From Seed to Cup: 10 Steps to Preparing Coffee Like a Real Barista
If you’ve turned into a true coffee snob, then you’ve probably realized that you can save a bit of money by making your own coffee at home rather than stopping at the coffee shop on the way to work every day, or you’ve signed up to a Seattle coffee subscription so you can get your beans each month without the extra expense. Although baristas have the tendency to make their jobs look much more complicated than they are in reality, you shouldn’t be scared to start making your own quality coffee at home in the morning. If you’d like to take a shot at making your own coffee at home, then follow these ten steps to make sure it tastes just as good as it does at the local coffee shop.
- Avoid Pre-ground Coffee
Purchasing pre-ground coffee is just about the worst way you can get started when making coffee at home. You should start the process with fresh, whole beans as those will have much more flavor and a much better taste. If the roasting data is not on the coffee bag, then you should avoid it. If you decide to purchase pre-ground coffee that was originally roasted a month ago, then you may as well stop reading here and give up because none of the other tips on this list are going to be able to make up for this mistake.
- Choose Local Coffee Brands
There are a seemingly limitless number of options to choose from when it comes to coffee brands, but it’s usually a good idea to stick with your local options. Stay away from the mass-produced coffee beans you can find on any shelf in the country. Instead, go down to your local coffee shop and grab something there because it will likely have been roasted much more recently. In fact, some coffee shops will roast the coffee on the spot for you to guarantee the ultimate level of freshness (read more now).
- Properly Store Your Coffee Beans
Once you have your beans, it’s vitally important to keep them as fresh as possible for as long as possible. Obviously, you can avoid many of the issues around freshness by simply purchasing beans more often, but you can also use a vacuum sealed container or a Mason jar to keep the beans you already have in a fresh state. If you do go with a Mason jar, try to use a jar that works perfectly for the amount of coffee you have to avoid excess air contact.
- Use the Right Grinder
There are basically two options to consider when it comes to your coffee grinder. If you have some extra money to blow, then a $100 automatic burr grinder will be the best option. If you’re on a tight budget, then you can get a handheld, manual grinder that will get the job done. Either way, the goal is to get a consistent, medium-fine grind, which both of these types of grinders can provide.
- Time Your Grind
In addition to choosing the right grinder, you also need to know when to grind. As mentioned previously, pre-ground coffee is a bad option at the store because the coffee grounds will not retain their freshness over time. In fact, coffee starts to lose some of its flavors just thirty minutes after being ground; therefore, it’s best to simply grind the coffee right before you brew it.
- Avoid Cheap Filters
Filters are one of the most overlooked components of the coffee brewing process. The cheapest coffee filters will harm the quality of your brew, so try to stick to filters that are oxygen-bleached or dioxin-free.
- How to Measure Your Coffee Grounds
In terms of getting a similar taste every time you brew some coffee, there is nothing more important than the consistency of your coffee to water ratio. Measuring cups and digital scales are useful for getting the measurements as precise as possible, and you should aim to include 7.5 grams of coffee for every 150 milliliters of water. Having said that, you can experiment with your own ratios.
- An Extra Step for Added Flavor
To bring out a stronger flavor in your coffee brew, try pouring hot water over the coffee grounds before starting the real brew. You can do this in the coffee maker with a new filter, and you only need to make sure that the coffee grounds have been wet. This will add more flavor to your coffee by removing excess carbon dioxide from the grounds, which may repel itself from the water during the brewing process.
- The Brewing Temperature
The optimal brewing temperature is between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. High-end models usually allow the user to choose their own temperatures during the brewing process, but cheaper machines will not. You can test the temperature of the water in a low-end model with a thermometer. If the water does not appear to get hot enough, then you may want to try boiling water before putting it through the machine. Of course, you should remember to not allow the water’s temperature to go over 205 degrees during the brewing process because that will burn the coffee.
- Don’t Use Just Any Water
One last thing you need to remember when brewing your own coffee at home is the quality of the water. While most people assume that filtered water is the best option for coffee, the reality is you want some minerals in the water so the coffee’s flavor has something to attach itself to. For most people, a light filter that leaves many minerals in the water will be the best option here.
Although the task may seem daunting at first, making a quality cup of coffee at home becomes much easier over time. Once you practice a routine and have the proper equipment, you’ll see that there’s no reason to keep wasting your money on individual coffee orders and tips for the baristas at the local coffee shop. Yes, you’ll need to put in some extra work when you’re first learning, but you’ll soon realize that you eventually end up saving even more time and money over the long term.