For the coffee enthusiast, coffee runs deep in our veins. When a roaster asks you “How do you brew?”, you know they are not trying to be fresh with you. They want to know your brewing method in order to recommend the best kind of bean. Making coffee is a ritual, it’s about self-care, and for some – it can be as real as a religion. From the excitement of opening up a new bag of beans to the first grind, it can be a whirlwind experience.
For the happy go lucky coffee drinker, coffee is the only way to start the day right. You need it and you enjoy it. Whether it’s a large drip from the local drive-thru or a venti-mocha-latte-with-nonfat-soy-milk-no-whip-cream-extra-hot with a cherry on top from our old reliable friend, Starbucks – coffee is undoubtedly a way of life.
Regardless of your approach, here are some easy tips to ensure you are drinking the best coffee you can find every morning:
Get Fresh Beans
Many people think fresh beans are hard to find or even too expensive. The best part of waking up should not be Folgers anymore; it should be to the freshest beans you can find. Trader Joe’s has a beautiful, affordable selection of organic and fair-trade beans that will knock your socks off. For instance, a pound of Organic Ethiopian Coffee is $9.99 and comes in a nice, reusable cardboard jar to maintain freshness. Fresh beans are best used within 6-8 weeks of roasting. After that, the coffee may still be good but will lose some of its flavor and robustness.
Store Beans in Air Tight Container
There are several airtight containers that one can purchase, such as the Coffee Gator. If you purchase your coffee from Trader Joe’s, you will get this little container. However, most locally roasted shops sell their beans in a paper bag with a resealable zip lock that will do the trick if you plan to finish the bag in 6-8 weeks. I also like to store/hide away in a cupboard to keep the heat from the day from messing with my beans.
Choose your brew method
You are probably most familiar with the drip method, which is found in most homes used by probably yourselves, your parents, or your grandparents. It makes 8 cups at once in probably a minute. There’s probably Folgers or Dunkin Donuts in there. Then, there is the Keurig which makes coffees so incredibly easy because you stick a pod in, select your cup size, and your coffee is ready in less than 30 seconds. Similarly, coffee can also be made using an Aeropress (pictured above, also done in less than 1.5 minutes), a pour over (if you’ve got 5 minutes), and a vacuum pot (yes, it looks like something for pot and takes 15 minutes).
All these brew methods yield very different tasting coffee from the same bean. Different brew methods extract different flavors, require different grind sizes, bloom times, coffee-to-water ratio, water temperature, yet not limited to the level of agitation given to the beans during the water pour. Then! All of this is affected by the freshness of the bean, quality of the bean, consistency of all the beans in the bag (e.g. are the beans all the same or do they look mostly different), the quality of the grinder and grounded coffee, the roaster’s mood, and obviously, the patience of the brewer. This is serious business, people!
My selected brew method is the Aeropress using a water-to-coffee ratio of 16:1. The highly acclaimed recipe is using the Aeropress Champions recipe found here.
Select correct ground size per brew method
Depending on your brew method, if you want to rotate between espresso or a pour over, you need to get your beans whole. If you are content on one brew method, be sure to pick the right grind size. A great reference is this chart here. Grind size is so important because it can make or break your coffee. It will either be perfect where you get all the notes and aromas, or it will be too weak or too bitter. And, who wants to drink bad coffee, ever?
Drink out of favorite mug with favorite person
By now, you are probably thinking, “Seriously? Girl, bye.” But, before you say bye, we are now at the easiest part. You just need to find someone you like to share a cup with or find your favorite Josh Groban mug and enjoy it on your kitchen counter in peace. Possibly with a donut (or something healthy like organic salmon on special gluten free toast with homemade cream cheese). Literally, if you have the energy to do the latter after making your own cup of coffee- we bow down.
I will save you some trouble and tell you that there is good news. You can skip steps 1-4 and find a local coffee shop with a happily caffeinated barista who will do all the work for you. Your only job is to find that shop, bring that friend or you know, or Josh Groban/Usher, and enjoy it.
I will also save you more trouble in the next series by telling you how to find these local roasters who will do all the work for you. So for now, find your friend, find Josh Groban (he’s in Melbourne. Yes, I stalk), and coffee on!
Kate Myer has a blood type of coffee, is an avid runner, and wears makeup on the weekends. She is the writer behind Makeup Brew, a blog that has the most verbose coffee reviews and cruelty-free beauty in the land. When she’s not looking for jokes or people to drink coffee with, you can find her in Seattle trying to keep her Japanese maple trees alive, watching Kung Fu Panda with her boys for the umpteenth time, and having staring contests with her puppy, Charlie.