You may not have studied the art of coffee or trained under world champion baristas, but it doesn’t mean you can’t make the best cup of coffee you’ve ever had in the comfort of your home. Here are 5 easy steps to improving your home coffee game:
1. This is Water – Derek Zoolander said it best: “Wetness is the essence of beauty.” Even though he may have been talking moisturizers, it turns out our favorite merman was actually spouting some sage coffee wisdom. If you want to have the most beautiful cup of coffee every day, it’s worth considering the water you use to brew it.
Water makes up an average of 98-99% of your cup of coffee. That means if you’re not super keen on how your tap water tastes on its own, chances are it’s not going to make your coffee taste that great either.
What’s the best water to use? Generally speaking, soft, filtered water will yield better cups. In a pinch, most filter pitchers (think Brita or Soma) will help aide improve your coffee’s flavor as they can filter out contaminants and drop the overall hardness a little. For the best possible water, we offer an easy envelope of minerals to dissolve in distilled water.
We’d avoid using “pure” or distilled water if not combined with something like Third Wave Water envelopes; without the right combination of minerals to balance out the flavor, distilled water tends to make coffee taste sharp and less sweet.
2. Know Your Roast (Date) – Unlike fine wine, whiskey, or your mother’s best friend, coffee doesn’t get better with age. Over time coffee loses some it best qualities, namely it’s amazing aroma and vibrant flavor.
How do you know if your coffee is no spring chicken? Check the bag for a roast date. If there isn’t one on the bag, it’s likely because the roaster doesn’t want you to know how old it is.
And when it comes to the ideal age of roasted coffee, it’s the rule of 3’s-most coffees will taste best starting 3 days after it’s roasted and ending around 3 weeks after that.
3. For Good Measure – Most mornings, you may be making coffee in that bleary-eyed, fugue state that precedes your daily caffeine boost. But if you want to get consistently delicious coffees, it’s a good idea to keep track how much ground coffee you use, especially compared to how much water you’re using to brew. This can be as simple as using a tablespoon to measure out the amount of coffee, or you can level-up by using a kitchen scale to weigh the coffee for extra consistency.
To find the perfect ratio of coffee to water, try keeping the amount of water the same and then adjust the amount of coffee. If you brew a pot, and the coffee tastes thin or overly bitter, try adding a little more coffee the next time you brew. If it tastes sour or muddy, try using a little less.
The best starting point? Try using 2 level-tablespoons of coffee for every 6 ounces of water; for the more diehard coffee people, try 1 gram of coffee for every 16 grams of water. We have a detailed guide for how to use a scale to make consistent, delicious coffee.
4. Get Yourself a Good Mug – I know. It’s a little too convenient that we’d say that a good mug can seriously improve your coffee drinking experience.
But it’s not just us–there are real scientists who have published articles in academic journals talking about how different cups can affect your experience of flavor.
And when you get thinking about it, it kind of makes sense. When you eat your favorite ice cream or drink a perfect latte, where do you experience the flavor? Your brain! Sure, your tongue and nose get to do the fun part of smelling and tasting, but it’s your brain that turns that data into the experience of flavor. It’s part of the reason why a well plated dish “tastes” better than something slopped on a dinner plate.
So when it comes to a quality home coffee set up, try to stock a few mugs that help elevate your coffee experience, simply because you love drinking from them.
5. Variety is the Spice of Life – Purple Rain may be the best album of all time, but if you listened to it every day, and nothing else, you might get a little tired of hearing what it sounds like when doves cry. The same is true for coffee. [Editor’s Note: don’t agree on album selection.]
While there’s nothing wrong with having a favorite, if you’re not mixing it up every now and then, you’re missing out on one the most amazing things about coffee-how incredibly different and exciting it can be.
Coffee is a product grown around the world and each growing region has a different set of factors that can affect the flavor in the cup. A coffee from Brazil tastes really different than one from Ethiopia. Don’t believe us? We dare you to try it.
Don’t feel pressure to switch it up after every bag, but maybe try a new coffee every other time you go to the store. Even if you don’t love the new stuff, when you go back to the tried-and-true coffee, you’ll love it even more.
Also, always feel free to ask a barista at a café what they’d recommend. If they’re on their grind, they’ll have great recommendations they can tailor to your tastes.
Let us know how we can help dial in your coffee experience!
This guest post was written by our friend Brian Ensminger