No one is quite sure where coffee was first discovered. However, we do know that it has been around for hundreds of years. And even today, coffee houses and cafes are still centers of socialization and news sharing in many parts of the world.
Nowadays, making coffee is a part of the daily morning routine for many people. While it's easiest to buy your coffee premade, this isn't always easily accessible or financially sustainable.
Knowing how to brew the perfect cup of coffee is considered by many to be an art form. Making the best coffee requires attention to many details, including the coffee beans, the water ratio, the temperature of the coffee, and more.
Because of all these details, there is a lot of margin for error when making coffee yourself. Luckily, there are a few tried and true tips to keep your coffee from turning out sludgy, gritty, or bitter.
If you want to learn how to make the perfect cup of coffee, you've come to the right place. Keep reading to learn what you need to keep in mind in order to achieve this pinnacle of success.
Determine the Tools You Need
The first step in brewing the perfect cup of coffee is deciding which tools you will use to make your caffeinated beverage.
When making coffee at home, you have many options for how you will brew your coffee: a pour-over cup, a French press, an Aeropress, or an auto-brewing drip coffee maker. Each of these methods has its own pros and cons to consider.
A drip coffee maker is what you usually think of when you hear the word "coffee pot." It has a container in front to catch the coffee, a lid on top over the chamber where you put the filter and the coffee grounds, and a space in the back where you pour the water.
This method of brewing is great if you want to do other things while you make your coffee. As long as you measure the coffee and water, you'll also likely get the same taste from your coffee every time you make it. This option is also generally the best if you're trying to make coffee for a lot of people at once.
The pour-over method is exactly what it sounds like. You have a small funnel-like piece that you place the filter and the coffee grounds in, and that all sits on top of your coffee mug. You pour your heated water over the top of the grounds, and the coffee falls directly into the mug.
This method is excellent if you don't mind the taste of coffee made in a drip coffee maker, but you want more control over the brewing process. It's also easier to make a single cup of coffee with this method than with a drip coffee maker.
With a French press, the coffee grounds sit in the water for several minutes, rather than having the water drip through the grounds. When your coffee is done brewing, you press down on a handle attached to a filter that passes through the water. This presses all of the coffee grounds onto the bottom of the container, and you can pour your coffee from there.
Finally, an Aeropress is kind of like the lightning-fast version of a French press. You use this to force your coffee through a filter and into a cup. It's easier to brew a single cup of coffee with this method than with a French press, and brewing usually only takes a minute or two.
None of these brewing methods is inherently better than the other, but it's likely that one of them will meet your needs and preferences better than the others.
Choose the Coffee Beans
Now that you've decided how you will make your coffee, it's time to choose your coffee beans.
There are four main types of coffee beans in the world, but Arabica beans are by far the most common type that you'll find on grocery store shelves and in your local coffee shops.
Again, making the right choice in this step is more about personal preference than trying to find the objectively best coffee beans. If you like a strong, full-bodied taste in your coffee, stick to dark roast. If you're looking for a more delicate flavor, choose a light roast.
There are also many considerations that go into the flavor of a coffee bean beyond just the kind of roast.
Some blends include a more chocolatey flavor to the coffee. Others taste almost fruity. To help you determine the flavor, coffee packages will often include a flavor profile chart on the sides or the front so that you know exactly what you're looking for.
While you can use pre-ground coffee if you have to, freshly ground beans will produce the most vibrant flavor for your coffee. They'll also stay fresher longer after you buy them than the pre-ground kinds of coffee you can find. Just purchase an at-home grinder, and you'll be good to go!
After you've decided which kind of coffee you will buy, it's incredibly important to properly store your beans at home. Keep them in a cool, dry place and away from sunlight as much as possible.
If you've ever wondered why coffee cans and tubs from the store are always made of opaque plastic and metal, this is why. Too much exposure to water, heat, sunlight, and smelly foods will cause your coffee to turn.
Grind the Coffee Beans
If you've chosen to buy whole bean coffee, you'll need to grind the beans before you can use them to make your coffee. While this is an extra step in the process, using whole bean coffee gives you the ability to choose exactly how finely ground you want your coffee. This, in addition to the fresher taste from whole beans, makes the extra seconds spent grinding the beans worth it for many coffee drinkers.
The kind of grind you're looking to achieve depends largely upon your brewing method of choice. For slow brewing methods (such as the French press that we talked about earlier), a coarse grind will be the way to go. Otherwise, your beans will soak too much, and you're likely to get a better taste in your coffee cup.
For the fast brewing methods (think Aeropress or pour-over coffee), you'll need much more finely ground coffee beans. With these brewing methods, if you don't grind the beans enough, you won't get enough flavor out of them and will end up with a weak-tasting cup of coffee.
Depending on what kind of grinder you're using, it shouldn't take more than a few seconds to achieve coarsely ground beans. For finely ground beans, the process should take about fifteen seconds at the most.
Get the Right Water Temperature
A lot of people spend a lot of time thinking about which kind of coffee beans they'll use, and rightly so. However, the beans only make up half of the equation. The water you use is often glossed over in the brewing process, but it can actually make or break the taste of the coffee in your cup.
You'll need to start by using the proper kind of water. Tap water is often hard water. This means that it has too many minerals in it to brew a perfect coffee.
Either take the time to filter your water, or use soft water to make your coffee. A general rule of thumb to follow is that if you like drinking the water plain, you'll probably like it in your coffee as well.
When you use a drip coffee maker, it automatically heats and pours the coffee for you, so you don't have to worry much about this part of the process. All of the other brewing methods, though, require that you manually heat up your water.
Around 200 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal brewing temperature for coffee. Because this is below the boiling point of water, you won't be able to tell visually whether the water has achieved the right temperature or not. You should use a thermometer to confirm that you've achieved the appropriate water temperature before moving on to the next step.
If you don't have a thermometer, you can still get the right water temperature. The process is just a little more subjective.
First, you'll boil your water. Then, wait about thirty seconds to a minute after the water has boiled before moving on. This will let the water cool to the appropriate temperature before you start pouring it over the coffee grounds.
One final note: do not reboil the water when using it for coffee. If you do, you run the risk of superheating it. This means that the boiling point of the water will be higher than it normally is, and you'll have water that's too hot to use for brewing your coffee.
Combine the Water and the Grounds
You have the water. You have the coffee grounds. All that's left is to put them together!
At this step, you have to decide how strong you want your cup of coffee to be. For many, the perfect cup of coffee has a ratio of about six ounces of water to one tablespoon of coffee grounds.
Of course, you can and should adjust this ratio to your personal preference. Add more coffee to make it stronger, and use less coffee (or more water) to make it weaker.
Before you start properly brewing your coffee, take the time to dampen your coffee grounds with some of the warm water, and let it soak in for a minute or two. You should use just enough water to wet down the grounds, and not enough to actually start brewing.
Including this step prepares the grounds for brewing. They start to release their flavors so that when you actually start brewing, you'll get more flavor from the beans, and the flavor you do get will be more subtle and complex than if you don't include this step.
Now it's time to actually brew the coffee! Use your chosen brewing method and follow its best practices for brewing your coffee beans.
Add Sweetener and Cream
While this step is optional, these details are what can take your cup of coffee to the next level.
Some might argue that the perfect cup of coffee needs no sweetener or cream. That might work for them, but if it doesn't work for you, that's okay! The perfect cup of coffee needs to appeal to your tastes, and if that means adding sugar or cream, then add the sugar and cream.
As with many of the steps in the process, choosing the right sweetener is all a matter of taste. Granulated sugar, sugar replacements, maple syrup, agave syrup, and honey are all perfectly respectable options for sweeteners to add to your coffee.
Likewise, the perfect creamer for your coffee is the one that you like the best. You could use various kinds of milk, such as skim milk, whole milk, almond milk, or oat milk. Using half and half will bring an even richer taste to your coffee.
Premade creamers with added flavors can also be a great addition to your coffee. If you choose one of these, you probably don't need to add any extra sweetener as well.
Enjoy the Coffee
Now that you've brewed the perfect cup of coffee, it's time to enjoy it! Find a cozy, quiet spot and bask in the glow of your perfect cup of joe. Turn on some gentle tunes, look out a sunny window, or read a book.
No matter what you have going on in the day ahead, take this moment to breathe and appreciate your perfect cup of coffee.
Go Share What You've Learned About Making Coffee
Now you know everything you need to know about making coffee. Never again will you wonder how to brew coffee or what it takes to make the best coffee out there.
Once you've mastered your new skills, go out there and make amazing coffee for your friends and family. They'll be in awe of your coffee-making prowess.
Need some support in choosing the perfect coffee bean? Contact us today to learn more about all the varieties of beans we have for sale!