How To Make Your Coffee Just Right, Every Time…
If you want to learn how to make the perfect cup of coffee then you have come to the right place!
Coffee is more than just a drink for most of us in America - although it is the third most popular drink in the world - it is a way of life.
Many of us live for that first sip of precious bean juice in the morning and rely on the stuff to get us through the day. We have a cup before breakfast, a cup with breakfast, a few cups at work, then maybe another cup when we get home again.
However, you might be shocked to hear that many of us are using instant coffee or making coffee we don't like and are filling it with syrups, creamers, and anything else we can get our hands on.
If you are drinking that much coffee then don't you want to make sure you are making yourself a drink that you love?
Maybe you find yourself saying, I love how my local barista makes my coffee, but it never tastes as good when I make it at home…
This is where the art of coffee making comes into practice.
Making your coffee using grounds (fresh or frozen) takes more time - but trust us, it is completely worth it. When you realize how good fresh coffee tastes you will never want to go back to instant.
In this article, we are going to teach you everything you need to know to make a perfect cup of coffee at home.
In this section, we are going to talk about two of the most important elements of getting a delicious cup of coffee - the choice of bean and how that bean is roasted.
To create the best tasting cup of coffee, you will want to use roasted, whole coffee beans (consider roasting your coffee at home). You should avoid using ground beans, and, of course, instant coffee granules.
Using whole coffee beans means, you will need to grind the beans yourself. This can add a bit of time to your coffee-making routine.
But trust us, nothing beats freshly ground coffee beans!
Coffee beans are grown in over 70 countries located near the equator and almost three-quarters of the world's coffee comes from the top 5 coffee-producing nations, which are Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, and Ethiopia.
You can even buy green coffee beans and roast them yourself for the ultimate coffee-making experience!
And if you're searching for delicious whole coffee beans, then check out our recommended Starbucks coffee beans or our recommended espresso beans.
There are two main types of coffee beans - Coffea Arabica and Coffea Robusta.
Robusta is popular because it is much easier to grow than Arabica. It is typically used in instant coffee or as a filler, or sometimes in some Arabica blends for better contrast of flavors.
Some special coffee drinks such as Vietnamese Coffee use Robusta blends to contrast the bitterness of the coffee with the sweetness of the condensed milk. In general, though, you want to avoid Robusta beans.
Arabica coffee is considered the superior coffee bean. It is worth noting that an Arabica bean grown in Costa Rica will taste different from one grown in Java as environmental factors impact the flavor of the coffee.
Fun Fact: For over 30 years, it was illegal to grow any type of coffee bean other than Arabica beans. They passed this rule to improve the reputation of Costa Rican coffee. It worked, the country makes some of the most sought-after beans in the world.
It will take a little experimentation on your part to find your favorite coffee beans. But that’s part of the fun! You will probably discover a country or even a farm that makes your favorite beans.
Now, let's talk about coffee roasting.
Roasting is the process of turning fresh, green coffee beans into the dark, easy-to-grind beans we are familiar with.
There are two main types of coffee roasting methods - Industrial Hot Air roasting and Drum roasting.
Industrial Hot Air Roasting is used when companies want to roast a lot of beans in a short amount of time. The beans are roasted using hot air at a very high temperature, this happens for a short period of time before the beans are dumped in cold water.
Dropping the beans into the cold water halts a lot of the flavor development. This type of roasting does not heat the beans long enough to reduce the levels of chlorogenic acids - unlike Drum Roasting.
When coffee is Drum Roasted, fewer beans are roasted at a time and they are watched over by a roast master during the process. The beans are roasted at a far lower temperature than Industrial Hot Air roasting and thus are roasted for longer. This reduces the chlorogenic acid levels in the beans and makes them less bitter.
After the beans are roasted they are cooled with air, this allows the flavors to continue developing even after they have finished roasting.
Drum roasting is generally considered to be the superior form of bean roasting.
Because the small batches and slow roasting allow a richer and more complex flavor profile to develop while a roast master oversees and adjusts the roasting to ensure a perfect roast.
Every coffee house has a slightly different way of roasting its beans. Again, you should try a range of different roasting companies and methods so you can get a better understanding of what you like and dislike.
Once the beans have been roasted, they are sampled and categorized into one of the four roast categories - light, medium, medium-dark, and dark.
In the coffee industry, there is little to no standardization of coffee roasts - so be aware that a dark roast from one company might be comparable to a medium-dark or even medium from another brand.
Light roasts are roasted for the shortest amount of time, they will not be oily, and they typically contain more caffeine than other roasts.
Light roasts tend to be the most popular type of roast and will be the easiest to find. The beans will be a light brown color.
The type of roast you should use will depend on the type of coffee you want to make, as well as the type of coffee maker you’re thinking of using.
Don’t worry, we’ll tell you below what roasts we recommend for different beverages. But for now, let’s go over the types of roast.
Types of Light roasts:
Related: What is White Coffee? Don't be Fooled by Trends!
Medium roasted beans will be a medium brown color and pack a punch when it comes to flavor.
Types of Medium roasts:
These types of roasts can have a bittersweet flavor. They are much darker than a Medium roast and will produce a small amount of oil.
Types of Medium-Dark roasts:
These beans will be oily and the surface and the beans will be very dark brown, almost black. They have a smaller amount of chlorogenic acid in them than lighter roasts.
Types of Dark roast:
After finding out which coffee you love, it's time to look at the water you are using to brew it. It is more important than you realize.
Water is one of the two ingredients you will need to make a cup of coffee. Don't neglect it.
Sometimes you can spend ages picking out the right beans, only to find that the water you are using is ruining the taste. Water can do this in two ways:
It is best to use filtered water when you are making coffee, as the hardness and other chemicals can change the taste of your drink. Many coffee makers come with a water filter but if they do not, use a water filter like a Brita.
Also using boiling hot water on your coffee grounds can "burn" them. This will make the drink taste even more bitter.
Instead, use a water temperature between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit (91 to 96 degrees Celsius) to get optimal results.
When you are making coffee with grounds, you want to stick to the Golden Cup Standard. This means a coffee-to-water ratio of 55 grams per 1 liter of water. This works out to about 2 tbsp of ground coffee for every six ounces of water you are using.
However, we recommend you measure the mass of the coffee and don’t rely on volumetric measurements such as tablespoons. This is because 1 tbsp of finely ground coffee contains more coffee than 1 tbsp of coarsely ground coffee.
Six ounces of water is about 178 milliliters. This will make you a very small cup of coffee. If you are using a mug then you will probably use upwards of 12 ounces of water.
Some styles of coffee making, like espresso or Turkish Coffee, use different ratios, but the rule above will work for most other cups.
You may not know this but there are multiple different ways to grind your coffee. You can change the settings on your grinder to change how the grounds are produced.
Each type of coffee maker (and thus type of coffee drink) requires a specific level of grind, from very fine to very coarse:
Want to learn more about the different types of coffee machines? Different Types of Coffee Makers - Which Is Best? - Your Coffee and Tea Essentials
The uniformity of the coffee grounds affects its flavor, when the grounds are not evenly milled the coffee extraction becomes unpredictable, and over-brewing the coffee is more likely to happen.
To ensure uniformity in your coffee grounds, you will want to invest in a high-quality coffee grinder. You will not get the desired quality from a blade grinder, we recommend you opt for a Burr grinder instead.
Some grinders only come with one setting, others with over 100 grind settings. If you intend to drink your coffee the same way for the rest of your life then you could save some money by buying a simple manual grinder (they're cheaper and can last for decades).
However, most modern grinders come with the ability to change your settings. This will be perfect for you while you are experimenting with coffee and trying to find what you like best. It will also be useful in the future if your tastes change or you have guests who like their coffee a different way.
You should also consider what size grinder you need.
You can get small handheld grinders that will make you one cup of coffee at a time, or you can get larger automatic grinders. These grinders allow you to buy your beans in bulk and let you make multiple cups in quick succession.
Regardless of the grinder type you get, make sure you get a quality grinder that results in a uniform grind. This is essential for good coffee.
Most methods of brewing coffee will require you to use a filter. Unlike instant coffee, coffee grounds do not dissolve in water. Instead, you will have to filter or strain them out.
Some brewing methods, like the French Press, come with a built-in mesh filter. This can be cleaned and reused. French Presses come with either a metal or plastic filter that you can clean and reuse.
If you are using something like an Aeropress or Drip Coffee, then you will need to use a paper filter. For certain methods, like Aeropress, you will need to get specially fitted filters - these can often be more expensive. However, you can save yourself money by cutting down regular filters to size.
When you are picking out paper filters, it is important to make sure you purchase high-quality filters. These won't affect the taste of your coffee and they should be chemical-free.
A lot of people think that white coffee filters are the best to get, but you want to make sure that there is no bleach used to whiten the paper.
Coffee filters should be smooth, fine, and made from high-quality ingredients - this will make them easier to use and will give you a better-tasting coffee at the end.
Before you use a paper filter, you should add it to the coffee maker and pour hot water over both. Then discard the water. This helps release some of the paper flavors some filters have which could make it into your coffee. It will also help to warm up the coffee pot.
You can get reusable metal mesh coffee filters that sit in most types of coffee makers. These will need to be cleaned after every use but they will create less waste.
If you want a good cup of coffee then you should avoid using coffee bags. The grounds expand as they release CO2; allowing proper expansion and release of gasses is essential to properly release their flavor.
How long your coffee spends brewing in the water is another aspect that can have a big impact on the flavor.
How long you brew your coffee for will depend on the type of brewing method you are using.
For example, when you are ordering a coffee at a coffee shop, you would not want it to take 10 minutes to brew. You want your coffee too quickly and you want it piping hot. This is why the espresso machine was invented, the world needed a method to make strong coffee quickly.
There are two brewing terms you should be aware of:
When you are using an espresso machine you should only have the coffee in contact with the water for around 20-30 seconds.
When using a French Press, you will need to leave your coffee to brew for 2-3 minutes.
Finally, if you are using a drip method, then you will want to allow your coffee to be in contact with the water for around five minutes.
Note that the extraction times are affected by the type of filter and the grind level of your beans. So for example, if you are preparing drip coffee, you add hot water, and the water passes right through the grounds, you will need to grind your coffee beans more finely.
What happens when you leave your coffee to brew for too long?
Coffee can be over-extracted as well as burnt and you will be able to tell as soon as you have had your first sip.
An over-brewed cup of coffee will be bitter, slightly too thick on the tongue, and will smell far too strong. When you steep your grounds for too long, they release too many tannins - this creates additional bitterness.
Finally, before we learn all about how to make a cup of coffee - let's look at how to get the best out of a cup of coffee.
You want to make sure that you drink your coffee while it is still warm. This is when the flavor is best diffused in the water. As time goes on, the coffee gets colder and the flavor compounds in the water start to sink.
On top of that, the top half of your coffee which is exposed to air will continue to oxidize.
So, as this happens, the top half of your coffee will lose its flavor, and the bottom half will become very strong and possibly overly bitter.
To avoid this problem, try to drink your coffee within half an hour after you finish making it. Or an hour, if you have it in a thermos flask you can leave it for an hour or so.
If you are making your coffee with any kind of milk, then you will want to drink it even more quickly. The coffee and the milk will separate if left to cool for too long.
If you are making ice coffee then you will want to make sure that you brew your coffee extra strong so that it doesn't get watered down when you add the ice and milk.
These are of course general guidelines and don’t apply to every coffee drink. These also depend on your preferences.
For example, I would not drink an espresso even if it was prepared less than 30 minutes ago. I like to drink my espresso immediately after preparation to ensure a hot beverage with plenty of crema.
Now, we have got to the exciting part of the article - it is time to learn the 7 most popular ways of brewing coffee at home.
In this section, we are going to cover the following methods:
Each of these brewing methods will give you a different cup of coffee at the end of the process. An espresso machine will give you a strong cup of coffee in less than a minute, while the pour-over method will give you a milder, more complex cup of coffee after five minutes of brewing.
Experiment with as many of these methods as you can to find the type of coffee that you love the most.
The first method we are going to look at is the pour-over method. To do this, you will need a glass, pour-over coffee maker, some paper filters, and your coffee beans.
This is one of the slowest methods for brewing coffee, but this kind of coffee is worth the wait. If you have brought a set of beans that have a lot of flavor notes and you want to be able to enjoy them all - then you should make your coffee using the pour-over method.
Light to medium
Recommended Grind Level:
Medium coarse to medium fine. You may need to adjust this based on your pour-over coffee maker and filter.
Step 1 - Heat your water to between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit (91 to 96 degrees Celsius).
Step 2 - Place your filter into your pour-over coffee maker and pour some of the hot water over it. Remove the filter (but keep it close) and swill the hot water around the jar before pouring it away. You want to warm up the jar beforehand because it will keep your coffee hotter for longer.
Step 3 - Wash the papery film that has built up on the top of your filter and put the filter back into the jar.
Step 4 - Grind your beans down to a medium-coarse to a medium-fine consistency.
Step 5 - Work out how much coffee grounds and water you are going to need based on 55 grams of coffee for every liter of water.
Step 6 - Pour some of your water over the coffee grounds until it starts to bloom. You will need just enough water to soak all the grounds.
Step 7 - Continue to pour the water over the grounds slowly. Never fill the water holder more than three-quarters full. Once all the water has run through the coffee grounds, remove the filter and the grounds together.
Tip: Use a scale under your coffee maker to know how much water you’ve poured. Also use a timer - if the water ran through the coffee grounds too quickly, knowing how long it took can help adjust the grind settings for a slower infusion next time.
Step 8 - Serve and enjoy.
Related Post: The Best Automatic Pour Over Coffee Maker + Other Contenders
This is a super simple way to make strong coffee that they favor in Europe. The French Press is also becoming popular in North America due to its advantages versus the drip coffee maker. Using a French Press is a quick and convenient way to get your morning coffee fix.
Light to medium
Recommended Grind Level:
Step 1 - Heat your water between195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit (91 to 96 degrees Celsius).
Step 2 - Remove the lid and filter. Use some of the water to heat up the French Press and then pour it away.
Step 3 - Grind your coffee beans down to a coarse level.
Step 4 - Work out how much coffee you are going to make based on 55 grams of coffee per 1 liter of water.
Step 5 - Add the coffee grounds to the pre-heated French Press and then add the water. Make sure you measure to keep the Golden Cup Ratio!
Step 6 - Place the lid on the French Press to avoid any heat from escaping. Wait for 4 minutes while your coffee brews. You can later adjust this time to suit your preferences.
Step 7 - After 4 minutes, firmly press the plunger down firmly all the way to the bottom.
Step 8 - Serve and enjoy.
To make this type of coffee, you will need a drip coffee machine. You may be familiar with this type of coffee making because it is used by many offices in the US.
It is a popular method because it can be used to make large quantities of coffee at once - depending on the size of the machine.
The coffee is brewed on the top of the machine and then pours or drips through the filter into the large glass or stainless steel coffee jug below.
It is important to change the coffee grounds and clean the filter after every use.
Light to medium
Recommended Grind Level:
Medium Coarse to Medium Fine
Step 1 - Grind down the amount of coffee you will need to fill the machine. These grounds should have a medium-coarse to medium-fine grind level - like table salt.
Step 2 - Remove any old grounds from the machine. Clean the filter if needed. Add the coffee to the top of the drip machine.
Step 3 - Check if the water needs refilling, do so if this is the case. Even if the machine’s got enough water we recommend refilling it. Remember the importance of good quality water for good quality coffee?
Step 4 - Turn on the machine and allow the coffee to flow into the serving jug.
Step 5 - Serve and enjoy.
Launched in 2005, the AeroPress is one of the most modern coffee brewing inventions. It was invented by a man called Alan Adler and is a plastic coffee brewer.
It is made up of three pieces, the press, the coffee basket, and the stand. The filter is placed at the bottom of the coffee basket and the coffee is put on top of it. It is fast, easy to clean, and used by many high-end coffee shops around the country.
AeroPress coffee produces a similar brew to espresso. So it has become a popular portable method to make something similar to espresso.
Medium to dark
Recommended Grind Level:
Medium fine to fine.
Step 1 - Grind down the amount of coffee you will need to fill the machine. These grounds should be fine.
Step 2 - Boil your water to 80 degrees centigrade. Note this unconventional temperature is as per the AeroPress website.
Step 3 - Place the filter at the bottom of the coffee basket.
Step 4 - Measure out the amount of coffee you need, and place it on top of the coffee filter. Shake to level the coffee.
Step 5 - Move the AeroPress on top of your cup - or jug. Fill the Aeropress with your water.
Step 6 - Stir for about 10 seconds.
Step 7 - Insert the plunger and dress slowly. Pause if you feel any resistance, and then continue pushing, all the way until the plunger reaches the coffee grounds.
Step 8 - Serve and enjoy.
Percolated coffee, also known as stovetop coffee, was incredibly popular in the 1950s but has gone out of fashion since the rise of instant coffee.
This method for brewing coffee was invented in 1933 by Alfonso Bialetti but may have been inspired by how travelers used to make tea on the go.
To make this type of coffee you will need a percolator stovetop pot, a stove, hot water, and your coffee grounds.
If you like your coffee really strong then this is the way to make it. Please note, that it can be very easy to burn and over brew your coffee when making it using this method.
When you first start using it, we recommend that you keep an eye on the pot the whole time you are brewing with it - don't wander off and do something else.
Medium to dark
Recommended Grind Level:
Medium Coarse to Coarse
Step 1 - Grind down the amount of coffee you will need for the sized pot you are using. Remember to aim for 55 grams per 1 liter of water or about 2 tbsp of ground coffee for every six ounces of water. These coffee grounds' grind level should be coarse to medium-coarse.
Step 2 - Add the appropriate amount of cold water to the percolator reservoir and then the coffee grounds into the filter or coffee basket.
Step 3 - Put the Percolator on the stovetop. Heat slowly until you start seeing bubbles appear. Adjust the heat to maintain its temperatures.
Step 4 - Brew for 5-10 minutes, depending on your taste. If the coffee starts to bubble out of the spout then turn the heat down. If you don’t see any bubbles, turn the heat up. When finished, take off the heat and remove the coffee from the pot.
Step 5 - Serve and enjoy.
This might be a coffee-making method that you have seen been used many times but have never tried yourself.
It is now possible to get small, kitchen-friendly espresso machines that will allow you to make coffeeshop style coffee at home.
This style of coffee-making was invented in Italy over 100 years ago. It makes a shot of strong coffee that you can drink straight, or dilute with milk and/or water.
Medium to dark
Recommended Grind Level:
Step 1 - Check your machine has enough water. Refill if needed. Run the water for a few seconds to clean any leftover coffee from before. Run hot water over the portafilter to heat it up, and then dry it. Fill your espresso cup with hot water to heat it up.
Step 2 - Weight and grind down the amount of coffee you will need. You will need about 20 grams for most portafilters but the weight will vary depending on the coffee bean and grind level.
Step 3 - Move the grounds over to the portafilter.
Step 4 - Tamp the coffee grounds using a tamper. Alternatively use something heavy or your fingers. Just press down on the coffee grounds so they become a compact disk inside the portafilter basket. Make sure the grounds are flat and evenly spread.
Step 5 - Discard the hot water from your espresso cup. Place it beneath the portafilter spout and run the machine until your espresso shot glass is suitably filled, this usually takes between 20 to 30 seconds.
To determine whether your espresso was properly extracted, we recommend that you weigh the coffee grounds prior to extraction and then weigh your espresso drink. So for example, if you used 20 grams and the resulting brew weighs 40 grams, then your brew ratio is 1:2. This is the brew ratio you should be aiming for when it comes to espresso.
If your machine dispensed too much espresso brew (for example a brew ratio of 1:3) this likely means your grind level is too coarse. This is more of a Lungo than an espresso.
If your machine dispensed too little espresso (for example a brew ratio of 1:1) this likely means your grind level was too fine. This is more of a Ristretto than an espresso.
Step 6 - Remove the portafilter, dispose of the grounds, and rinse with hot water.
Step 7 - Serve and enjoy.
Did You Know?
Thanks to today’s technology, there are super-automatic espresso machines that can make espresso or milky espresso-based drinks like lattes - by simply pressing a button.
Check out these posts to find your new espresso and/or coffee maker:
This is a complicated but immensely cool way of making your morning coffee. It was invented in Germany in the 1840s. However, it requires a lot of effort to make it correctly. Each siphon coffee maker has its own oddities so the following steps are general guidelines.
Medium to dark
Recommended Grind Level:
Step 1 - Grind down the amount of coffee you will need for the sized pot you are using. These grounds should be of a medium grind level.
Step 2 - Insert your filter.
Step 3 - Add your water to the bottom chamber. Start the heat sources under the water.
Step 4 - Add the coffee grounds to the upper chamber. When the water is boiling, put the upper chamber on top of the lower chamber.
Step 5 - Allow your coffee to brew - it will be done when there is enough water in the top section to serve a cup of coffee.
Step 6 - Turn off the heat source. Allow everything to completely cool before you start cleaning it up.
Step 7 -Serve and enjoy.
Before we leave you, we are going to take the time to answer some of the questions you have about coffee that you might be too afraid to ask. These are questions that we get asked all the time.
Despite the fact that most of the people in your life drink coffee on a regular basis, many people are afraid to ask obvious questions because they are worried that coffee snobs will shout at them (we will not shout at you, promise).
We can't stop some people from judging others for their coffee choices, but we can answer a few of those questions for you right now.
If you want to make a good cup of coffee, then yes, coffee does need to be fresh.
However, not using freshly ground coffee won't hurt you or make you unwell. You will just be left with a substandard cup of coffee.
Well, this is seemingly a simple question but with a complex answer…how long ground coffee will stay fresh depends on some factors.
First of all, coffee grounds will not last as long as whole coffee beans. You see, the grounds have a much larger surface area exposed to the air’s oxygen. So if you stored them incorrectly near a heat source and moisture, and the grounds are exposed to air, then the answer is your grounds will not stay fresh for long…maybe a few days.
If you keep them in an airtight container, coffee grounds will lose their freshness in a few weeks. If they are kept in the correct airtight container and are frozen, then they last for up to a year or more.
However, we recommend purchasing coffee beans in small batches with a “Roast Date”. This will ensure you get the freshest (and tastiest) coffee.
The general rule for grinding coffee is that you will need 55 grams of coffee per liter of water. This is roughly two tablespoons of grounds to make 6 ounces of coffee. We recommend that you weigh the coffee, as 2 tablespoons of different coffee types are not identical!
If you have a fancy electric grinder, it will do the dosing for you. This is how coffee shops save themselves a lot of time.
You will need to grind 7-18 grams of coffee beans per cup of coffee that you make - remember different beans will have different weights.
Espresso coffee is a different animal, it requires about 14 grams for a shot of espresso of about 28 grams of espresso brew (keeping a 1:2 brewing ratio).
Coffee bloom sounds like a delightful plant, but it is actually just the name for the foam produced when you pour hot water over coffee grounds.
This foam will sometimes be very minimal, but a different type of bean might produce a lot of bloom. Some may even bubble loudly.
The foam is created by the carbon dioxide escaping the grounds - this shows that the coffee is fresh.
Dark roasts will expel more CO2 when exposed to water, resulting in more bubbles or foam. Lighter roasts will expel less CO2 when exposed to water, resulting in fewer bubbles or less foam.
There are many different ways to make the perfect cup of coffee and our perfect cup of coffee will look very different from what you consider a flawless cup of joe.
The two things that have the biggest impact on the taste of your coffee are the type of bean you are using and the quality of the water you are brewing with.
The roasting and brewing process also has some impact on the flavors of your coffee but without high-quality beans and water, you will have poor coffee. Even if you used a $10,000 espresso machine.
If you don't know yet what your perfect cup of coffee tastes like then you should start to experiment with brewing methods, roasting types, and different beans.
What are you waiting for? It's time to get brewing!
This article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not meant to replace professional medical advice, treatment or diagnosis. Do not consume any type of coffee, tea or herbal infusion if you are allergic to it. The information in this article is not intended to treat serious medical conditions. Please seek professional medical advice before using home remedies.