From the earliest beginner to industry veterans, we're all finding the time (and need) to improve our brewing skills while staying in. So, who better to help us make café-quality coffee at home than the people who bring us coffee every day?
We asked our roasters to share their essential advice, as they spend more time in the kitchen brewing from home. Here, the experts at Onyx Coffee Lab, Groundwork Coffee Co., Dune Coffee Roasters, and Greater Goods Coffee Co. spill their tips for making the most of your mornings.
Try a New Brew Method
"I know a lot of people are stuck at home, having already watched the entirety of Tiger King, they are looking for something else to do. While normally, grabbing your coffee at a café is an engaging part of your day, we don't all have that luxury. I have found that the Clever Dripper is a straightforward way to get great coffee and spice up your morning routine.
When I think about brewing at home, I think about where I started. My favorite home brewing and beginner method is the Clever Dripper. This dripper is simple, requiring only ground coffee and some way to boil water. I remember being snowed in one winter and making coffee in my Clever Dripper with a pre-ground bag of coffee and a saucepan of hot water!
This dripper is also versatile! If you add a burr grinder, gram scale, and gooseneck kettle to your home setup, you have an endless array of experimental recipes available to you. Not only can you more accurately brew excellent coffee with this gear, but you can perform your own brewing experiments to really explore coffee.
The Clever Dripper is how I started experimenting with the effects of grind size, water temperature, and extraction time. Changing any of these variables with a familiar coffee, like Southern Weather, gives you amazing insight into the brewing process."
- 21 grams coarse ground coffee (not quite as coarse as you would a French press)
- 340 grams 205 F water
- Start timer and bloom grounds with 50 grams of water
- At 45 seconds pour remaining 290 grams of water
- Drain until timer reads 3:00
— Elika Liftee, Trainer, Onyx Coffee Lab
Use the Time to Experiment
"Being the Coffee Department Coordinator here at Groundwork gives me unprecedented access to almost any brewing device I could think of. This is awesome when I'm in the office, however like a good chunk of our team and the global workforce, I'm now working from home. After a few days of ordering coffee in, I decided I needed to start making my own.
Oddly enough I had almost no brewing equipment in our apartment! All I had was an unopened old AeroPress given to us as a wedding gift. I've come to appreciate the AeroPress's versatility and ease of use. I also like the AeroPress's numbering system which is perfect for those of us without scales.
My biggest tip is don't be afraid to play with ratios and grind size! If you want a stronger brew, consider fining up your grind or using a bigger dose of coffee!"
— Travis Harvey, Coffee Department Coordinator, Groundwork Coffee Co.
Make the Best of What You Have
"I'm writing this while I finish my third cup of coffee, so buckle in.
The first step to coffee, today I'm making French press, we'll call the bb (before brewing) step. Once I've queued my favorite music, I gather everything I need to make a cup — always starting with the hot water first. I'll begin to heat my water and use the time that it takes for the water to come to temperature to gather everything else. I've been a barista for years and have accumulated most necessary tools for brewing at home, but don't let the absence of proper tools stop you.
The French press brewing method is one of the most resilient brewing methods — meaning you'll almost always get a drinkable and enjoyable cup. If you don't have a gooseneck kettle, boiling water on a normal stovetop kettle or a small pot and pouring the water into the French press will work just as well.
If you don't have a coffee grinder at home, when you buy your coffee beans at a shop, or on Trade, ask for it to be ground for the specific brewing method you are using at home. This will set you up for a yummy cup from that start. Make sure to store your coffee in a dry, cool place, I keep mine in my cabinet right next to my coffee filters.
If you don't have a digital scale, a tablespoon of ground coffee will get you seven grams of coffee. So, five tablespoons of coffee ground will be the 35 grams I need for my French press recipe. You can also pour your water and eyeball it to the top metal frame, or until your French press is almost full.
Grab a mug (my favorites are from a shop in Nashville, Retrograde Coffee) and enjoy!"
— Felix Felix, Café Manager, Dune Coffee Roasters
Appreciate the Moment
"Here at Greater Goods we’ve found the best home brewing tip is a simple one: mindfulness.
Alright, alright, alright - before you write us off for being a bunch of hippies from Austin, hear us out. How many times, have you found yourself in the kitchen early in the morning, moving around like a zombie to get to the coffee cabinet, going through the motions to start another day like the last? We’re creatures of habit and we’re all guilty of this, baristas included.
We’d like to challenge you to make your next cup of coffee like it was your first, going through a simple mindfulness meditation as you brew. Pay attention to your breathing and practice gratitude the whole way through. If you can, leave your phone and computer in another room and focus your attention fully on this present moment.
Imagine yourself as a coffee farmer, harvesting each cherry by hand and sorting it carefully, watching it transition through each step of the seed-to-cup process. Breathe. Thank yourself for choosing sustainably sourced coffee from small-batch roasters. Breathe. Thank yourself for showing up to the kitchen this morning, practicing a morning ritual that makes you happy and focused. Breathe.
During your brew, pay attention to your senses. Note any aromas coming from the coffee. Notice the color of the coffee, the texture of the grinds, and any heat sensation on your face or hands.
As you sit down to enjoy your cup of coffee, focus on exactly that. Breathe deeply between each sip, expressing gratitude for your existence, your safety, your health, and anything else for which you feel thankful. Close your eyes and simply taste. Trust your instincts on this one! Describe the coffee to your partner or just quietly to yourself. There are no wrong answers when it comes to flavor notes - you’re the expert on your own palate. Focusing in on your sense of taste and associating flavors is one of the first steps in expanding your coffee knowledge. Maybe you could even start a journal, describing each day’s cup and its nuances.
We promise this can and will make a world of difference. Of course, mindfulness doesn’t have to begin and end with your morning routine. Especially when times get rough, slowing down and paying attention to the details is essential. Cheers!"
— Miranda Haney, Content Creator, Greater Goods Coffee Co.