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Ahhh yes! The smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning! What a great start to a beautiful day. There is nothing that can get me out of bed faster than that. If you are anything like myself, you know exactly what I am talking about.
Whether you are making coffee at home or purchasing it from your favorite cafe, it’s the one thing most people look forward to when they wake up each morning. In these trying times though, you may be reluctant to go out and grab a coffee from your favorite cafe, or you may not know how or have the means to make your favorite cup at home.
So I have broken down the basic steps to help you figure out how to make the best coffee at home. From whether to use whole beans or pre-ground, why you should invest in a scale and only grind what you need, what type of maker is best for different types of coffee, and of course cleaning your coffee maker regularly. These are only a few, but extremely important, ways to achieve great gourmet coffee right in your own kitchen.
Whole Bean Versus Ground Coffee
Should I buy whole bean coffee or ground coffee? That is a question I’m sure most of us have asked ourselves at some point in our lives. Let’s face it, with the huge selection out there in every grocery store across the world, ground coffee seems the most convenient. It’s already ground and ready to brew, and it tastes just fine so you say, why not? For the love of coffee DON’T DO IT!!
While ground coffee may taste good and is the most convenient, it definitely does not have the same taste or flavor that comes from using whole beans. One thing to remember is that the taste, smell, and caffeine all come from the oils inside the bean. When the bean is roasted it creates C02 inside of it, this C02 keeps the bean and its essential oils from oxidizing too fast (the rotting/staling process). Once the beans are ground, the C02 which once protected the coffee bean from oxidation, will now dissipate as fast as you can grind it.
This is no good for your morning boost. It weakens the taste, smell and caffeine amount in the bean which in turn lessens the quality of your coffee. Isn’t that the whole reason we drink coffee? To enjoy the rich aromas, the smooth taste, and of course the energy we so desperately need first thing in the morning.
So remember, whole beans savor the flavor (and caffeine) much longer than ground coffee. If you have access to a local coffee roaster, I suggest getting your beans from there as they will be the freshest. Make sure to store your beans in a cool dry place, and in an air tight container that blocks out any or all outside light, this will also help keep your beans fresh. Whole beans can last up to one month if properly stored. As opposed to ground coffee which only lasts one to two weeks if properly stored.
Getting In The Grind
I know that when I want my coffee, I want it right now. I even have a sign that I keep right above my coffee maker that reads “Never Stand Between Me and My Coffee”. This statement couldn’t be more true. That doesn’t mean that I won’t take a couple of minutes to grind my beans before I start the brewing process, and it is well worth the wait. One thing about grinding your own coffee is that you should only grind what you are using. Doing this will ensure you are getting the freshest cup possible and help make your beans last even longer.
When you are using a grinder, you want it to grind evenly. Some blade grinders can leave some parcels smaller or larger than others which in turn can affect the outcome of your coffee. Using a hand grinder or a burr grinder is the best way to make sure all the little parcels are exactly the same. You want to make sure you grind immediately before you make your coffee so as not to lose any of those essential oils which are the heart of your cup.
You also want to make sure you are measuring the amount of beans you are using. Having the right coffee to water ratio is key to brewing the perfect cup. Using a spoon or measuring cup will simply not taste the same as if it is measured properly. An easy way to do this is to use a scale. This will help ensure you are getting the right blend you need. Remember, you need to measure your coffee beans before you grind them so you know exactly the right amount to use.
Picking The Right Coffee Maker
Now that you have your beans picked and you know how to grind to precision, it’s time to get that perfect coffee maker to finish the job. With so many choices on the market today, from a French press to a Moka pot to a regular old drip coffee maker, how do you find the right one for you? Well here’s a few tips on which maker is best for different types of coffee lovers.
There are many types of coffee out there, but the simplest breakdown would be dark, medium, or light coffee.
For dark coffee lovers I would recommend the Moka Pot. This is the best way to get that dark espresso like coffee without actually using an espresso machine. Perfect for that thick, dark, rich and smooth flavor that can wake all the senses first thing in the morning.
For the more medium coffee lovers out there I would suggest a Pour-Over Pot. These are fancy and elegant looking, and create a nice smooth flavor. It is more of a hands on approach and the filters are a bit on the expensive side, but I feel those five or ten minutes you get to yourself in the morning are well worth the extra dollars.
That brings us to light coffee drinkers. If you are a light coffee drinker you want something that is going to bring to taste the hidden flavors buried deep in even the lightest coffee bean. To do so you will want to use an AeroPress. This device can seek out those flavors and bring them to the surface, making your morning cup taste like it was made at the coffee house.
Cleaning Your New Coffee Maker
Ever wonder why sometimes when you’re brewing coffee it takes a little longer than normal? I know I have. This is because of the calcium that builds up inside the maker over time and use. Notice the brown film that forms around the inside of the carafe itself? This is left over from the coffee and the oils it contains. The last thing we want in our morning coffee is the leftover grinds and oil from yesterday, or for that matter a month ago. So we need to be consistent about cleaning our coffee maker on a regular basis.
To do so, here are a few simple steps to get the job done:
First you want to clean all the removable parts after each use. This can be done by hand with warm soapy water or in the dishwasher if the parts are dishwasher safe (which they should be). Also remember to clean the outside of your maker and the warming plate.
Next you want to clean the inside of the maker. This is where the coffee grinds, oils, and hard water minerals get built up and slow the brewing process making your coffee taste like it has been sitting on the burner all day. Yuck!
To do this you will need 4 cups of hot water and 3 cups of white vinegar. Pour both inside your maker and brew only half a pot, then turn off the maker. Let it sit for about 15-30 minutes. Turn it back on and brew the rest of the mixture. Now you can dump out the mixture and brew a few more pots, only using water. You can keep doing this until you can’t smell the vinegar anymore, but it should only take a few times.
Note: This happens slowly over time so you only need to do this step once a month. If you want, do it every two weeks, just make sure you do it!
Finally, get your carafe looking new again! I know of two ways that work really good in removing that film on the inside of your carafe. One is to fill the carafe with warm soapy water and fill it with rice. Swirl the pot around in circles until the majority of the film is gone and any leftover can be scrubbed with a sponge. My favorite go to though is filling the carafe with ice and lemon, sliced or juice (appr. 2 cups), and follow the same procedure. I find that most times I do this I don’t even need a sponge and if you do this on a regular basis you probably never will.
Time To Enjoy Your Perfect Cup
Ahhh yes! The smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning! There is nothing better. With the right beans, the right grinder, and the right coffee maker, you can enjoy that perfect cafe style coffee right in your own kitchen.
So now that you have discovered how to make the best coffee at home, it’s time to enjoy it. So grab a cozy blanket, a good book, watch the sunrise in peace and quiet, and enjoy those few minutes you get every morning to yourself. Start your day with the best homemade gourmet coffee made right where you are. Home.
If you would like to leave any comments or have any questions about this post, please leave them in the comment section below. I would love to hear from you!
For the Love of Coffee