Working at home also means brewing coffee at home, but can you make coffee that matches the caliber of your daily coffee stop? Many coffee brewing methods work great at home and require very little skill. Whatever method you choose to make coffee at home, our tips will help you brew a perfect cup every time without formal barista training.
Buy fresh, high-quality coffee beans and store them correctly
Coffee is two things: water and ground coffee. Buying whole beans is your first step to brewing perfect coffee at home. Remember these guidelines when buying and storing your coffee.
- Similar to produce, coffee is perishable — the fresher, the better.
- When possible, buy beans from a local roaster.
- A roasting date isn’t essential, but it can suggest the bag contains high-quality, fresh beans.
- Before you brew your coffee, grind what you need.
- Don’t freeze or refrigerate coffee: Store beans at room temperature, in an airtight container away from direct light for up to one month.
Grind your own beans and invest in a high-quality burr grinder
Whole-bean coffee means you can grind it fresh for the coffee brewing methods you use at home. You can purchase a grinder with blades or burrs. Burr grinders cost more but yield better — i.e., tastier — results. It’s also much easier to dial in a coarse, medium, or fine grind with a burr grinder.
Weigh your coffee and water with a kitchen scale
Volume varies grind to grind and scoop to scoop. Measuring by weight is more precise. Start with this rule of thumb on a digital kitchen scale that weighs in grams.
- Use 15 grams (1 tablespoon) of ground coffee per eight ounces of water.
- Adjust for your ideal ratio.
Use cold, filtered water
Water quality makes all the difference when it comes to coffee quality. If you don’t like your tap water, don’t brew with it.
Water that’s distilled, soft, hard, or overly chlorinated makes bad coffee (for example, hard water can’t extract enough flavor compounds, yielding weaker coffee). Luckily, the solution is easy: Use filtered water from your sink, pitcher system, or fridge.
Heat water to the optimal temperature for brewing
The optimal water temperature for most home coffee brewing methods is 195º to 205º Fahrenheit. If you use a brewing method that does not heat the water for you, let the water boil, shut off the heat, and then allow the kettle sit for 30 to 60 seconds.
Rinse your filter and warm your mug
Before you brew, rinse the filter with boiled water to improve flavor. And right before you pour your coffee, swirl boiled water in your mug so your coffee stays hot longer.
Use an unbleached filter
“Dioxin-free” or “oxygen-bleached” coffee filters can deliver more coffee aromatics with fewer papery or chemical flavors.
Keep your coffee equipment clean
Clean your coffee containers and tools monthly. A solution of white vinegar and water (followed by a water rinse) cleans drip makers and other coffee equipment too. You can even clean your burr grinder by running rice through it.
Pros and cons of the most popular brewing methods
When it comes to brewing coffee at home, here are four of the most popular coffee brewing methods.
Automatic drip coffee maker
The set-and-forget coffee brewing machine is convenient at the expense of control. Drip brewing is the easiest way to make a large amount of coffee (up to 12 cups), and many models can be scheduled to brew at a set time. The end result may be less complex in flavor and aroma compared to other brewing methods. For better-tasting, longer-lasting coffee, opt for an insulated carafe instead of a hot plate.
French press coffee
Elegant presentation, maximum flavor: Pour the water, stir, wait a few minutes, push down the plunger, and you’ve got boldly flavored, richly textured coffee. Cleaning out grounds can be messy and glass carafes are prone to breakage, but the coffee is worth it.
If you prefer brewing a custom cup at a time, pour-over coffee takes minutes to make and results in a smooth, rich cup. Compact cones are great for a small coffee space, and you pour straight into your mug, minimizing mess. Hint: Fold the ridged edges of your cone filters for a better fit.
Cold brew coffee
The ultimate no-fuss-no-muss coffee brewing method: Combine ground coffee and cold water, steep the mixture in the fridge overnight, and strain in the morning.
The resulting concentrate can be stored chilled for up to two weeks, and you can dilute it to taste for hot or iced coffee. Cold brew abounds with smooth flavor, low acidity, and mild bitterness. Two words of caution: You will need space in the fridge for the concentrate, and cold brew requires much more ground coffee than other methods.
The right coffee can be in your cup every day
Brewing coffee at home is an easy perk. Now that you know about the right gear, coffee brewing methods, and coffees to buy from around the world, you can brew your perfect cup every day.