Coffee is everywhere from convenience stores to the gourmet shops many of us frequent for fine lattes and cappuccinos. While the big shops with fancy equipment can turn out 1,000 quality cups an hour, you can make excellent coffee on your own armed with a little knowledge and a few tools.
Use this guide from west elm to master the perfect cup of coffee morning, noon or night.
Buy Fresh Beans
Browse the grocery store shelves and you'll see tons of bags of pre-ground coffee. These are convenient, but the best results, buy fresh whole beans that can be ground at home.
How fresh your beans are typically depends on where you get them. At finer coffee shops where they roast on-site or nearby, fresh is typically no more than a week old. In the grocery store, fresh takes on a slightly different definition, but anything roasted more than a few months ago should be considered old by any standard.
You'll also want to store your beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry place like your pantry or a kitchen cabinet once you get them home.
Grind at Home
Quality beans are essential for making the perfect cup of coffee, but what you do with them matters just as much. To truly make an exceptional cup of coffee at home, you want to start with fresh beans and grind them right before use. This means having a quality coffee grinder at home.
While blade grinders are affordable, burr grinders will give you a more even grind. For coffee enthusiasts, they're pretty much the most cost-effective solution that still consistently turns out an even grind. If you really love your coffee or go between different methods of brewing a burr grinder may be your best bet. More powerful grinders also make superior espresso since the fine grind is more difficult for a run of the mill grinder to master.
If you don't have a coffee grinder, getting fresh beans ground for you at most coffee shops and stores is easy. These commercial grinders tend to do an excellent job, but you'll be stuck with one grind only, limiting the number of devices you can prepare your coffee with.
Ground coffee also loses flavor quickly, so don't buy more than a week's worth at a time for the best taste.
Eyeballing coffee grounds and water is something a lot of people do. Over time, you can do it pretty precisely, but when you're figuring out how to make coffee that you love, measuring your grounds and water is important.
If you're really serious about your java, invest in a simple digital scale to measure in grams before you grind. This will give you the most accurate measurement and ensure a consistent cup of coffee. For water, any measuring cup designed for liquids will do the trick.
The ratio that you prefer is up to you, but a good starting point is to use between 1.5-grams and 2-grams of coffee per ounce of water.
Use Quality Water
Coffee is mostly water, so it stands to reason that the quality of water you use is extremely important when trying to master the perfect cup. For the best coffee, always start with clean filtered water. You can use bottled water if you prefer, but most home purification systems will do an excellent job.
If you're using a coffee brewing method that requires boiling water, make sure you discard any unused water instead of re-boiling it for another cup or pot later.
Pay Attention to Water Temperature
Standard drip coffee makers do their best with cold water, but other brewing devices often require a specific temperature. While there's some wiggle room here depending on your personal tastes, most coffee roasters and aficionados agree that somewhere between 200-degrees Fahrenheit and 205-degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for French press and pour over style brewing.
You may find that you prefer different temperatures for different blends, like 200-degrees for dark roasts and 205-degrees for light roasts. An electric kettle with temperature control will make getting to the desired temperature a breeze.
Making a quality cup of coffee doesn't take years of experience or a lot of expensive equipment. In fact, you've probably already got most of the supplies you need to brew an excellent cup for yourself and anyone who needs a little pick me up.
Follow these basic steps and in short order you’ll be brewing the best coffee of your life!