From our friends at HeyPumpkin:
When you hit your local coffee shop, the baristas know exactly how to make your caramel macchiatos and mocha frappuccinos. But have you ever wondered what your favorite barista is drinking at home?
No, they’re not whipping up all those fancy drinks with a thousand steps to start their morning. Of course, there are exceptions to everything, but most baristas are more focused on sipping a properly brewed cup of joe.
They like coffee. They want to taste coffee. And they want the best-tasting coffee possible.
I’m not talking about throwing some ground Folgers in a coffee maker — there’s more to a good cup of coffee than that. I sat down with Josh, a former barista, and picked his brain on how he really makes his own coffee at home. And now, I’m here to share what I learned!
The very first thing Josh told me: if you want a good cup of coffee, you have to start with good coffee beans. Skip the bag of already-ground coffee, because it will quickly lose its complexity and aroma as it goes stale.
Instead, splurge on whole beans and a coffee grinder. The key to fresher and more flavorful coffee is grinding coffee beans yourself.
In a perfect world, we would all be able to purchase whole beans from a local small-batch artisan roaster. But if you can’t find a local coffee roaster in your area, you can still purchase whole beans online or at your local grocery store.
Water Matters, Too
Coffee is nearly 99 percent water, so it’s also important to focus on the quality of the water you’re using.
It does make a difference if you use tap water versus purified water. By using filtered water, you’re removing any chemicals, sediment, or anything else that can change the taste of the water. Plus, the minerals in water play a big part in coffee extraction.
Be Exact and Consistent
Any barista will tell you that eliminating inconsistencies and accurately measuring is key to the flavor of coffee. Your ratio of coffee to water may vary, depending on your brewing method, the beans you’re using, and your personal taste. That means Josh can’t tell me the exact ratio that will make the absolute perfect cup of coffee across the board, but 1:15 is an excellent place to start. So, for every 1 gram of coffee, use 15 grams of water.
Clearly, scooping grounds with a spoon isn’t the most accurate way to measure anything. If possible, using a kitchen scale is the best way to get it right. And don’t grind all your beans at once, either. Only grind the amount you plan to use right now, and keep those other beans as fresh as possible for next time.
How You Brew
I’m sure that many baristas have a good ol’ regular coffee maker at home — but if you really want barista-worthy coffee, it might be time to rethink your brewing method. Heating elements in the majority of cheap automatic brewers don’t actually get hot enough to extract all the delicious, complex flavors.
When I asked, my barista friend said he prefers a French press most days.
Although a French press can look a little intimidating at first glance, they’re pretty straightforward. Coarsely grind your beans, pour in the water, time the brew, and press the plunger. No really — that’s pretty much it.
The extra five minutes it takes to use a French press will result in coffee that’s far more delicious and aromatic than anything that’s ever come out of a cheap automatic machine. Without coffee filters to soak up the coffee’s natural oils, you’ll wind up with a full-bodied, robust, and vibrantly aromatic cup of joe.