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3 Tips to Brewing Better Coffee at Home

3 Steps to Brewing Better Coffee at Home

Your definitive guide to better-tasting coffee from the comfort of your own home.

Since we have been in the specialty coffee business for a long time, we've heard several times about how to make better coffee at home. Although we could spend hours writing about how to make great coffee, these are the three best and easiest suggestions.

 This guide is assuming that you already have delicious, freshly-roasted coffee in your stash and you’re just deciding what brew method you want to use.

 Here are a few of our quick and easy brew methods for you to explore:

  1. Invest in a good burr grinder
  2. Consider using a digital scale
  3. Use clean (mineral rich) water

 Let’s jump right in and look at how these 3 factors can drastically affect the taste and quality of your homemade cup of coffee:  

  1. Invest in a good burr grinder

 Burr grinders stand out as one of the best things you can have in your toolbox when it comes to delicious coffee. You must have them because coffee tastes best straight from the grinder. Consistent grinding allows for more-even extraction, and thus a more-balanced cup of coffee.

 Think of it this way, a chef would want to dice their vegetables as uniformly as possible when roasting them. If you have large pieces and tiny pieces, the large pieces won't cook completely before they are overcooked. In a similar way, a grain of coffee must be evenly ground. Otherwise too much soluble material will be drawn from larger grounds and not enough from smaller ones, causing an uneven brew.

 The burr grinder market is crowded. There are many options at different price points, but not all are produced equal. If you want a quality grinder that will last a long time, you have options that are suitable for virtually all applications of espresso beans. A great example is the Baratza Encore; this is the grinder we use every day at home. It is reliable and easy to use. When it comes to full-featured grinders, the Hario Skerton or Porlex may suit you better.

  1. Consider using a digital scale 

To make good coffee, you must use the right ratio of coffee to water. Many of the world's top bakers use measuring scales to ensure that they consistently produce the best cake or cookies. In the same way, many of the best baristas we know rely on scales to ensure consistency in their coffee.  

Why, then, do we measure by weight instead of our trusty scoop? 

It helps to get the proper ratio of coffee to water when brewing coffee: Use roughly 1.6–2 grams per fluid ounce of water depending on how you are brewing your coffee. There are different kinds of coffee beans out there, which can differ in size and density. And the roasting profile of a coffee also affects its weight.

There are many kinds of whole bean coffee, which is why one scoop might weigh 5 grams while another one might weigh 8 grams, even though they look like the same amount in the scoop. By weighing coffee, you get better control over the coffee you make, regardless of variety or roast level. This is also helpful for knowing exactly how many cups of coffee you will get from a bag.

Scales offer a lot of options, just as grinders do. Our favorite three are:

  1. There is the Acaia Pearl, which comes with a built-in timer, and also has a smartphone app in case you want to geek it out.
  2. With its wide platform, the OXO Good Grips Scale accommodates most brew equipment.
  3. Weighing in at only 2kg, the American Weigh AWS-2KG is an excellent value, as well.
  1. Use clean (mineral rich) water

In coffee brewing, water is commonly overlooked, yet it’s the most essential component, since 98 percent of your coffee is water. That is why always paying attention to your water quality is so important. If your water tastes like chlorine, it will also flavor your coffee.

It is important for the mineral content of your water to be measured and not to be too high or too low because this can affect extraction, in particular too high mineral content can lead to faster mineral build-up in your brewing equipment.

To avoid complications, just make sure the water tastes good and has a decent mineral content. At home, if you use tap water, run it through a simple carbon filter for taste and odor control, like the Brita filter.

It is recommended to use spring water rather than water labeled as “drinking water” when you purchase bottled water for your coffee. The lack of minerals in distilled water can damage equipment. 

Takeaways

 Make sure you keep these three factors in mind at home and you'll have consistently better coffee on a regular basis.

 A good grinder can make all the difference by creating uniform grinds that brew at the same rate. A digital scale can help ensure you are using the correct amount of grinds in each brew, since different roasts/beans weigh different amounts. And finally, a high quality (mineral rich) water can make all the difference in your coffee experience, because your coffee drink is 98% water (and so are we)!

 Of course, feel free to contact us with any questions or comments.

 What are your favorite tips or “must-knows” for brewing coffee at home?

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