Coffee isn’t for everyone, but it’s rare that so many people have such a passion for a hot beverage. You might already be a coffee fan, or you might just rely on it to get you going in the morning. If you’re in the latter camp, maybe you just haven’t had the right cup of coffee yet.
Heading to your local coffee joint or a Starbucks is fine, but it can get expensive quickly. If you’re looking for a quality cup of joe, you can make it at home. Even better, you can do it without shelling out big bucks for a fancy espresso machine.
1. Ditch the Drip Coffee Maker
Your old standby 12-cup coffee maker may be an easy way to make coffee in the morning, but it’s not going to make you the best cup. It won’t hurt to hang on to it for when you have guests, but unless you’re frequently making coffee for groups of people, you’ll get a tastier cup by switching to single-cup options.
A French press like the Bodum Chambord is still fairly easy to use, and you can make coffee for two people at once. If you prefer to have some more flexibility, an Aeropress lets you make espresso-style coffee concentrate that you can then dilute with hot water to your liking. Neither of these will cost you more than $30. A third popular and affordable option is the Bodum Pour Over Coffee Maker.
No matter which of these you pick, you’ll be able to experiment with your brew by varying the type and amount of coffee you brew.
2. Buy Better Coffee
Your standard store-bought coffee is fine if all you need is a quick zap of energy, but you can find much better coffee elsewhere and only spend a marginal amount more to get it.
If you have a favorite local coffee shop, they might sell their own beans. Not all coffee shops do this, but if yours does, at least you’ll know you’re starting with a type of coffee that you already like.
If you can’t get coffee locally, you can buy coffee online. You’ll want to look for places that roast their own coffee beans, ideally right before they ship. There are also subscription services like Blue Bottle that will ship you coffee every week or every month at your convenience.
No matter what type of coffee you buy, make sure you buy it as whole beans, not pre-ground! Which leads us to…
3. Grind Your Own Coffee Beans
There are a few benefits to grinding your own beans. One is that you can experiment with different grind sizes to find what works best with your chosen brewing method. The bigger benefit is that grinding your coffee beans right before you brew them maximizes flavor.
A burr grinder results in a better, more even grind than a blade grinder. The downside is that there aren’t any high-quality electric burr grinders that are cheap. If you don’t want to spend too much money, opt for a manual burr grinder (hand grinder). The Hario Mini-Slim Plus is adjustable for different grinds, doesn’t take too long, and is cheap to boot.
You’ll find plenty of alternative hand grinders available; as long as the one you get is a burr grinder, it should work well. (Already have a blade grinder? Don’t throw it away. Use it for herbs, nuts, and other culinary uses. Just don’t use it for grinding coffee beans!)
4. Hold the Cream and Sugar
You may usually take your coffee with cream and/or sure, and that’s perfectly fine. However, after all the effort you put into making the perfect cup of coffee, you may as well try tasting it black first.
Most people hate black coffee because they brew it using subpar methods with subpar beans that are preground and have long lost their flavor. If you buy better beans and grind them fresh, the difference is night and day! You may find that you don’t feel the need to add cream or sugar anymore.
If you taste the coffee and still prefer to top it off with milk and sugar, feel free. You might even try a cheap frothing wand to whip the milk up and make yourself a homemade take on a latte. Do your best to make the best cup of coffee, then enjoy it however you like best.