The Gear, Tricks, and Beans for Making Excellent Coffee
The Gear, Tricks, and Beans for
Making Excellent Coffee
Perfecting your morning coffee routine takes a little know-how and some trial and error, but it’s so worth it. Once you have everything dialed in, you can have your perfect cup just the way you like it, in the comfort of your own home, no barista required. We broke down everything you need to know to make great coffee—including the beans, the gear, and of course a few recipes.
There are plenty of fun coffee gadgets to nerd out over, but none of it really matters if you don’t begin with great beans. These are great beans. They come from Astrid Medina’s coffee farm, Buena Vista, in Planadas in Gaitania, Tolima—a municipality of Colombia. Medina is an award-winning, third-generation coffee farmer and a leader in a very male-dominated industry. (Read more about her farm, sustainability goals, and team in this essay on her life and work.) We connected with Medina through our friends at Common Room Roasters, who are now roasting Medina’s beans for us. The coffee is a delicious, full-bodied medium-roast arabica. When you drink it, you can pick up some delicate flavors—peaches, honey—from the coffee berry. It’s deep, complex, and balanced. We’re hooked.
If you’re buying the best beans, you will not regret investing in a proper coffee grinder. Grinding your beans just before brewing has a bigger impact on your home brew than anything else you can do. Look for a burr grinder, like this one from Fellow. Its professional-grade flat burrs prevent the coffee beans from getting too hot while they’re being ground, which can prematurely release their oils (i.e., all the flavor). And it ensures the most consistent grind possible. It’s also super quiet, so you can make your 6 a.m. cup without waking anyone up.
If you want to get more technical: Weight is a much more reliable measure than volume, so switching from a coffee scoop to a scale will result in true consistency. Most baristas use a ratio to determine how much water and coffee grounds should be used: fifteen-to-one for a strong cup and seventeen-to-one for a milder cup. We did some of the math for preparing an eight-ounce (226-gram) cup of coffee—because no one should be doing calculations uncaffeinated.
For one strong cup: 226 grams water and 15 grams ground coffee. For one milder cup: 226 grams water and 13 grams ground coffee.
Play around with your ratios until you’ve nailed it, and you’ll never have to do coffee math again.
A sleek, double-walled latte cup with a hidden parabolic shape for maximum crema accentuation? That’s hot. How to be more extra: Pre-warm your mug. Fill it with hot water for a minute or so just before serving, then dump the hot water and pour in your coffee. It will stay warmer longer.
FOR LOW-TECH BREWING
Pour-over coffee produces a great-tasting cup of coffee and is a good entry-level brewing method—all you need is a dripper and a kettle. This dripper cup by Sanyo Sangyo has a unique flower-petal design that allows the coffee grounds to expand fully when saturated with hot water, giving you the maximum flavor. To brew, place a filter in your dripper and set it atop your prewarmed mug. If using a paper filter, wet it slightly—just a splash will do to help take away the woodsy taste (you can combine wetting the filter with your pre-warming-mug step). Once you’ve dumped any excess water, add your grounds to the filter and add enough hot water to just saturate them in slow steady spirals, then let it filter through. Repeat this process about two more times (you’ll probably develop an eye for it, but doing this over a scale will help you know when you’ve hit that 226-gram mark).
A French press makes a full-bodied cup of joe easy to achieve. The simple design of a press pot and strained plunger hasn’t changed much since it was invented almost a hundred years ago. Simply add coffee grounds to your pre-warmed press pot (yes, we pre-warm that part, too), saturate them with hot water by filling it up with half your water (you could use your scale to help you gauge the amounts), and let bloom for about one minute. Then give a gentle stir, fill up the rest of the pot, and let it steep for another three minutes before pressing the plunger to strain and serve. The long steeping time is why you need a coarse grind—more time steeping and less surface area on the beans makes for a slower extraction of deep flavor. Fellow comes through, yet again, with a very chic-looking insulated stainless steel press pot. It will keep your coffee nice and hot, and it’s nonstick, too, making it super easy to clean.
We’ve spent a lot of time on coffee, but what about the second ingredient, water? Using good-quality filtered water can improve the flavor of your coffee. (And if you’re looking for guidance, see our article on how to choose a water filter.) Temperature matters, too: Bring your water to a boil and let it sit for five minutes. The sweet spot is right around 200 degrees Fahrenheit—you don’t have to be exact; you just don’t want it to be scalding. A kettle with a long gooseneck and a narrow spout will give you the most control when “blooming” your grounds for pour-over and French press, which is when you first saturate the grounds to help release the oils from the beans. The Stagg Stovetop Kettle makes that job feel incredibly precise and a little bit fancy.
FOR LUXE BREWING
We loved the Ratio Eight. And we’re enamored with Ratio Coffee’s newest edition, the Ratio Six. It looks like a drip coffee maker, and you load it as you would a drip coffee maker, but the machine simulates the process of pour-over coffee—with that initial “blooming” pour and all. This way you get all of the delicate nuance, but it’s totally hands-off. And it’s a simpler way to make pour-over for more than one person (which can be slow going otherwise).
An espresso machine built for both detail-oriented coffee experts (hello, customized extraction volume) and flustered coffee newbs (bless you, push-button brewing).
NEXT-LEVEL COFFEE RECIPES
TREATS TO ACCOMPANY YOU
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