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5 Tips for a Better Cup of Coffee at Home
• Start with freshly roasted coffee beans.
• Use a burr grinder to grind the beans, instead of a grinder with metal blades.
• Use filtered or spring water.
• Use a scale to measure your grinds.
• Clean your brewer frequently.
Lots of people make a stop at the coffee shop part of their daily routine. The choice of flavors and options — and the fact that you don’t have to make the joe yourself — can be attractive to those on the go.
But making a home version of that high-test, high-taste brew can be especially satisfying and allow you to keep extra money in your pocket. Athough the advent of single-serve coffee systems and touch-screen espresso machines have made it easier than ever to make your own high-quality cups, more people are now opting for a deeper relationship with their morning coffee.
These coffee connoisseurs relish ritual above routine and elevate coffee drinking to an epicurean endeavor without fancy machines.
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Although consumption of traditional coffee has declined by 10 percent, according to the National Coffee Association, coffee drinkers age 60 and older are twice as likely to consume it as 18- to 24-year-olds.
“There is a really big focus on flavor, on the capacity of coffee to not just taste like coffee but, rather, that coffee is capable of a much broader range of culinary flavors and experiences,” says Jordan Michelman, coauthor of The New Rules of Coffee: A Modern Guide for Everyone and cofounder of Sprudge, a website devoted to java culture.
Home coffee basics
The recipe for a great cup of coffee is simple: water, ground coffee and a device to brew. The rest lies in variables, including water temperature, grounds-to-water ratio and extraction time. Slow brewing allows you to control these variables in a way that your Keurig won’t.
Approaching your morning java the slow way can also be surprisingly affordable. Most Keurig or Nespresso machines cost more than a pour-over device and grinder combined. The price for K-cups and Nespresso capsules range from 50 cents to $2 per cup. A regular cup of coffee at Starbucks starts at $1.85. You can make a cup of craft coffee for less than 30 cents per serving.
Craighton Berman, founder of Manual, which produces the Manual Coffeemaker No. 3 and other products that encourage people to “slow down and appreciate the moment,” suggests purchasing quality, freshly roasted coffee beans to start. Craft-coffee packaging usually includes the roast date; savvy coffee drinkers buy beans roasted within days. If you can find a date on coffee in a grocery store, it is typically an expiration date, which indicates that the grinds are still safe to drink. Those beans, however, may have been roasted years ago.
“Even if you’re not going to do anything else, the difference between that and something that’s been in the grocery store for a year, if you change it, you’re going to notice,” Berman says.
Next, get a burr grinder — which grinds coffee between two revolving abrasive surfaces — instead of one with metal blades. Burr grinders produce a more uniform, consistent grind, which helps with flavor extraction and prevents clogging.