How to Make the Best Coffee at Home

by admin on July 27, 2011

I watched a lot of TV when I was young, and with the old network television came the seemingly endless procession of commercials.  I can still picture the all-knowing Mrs. Olsen, with her Scandinavian accent, lecturing the poor housewife neighbor who could not make a decent cup of coffee to save her life.  She was simply a failure until Mrs. Olsen told her the secret:  Folgers Coffee.

Back in the eighties the Colombian Coffee folks, or more likely, the real-life Mad Men,  used a character in their ads named Juan Valdez, who was ostensibly responsible for hand-picking every single coffee bean that went into each and every can of their coffee.  And therefore, their coffee was “the richest in the world.”

I am a man who appreciates that kind of attention to detail, no matter how far-fetched it seems.  So I bought 100% pure Colombian coffee.  I also bought Kona, Costa Rican, Venezuelan, Mexican, Brazilian, Jamaican, Sumatran, French Roast, Italian Roast, Espresso Roast and several others which I either can’t spell, can’t pronounce or can’t remember.

My two favorites?  Costa Rican and French Roast.  Sorry, Mrs. Olsen.  Sorry, Juan.  The Costa Rican has a smooth, nutty taste, and the French Roast is dark, strong and rich.  I’m sure there is a joke in there somewhere.

As I posted previously , I make my coffee drinks, usually lattes, in the convenience of my own home.  Here are a few things I have learned.

In my Jura Capresso S9 machine, I use Illy coffee beans like this.

I have tried other espresso beans as well as locally roasted ones, but they ended up tasting somewhat bitter, so I switched back to Illy, which is recommended by Jura.    These cans cost about $15 and last for about three weeks.  If you add in good quality organic milk to make the froth, you are looking at about a buck for your drink, and it will be quite splendid to boot.  Take that, Starbucks.  This video shows how I do it at home.

The espresso from this machine and made with these beans is smooth and rich, not bitter at all, and is the basis for any kind of delicious espresso concoction you care to dream up.

But what if your tastes are for simpler fare?  What about a regular old Cup o’ Joe?  There are a lot of great coffeemakers on the market, and you will see similar savings, percentage wise, from brewing your own, assuming you are not throwing too much away as a result of brewing more than you drink.  Brewing your own regular coffee will also produce a better cup of coffee at home, if you use good beans and the right equipment.

Freshly ground beans are better.  A lot better.  If you have or can get a quality burr grinder like this one, you should definitely grind your own beans for each pot.  Fresh ground coffee will give you a much better flavor than previously ground beans that have been sitting around for awhile.  If you cannot grind your own, the next best option is to buy freshly roasted beans from a local source and have them ground on the spot for you.  I go to this legendary local hangout  for mine.  If you don’t have a good source where you live, you can order some great beans from their website.

I had been using the Jura exclusively until I was presented with a gift of a French press coffee maker on my birthday last November.  I really like this little contraption, and I usually use it on Sundays when I have more time to relax and kick back a bit.  It’s my Sunday morning tradition.

I love the simple elegance of a French press, and I love the coffee even more.  This device is very easy to use, and if you use the right methods, you will be hard pressed to find a better cup of coffee.

Here is what you need to know.  Start with a coarse grind of the coffee beans.  Use fresh, cold water.  If you have filtered water, that is even better, or you can use bottled water.  The water here in Salt Lake City is pretty good right out of the tap, thanks to the clear mountain streams from whence it comes, so that’s what I use.  Heat the water to boiling, either in a pan or in the microwave.  While the water is heating, put the coffee grounds into the French press.  I use one coffee scoop, or 2 tablespoons, per 8 ounces of water.  I make a big cup (12 ounces) so I use a scoop and a half.  Warning:  I like strong coffee.  I use French Roast, but you can of course use whichever kind of coffee floats your boat.

The optimum water temperature is just below boiling, at 195-200° F.  Don’t worry about breaking out a thermometer, just take it off the heat or out of the microwave, count to ten and then pour the water over the grounds in the pot.  Stir for a few seconds and put the lid and filter onto the pot.   After three and a half minutes, gently push the plunger down and carefully pour the coffee into your mug.  There will be sediment at the bottom so try to stop pouring when that starts to come out.  There will also be some sediment on the bottom of your cup so don’t tip your mug all the way back when you are finishing your cup unless you want a mouth full of that.

If that sounds complicated, it’s not.  This video will show you how easy it really is.

Now all that’s left is to enjoy, or better yet share, that delicious cup.  Mrs. Olsen would be proud.

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