This goes without saying, but buy yourself some fresh whole bean coffee. We always suggest coffee within 30 days of roast. If the bag you are buying does not have a roast date, or has an expiration date sometime next year, then chances are it's not that fresh. Any serious specialty coffee roaster is putting a roast date on their packaging.
How to Brew Great Coffee at Home in Five Easy Steps
Making coffee at home does not need to be frustrating or disappointing. Just stick to these five simple steps, and you will be on your way to making delicious coffee at home!
Step 1: Buy Fresh Coffee
Step 2: Use Clean Filtered Water
Use clean filtered water. Coffee is 98% water, so the quality of the water you start with will have a major impact on your finished product. A carbon filter for taste is perfect. Stay away from distilled water, you need mineral content in order to extract optimal coffee flavors.
Step 3: Use a Gram Scale
If you don't already have one, spend $25 and buy yourself a basic gram scale. You will thank me later, and wonder how you made coffee before without one. A scale will allow you to consistently hit your brew ratio (see below), which will ultimately determine the extraction, strength, and taste of your coffee.
Step 4: Please, Please Grind it Fresh
Want to dramatically improve the taste of your coffee at home in one step? Start buying whole bean coffee, and grind it with a burr grinder just before you are ready to brew. The most overlooked tool in the home barista's arsenal, is the grinder. Without a consistent grind, you will struggle to have consistently tasty coffee. I realize they aren't the cheapest piece of equipment, but for a modest investment there are hand burr grinders available, and you can work your way up to electronic versions. The Baratza Encore is a great entry level home burr grinder.
Step 5: Know Your Ratio
The reason the scale is so important, is that you want to weigh your coffee, and your water. Yes, you read that correctly, weigh your water. We suggest a 15:1 water-to-coffee ratio as a good place to start for most home brewing, and adjust for your taste from there. For example, if you fill your coffeemaker with 900g of water, then you would use 60 grams of coffee to hit your 15:1 water to coffee ratio.