As a self-diagnosed coffee-addict, I’m sure I speak for many when I say there’s very little worse than visiting someone’s home, accepting the offer of a cup of coffee, and being faced with – cue horror music – instant coffee. Or worse, that vile Chicory-Blend-That-Must-Not-Be-Named. Serving and enjoying good quality coffee in your own home shouldn’t be overly expensive, nor should it be hard work. To avoid being the one offering said chicory blend, here are a few ways you can brew better coffee at home without spending money on a gigantic machine to do it for you.
Drip-brew your cup o’ joe
It’ll take a few minutes longer than adding water to your instant coffee, but drip-brewing, or hand-pouring your coffee is guaranteed to be worth the time. It essentially involves pouring hot water over ground coffee in a paper filter, usually directly into your coffee cup. The hot water passes slowly through the coffee grounds, extracting all the flavours and aromas, and you’ll have a lot of control when it comes to the strength of your coffee and the water temperature.
This technique is gaining momentum in the US and South Africa, but it’s long been standard procedure in Japan – a country which takes its coffee more seriously than one would expect (they need it to get through those long work hours). According to The Daily Meal, “There is evidence, in fact, that the current interest in pour-over coffee was inspired by the coffee houses of Japan — and indeed, some of the equipment serious coffee-hounds are using here today is imported from that country”.
All you’ll need to up your coffee game is a dripper and some paper filters, and voila! Your life (and that of your guests) will have been changed for the better.
Get a Grinder
Once you have your dripper, and you’re looking to move to the next level you can invest in a grinder for your coffee beans. If you’re making coffee every day, an electric grinder would be the best choice, but if you want a bit of a workout and are looking to be cost-effective, a hand grinder will do the job too.
Chi Sum Ngai of Coffee Project NY, a coffee shop, roastery, and coffee education centre, told MentalFloss that it’s also a good idea to let your coffee beans “rest” a little before grinding them. This means letting a bag of coffee beans sit for a week or two after being roasted. “When coffee is rested, it is degassed and your coffee will be ‘clearer and tastier'”. If your coffee still lacks flavour, Sum recommends grinding it finer and increasing the contact time between your water and ground coffee.
Check the temperature of your water
Here’s where things get technical. Depending on the brew, you may need water at different temperatures to get your coffee just right. If you’re a massive coffee fan, though, and you want to brew better coffee at home, it might be worth paying attention to this extra detail.
A gooseneck kettle is usually recommended to control water flow and temperature, or if you’re willing to splurge and pull out all the stops, you could opt for a temperature-controlled kettle. Some of these are even also Bluetooth-enabled and iOS compatible, so you can have complete control over your brew.
Grab a scale
Since you’re turning your morning java into a science, or an art, go ahead and be even more precise about it. Invest in an extremely accurate kitchen scale, and once you figure out the measurements for your perfect cup of coffee, stick to them. This step also comes with the added cool factor of looking like a scientist with every cup of coffee you brew.
According to Adam JacksonBey, chair of GoFundBean, most people enjoy a ratio of 1 gram of coffee to 16 to 21 grams of water. Don’t be afraid to experiment, though, and find the ratio that makes your cup of coffee feel like magic in a mug.
Like most things that take place in the kitchen, making great coffee is about experimentation and play. Everyone has different taste, and since you’re making it in your own home, you can adjust every cup to suit yours!
You might also find that, once you’ve played around and learned how to brew better coffee at home, you’ll spend less money going out to buy it. You might also find that your friends want to spend more time at your place now that you’ve tossed out the instant coffee.