Get the proper tools and start brewing coffee at home.
I’ll admit it. I’m a coffee nerd. I love waking up in the morning and brewing my own cup of breakfast goodness. But you don’t have to be a coffee need like me in order to make your own quality coffee at home. Making coffee at home is cheaper, a lot more fun, and way more convenient than waiting in line at Dunkin Donuts. Plus, you already have the WiFi password. No suspicious terms of agreement for you!
Here are the basics for stepping up your coffee game.
Manual brewing device
In order to step up your coffee game you are going to need the kind of control that a machine cannot offer. This may sound like a lot of work, and certainly is more work than just scooping out random assortments of grounds and pressing a button. Trust me though, making coffee hands-on can become the most fun part of your mornings. The experience can be truly rewarding.
The easiest and most versatile coffee instrument around has to be the Aeropress. The Aeropress is a form of immersion brewing, much like the French Press. What makes the Aeropress different is that it utilizes air pressure (aero) to produce a more concentrated and cleaner cup of coffee more quickly. A french press usually requires 4 minutes of steep time, but an Aeropress only takes one minute. I recommend this to most beginners, but it is still a staple of coffee nerds as well. It’s cheap, usually costing no more than twenty dollars. The instructions are easy to pick up. The device is portable for travel, and the brew is forgiving. When done well, an Aeropress will produce a rich and balanced cup of coffee.
Another alternative is pour-over brewing. This style of coffee brewing is, perhaps, the more iconic of the two and is becoming more and more popular in both local and franchise coffee shops. Even Starbucks’ latest “Clover” is an example of pour-over brewing. If you want to start pour-over brewing, you cannot go wrong with the Hario V60 (or its counterpart, the Kalita Wave). The V60 is just as affordable as an Aeropress. It does not take up much space, and it can be portable, depending upon whether you purchase a glass one or a plastic one. The glass ones will be more expensive anyway so stick with the plastic. Save the nicer equipment for when you are truly hooked (like me) and know exactly what you want. Be warned, there is a learning curve to this method, but not only is it well worth the effort, it’s more fun that way too. When brewed well, a pour-over like the V60 will produce a light, bright, and surprisingly flavorful cup of coffee.
This is, perhaps, the most important step to take. You need to take control of your ratio of beans to water. A scale will help you find the right balance consistently. You do not need to buy a fancy scale either, any run of the mill scale will do. Though, if you are a high roller (or even a medium-roller), you might want to check out the sleek design and functionality of Acaia scales, which were designed specifically for coffee nerds. For the rest of us, I recommend a scale that at least goes to one decimal place. You probably will not need that decimal precision, but it helps to know that when your scale is fudging its numbers, it is still taking care of the numbers that matter to your brew. A decimal might not have much of an effect, but a whole integer off can make a big difference on the final product, especially when you are weighing out your beans.
Now you’re going to need a pouring vessel that gives you control of the water flow. You need to get one that has an elongated spout for controlled water pouring. This is crucial for pour over brewing. If you do not want to get a new kettle, do not bother taking up the Hario V60 (or Chemex). Bonavita offers some affordable options. Hario offers some middle ground kettles. For a high-end kettle, check out the handcrafted ones over at Monarch Methods. All these kettles, in general, are worth the investment because they will last for a long time.
Take these three important steps, and your morning ritual will never be the same. You’ll save time, money, and your dignity (too far?). Become a self-made individual with coffee that you made yourself!
Now all that is left is for you to find the right beans, but there needs to be a whole other post for that.
Image Credit: flickr.com/photos/coffeegeek/