Here at La Mano, we want to make your life easier and save you money at the same time.
Another one of our goals is to simplify the whole process of making coffee from bean to cup. Even though there’s a lot to get to grips with when you start making fresh coffee at home, the foundation of a perfect cup is simple…
All you need is the correct ratio of water at the right temperature through the right amount of ground coffee and you’re in luck.
Once you have your perfect cup of coffee in place, you should be able to replicate this every time.
The thing is, while it might sound easy, there are several areas you can pay attention to and radically improve the quality of the coffee in your cup.
Today, we’ve got a checklist of 10 things to help you make better coffee at home the easy way.
10 Handy Hints For Making The Best Coffee At Home
- Start With The Right Water
- Buy Fresh, Whole Coffee Beans
- Store Your Beans Properly
- Invest in a Burr Grinder
- Use a Scale to Weight Your Grounds
- Set a Benchmark
- Pre-Infuse Your Coffee Grounds
- Get The Water Temperature Right
- Grind Your Beans Directly Before Brewing
- Embrace Pour-Over Coffee Not Pods
1) Start With The Right Water
The flavors and oils extracted from your coffee grounds account for less than 2% of the overall contents of your morning mug. The other 98% of composed of water.
It makes sense to get this right.
Does the water coming from your faucet taste of chlorine? Are there any traces of rust or limescale? If so, this will make its way into your coffee.
Consider using a filter to get the most out of your tap water.
How about bottled water? Well, here you need to tread a delicate balance…
Use hard water too rich in minerals and you’ll end up with coffee that tastes insipid and underextracted. You’ll also end up with far more limescale accumulating inside your equipment and clogging up the works.
You can mitigate this by using distilled water but the lack of minerals and ions in this type of purified water cause the water to leach minerals from the metal which leads to the machine wearing down. The coffee can also tend toward over-extracted.
Instead, look for water with a relatively even mineral balance which is typically water from a filter pitcher.
Pay proper attention to the water you use to help everything else fall into place.
2) Buy Fresh, Whole Coffee Beans
While you might be tempted by the convenience, you should sidestep pre-ground coffee when you’re shopping for supplies.
Why is this?
Well, most of the pre-ground coffee you see on the shelves has been lingering for months and is already well past its best. As a rough guideline, coffee hits peak flavor within days of roasting and should ideally be consumed within no more than a month.
Take the time to source the best roasters in your area and find yourself some great whole coffee beans.
OK, we’re not done with beans just yet…
3) Store Your Beans Properly
With fresh whole beans bagged, you need to think about storing them so they stay fresher for longer.
How can you achieve this and why should you bother?
As to the reason for proper storage, coffee degrades very rapidly the moment its exposed to the elements. Oxygen in particular is bad news for coffee beans. When exposed to the air, oxidation spoils the flavor of the coffee and can make it completely stale.
Airtight packages featuring degasser valves work to some extent but there’s still some oxygen inside the pack.
Store your fresh beans in an opaque container at room temperature in a cool, dark place.
4) Invest in a Burr Grinder
If you’re using whole beans, you should invest in a grinder so you can blitz the beans at home rather than relying on your local coffee shop. You’ll also be free to experiment with grind size, something that can impact the quality of the coffee in your cup.
Blade grinders are cheap but inconsistent. They also produce too much heat and static impairing your beans.
You should instead opt for a burr grinder, preferably with ceramic burrs. This will return impeccably consistent results with no overheating and very little static.
Match your grind size to the brewing method. Check out our guide to setting the right coffee ground size for help getting this right.
5) Use a Scale to Weigh Your Grounds
If you’re hoping to make drinkable coffee, you don’t strictly speaking need a scale. If, however, you’re looking to dial in your variables then easily replicate a lip-smacking cup every time, you’ll need the precision of a digital scale.
Coffee varies significantly in density according to bean origin, size, type, and roast profile. This renders estimating the weight of coffee grounds by volume entirely inaccurate.
The industry standard ratio of coffee to water is 1:18 although you can fine-tune this to taste.
Bottom line, use a digital scale for ease, speed, and precision.
6) Set a Benchmark
You should grab a notebook dedicated to coffee.
Think about some of the common variables:
- Bean type
- Bean roast date
- Brewing method
- Grind size
- Quantity of beans
- Water temperature
- Water type
- Pre-heated cup?
As you are experimenting and searching for that perfect cup of coffee, change out only one variable at a time. Once you’re done, you should be able to replicate your ideal cuppa with consummate ease.
7) Pre-Infuse Your Coffee Grounds
When you use the pour-over method, the blooming time during pre-infusion allows the gases left over from roasting to escape. Without this degassing stage, your coffee will end up weaker as the residual carbon dioxide repels water during extraction.
Pre-infuse your grounds by gently soaking the entire surface area and allowing it to sit soaking for just under a minute before you start brewing.
This simple trick is highly effective.
8) Get The Water Temperature Right
We mentioned right off the bat the vital role of water when you’re making coffee. Well, you don’t just need the right type of water, you also need it at the right temperature.
What is that?
As a rough band, anywhere between 195F and 205F should yield excellent coffee. Manipulate according to taste.
If you use water heated beyond 205F, you’ll burn the coffee. Use water that’s not hot enough and you’ll get a weak extraction.
9) Grind Your Beans Directly Before Brewing
If you’re looking to bring the best flavor out of your beans, you should grind them directly before you brew.
Once ground, coffee begins to lose flavor after just 30 minutes. From that point forth, it continues to degrade as it’s exposed to the elements.
10) Embrace Pour-Over Coffee Rather Than Pods
Using a pour-over coffee maker is the key to unlocking the finest flavor from your coffee beans.
While there’s a slight learning curve, once you’ve mastered the pour-over method, you’ll enjoy complete control over the entire brewing process. You can fine-tune grind size, water temperature and the ratio of coffee to water.
The coffee you’ll generate using a great pour-over brewing system puts that produced by pods to shame.
While pod-based coffee is cheap, the machines usually don’t get the water hot enough for truly great coffee. We’re fans of Keurig machines but the bottom line is that they only heat the water to 192F. According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America, you should brew coffee using water between 198F and 202F for optimum extraction and saturation.
Beyond this, the cost of pods soon starts mounting if you drink more than the odd cuppa. For a household where everyone is constantly hitting the single-serve, the bill quickly escalates.
As crowning insult, pods are typically made from non-recyclable plastic and exert a ruinious impact on the environment.
Key Takeaway: Use the pour-over method if possible making use of filtered water heated between 198F and 202F for best results.
If we had to distill the secret of genuinely great coffee down to one word, it would be consistency.
Take the time and trouble to embrace methods like pour-over where you stay in complete control. The experience might be more hands-on than relying on a super-automatic espresso machine but it’s all the more rewarding for that.
Once you have your coffee down just the way you like it, replicating this time after time should be super-simple.
Don’t forget to bookmark La Mano before you leave and we’ll see you soon!