11 Tips for Brewing Better Coffee at Home

coffee brewing

11 Tips for Brewing Better Coffee at Home

Making coffee at home doesn’t have to be a challenging task, and by employing the right methods, your homemade brew can rival the flavors found in our cafes. By adhering to these 11 straightforward tips, you’ll enhance the quality of your home-brewed coffee in no time.

1. Use Fresh, Whole Bean Coffee

The intricate and delightful aroma and taste of coffee are significantly influenced by the presence of aromatic compounds within roasted coffee beans. These compounds, responsible for the complexity of flavor, begin escaping immediately after roasting in a process known as degassing. Up to 70% of these compounds can vanish within 8 days, leading to a loss of flavor. Over time, the coffee becomes stale, and grinding the beans accelerates this process by exposing more surface area for the compounds to escape.

To ensure the utmost flavor in your cup, prioritize using freshly roasted coffee beans and grind them just before brewing. Explore the convenience of a coffee subscription service to enjoy regularly delivered, freshly roasted coffee. 

2. Use A Scale

While the conventional advice often suggests using 2 tablespoons of coffee per 6 ounces of water, such general guidelines lack the precision needed to elevate your brewing experience. Coffee beans come in various sizes and densities, causing a significant weight discrepancy between different varieties. A tablespoon of one coffee may actually weigh considerably less than a tablespoon of another. By using a scale, you can measure your coffee by weight instead of volume, ensuring that, regardless of the coffee type, you have an accurate measure of how much is going into your cup.

3. Use The Right Amount of Coffee

Ensuring the optimal coffee-to-water ratio is crucial for crafting a flavorful cup of coffee. The amount of coffee used directly influences the strength and taste of the brew. It’s essential to strike the right balance, as using too much coffee can result in an overpowering and bitter flavor, while too little may produce a weak and underwhelming cup. 

Experimenting with different ratios allows you to customize your coffee experience based on personal preferences. 

By paying attention to this fundamental aspect of coffee brewing, you can unlock the full potential of your beans and enjoy a consistently satisfying cup every time.

4. Use A Burr Grinder

A high-quality grinder stands out as a crucial tool in the coffee brewing process. The particle size of ground coffee significantly influences the extraction rate of flavors from the beans, as smaller particles extract more rapidly than larger ones. Consistency in grind size is key to achieving uniform extraction during brewing. 

Utilizing a burr grinder allows precise control over the size of the coffee grounds, enabling a more consistent brewing process. Burr grinders, in particular, provide the advantage of easily producing a specific grind size consistently.

 Investing in a reliable burr grinder enhances your ability to tailor the grind size to your preferred brewing method, ultimately contributing to a more satisfying and flavorful cup of coffee.

5. Grind At The Correct Coarseness (Or Fineness) Setting

Achieving the ideal grind size is crucial for various brewing methods, each requiring a specific coarseness or fineness setting. Determining the correct grind size involves considering both time and taste. In our pour-over recipes, aiming for a three and a half-minute brew time helps assess the grind’s adequacy. If the coffee brewed too quickly, the grind was likely too coarse, while a slow brew indicates a grind that is too fine. Taste also serves as a guide – acidity and sourness suggest a too-coarse grind, while bitterness indicates a grind that is too fine.

For different brewing methods, such as espresso, a fine grind is preferred, while pour-overs and AeroPress benefit from a medium grind, and French Presses require a coarse grind. By adjusting your grind setting based on both time and taste, you can fine-tune your brewing process and elevate your home coffee experience. Explore our Brew Guides for more insights into the grind settings used in our cafes.

6. Use Filtered Water

Choosing the filtered water is a key factor in enhancing the quality of your brewed coffee. Considering that nearly 98.5% of the coffee you brew consists of water, its taste and quality significantly impact the overall flavor profile. If the water used has an unpleasant taste or strange odors, these undesirable qualities will transfer to your coffee. While tap water is generally suitable for brewing, in some locations, using water that has undergone home filtration, such as through a Brita filter, or even bottled water, can further elevate your coffee experience.

However, a word of caution regarding bottled water: it’s essential to avoid distilled water. While distilled water is technically the purest form, it lacks the necessary minerals and impurities that contribute to proper coffee brewing and a delicious taste. Striking the right balance in water purity ensures that your morning cup of coffee is not only refreshing but also packed with the rich flavors your beans have to offer.

7. Make Sure Your Water is the Right Temperature

Achieving the optimal temperature for brewing is crucial to extracting the best flavors from your coffee, ideally falling between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. The water temperature not only influences the extraction speed—cooler water results in a slower brew than hotter water—but it also determines which flavors are extracted.

To bring out the pleasant acidity and distinct flavors in coffee, it’s essential to avoid brewing with water below 195 degrees Fahrenheit. Conversely, temperatures above 205 degrees Fahrenheit can lead to the extraction of undesirable bitter flavors. Brewing within this temperature range, often achieved with water that is approximately 30 to 60 seconds off the boil, ensures a balance that highlights the sweetness and complexities of your coffee without introducing unnecessary bitterness. While a thermometer, such as the built-in one in the Fellow Stagg kettle, is ideal for precision, this temperature range is commonly reached with water shortly off the boil.

8. Pre-Heat / Pre-Wet Everything

Prior to brewing your coffee, it’s essential to pre-heat or pre-wet all elements that will come into contact with your coffee to ensure they are close to your brewing temperature. Neglecting this step allows brewing devices to absorb heat from the water, leading to a significant decrease in water temperature during the brewing process. Given the critical role of properly heated water in the brewing process, it’s imperative to prevent unnecessary temperature loss.

When engaging in pour-over brewing, take the additional step of wetting the filter with hot water and allowing it to drain. This not only brings the filter to the correct temperature but also eliminates much of the paper flavor that could otherwise affect the taste of your coffee. By incorporating these pre-heating and pre-wetting practices, you set the stage for an optimal brewing environment, ensuring that every element contributes to the delivery of a flavorful and satisfying cup of coffee.

9. Bloom Your Coffee

Initiate the blooming phase when brewing your coffee by observing the fascinating bubbling reaction that occurs when hot water is poured over the coffee grounds. Aptly named “the bloom,” this phenomenon is a result of the hot water dissolving soluble compounds in the beans, leading to a buildup of pressure and the forceful expulsion of CO2.

The bloom is particularly noticeable when working with freshly roasted coffee, as these beans contain a higher concentration of carbon dioxide, a natural byproduct of the roasting process. Recognized as a crucial step in brewing, the bloom allows water to thoroughly saturate the coffee grounds, contributing to a more flavorful and aromatic cup.

To optimize the blooming process, add a small amount of water at the start of brewing and patiently wait about 30 seconds for the coffee to bloom before adding more water. Typically, the water used for blooming is double the amount of coffee employed (e.g., if using 35 grams of coffee, use 70 grams of water for the bloom). Integrating this step enhances the overall brewing experience, ensuring a rich and aromatic coffee cup.

10. Fully Saturate Your Coffee

Achieving even saturation of the ground coffee is crucial during the brewing process to ensure consistent extraction. Although it might appear that the coffee is fully saturated when water is initially added to a pour-over or French press, it’s not uncommon to discover pockets of dry coffee. To guarantee that every bit of coffee is thoroughly wet, a brief and gentle stir is recommended immediately after adding water during the bloom phase. This simple step helps distribute water evenly and promotes uniform contact between the coffee grounds and water, ultimately enhancing the overall brewing experience.

11. Experiment

Embrace the joy of coffee brewing by delving into experimentation with various brewing methods and coffee selections! While you may have found satisfaction in your routine with a particular dripper, consider trying out alternatives like an AeroPress or a French Press for a different brewing experience.

If you’ve been enjoying a specific blend for its distinct flavor profile, why not explore the world of single origins and compare the results? Adjusting variables, such as the amount of coffee used, can also add a new dimension to your morning cup.

The beauty of experimenting with coffee lies in the diverse possibilities it offers. Each exploration provides valuable insights into your personal preferences and opens up avenues to enhance your coffee enjoyment. So, don’t hesitate to explore different approaches, as each one brings you closer to discovering the perfect cup tailored to your taste.

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