Did you know that it’s actually pretty easy to up your coffee game at home? You don’t have to spend tons of money on a fancy new coffee setup (although there are some incredible coffee toys out there, and coffee technology is growing faster than it ever has), but there are some simple tweaks you can make at home to make your coffee at home better than ever.
I’m a coffee roaster (shameless link to our list of small-batch roasted coffees), so I care a lot about coffee – studying different flavor profiles of different coffee origins, roasting in a way that brings out the best flavors possible, and brewing it in a way that highlights the coffee’s naturally delicious characteristics. But when I’m at home, I like to keep things simple (primarily to leave some brain headroom for when I’m at work at the cafe). But simple doesn’t mean it can’t be delicious!
These are three base-line tips I like to stick to as easy variables to control at home, to ensure that my home coffee tastes great without having to put in a ton of work every time.
Use a scale to control your coffee to water ratio.
Have you ever been asked to make a pot of coffee at a friend’s house? It’s something you probably do every day, but there’s something about using a different coffee pot, or using a different coffee measure tool, that makes it intimidating (“2 scoops” can mean a lot of different things 😅). Inevitably someone complains that it’s too strong or too weak, and at that point your career in coffee is over.
Using a scale is a lot more accurate than “eyeballing it,” and is actually really easy! You can start with any kitchen scale – if you don’t have one, you can get one at the grocery store, usually for $10-15. Once you’ve decided on a ratio (we’ll explain that), all you have to do is weigh out your coffee and water before brewing as you normally would. Here’s how you do it:
Pick a ratio. 1:15 is probably a good place to start – you can always go stronger or weaker from there – and all that means is you’re using 1 part coffee to 15 parts water.
Decide how much coffee you want to make. An 8oz cup of water weighs about 240 grams (we’re going Metric system for most of this), so multiply however many 8oz cups you’d like to make times 240. So if you want to make 3 8oz cups, multiply 3 x 240 = 720, which means you’ll need 720 grams of water.
Divide your number of water grams by your ratio, and boom! That’s how many grams of coffee you need (AKA your “dose”). For example, 720 grams of water divided by 15 = a dose of 48 grams of coffee.)
Now that you have your coffee and water ratio, using your scale to weigh out your coffee and water will ensure that your ratio is a consistent variable when brewing.
Grind coffee as soon before brewing as possible.
We probably all remember the moment when dad would open a brand new Aromaseal © canister of Folgers. “Ahhhhh, nothing like the smell of fresh coffee.” The truth is, that coffee sat on the shelf for months– but since it was vacuum sealed, the intense aroma from when it was ground at the factory lingered, and punched your dad’s nose in the face once the seal was broken.
Grinding your coffee right before brewing has a similarly intense aroma, except it’s with coffee that’s 1) actually freshly roasted, and 2) actually has just been ground. That all matters, because once coffee is ground, it begins oxidizing exponentially more quickly than when the whole bean is intact. Oxidization is the reaction between your coffee and oxygen in the air that causes coffee to go stale (and causes iron to rust!) Once it’s ground, more surface area of the coffee bean is exposed to air, causing it to stale much more quickly. The less oxidized your coffee is, the more flavor you’re going to be able to pull out of the coffee when brewing (which, when you’re starting with great coffee, is a good thing *cue link to our single-origin Ethiopia Gedeb Natural* 😉).
Use filtered water instead of tap.
Think about it– coffee is mostly water, so using better tasting water (rather than just whatever comes out of the tap) is going to make your finished brew taste better. In fact, coffee is about 98% water. We know this, because we now have coffee refractometers that measure the extraction yield percentage in Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) of a brew, and most of the best-tasting brewed coffees happen to come out around +/- 1.5% coffee solids.
Blah blah blah, the point is, 98.5% of your coffee is water – use good water! And if you want to go really crazy, check out what the folks at Third Wave Water have to offer.
To state the obvious, all three of these tips work for any brew method at all! You don’t have to make a pour over every single time to have a good cup of coffee. You can apply all of these practices to your everyday auto drip at home! So take these tips, try them out, and start enjoying better coffee every day.
- Christian Hilley | Co-Owner + Head Roaster, Chaleur Coffee