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The Secret to Your Best Home-Brewed Coffee

In five simple steps.

Brewing coffee from home can be both a challenging and rewarding experience. The challenge comes from working to perfect your recipe (ask any home coffee pro, and they've definitely been there) and the reward is when you get there. Fortunately, with a little bit of guidance, it doesn't have to be a long road between the two.

We're here to put the ease into home brewing so you can begin enjoying your freshly roasted coffee as soon as possible. Follow these five steps, and you'll be there in no time!

Use Fresh Coffee

When coffee sits around, it slowly loses the aromatics that make it taste so special. It also oxidizes, creating unwanted stale flavors. No matter how good your storage (we'll get to that later), coffee consumed within a reasonable window — we recommend within three weeks of roasting as a simple guideline — will taste better and more lively than that same coffee after it has been sitting in your cupboard for eight to 11 months. But, is there such a thing as coffee that’s too freshly roasted? Why yes, yes there is!

There's one crucial step between that freshly roasted coffee and your cup, called degassing. Coffee roasting naturally causes a buildup of carbon dioxide. If you've ever wondered about that plastic one-way valve on your coffee bag, it's there to help with the release of that gas and prevent explosion. Excess gas also makes it harder for water to extract flavor from your grounds, so we recommend enjoying your coffee no sooner than four days off roast.

Choose Your Weapon

From user-friendly automatic drip coffee to precise Chemex, there's a wide range of brew methods available. Which one you choose depends on factors like how involved you're willing to be (see: the artful Chemex) to how much coffee you want to brew (this is where a reliable drip coffee maker comes in). So, we've compiled a few helpful guidelines to get you started:

AeroPress

Great for: Portable brewing of espresso to pour over-strength coffee

Serves: Single

Grind size: Medium

Brew time: 2:00 minutes

Chemex

Great for: Clean flavors

Serves: Multiple

Grind size: Medium

Brew time: 3:30 to 4:30 minutes

Coffee Maker

Great for: Consistent results

Serves: Multiple

Grind size: Medium

Brew time: Varies

Cold Brew

Great for: Smooth, low-acid coffee

Serves: Multiple

Grind size: Coarse

Brew time: 12 to 18 hours

French Press

Great For: Fuller bodied coffee

Serves: Multiple

Grind size: Medium-coarse

Brew time: 4:00 minutes

Pour Over

Great for: Clear flavors

Serves: Single

Grind size: Medium

Brew time: 3:00 to 4:00 minutes

Start with a Good Recipe

While you might not automatically think about brewing coffee in the way you would, say, baking bread, the two processes have a whole lot in common. Both are part science, part art. We've all seen the art of coffee making at a local coffee shop or in a latte rosetta. To get the science part just right (AKA dissolve coffee solids), you need to start with a good recipe. You can check ours out right here:

AeroPress

Chemex

Coffee Maker

Cold Brew

French Press

Pour Over

Adjust as Needed

Back to that art part of the equation, a recipe is just a starting point. Once you have the basic measurements and motions down, we highly recommend adjusting your recipe to your personal preferences.

One common question we receive concerns coffee strength. Some of the confusion stems from a lack of general clarity over what the term "strength" actually means.

For starters, when we use the word strength as jargon, we’re not referring to the roast level of the coffee, but rather referring to what percentage of a beverage is made up of dissolved coffee solids (as opposed to water). So if your coffee tastes too strong or weak, we recommend the following adjustments:

Problem: Too strong

Solution: Adjust your ratio to use less grounds

Problem: Too weak

Solution: Adjust your ratio to use more coffee

Store Leftover Coffee Properly

Finally, while we recommended earlier holding onto your coffee for about three weeks, there are a few simple things you can do to ensure (and in some cases extend) your coffee's freshness:

  1. Buy whole bean and grind it fresh if at all possible
  2. Store your beans in an airtight container
  3. Keep your beans away from sunlight and heat
  4. Use the freezer for longer-term storage
  5. When using coffee from the freezer, take out only as much as you need, moving quickly. Then put the rest back in the freezer ASAP!