Beginners Guide: How to Brew Coffee at Home

Last Updated: January 21, 2023

Date Published: September 28, 2020
Whether you’re a total beginner at brewing coffee, or if you’re looking to improve your brewing skills, here’s how you can make your own perfect cup of coffee, right in your own home.
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A good cup of coffee in the morning can set the mood for your entire day. But when the coffee shops are closed, relying on a barista to serve your daily cup of java may not be an option. If that’s the case, you might want to brew a cup of coffee yourself. And, depending on the amount of coffee you drink per day, it could also help you save some money. Whether you’re a total beginner at brewing coffee, or if you’re looking to improve your brewing skills, here are some tips to help you make your own perfect cup of coffee, right in your own home. 

How to Brew Coffee

There are three common coffee brewing methods at home: drip, pour-over, and the French press. Brew coffee with all three methods with these easy step-by-step guides. 

  • Drip Coffee Method. On a busy morning, nothing beats the simplicity of a drip coffee machine. And depending on your machine, you could make up to 12 cups at a time!
  1. If you’re using whole beans, grind the beans to a uniform consistency similar to that of regular table salt. Then, transfer the grounds into a filter-lined filter basket, and place it in the drip machine. Swivel the water spout over the center of the grounds. 
  2. Pour clean water into the back of the machine and press the ON button.
  3. Turn off the machine as soon as the coffee is finished brewing to avoid a burnt taste. 
  • Pour Over Coffee Method. Using a pour-over coffee maker is arguably one of the best ways to brew an aromatic, delicious cup of coffee. 
  1. Bring water to a boil in a kettle. 
  2. If you’re using whole beans, grind the beans to a uniform consistency similar to that of granulated table salt.
  3. Meanwhile, place a filter in the brewer and rinse with hot water – this removes the papery residue on the filter and warms up the brewer which can keep your coffee hot for longer. Discard the water you used for rinsing.
  4. Add the coffee grounds to the filter, making sure the surface is level. When the water is around 195°F and 205°F, slowly and steadily pour just enough water over the coffee grounds to completely saturate them – start from the middle and work your way outward. Stop pouring before the coffee starts to drip through – this is known as the ‘bloom’ pour, which allows the coffee to de-gas.
  5. Pour in the remaining water slowly. Keep the water in the dripper between half and three-quarters full – this should take 3 to 4 minutes. Then, carefully remove the filter. Serve and enjoy. 
  • French Press Coffee Method. The French Press is the perfect low-maintenance brew method for lazy mornings. Done right, it produces a creamy-bodied coffee. 
  1. Bring water to a boil in a kettle. 
  2. If you’re using whole beans, grind the beans to a uniform consistency similar to that of breadcrumbs. The grinds must be uniform in size, without a lot of fine grit.
  3. Add the coffee grounds to the French press.
  4. When the water is around 195°F and 205°F, add it to the French press and stir it vigorously into the grounds – the brew time is around 4 minutes. Then, slowly plunge the press to separate the grounds from the coffee.
  5. Serve and enjoy. Tip: If you won’t drink the coffee immediately, don’t leave it in the French press as it will continue to sit on the grounds, resulting in a much bitter taste. Instead, pour the coffee in a carafe to enjoy later.

How to Cold Brew Coffee

If you crave a good iced coffee during hot days, but hate the way so many end up tasting overly bitter or watery, then there’s only one solution: cold brew coffee. This method ensures a cold, smooth, and delicious cup of coffee every time. Cold brew coffee is NOT the same as regularly brewed hot coffee or drip coffee that’s been cooled or served over ice. Instead of brewing in just a few minutes, it is slow-brewed and steeped over 12 to 15 hours – this produces a coffee that’s slightly less bitter and acidic. Cold brew coffee is sweeter and more full-bodied in flavor. 

Here’s how you can make cold brew coffee at home.

  1. Grind your coffee beans to a medium coarse consistency. 
  2. Combine ground coffee and water in a mason jar or other glass storage container. Stir to completely saturate all the coffee grounds.
  3. Cover and let this coffee steep at room temperature for at least 12 to 15 hours.
  4. Strain the cold brew concentrate through a large coffee filter, or a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth, or some other filtering medium to remove sediment and grounds.
  5. Transfer cold brew concentrate to an airtight container. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
  6. To serve, pour the chilled cold brew concentrate over ice and dilute to taste with cold water, milk, or a milk substitute. 

Tips for Making the Best Coffee at Home

Here are some tips to help you make the best coffee at home.

Tip #1: Buy Fresh Beans

With a doubt, coffee is best when used within days of being roasted. Buying from a local roaster is the best way to get the absolute freshest beans. Be wary of buying bulk coffee from supermarkets – bright light and oxygen are the worst flavor busters for roasted beans, so unless the store is careful about selling fresh coffee, the storage tubes often get coated with coffee oils, turning it rancid. Coffee beans packaged by quality-conscious roasters and sold in vacuum-sealed bags are typically better. 

Tip #2: Keep Coffee Beans Fresh

Always store opened coffee beans in a sealed, airtight container. Ceramic storage crocks with rubber-gasket seals and glass canning jars are good choices. Never refrigerate – roasted beans are porous and take up moisture and food odors. Ideally, buy a 5 to 7-day supply of fresh beans at a time and keep them at room temperature.

Tip #3: Use Good Water

Nothing can ruin a pot of coffee more surely than water with off flavors or tap water with chlorine. To ensure the best taste, use bottled spring water or activated carbon/charcoal filters on your taps. 

Tip #4: Don’t Skimp on Coffee

Ideally, the standard measure for brewing coffee is 2 level tablespoons per 6-ounce cup or around 2 ¾ tablespoons per 8-ounce cup. Using less coffee and hotter water to produce more cups per pound tend to result in bitter brews.

Tip #5: Watch the Heat

Water that’s too hot will extract bitter compounds in the coffee. The proper water temperature for brewing is around 200°F – or around 45 seconds off a full boil. Once brewed, don’t expect coffee to maintain its best flavors for long. Boiling, reheating, or prolonged holding on a warming platform can turn even the best coffee foul-tasting and bitter. 

Tip #6: Regularly Clean Your Equipment

Regularly clean your coffee making equipment – this includes your coffee grinders, coffee machine, and storage containers to remove any oily buildup. At least monthly, run a solution of vinegar and water or any specialty coffee-equipment cleaner through your coffee maker to dissolve any mineral deposits. Rinse thoroughly before use. 

The Bottom Line

Brewing coffee at home doesn’t have to be difficult – simply follow the steps outlined in this article to brew your own perfect cup of coffee, right in your own home. Good luck and enjoy!

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