I always said it and I will always say it out loud. Everyone can brew the perfect coffee at home.
We have all been there. We bought this new exciting bag of coffee because it tasted great at the shop, and then didn’t at home. Well, guys, I have you covered.
In the past few months, I have worked on a series of guides on how to brew perfect coffee at home. It doesn’t matter whether you are a seasoned coffee maker or a novice. All you have to do is follow some simple rules and, most importantly, inform yourself!
“Rules? What do you mean rules?” Yes, I mean rules. Brewing coffee is not dissimilar to making cakes: if you don’t follow the recipe and the correct methodology, the end result will not be great.
“Okay okay, I get it. So, what are these rules? ” Well, let’s start with the simple principles to follow.
Rule numero 1: follow the recipe
This is SUPER UBER DUPER important. I cannot emphasize how much this is important. If you don’t follow the recipe, you can end up with an extremely bad tasting coffee and you would waste that precious grind of dreams. It’s like when you want to make a new cake and don’t have any idea of what to do. You can’t just wing it, you follow a recipe. You have to do the same in coffee.
Most coffee professionals follow guidelines that are set by the Specialty Coffee Association to come up with their recipes. And each one of us will have our preferred one. What changes between us is the way we pour or our coffee to water ratio – how much coffee per amount of water – which is normally in the window set by the SCA. At this stage, all you need to know is that you need to follow the recipe and the methodology step by step.
Obviously, the end result won’t be exactly the same, because we may not all have the same equipment or force or you know water quality in your area, etc.
Rule numero 2: the Coffee
First of all, the coffee you want to brew. When you buy coffee, you need to ask yourself these questions:
- Can you clearly see where your coffee is from?
- Is it traceable? Can you find clear information about how the coffee beans get to you?
- Is the coffee roasted by a big corporate roaster or is it a local roaster?
These are important questions you should ask because they will give you a good idea of the quality of the coffee you are about to buy. Do not be fooled by the cheap price of most consumer coffees. If your coffee is cheap, it is very likely that it has come from multiple sources, and that those are not traceable. And also, most likely have no regulations on slavery. Like with anything, the higher the quality, the higher the price. Doesn’t matter if you choose Arabica or Robusta, it still applies.
For example, most Specialty Coffee Roasters will be able to give you information that traces back to the farmer. And simultaneously the farmer will be able to tell how they “breed” the plants and their farming process. How cool is that? Also bear in mind some coffees may not be suitable for all brewers, so reach out to your coffee roaster, as they will give you the best advice.
Rule numero 3: the Brewing Method
All right, on this, I go by one simple rule: use the brewing method you are most comfortable with and you like. Unless, obviously, you want to try something new.
In the industry, we generally categorise all the equipment by the way they brew: Immersion (so steeping the coffee), Gravity (like a dropper) & Pressure (like an espresso machine). They all have a different mouthfeel, have a certain amount of max coffee you can brew with them and some are more expensive than others.
So to give you an example, the Aeropress will have a fuller, almost oily mouthfeel than a Pour Over, which is juicier and cleaner. This is because the Aeropress makes you steep the coffee in water and then apply a little pressure, wether the Pour Over lets it drip.
Rule numero 4: Grind Size & Time
As I mentioned above, this is really important. And it goes arm in arm with Time. I can see already some foreheads frowning. Okay, let me explain.
Depending on how you are brewing your coffee – so your brewing method – you will need a different grind size. This is because of the differences between how the brewers are made. If your brewer is made to steep coffee into water, then you will require a coarser grind size than a Pressure method: this is because of how long your ground coffee is in contact with water.
The longer your coffee is in contact with water, the more compounds will be extracted.
I can see another frown there. Let me put it in simpler words, and we can keep the deep extraction talk for later.
Let’s say you are about to brew a French Press. You have ground your coffee very finely, or have a pre-ground coffee bag. You start brewing it and at the end of the process, you get a very bitter and “strong” coffee. This happens because water has been in contact with the tiny grind coffee particles and has taken too many unwanted bitter compounds out of the coffee particles.
Or to put it even simpler: it’s like when you go grocery shopping when you are hungry or not hungry. We have all done that and we know what happens. If you re hungry, you end up buying all the bits ad snacks you actually didn’t need. If you are not hungry, you stick to the list. That is what water does in the example above. It shops for compounds that makes our coffee taste more bitter.
You see, now it makes sense. Go by this simple rule: the longer the time water and coffee are together, the coarser the grind needs to be.
You don’t have to think of this unless you have a grinder, and if you are unsure you can always ask us or ask your coffee roaster. They are always happy to help as much as we are.
Rule numero 5: keep your equipment clean
Honestly guys, I can never say this enough: clean and keep it clean.
No, it doesn’t work like tea for coffee. Clean those machines. Clean that Batch Brewer. Don’t leave coffee grounds in your grinder. Cleaning not only keeps your machinery/equipment happy and healthy. It also makes your coffee consistently taste as it should.
A clean equipment is the key to success on how to brew the perfect coffee, not only at home but anywhere.
And please, please please do not open and touch parts that you don’t know. Read that instructions manual! I had a student once that wasn’t paying attention in class and ended up cutting his fingers on a grinder burr. All those Health and Safety regulations are there for a reason!
Okay, this should be all for now! It’s quite a lot already, but these few rules will help you to understand the brew guides I have written better and ensure that you know how to brew the perfect coffee at home.