Coffee experts have numerous tips and tricks for making the best coffee, be it pour-over coffee, French Press coffee, Aeropress coffee or another method. While researching how to make coffee at home, we collected over 100 coffee recipes or sets of instructions (and counting!).
As of early February 2016, the How to Make Coffee database has
- Over 40 pour-over coffee recipes including:
- 14 Chemex recipes including 2 using the Able Kone metal filter
- 7 Kalita Wave coffee recipes
- 14 Hario V60 recipes
- 50 immersion brew recipes
- 23 AeroPress coffee recipes
- 19 French press coffee recipes and 1 Eva Solo recipe
- 8 filtered immersion brew recipes using the Clever coffee dripper or the Bonavita immersion dripper
- 10 iced coffee or cold brew recipes
- A handful of tips for using a coffee maker
There are a huge number of similarities between all of these recipes but also some striking differences. The similarities and differences extend to all the methods but for now we will focus the discussion on a few coffee brew methods.
We took a close look at all the pour-over coffee, French press coffee and AeroPress coffee recipes.
There is general agreement that these steps help you make the best coffee at home:
- Use fresh, high quality coffee and grind a few minutes before use.
- Use a timer and a scale (grams most common). Controlling the amount of coffee and water makes adjustment and refinement possible.
- A water temperature of around 205 or about 30 seconds off boil (within a range of 195-205F) for all recipes other than AeroPress (see below).
- A gooseneck kettle is used in nearly every recipe although not strictly required.
- Pre-rinse the filter. Hot water is ideal to flush out the paper taste but even using tap water will help.
- Looking for a simple experiment? Pour a cup of water through the paper filter and taste it. Not very tasty.
- Pre-heat the brewing device and the serving mugs. I generally use the filter rinse water thus killing two birds with one stone (or one cup of water).
- Bloom the coffee (adding water to release the carbon dioxide and prep the coffee for extraction).
- Longer brew time for coarser ground coffee.
These coffee making steps are optional:
- Coffee blooming details
- Amount of water used to bloom the coffee
- Most common is using twice the coffee weight in water (i.e., use 50g of water for 25g of coffee)
- Some recipes advocate as little water as possible to wet the grounds or use about the same amount of water as coffee (i.e., use 25g of water for 25g of coffee)
- A number of the Aeropress & French Press coffee recipes add all the water at once but then stir the grounds at some time point between 30 seconds to a minute.
- Bloom time
- This varies from about 15 seconds to 60 seconds.
- Amount of water used to bloom the coffee
- Coffee to water ratio or coffee strength varies between 55-80g/L (removing the high and low outliers)
- V60 and pour-over recipes are the most consistent — about 60g of coffee per liter of water (or 960g at 205F)
- Filtered immersion recipes like the Clever coffee dripper ranged from 60-70g/L with 64 in the middle.
- AeroPress recipes average 70 grams of coffee per liter with most common values between 60-80
- French press recipes varied between 56-80 grams per liter with a median.
- The temperature used in the AeroPress
- Lower temperature brewing of 175-185 is recommended by the inventor of the Aerobie AeroPress and used by nearly every AeroPress World Champion
- More standard coffee brewing temperature of 200-205F recommended by many coffee professionals and nearly every specialty coffee roaster
- Stirring options (both when and how much)
- Stir at the beginning right after adding the bloom water
- Stir in the middle
- Stir after the last water has been added or just before pressing
- Pour-over coffee water line height
- Fill to the top
- Keep the water line just about the grounds or half way up the filter and pour in small increments
Equally important but not stated in most coffee recipes
- Use light roasted coffee (or make large brew adjustments*)
- This is not a requirement per se but nearly all of these recipes were tested and optimized with fresh specialty coffee. Specialty coffee is light roasted because it highlights the unique flavor and taste of the coffee. Every specialty coffee we have purchased has been much lighter than the coffee purchased from Starbucks or the grocery store. *Darker roasted coffee (including even Starbucks and supermarket blond coffee) requires adjusting the recipes and grind. In our testing darker roasts require a coarser grind and lower water temperatures! As a starting point, shift from 205 to 195 on the temperature. As the coffee beans get older, increase the dose a little bit and grind slightly coarser.
- Keep your grinder and your kettle or coffee maker clean
- Cleanliness is critical and a huge reason that the coffee at work is often undrinkable. Adding grounds from yesterday or last week to your coffee is a surefire way to destroy the flavor. In our experience, glass seems to clean more easily than stainless steel and we prefer it.
- A good burr grinder makes for better coffee. Please avoid the $10 blade grinder.
- Each coffee you purchase will likely take at least minor adjustments for best flavor.
- Making the best coffee at home will take some practice.