3 Things to Know in Creating Your Home Coffee Setup
Don’t take our coffee too! One thing that is for certain in these.. well.. uncertain times is humanities love for coffee. Coffee is what wakes us for a long days work, helps us enjoy the book we’ve been reading, and gives us an excuse to meet with that friend we’ve been missing.
Unfortunately, many shops have been forced to close their doors, and those shops that have been able to remain open are relegated to their take-out operations only. We try to do our best to support our favorite local shops, but a little coffee sovereignty would be nice, right?! Well keep reading; what follows will hopefully be that spring-board you needed to get in the home-brew game!
Those with a beat on the coffee industry immediately noticed an increase in retail bean sales, as folks began to hunker down and do their best to meet their own coffee needs. Maybe this is you too, and maybe… just maybe you could use a little help! Getting an amazing cup of coffee isn’t as hard as it sounds, nor does is require the thousands of dollars in coffee equipment that your favorite shop uses. To make an amazing cup of coffee what you’re going to need is:
1) Great Water
Guess what, the coffee you’re drinking is almost 99% water! “A good cup of joe is 98.75 percent water and 1.25 percent soluble plant matter.” [Tim Morris, 2009, Whats Inside a Cup of Coffee?, Extracted from Wired.com].
What does that mean? You cannot enjoy your coffee if your water sucks!
There are a few great (and affordable) ways to get café quality water. One option is to head to your local grocery store and pick up a few gallons of distilled water, then to your local coffee shop (many third-wave shops have began to carry these) or online at Amazon for some Third Wave Water packets. Add one of these to your distilled gallon and voilà – a perfectly mineralized and balanced gallon of water that’ll surely last you well into the week! One box is roughly $15, and will supply 12 gallons – much cheaper than the r.o. system we all wish we had!
If you absolutely need that reverse osmosis quality you have two options: ask your local shop, sometimes you can get lucky and get them to supply you with some top-notch water every so often! There is, then, an r.o. setup. Below are a few links to some great filtration systems, to include reverse osmosis that’ll put you on par with the greats. Just make sure you consult a professional about installation and upkeep.
2) Great Coffee
Okay, we know this sounds obvious, but how do we know what to choose? First and foremost, buy local. This not only supports your local economy, but the coffee industry is certainly a market in which the local quality almost always outdoes the store-bought competition.
There are also hundreds of specialty roasters around the world that can get their fresh coffee to your doorstep in just days. In any case, find out what you like. Take the time, if you haven’t already and experiment with some different types of roasts – the trinary light-medium-dark roast system is all fine and dandy, but will not get you to a final answer when it comes to determining your palate preference.
Ask the baristas at your favorite coffee shop what they recommend, tell them generally the flavors you like, and determine what’s in your budget – asking the right questions can land you on coffee that’ll brighten your days to come. Also, ask the baristas what grind size they recommend for the type of brew method you’re employing. They have done the legwork for you in this regard, and will be happy to share – grind size matters! Additionally, try your best to grind as you go. Best case, you grind before every brew. Worst case, the shop you buy from will grind your bag of beans for you.
Research done by the team at G&B Coffee determined that the quality in taste post-grind steeply drops off after about a 24 hour window. Below we will link several good-better-best options for grinding coffee at home.
- JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder with Adjustable Setting
- Hario Ceramic Coffee Mill
- OXO BREW Conical Burr Coffee Grinder
- Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder
3) The Right Tools
The best water in tandem with the best ground coffee doesn’t do us much good (aside from perhaps one of the greatest smells on Gods green earth) without some way to brew them! The basics which don’t need much explanation are a small spoon that we can use to stir, a decent vessel to brew into (this being a necessity will vary depending on brew method), and your favorite cup to drink out of.
All of what follows will have accompanying links to great options for your home: Great coffee grinder options have already been mentioned so we’ll go ahead and omit them in this section.
A kettle – a gooseneck kettle is going to feel like an extension of your own arm if you decide a pour-over is the way you want to go. You can find these all over, some stovetop, others contain their own heating elements. The gooseneck is going to give you the best control over your brew and allow you to fine-tune your brew better than any ol’ tea-kettle.
Next, a scale. A scale is going to allow you to maintain perfect quality control over your brew, eliminating any guess work on your dosage.
Timer. Some scales have built-in timers, that’s best case. Worst case, bust out that cell phone. Good recipes should come with very specific brew dosages, grind sizes, and brew times (among other things). Pay careful attention to these parameters, as being able to dial them in according to your taste is the goal! The Rosetta Stone – your palate.
- Bodum US Melior Gooseneck Electric Water Kettle
- Fellow Stagg Stovetop Pour-Over Kettle For Coffee and Tea, 1.0L, Gooseneck Precision Pour Spout
- Hario V60 Drip Coffee Scale and Timer
- Acaia Black Pearl Laboratory Grade Digital Coffee Scale with Bluetooth
- Hario V60 Pour Over Starter Set with Dripper, Glass Server Scoop and Filters
From here the major pieces of equipment are the specific brew methods themselves, which will be outlined in their own blogs here on our site, so don’t hesitate on clicking through to those once you’re sufficiently prepared!
All in all, it isn’t hard to get a better tasting coffee than even some of the biggest coffee names have to offer – right in the comfort of your own home! It’ll take some practice, and you’ll probably fail a few times but don’t let that discourage you! Push through the sour and the bitter until you’re an adept in the home-brew methods. Remember though, your preference is what matters most, so don’t forget to be creative with the general umbrella-guidelines we’ve hashed over. Making coffee is a bit like a chemistry experiment, where you’re the scientist and test subject all in one.
Best of luck to you on your new coffee journey!