How-To: Make the best cup of Joe at home

by Adri on July 13, 2011

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Not long ago I found myself in a small town coffee shop that prides itself on fresh roasted beans and no nonsense coffee drinks to please the palette. I got to chat at length with the owners, who are long time friends of mine, who turned their love of coffee and home roasting into a thriving business in their community.

I learned quite a bit from my conversations, and it was proven to me that you can have amazing ethically grown and harvested coffee in your own home without a huge hassle.

There are all kinds of coffee lovers out there, and all different ways to get your caffiene fix. There’s mega chains like Starbucks, Dunkin, Peets, Coffee Bean, Caribou… you name it. Then there are the gas station cups of Joe and fast food chains trying to get a piece of the coffee action. I admit, my favorite cup on the run comes from Jack in The Box, they brew Kona brand coffee, and I love their coffee black, it’s easy and delicious (at least to me!).  If you really want to get particular, take a look at local independently owned coffee shops, they’ll often roast their own beans, and most are passionate about coffee, from every draw of espresso to cup of drip coffee, they expect the best.

You too can have amazing coffee at home. It just takes some decision making with your equipment and the process you find fits you best.

Let’s discuss some tips to make some delicious home brew and check back for more information on what makes coffee bitter and how to roast your beans at home in upcoming posts!


First, beans:

You can purchase pre-ground coffee, but because the biggest factors that makes coffee go stale are air and heat, ground coffee’s increased surface area will make it go bad faster.

Stick to whole bean coffee and grind it yourself. Either in the store, in small batches, or purchase a grinder to work on your beans on a brew-by-brew basis. You can purchase grinders in many sizes, some electric, others are hand crank, even a small spice grinder will work.

Store your beans in an air-tight container, in a cool place. It has been suggested to keep them in the refrigerator or freezer too.

via flickr user GlennFleishman

Second, common at home brew styles:

  • Percolator – Allows for the coffee to be reheated and recirculated through the heating element, can cause a ‘boiled coffee’  taste.
  • Plunger – Having a french press will allow for the grounds to fully integrate with the water and then be separated to be poured.
  • Drip filter – Includes coffee makers, which are hard to customize.  Also can be stand alone flat bottomed/cone filter over carafe, cup, or pot.
  • Espresso – Having a machine of this size/expense comes with an equally complex numbers of ways to use it. It forces steam through compressed fine ground coffee for concentrated flavor.

Pour over brews at Alabaster Coffee (Adri/thegirlblogger)

Don’t forget to choose a grind best suited for your brewing style


  • Coarse – percolators
  • Medium – plungers, drip with flat bottom filters
  • Fine – Turkish coffee, drip with cone filters
  • Extra-Fine – Espresso

via flickr user findfado

In many resources it seems there are some universal keys when it comes to brewing a good cup of coffee, so keep these tips in mind:

  • Use fresh roasted beans
  • Store in airtight container
  • Grind right before you brew
  • Use fresh cold water, bring to a boil, cool so that it is not boiling when you start your brew
  • Use the right amount of coffee and correct brew time for type of brewing, check for recommendations from the manufacturer
  • Keep clean equipment, the oils from coffee can go rancid and ruin your fresh brews
  • Try warming your mug by running some hot water through it first
  • Drink ASAP and don’t reheat


Karl & Bethany Fisher, owners of Alabaster Coffee Roaster & Tea Room
The Coffee Companion: A Connoisseurs Guide by Jon Thorn
A Cup of Coffee: From Plantation to Pot, A Coffee Lover’s Guide To The Perfect Brew by Norman Kolpas





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