Making a cup of coffee is a simple process. All you have to do is follow these five steps:
- Put a coffee filter in your coffee maker
- Fill it with grounds: you need about 2 tablespoons of grounds per 6 tablespoons of water
- Pour fresh, preferably filtered water into the reservoir
- Start the coffee maker
- Pour when brewing is complete
Sounds so simple even a monkey could do it – right? But this simplicity is deceiving: just doing the above steps does not guarantee a great or even potable cup of coffee. I’m sure you’ve made a cup of coffee that was so bad, you took one sip and wish a coffee making monkey had made it. I mean let’s be honest, we’ve all done it. So what went wrong? There are a lot of factors that go into making a great cup of coffee. So if you are new to coffee making or are just looking to improve your home brew, then read on. You can learn how to be your own coffee monkey.
The first step in making great coffee is choosing your favorite type. But even that can be a daunting task: there are more choices on the market than pennies in the US mint. OK, so that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point. First, there are many different levels of roast. But to narrow it down to its most basic level, there are three main ones: light, medium and dark. The light roasts produce a milder and more acidic cup of coffee, while the darker ones produce a richer, fuller flavor. But contrary to what many believe, the milder roasts actually have more caffeine than the darker ones. In addition to the type of roast, there are coffees from many different areas around the world, and each region’s coffee tastes different as well. One of the most popular coffees is Columian, however there are many other excellent choices available. So with all these options, choosing a favorite or at least narrowing down the field to a reasonable handful seems like a daunting task. But luckily there is the perfect solution. Take you tablet, smartphone or whatever your preferred electronic device of the day is and take a trip to a local coffee shop. They typically have a variety of different coffees to choose from, both in terms of level of roast and geographic origin. So grab a cup, plug in and sit down. You can read a newspaper, listen to your favorite music or catch the big game all while doing your coffee homework and maybe even learning a bit of geography: it’s a win-win. And if the first cup doesn’t suit your fancy, have another. After all, you’re hard at work here.
So now that you’re all energized and ready to hustle after that third cup of test coffee, it’s time to hit the mall to do the next bit of research: finding the coffee maker. Here again there are a lot of options on the market. But fear not, you don’t need the coffee monkey to help you sort out all the options. By far the most popular style today is the automatic drip style: you’ll find a wide variety of these as you stroll through the appliance department. And the price range you’ll find is pretty wide as well. But the cost isn’t necessarily indicative of the taste of the coffee. As you stroll down the aisle looking at the dizzying choice in front of you -if you can still actually stroll with the amount of caffeine currently running through your veins- you’ll notice all the different features promoted by the manufacturers. There are options such as stop and pour, programmable, auto shutoff to name a few. Some even come with a frothing arm to make cappuccino. It’s these optional features that dictate the price more than the taste of the coffee they actually brew. So bottom line is you don’t have to spend your kid’s yearly allowance on a coffee maker to get a great cup. That’s good news especially if you’re trying to improve your coffee at home in order to avoid spending your kids allowance on those fancy coffee shops. But if these options are important to you, for example if you simply can’t function well enough to make a cup of coffee until you’ve actually had one, then certainly check out all these features as well as a programmable may be an important feature to you. But in the end, focus on the basics. For example, there is a recommended optimum brewing temperature but not all coffee makers properly heat the water. Pay attention to these details: read each manufacturers label and what features they are promoting. But don’t take just their word for it: after all, their entire objective is to get you to buy their product. So once you have walked, or run as you may still be doing, through the options and narrowed them down to a reasonable number of choices, take out your helpful tablet or smartphone and check out the reviews. See what others have to say about the ones you’re considering. Isn’t the internet a wonderful thing?
So now you’ve chosen your coffee maker, but still have more caffeine than blood in your veins then you might as well put that energy to good use. In your multiple trips through the aisles, you may have also noticed coffee grinders. Now, you may have purchased a coffee maker with a grinder built right in, but if you didn’t, have no fear. You can now correct that oversight should you so wish. While there are perfectly good pre-ground coffees on the market, the reality is that coffee goes stale very quickly once ground. In fact, it starts to go stale within minutes of grinding. So many people prefer to buy coffee beans and grind them fresh just before brewing. So why not put that extra energy to good use and take a look at the grinders? There are two main styles of grinders: blade and burr grinders. The blade grinders basically spin the blades and chop the beans. How fine the beans are ground is a function solely of how long you grind them. This can result in an uneven grind which can have a negative effect on the flavor. The burr grinders move the beans between a stationary surface and a grinding wheel. The result if a much more even grind, however these style grinders are pricier than their blade counterparts. So if you want the freshest and best ground coffee, purchasing a grinder may be more of a requirement than an option for you. Of course there are people that choose to go one step further: they actually roast their own coffee before they grind it. But typically only true coffee fanatics go that far. If that describes you however, then you may want to consider looking into buying yourself a roaster as well. But that discussion is for another time.
By now, you may be running out of steam so it’s time to go home and test out your new toys. So unwrap your coffee maker and grinder if you gave in and picked one up, and clean them thoroughly. And while you may be impatient to give it a go, running a pot of water through it before you make the first cup of coffee is a good idea. Though it’s bright and shiny and clean looking, the truth is manufacturing is a dirty job. There could be dirt and other contaminants left over from the manufacturing process. So take the time to clean it first. Once it’s clean and cooled, then it’s time to go back to the basic instructions above. Once it’s brewed, you can pour yourself a fresh, hot cup of coffee. Add cream and/or sugar if you prefer and enjoy. And don’t forget to share some with the monkey. After all, he’s now out of a job.