup (8 fl oz). You may want to get a coffee grinder brush for tidying.
Now, this doesn’t work well with French press or espresso machines because they have less contact with the water so they need more grounds for the coffee to be strong enough. If you have a French press, 1 tablespoon per cup is recommended or if you’re using an espresso machine then use 1 tablespoon per 2-3 oz of water.
Ever wonder how much ground coffee to add to your standard drip coffee maker? Well, generally speaking, it’s somewhere within the range of 57 g (2 oz) – 71 g (2.5 oz). A good starting point would be two-level tablespoons in a measuring spoon for every 6 fl oz of water making sure not to pack the grounds in the spoon.
The most common mistake people make when brewing coffee is adding too little or too much coffee which can lead to under extraction and over-extraction respectively causing a bitter taste – nobody likes that.
While there are ratios that are standard for brewing espresso, French press, and drip coffee, you’re not obliged to stick to them unless you want a good cup of coffee every time – then it’s highly recommended that you do. This takes practice and patience but once you’ve nailed it down, your day will be much better because of it.
4. Grind the Beans Only Before Brewing Them
This seems obvious but surprisingly enough people don’t think about what they’re putting into their bodies. The next step is knowing how fresh your beans are which can make or break your cup of coffee if they’re not as fresh as possible – waiting too long after roasting damages the quality drastically. Coffee should be enjoyed shortly after being roasted which is only about 2 weeks (usually 1 week) after it’s roasted.
There are many opinions on how long coffee can be kept but realistically speaking, you should aim to use the beans within 4-5 days of them being roasted if not sooner which leads us to grind.
One way to check whether your beans are still fresh is to break off a piece and take a whiff – if they smell like hay then that’s not good, especially if you’re making espresso because the carbon dioxide coming out makes the grinds expand. If the coffee smells musty or like wet cardboard then throw them out!
While “fresh ground” might seem better than buying pre-ground coffee, what you gain in freshness is lost when the coffee particles are exposed to oxygen which leads to them losing their flavor.
With these four tips, you will be able to brew the perfect cup of coffee every time. Experiment with different beans and grinds until you find your favorite combination. And if all else fails, buy a coffee machine with a built-in grinder, some assembly is required.