Getting Started in Making Good Coffee

If you are interested in making really good coffee at home that doesn’t cost you a fortune it takes a little bit of shopping and some serious thought – otherwise you’ll end up wasting money.  Learning to brew high quality java doesn’t have to cost a fortune or turn into a time sucking hobby, but understanding the fundamentals of what makes great coffee is critical.  Having the right equipment is important too.  Learning how to make coffee starts here, with these fundamentals.  Once you understand them, you’ll be all set to start brewing something incredible.

  • You need a grinder so that you don’t have to buy ground coffee, which has already lost the majority of its flavor.  I recommend buying a burr coffee grinder because burrs will properly crush the coffee bean rather than blade grinders, which smash the coffee bean into small bits.  Blade grinders have a nasty habit of overheating, which can negatively affect the flavor of the bean.  It is in your best interest to just buy a burr grinder and stick with it – they cost a little more but are very durable and you can expect to own it for many years.
  • If you are really interested in a coffee worth brewing a lot I would recommend getting in touch with a local coffee roaster.  This is also a very economically feasible route.  If you are grinding and brewing good coffee, talking to a roaster about deals and subscriptions is a good idea.  A subscription is when a roaster offers a semi-wholesale price for ordering a certain amount per month.  A lot of times the coffee roasters will even have your coffee delivered to your house when it is finished brewing.  How awesome is that?  However, the main reason that I recommend getting in touch with a local coffee roaster is because their prices are extremely competitive (typically lower than you’ll find at the grocery store).  The freshest coffee you can get, the best price you can find, and they’ll often teach you a lot about coffee as well.  Getting to know local roasters is always a great idea.
  • Find some new brewing methods to try out in your kitchen.  If you’re still using a drip coffee maker you’re missing out on a lot of potential flavor that you could be getting if you used other methods.  This doesn’t mean you have to throw out your coffee maker and invest in a vacpot or espresso machine, but trying out some new eclectic means of brewing coffee can be a great primer for brewing and a wonderful introduction to the many different ways that coffee can be extracted.  I recommend starting out with a pour over coffee device like the Hario v60 or the Chemex.  They are both really easy to learn how to use and relatively inexpensive.  If you had to choose between the two I would probably recommend going with the v60 because it costs under twenty dollars, is made of ceramic, is dishwasher safe, and is really durable.  I’ve dropped mine three times and I haven’t even chipped it – the ceramic is very thick.  Once you’ve gotten a hand with a pour over device you can try other methods like a french press or moka pot – just keep experimenting until you find the methods that you enjoy the most.  Like I said, a lot of learning how to make good coffee comes down to being willing to experiment and keep an open mind.

I would recommend trying varying combinations of coffee roasts, coffee grind settings, and brew methods so that you can start discovering how the different combinations react to one another.  A dark roast in a pour over coffee has a very distinct taste that cannot be replicated in a french press no matter how hard you try, just like light roast Ethiopian single origins have distinct flavor notes that the french press can extract through its full immersion that a pour over or a moka pot wouldn’t be able to produce.

Nothing about making good coffee at home demands anything out of ordinary.  A little time, some patience, and a willingness to learn and experiment is really all you need to start brewing – and once you start making coffee worth bragging about it becomes clear why it is such an exciting thing to get involved with.  Many people’s lives are devoted to making coffee, whether that is growing beans, roasting them, or serving up drinks behind the counter at an espresso bar.  It’s more of an art than a science and gets more exciting the more you study it.