How to Make Better Coffee at Home
Chances are, your morning coffee ritual isn't as peaceful as you'd like it to be. One morning you may decide to risk being late for work, just for a quick jolt of caffeine (only to be stuck behind five other people who had the same thought). Or you may have woken up late after snoozing your alarm three times (read: dreaming about your future wedding to Bradley Cooper) only to rush through the morning and end up grabbing a watered down cup of coffee at the local deli before heading to work. So when did grabbing a cup of coffee become a hassle or last minute thought rather than an enjoyable experience?
Truthfully, I believe that drinking coffee should be a relaxing way to spend time with yourself, creating a mental time-out during your day. Whether that time-out begins in the morning or happens in the afternoon after work, there are ways to have a better, barista-worthy cup of Joe from the comfort of your own home.
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1. Set up a space for you to enjoy coffee
As long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?
Maybe you prefer to be perched on a stool near your countertop, catching up on the morning news while sipping your coffee. You may take part in your daily cup during the stillness of the afternoon as you lay comfortably in your favorite chair. I believe that taking the time to organize a space for your morning (or afternoon) cup of coffee can leave you feeling at peace and balanced with your inner thoughts.
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2. Grind your own coffee beans
To unlock the maximum flavor potential of freshly ground coffee beans, grind coffee right before use. There's a good mix of coffee bean grinders out on the market, however, the pricier the grinder the better the grind. Keep in mind that there are different textures of grinds that correlate to each method of coffee brewing and I've matched each grind to its preferred method of brewing below. Also, don't freeze your coffee grinds. The best way to store ground coffee is in an opaque, airtight container in a dark but convenient space. If you're interested in grinding your own coffee, these brands are worth checking out: Capresso, Breville and Baratza.
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3. Choose the right equipment
The equipment you choose to brew coffee can affect the taste of your drink and how long it takes to make.
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French Press: A French Press is a pot, usually made of glass, containing a mesh plunger that separates the coarse ground coffee beans from the hot water. The French Press is truly the simplest way to enjoy coffee and produces a perfectly bold flavor. You'll want to make sure the coffee beans are ground coarse and evenly. If you're in the market for a french press, may I suggest: Bodum Copper French Press, Williams Sonoma Glass French Press and the Espro Coffee Travel Press.
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Chemex: A Chemex is an hourglass-shape glass coffee maker that uses specially designed filters to produce clear, pure flavorful coffee. Chemex coffee maker styles range from their classic design, glass handle design and handblown glass design. The classic model comes with a wooden collar, which serves as an insulated handle. You'll want a medium-coarse grind for your beans.
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Drip/Machine Drip: Also known as pour over or filtered brewing, it is probably the most commonly known way to brew coffee. Try these coffee makers: Mr. Coffee, Capresso Coffee Maker, Keurig Brewing Systems and Nespresso Coffee and Espresso Machines. Although pricey, these pour over stands are just too awesome not to share. (If you choose to grind your own coffee beans, you'll want your coffee beans grounded medium, like kosher salt.)
Espresso Machine: An espresso machine forces near-boiling hot, pressurized water through a filtered "puck" of ground coffee to produce a thick, concentrated coffee, or espresso. These machines are on the pricier side but are totally worth it in the sense of getting what you pay for, quality wise. If you're looking for an espress espresso maker, the Bialetti Moka Express Espresso maker is a great buy (which doesn't use a puck of espresso.) The larger espresso makers usually come with milk frothers and other accessories. Other espresso machines worth checking out: Nespresso VerturoLine Coffee and Espresso Maker, Delonghi Dedica Cappuccino and Espresso maker, and the Breville Infuser Espresso Maker.
4. Know your signature drink
The best part of making better coffee at home is the coffee, of course! Although there's nothing wrong with sticking to your usual (I'm a creature of habit myself) there are other drinks to make from the comfort of your own home. Here are some drinks you can make at home:
Americano: An Americano is espresso diluted with hot water.
Café Latte: A Café Latte is made with espresso and steamed milk. It's mostly known as the drink with latte art.
Café au Lait: Simply, a Café au Lait is coffee with hot milk (not to be mistaken for coffee with cold milk or creamer)
Cappuccino: A Cappuccino is coffee made with frothy milk (the milk is steam pressurized)
Cortado: Cortados are made with espresso and a small amount of steamed milk and with milk foam on the top.
Espresso: An Espresso is coffee that's brewed by forcing pressurized steam through finely grounded coffee beans.
Flat White: A Flat White is a shot of espresso with milk foam poured straight in the middle.
Machiatto: Machiattos contain espresso with frothy steamed milk.
Café Mocha: Also known as a mochaccino, a Café Mocha is a chocolate-flavored version of a café latte.
Turkish Coffee: Turkish Coffee is a strong, black coffee with fine grounds in it.
Other tools that are helpful in achieving the perfect cup of coffee at home are milk frothers. If you don't have an espresso machine with a milk steamer or frother, I suggest warming up half a glass of whole milk in a microwave then using an Aerolatte to produce a thick froth for your drinks. Other great milk frothers on the market are the Starbucks Verismo Electric Milk Frother and the Jura Automatic Milk Frother.
5. Add extra flavors and your personal touch
The best way to make a cup of coffee truly your own? Doctor it up to your liking. Add traditional flavored syrups like chocolate, vanilla, hazelnut and caramel to step up your coffee creations. Latte art is an 'art' within itself and takes a lot of practice. If you're a beginner and want to make a prettier cup, top your coffee with some frothed milk or whipped cream and lightly dust some cinnamon or cocoa powder on top.