It should come as no surprise my life runs on coffee. Hell, it’s in the description of this site. Now with a newborn baby to take care of, my coffee consumption has increased even more. For many years I drank regular drip coffee, mostly Folgers, and thought there was nothing better out there.
One day, a friend said to me, life is too short for bad coffee as he filled my mug up with some of his own brew made with a Chemex. Almost immediately, I stopped drinking Folgers coffee. In fact, I stopped actually categorizing Folgers coffee as coffee. Compared to the coffee my friend had given me, regular coffee was bland, bitter sludge.
That day I became hooked on good coffee, and haven’t looked back since.
These days I have a drawer full of coffee tools ranging from: a french press, espresso machine, aeropress, and Chemex. While my go-to coffee brewing method has changed over the years, quality has always been the most important.
So, how do I make my coffee?
It Starts With A Grinder
Let me get this out of the way first – a grinder is the most important tool when it comes to making a good cup of coffee. Not just any grinder, thought – a burr grinder is of the upmost importance. The cheaper price tag of a blade grinder might seem appealing, but once you see the uneven grind it produces, you’ll wish you bought a burr grinder instead.
I use a Baratza Encore burr grinder that was given to me as a gift. Unlike a blade grinder, it allows me to select the coarseness of the grind and it does the rest. Trust me – if you want a good cup of coffee, don’t screw around with a shitty grinder.
Then The Coffee Beans
Selecting coffee beans is a very personal choice as each bean can produce a completely different flavour. I try to change it up as much as possible, but I always end up reverting back to either the Starbucks Espresso Bean or Kicking Horse brand. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking all coffee tastes the same. Some beans produce a fruity flavour, others more bitter. Find what you like and it will make the world of difference in your enjoyment of coffee.
You Need Hot Water
This is one part of my coffee-making process in which I cheaped out. I bought a $30 hot water boiler from Walmart. I’m planning on upgrading soon, but unless you choose a pour-over coffee method (more on that later), an expensive water boiler isn’t necessary.
Milk And Sugar
I’m kidding with this headline. If you need milk and sugar to enjoy your coffee, you should probably skip the rest of this article.
The Methods Of Brewing
When it comes to coffee brewing methods, there’s a lot of debating over which makes the best cup of coffee. I’m not going to try and settle that debate, but instead I’m going to list my methods for making coffee and describe each one briefly. Every brewing method has its advantages and disadvantages, but if you’re still using a drip coffee maker, any of these methods will produce a better cup of coffee.
The French Press
A French Press is an affordable solution to making good coffee. You don’t need filters, which means there is no ongoing cost besides your coffee beans. The resulting coffee is often strong as the beans stew with the water producing a bold flavour with lots of natural oils. A drawback to using the French Press is often you’ll end up with stray grinds in your cup and the last few sips end up silty.
Often considered to be one of the best ways to make coffee, the Aeropress is another affordable alternative for making good coffee. Unlike the French Press, the Aeropress uses filters and a rubber seal to prevent excess coffee grinds from ending up in your cup. This increases the overall cost of use, but results in a much smoother cup of coffee. Unfortunately, the last sip of your cup is usually silty as well. Unlike other alternatives, the Aeropress makes a single cup of coffee at a time. This makes it a poor choice if you often make coffee for multiple people at a time (or a great choice if you’re selfish).
The Espresso Machine
By far the most flexible way to make coffee/espresso drinks, an espresso machine is able to produce small amounts of concentrated coffee (espresso) which can be watered down to make an Americano (basically coffee). It’s the only coffee maker listed here that is powered by electricity and it costs a small fortune. Buy one to impress your friends.
The Chemex is the most time-consuming way to make coffee, but it also produces one of the smoothest cups around. It uses filters (which can add to the cost), but the Chemex itself is affordable and comes in different sizes. Since a Chemex requires pouring hot water over coffee, having a water boiler with a narrow spout is important.
So, What Method Do I Use Most Often?
My go-to coffee-making method, if I’m not in a rush, is the Chemex. If I’m strapped for time, I’ll use the Aeropress instead. In my opinion, the Chemex makes the smoothest cup of coffee out of all the alternatives above. It requires the most effort and time, which also makes it the most therapeutic way to make coffee. Starting the day by making a pot of coffee with the Chemex is an incredibly relaxing way to wake up.
Regardless of how you choose to make coffee in the morning, know there are alternatives to the traditional drip machine. Any of the above methods to making coffee require a financial investment – but trust me – once you try one of these cups of coffee, you won’t go back.
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