So you want to make a great cup of joe, huh? Well then you’ve come to the right place!
As it turns out you don’t have to be a bearded, apron wearing hipster to make an amazing cup of coffee at home. All you need is a little bit of know how and a few choice pieces of equipment to get that perfect cup.
So here’s what you need to get that bean juice rocking! Oh, and if you’ve got the beard then more power to you!
- First and foremost is a good, freshly roasted bag of coffee. Fresh being the key word here. You don’t have to be concerned about local if you can get good stuff that was roasted within the last two weeks or so. However, as shipping and shelving can eat up much of the time that it takes to get those beans from the roaster to your grinder, you probably want to go for a local source. If you live in a big city, then you won’t have a problem finding one. With the third-wave of coffee becoming such a widespread phenomenon, and even big business, you might be able to throw a stone and clank it off your local roaster’s machine. If you don’t live in big city, or at least one without hipsters, then you’ll have pretty good luck finding some beans online. You can see a great list of roasters across the US here. You can usually order beans from any of their websites. If you’re not so inclined and wish to stick to making all your purchases on Amazon, then you can do so by finding a great bag here. Moving on.
- The second most important part to a great cup of coffee is the grind. Most grinders sold in stores like Target or Walmart are the spinning blade varietal. These noisy things slice, dice and chip away at your beans without any regard for consistency. There’s absolutely zero control, and most people have no idea when to stop. Most grinds out of these suckers end up looking something like the surface of mars: loads of pebbles suspended in sand. This is not what you want. Instead, you want to opt for a burr grinder. A burr grinder is composed of two revolving (usually ceramic) surfaces that mill your coffee to exact specifications. Most good burr grinders allow you to set how coarse or fine you’d like your grind to be. A burr grinder is extremely recommended because it gives you a very consistent grind. A consistent grind is crucially important when brewing coffee because it will ensure that extraction among each individual ground of coffee happens at the same time. This may seem overly scientific, but trust us. You are spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $12-20 dollars on these beans, so you don’t want to waste them. Here at “what to buy” we do have our favorite grinder: The Barazta Encore Conical Grinder.
This thing is a workhorse and will never let you down. It’s got simple variable grind settings and makes a pretty darn consistent grind. For the money, it’s our best buy pick. Black. Burr. Beautiful. We can’t recommend it more. If you can’t put together the cash to afford this Italian beauty, no problem: go for the Capresso Conical Burr Grinder.
We’ve heard it makes a great grind and it’s certainly got enough Amazon reviews to back that up. Its good a value, but the build quality is inferior to the Encore. If you’re on a budget, though then we say go for it. Now if you’re really pinching penny’s then we say save your money and go for the hand grinder.
This stainless steel gizmo is a Japanese design that makes a damn good grind. At just over 20 bucks you just can’t beat the dang thing. Of course the only draw back is that it’s human powered–but hey, you just might enjoy your coffee more! And when you’ve put together enough George Washington’s to spring for the Encore, you’ll have this nifty little guy to travel or camp with!
- To scale or not to scale. That is certainly the question. We think coffee making should be simple, so measure by eye. Keeping coffee simple increases the likelihood that it will actually be made. BUT, we do understand some folks like to be scientific out there, so we’ll go ahead and list a few scales for measuring out ya bean.
Don’t overthink this one. Just buy. This scale is going to do the job just fine. It’s accurate and balances design with a cheap price tag quite well. White so that you can see how pretty your beans are. Now if you’ve ever said “bro, what’s money??” then this next scale is for you. The Hario Drip Scale with timer.
Just kidding about the bro, part. If we had the money, we’d buy this thing too. Smart Japanese design. Made by Hario and even includes a handy timer. Buy once, cry once kind of thing. Now to the fun stuff!
- We arrive at the brew method. Where water meets bean. There’s dozens of techniques, some that may include bubbling cauldrons, whirring gizmos, and something resembling a laboratory set-up. So, for the sake of this article and the sake of ease we’ll stick to just two. Our all time favorite for making a quick and easy cup of java is the Aeropress.
This thing is so easy, tried and true and scienced. It takes about 2 minutes and removes all of the hassle and guesswork out of coffee making. At just 30 bucks, it’s a no brainer. It also pairs really nicely with the aforementioned hand grinder for amazing coffee while on the move! Next up is the Chemex. This little beauty is pretty much synonymous with the words “pour-over.”
It’s a straightforward, not to mention gorgeous, way of making coffee. We love the design, minimalism and simplicity of this method. If we were to be brewing coffee to impress our friends than this would be the go to option. At about 40 bucks, not including filters, it is an investment. But, provided you never break the darn thing, then one that you’ll have for life.
- Last, but not least, but..well optional: the Kettle. This is 100% not needed if you’re going to be using the Aeropress method. For pour overs it’s a little tricky to use your regular ‘ol kettle. As you’ll learn, a pour over requires control. A pour over specific kettle has a tiny spout for accuracy and perfectly balanced ergonomics for control. This is one of those things that you’re just going to have to try in order to see the benefits.
If you’re really serious about this whole coffee thing, then just skip all the cheapo knock-offs and go right for the Hario kettle. It’s the standard by which all other kettles are measured. The thing just feels right. Trust us on this one. And if you’re like us, and want just a little bit more convenience then go for the Osaka electric kettle.
They call this thing the “Tokyo tower,” which is not very clever, but oh so fun to say. It boils water so damn fast, looks pretty good, and offers great control. It might not be as long lasting because of the electronics, but it’s so gosh darn convenient.
That’s it! You now have more than what you need to make an incredible cup of coffee. And if you average out how much you’ve been paying the beareded hipster (sorry if you are one) for a cup at the local cafe versus what you’ll be saving then hell, time for that fancy scale!