Crafty Coffee: How to Brew the Best

January 23rd, 2018

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As we’ve pointed out on several occasions, there’s no shortage of great coffee in New York City. But did you know you can brew amazing coffee from the comfort of your own home? It’s time for you to get serious about the science of great coffee. Let’s put the days of Starbucks and drip coffee behind us and embark into a brave new world of home brewed perfection. Sure, it requires way more effort, but the payoff is well worth it. There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get started. All About The Beans: Quality beans, roasted properly, are the heart and soul of every great cup of joe. If you don’t start with good beans you might as well just go to Dunkin’ Donuts. Most people purchase already-roasted beans before grinding them. If you’re new to the the game we recommend you pick your beans up at a place like Stumptown. Their friendly staff will be delighted to help you choose the beans that are right for you. If you’re truly committed to ascending to coffee supremacy, you’re going to want to roast your own beans. That means you’re going to need to purchase ‘green’ coffee beans. These are simply beans that haven’t been roasted yet. You can nab these online from places like Green Coffee Corral or Mill City Roasters. If you’re just starting out, try to buy medium quality beans. Buy them too cheap and they’ll crack and burn easily. Buy them too expensive and you’re likely to waste them while you’re learning. Your first few roasts aren’t going to be prefect! Roasting Time: Once you’ve acquired your beans, it’s time to start roasting. It is possible to roast your beans on a stovetop with a cast iron skillet, but we recommend you avoid that. Roasting beans in a New York City apartment can be tricky. Burnt beans will set off your smoke detectors and stink up your apartment. They’re also a bit of a fire hazard, it’s best to only attempt stove top roasting when you’re in a house with a big kitchen. That doesn’t mean you’re out of luck! We recommend you pick up a home coffee roasting machine. These handy gadgets will roast your beans to perfection, with very little effort required on your part. You’ll easily be able to adjust the roasting time and temperature, which is key in properly roasting beans. Time to Grind: Grinding your coffee correctly is a crucial step before you begin the brewing process. You can get a super cheap coffee grinder for about $15 but we recommend you invest in something better. The ability to adjust your coffee grinder makes all the difference. For cold brew and pour over coffee, a coarse grind is optimum. If you’re making espresso or turkish coffee, you need to grind it more finely. You can pick up an excellent adjustable coffee grinder on Amazon here. Brewing Methods: There are as many ways to brew coffee as there are skyscrapers in the city, pick the one that’s right for you.
  1. The Moka Pot: An Espresso Lover’s Best Friend
    1. If you’re a fan of espresso, you simply must have a moka pot. The moka pot consists of three separate parts: the filter, the heating vessel (bottom), and the coffee collector (top). Fill the heating vessel with hot water until it reaches the small safety valve. Fill the filter with finely ground coffee, pack it down lightly. Screw the top on tightly.
    2. Move your moka pot to medium heat. Keep a close eye on it. You should hear it start to gurgle in a few minutes. As the water in the heating vessel turns to steam, it’s forced up through the coffee beans. It will slowly begin to gurgle into the coffee collector. At that point you can remove it from the heat. It will continue to bubble up for several more minutes before you can pour it directly into your cup for enjoyment.
  2. The Aeropress: Great Coffee Through Science
    1. The Aeropress is just about the quickest way to brew coffee, and it’s growing popularity proves that the coffee it produces is excellent. It’s like a futuristic version of a french press. Simply add medium ground coffee to the water chamber and fill it about ⅓ of the way with water heated to about 90 degrees celsius. Stir for about 30 seconds before adding the rest of the water.
    2. Next, screw the filter (don’t forget the paper filter!) onto the top and flip your aeropress over. Holding the aeropress over your coffee pot, apply even pressure to the plunger. Once you hear the hiss of air start coming through, you can stop pressing and start drinking!
  3. The French Press: A Classic for Good Reason
    1. The French Press is one of the easiest and most classic ways to brew coffee. Fill the bottom of your coffee press with ground coffee. Be sure to use a relatively coarse grind, so that the coffee grounds don’t slip through the screen when you’re brewing. It pays to invest a few extra bucks into your french press. You can buy them for cheap, but the more expensive ones will save you from coffee grinds in your teeth.
    2. You want your water to be just below boiling when you pour it in. Allow it to steep for several minutes. The longer you steep, the stronger your coffee. Finally, place the lid on top and slowly push the handle down. The grounds will be pushed down to the bottom of the pot and the delicious coffee will be at the top. It’s super simple!
  4. Chemex: Designed for Flavor
    1. The Chemex is the ultimate weapon in the coffee snob arsenal. Its deceptively simple design allows you to brew world-class coffee. It looks a bit like an hourglass with an open top. The first step is to insert the cone-shaped filter into the wide open mouth. Pour some hot water over the filter to preheat your brewer and to make the filter adhere properly to the glass. This will also wash away any paper flavor from the filter and insure that the glass of the Chemex doesn’t steal any heat from your brew. Carefully discard the water before proceeding.
    2. Add about 6 tablespoons of finely ground coffee to your filter. Pour about a third of your water over the grounds, being sure to saturate them as much as possible. Grab a stick or spoon and stir the slurry lightly to make sure everything is properly saturated. Wait about 45 seconds before pouring another third of your water. Be sure to spiral your hand to smoothly soak everything. Repeat the process until you’ve used up the rest of your water.
    3. All that’s left is for you to wait for gravity to do it’s work and for the bottom of the vessel to fill. Go make some delicious breakfast or something. It’ll take about 3 minutes. Finally, remove the filter and coffee grounds to discard. Lift the Chemex by the wooden part to avoid burns and pour yourself a cup of joe. If that’s not the best cup you’ve ever tasted, we’re jealous.