How to Make Coffee Without Being a Snob About It
I love coffee, at least that’s what I thought before I started this journey. I didn’t know much about it. Having been blinded by advertisers, it seemed normal to get a latte at Starbucks or a coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts. I mean, everyone else was doing it, so it had to be the right way to get coffee. At home I would make coffee with a Keurig.
Another realization hit me was all that sugar and cream that comes in a Starbucks drink is not healthy. Whereas, I need less sugar and creme in a pour-over specialty coffee from my local barista. Which tells me Starbucks probably isn’t using the best coffee beans. After some research, I was right (Marketwatch Source).
Once a worldwide pandemic opened my eyes. I realized that I am a Gen Y’r (new word?) who needed to learn how to make coffee, but didn’t want to be a snob about it.
However, after a few Google searches and going down the YouTube rabbit hole, a daunting realization came crashing down on me; making coffee is complicated.
I don’t want to devote my life to finding the secret to making the Holy Grail of coffee.
I don’t want to devote my life to finding the secret to making the Holy Grail of coffee. You see, trying to learn about something where millions of java junkies can’t agree on much isn’t exactly a piece of cake.
That being said I still plowed through a lot of information. After all that I decided to try the most common tips that most everyone could agree on. Now that I am armed with my new found coffee making information, I have decided to share what I have learned to save some of you poor souls who are trying to find some basic information in a world filled with coffee snobs (sorry Java Groove).
If you’re a devout coffee snob, you’re going to want to skip this one.
Law of Diminishing Returns
First, you have to understand that coffee is a game of diminishing returns, the first few tips, which are the foundation, will make the biggest impact.
After the foundation is set, you’re pretty much good to go. The more time, money, and effort you put into making that perfect cup of coffee after the foundation will result in relatively minor changes to a newbie.
The more time, money, and effort you put into making that perfect cup of coffee after the foundation will result in relatively minor changes to a newbie.
Main factors that make coffee more delish
First and foremost is water. Your cup of coffee is almost 100% water, so you can be 100% sure that it affects the taste of your coffee.
Of course, which type of water you would like to use is completely subjective. Use water that you like most. It can be tap water, filtered, or distilled. Or use $400 a bottle of spring water that comes from 2000 yards beneath the sea off the coast of Hawaii. Whatever quenches your thirst.
Now that everyone drinks coffee, almost everyone lives next to a local roaster. Which gives you the opportunity to buy freshly roasted beans. Freshly roasted beans can revolutionize your cup of coffee.
If you prefer your coffee like Dunkin’ Donuts then go for light roasts. If you’re more of a Starbucks person then I would recommend dark roasts.
When it comes to buying coffee beans there are two important tips that I can share with you:
The reason you want the roasting date on the package is it lets you know they take roasting and freshness seriously. The fresher the better.
The reason why you want whole beans is because whole beans stay fresh longer.
That being said, freshly roasted coffee, even if it’s pre-ground will probably taste better than whole beans roasted a year ago. To simplify: Buy the freshest, most recently roasted coffee you can get.
What’s the best coffee grinder for a beginner?
The tips I have mentioned don’t affect your wallet much, but this one does a bit. Buying whole beans and grinding them yourself requires a grinder to break those big brown beans to grainy grounds.
Some people go for the burr grinders over the good old blade grinders, but CooksIllustrated.com did a blind taste with cooks and there wasn’t an unanimous decision.
I bought an entry level burr grinder by Mr. Coffee. Even I, a coffee novice, could notice the grounds were inconsistent by looking at them. I thought it’s going to give me consistent and evenly grounded coffee, but I was wrong. That being said, I couldn’t really tell the difference.
It was loud though, especially in the morning.
Moral of the story: burr grinders can be disappointing if you don’t know what you’re doing.
I’ve heard manual grinders are great too, but I am not a hipster nor a cave person.
Maybe in the future when I have the budget, and my palate advances, I’ll buy the Encore that baristas and coffee connoisseurs rave about, but for now mine is fine.
Best Brewing Method
The best part about having a coffee grinder is choosing your grind size. Which leads me to the 3rd most important factor when making a great cup of coffee.
Grinding your own coffee gives you the option to choose the coarseness of the grind based on your brewing method. In a nutshell, grinding it yourself helps you discover your favorite brewing method or way you like to drink coffee.
A big piece of the coffee puzzle.
How to choose the right brewing method?
There are a few main brewing methods. Each have their pros and cons.
Of course, this is over simplified. I realize there are more brewing methods too.
Espresso is especially complicated. At the end of the day it all depends on you and your lifestyle. I recommend doing some research and maybe adding it to your list of things to obsess over on Reddit.
How I Make It
Personally, I use the Hamilton Beach – FlexBrew Side-note: I actually read about it here, it’s how I found this blog.
The FlexBrew suits my lifestyle because it uses K-Cups when I’m in a hurry, and can make a single cup that goes right into my travel mug. I use an Aeropress when I brew my specialty coffee. As I mentioned, I got a relatively cheap Mr. Coffee grinder that cost around $40.
Again, the pour-over is my favorite and my go to coffee drink is some variation of V60 or Kalita. Whatever is available at that particular coffee shop.
If you want to try it, but are unsure, talk to the barista. They are always friendly and helpful. Explain you want to try something new (if they’re not busy!) and would like to try whatever it is you would want. In my experience, baristas are very helpful people when you tell them what’s up.
This article is just a starter guide to make little improvements in making coffee and not splurg $250+ on grinders and other hardware without knowing what to expect. In my short experience with coffee, anything beyond the 3 main points: water, beans, and brewing method, is simply going too deep into the coffee vortex.
After all of my research on the internet, I was overwhelmed with contradictory information on how to make coffee. This made me realize I like coffee a lot, but others seemed to be a bit more enthusiastic about it than me.
Coffee is important to me, but time is too and other hobbies, like naps, take precedent.
Want to dig a little deeper in the coffee world? Click below to find out about what all those strange coffee phrases mean, so you can get the best kind.