1. Choosing high quality coffee that is freshly roasted to your liking. Roasting your own coffee is a great way to ensure you are getting exactly what you want.
Roasted coffee has a very short shelf life, so it is best to buy or roast only what you will use within 7-10 days. You’ll want to keep your roasted coffee in an air-tight container and store it in a cool, dark and dry place. There is no need to store your coffee in the fridge or freezer.
2. Using a brewing device that produces coffee the way you like it.
“What’s the best way to make coffee?”
We get this question a lot; the answer is simple and at the same time very complex. The simple answer is that there is no “best” way to make coffee. Each of the different brewing methods presents the character of the coffee in a different way and it is up to the individual to determine which is best for him/her. As you delve into the differences of the different brewing methods things start to get more complicated. The difference the brewing method makes can range from nuanced to dramatic and is influenced by the type of coffee used and the technique of the person brewing the coffee. The best way to determine which brewing method is right for you is to visit the many fine coffee shops that are using some of these alternate brewing methods. Don’t be fooled by the descriptions that the shops label their coffees with, drink the coffee and evaluate it yourself. It’s always a good idea to try the coffee before you add cream and sugar, you may be surprised. But don’t feel guilty if you want to add something, it’s your coffee. One of the best things about coffee is that there is no right or wrong way to brew and drink it. It’s all about personal preference; whatever tastes good to you is the correct way to do it.
You can find a brief description of the different brewing devices and some in depth brewing guides here.
3. Grinding your coffee immediately before brewing using a high quality burr grinder to bring the first two together.
Within the first 15 minutes after grinding, coffee will lose up to 50% of it’s flavor and aroma.
This is the main reason that grinding your own coffee is important, but the type of grinder you use is just as important. Cheap burr grinders and blade grinders grind the coffee in a way to produces a wide range of particle sizes. This makes it very hard to evenly and gently extract the flavor of your coffee. Using a good quality burr grinder and grinding immediately before you brew your coffee allows you to get the most out of your brewing device and helps you produce that exceptional cup of coffee you are looking for.
Beyond your brewing device and grinder there are a couple of other tools that will make perfecting your technique a little easier. The good news is that these items also come in handy for many other kitchen tasks.
A good quality scale capable of reading in grams down to at least 1 gram.
Using a scale will allow you to achieve consistency with your coffee to water ratios. If a scale isn’t practical for you, then using a measuring device such as a tablespoon will work too. A basic rule of thumb is that 1 - Tablespoon is roughly equal to 5.5 grams.
A basic kitchen timer.
While it’s probably not something you’ll use every time you make a cup of coffee, it is nice to have when you are dialing in your brewing device. Different coffees will perform differently in the grinder and in your brewer, so sometimes it’s necessary to make adjustments.
A good quality kettle with a long narrow spout.
Having a kettle with a long narrow spout, like the Hario Buono or the Bona Vita, is not a must but it does make life a little easier. He narrow spout allows you control the flow of the water while maintain a nice steady stream. If you ever get a chance to test one out you’ll know why you want one.