The first and most important ingredient is, of course, the coffee bean. And the first and most important step to a great cup is to establish that coffee beans are not just a commodity.
Each type of coffee bean is unique. Each has been grown in a specific climate, on a specific farm, by a particular farmer, in particular season.
Coffee beans are sensitive. They are affected by heirloom species, soil, climate, picking, processing, and roasting. They go through a lot to get to your kitchen. They should be chosen well, because you are not going to get an amazing cup of coffee from a ground Folgers bean.
Choosing The Right Type of Coffee Beans
1. If you have a local roaster – go to them, your beans will be fresher.
Otherwise, order from a number of specialty roasters, such as Intelligentsia, Counter Culture, or 1000 Faces. Starbucks is better than Folgers, but Starbucks roasts their beans homogeneously in mass, and completely kills off unique traits in particular beans – not to mention that they ship beans a long ways.
2. Did I mention that freshness counts?
As soon as beans are roasted, a countdown begins. Use the beans – don’t let them sit for weeks on end in the cabinet. This is because the oils and the sugars inside the coffee bean are brought out by the roasting process for us to enjoy – but also for nature to destroy.
Whole beans last 3 weeks from roasting before they turn into just any other bean. Ground coffee lasts minutes before it turns into indistinguishable Folgers. This is another good reason to use your local roaster – they can sell half pound increments
3. Choose a new coffee every time!
There may be plenty of coffees that want to be your favorite, but the more coffees that you sample, the more you’ll appreciate your favorite – and the more you’ll know. Connoisseurship is all about exposure. The more coffees you sample, the more you’ll know. Explore!
4. Pay what you should.
Though you will be saving tons of money brewing awesome coffee at home – you cannot have amazing coffee and pinch pennies. Quality comes with some price. Coffee beans go through a lot of people to get to you, and they all have to be paid – especially the farmers.
If you want good, world class, artisan coffee, then expect to pay $12-$16 per pound. Now, that should work out to be about $.30 per 16oz – versus $2 for a 16oz from a coffee shop
5. How much?
This is the most confusing and subjective topic in this whole guide. The ultimate rule is your own personal taste, however, there is consensus among coffee connoisseurs about how much beans should be in a brew to bring out all the flavors and aromas of a great home coffee. That measure, however is extraordinarily confusing to everyone – thanks to coffee maker manufacturers and the Imperial measurement system. Here’s how to measure.
-Know that “cups” has three different meanings. A cup is 8oz of water – except in regard to coffee, when it is 6oz. That is why the “cups” on your drip brewer do not line up with kitchen measure, much less whatever “cup” you are drinking your coffee out of.
–Use 1 to 1.5 tablespoons per 6oz of water for a coffee pot
–Use 1 to 1.5 tablespoons per 4oz of water for a coffee press
-A “coffee scoop” that comes with most coffee makers holds 2 tablespoons
-So, if you want to fill your coffee pot up to the “8” marking, then you should use 4 coffee scoops to make a great cup of coffee
-Mugs, cups, thermoses, etc all hold different amounts, so use trial and error to figure how much water to brew, but don’t get confused by the 8oz/6oz deal.
6. Have fun! The magic is truly in the beans. The rest is just how to treat the beans right. Check out all the recommendations and stories of coffees from all over the world. The different aromas, fragrances, tones, and tastes create a truly magical world.