General Question

sarahjane90's avatar

What do I need to do to make a really great cup of coffee?

Asked by sarahjane90 (1805points) March 26th, 2011

I 100% love coffee. The smell, the taste, everything! I like my coffee strong and robust. My favorite is plain, good, simple coffee. I am not so much into all the extra flavoring and whipped cream. A drop of skimmed milk does me just fine.

Getting to the point…. I buy a lot of coffee when I am out during the day. In the morning and the weekends, I make coffee at home. It is nowhere near as nice as the coffee which I can get when I’m out. I have a regular machine, which I clean out well after each use. (I heard the secret to good coffee was to keep the machine immaculate). I don’t use cheap coffee, but I buy it already ground and packaged.

It isn’t bad coffee. It is just average coffee. I would like to know your tips or secrets on making a truly great cup of coffee!

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

28 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

Use enough grounds, many people skimp on that, and use filtered water. Keep the coffee maker clean at all times. I suggest a good porcelain or glass cup.

To find enough, experiment. Start with four scoops, and if that isn’t enough, add more.

sarahjane90's avatar

Four scoops for one cup, or are you meaning a whole pot? I could buy some bulk filtered water, and give that a try.

lemming's avatar

I use a cafetiere, just had some there. It was good.

incendiary_dan's avatar

1–2 tablespoons of good grinds per six ounces of water. Clean water. Cream (full fat half and half). It’s all about good ingredients and the right ratios.

Lightlyseared's avatar

I use a Bialetti moka express which you use on a stove. It produces pretty strong coffee but you can always add hot water to taste. As for the coffee I quite like Lavazza qualita rossa. Its important to add enough coffee without over packing the little holder as otherwise it’‘ll take to long for the water and steam to get through and you’ll burn the coffee. If you don’t add enough the oposite will happen – the water goes through too quickly and doen’t pick up any of the flavour. Like a lot of things in cooking there is a definite skill involved and it takes practice to get it right.

janbb's avatar

I think the biggest improvement will be made if you buy beans and grind them yourself before making the coffee. Coffee grinders are not expensive. I think the freshness makes a big difference. As for the amount to use, that is a matter of personal taste and experimentation.

jca's avatar

When I make coffee at home, I use a French press. You boil the water, put the coffee in the glass with the press seated on top, pour the boiling water on top, push the press down a little bit so the heat does not escape and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes for a strongly brewed cup (or multiple cups, depending on the size of the press). Then when you’re ready you push the press down, pushing the grinds to the bottom, and pour out your coffee. Paper filters soak up the oil in the coffee, and the oil is what makes the coffee robust. With the French press, your coffee is very hot (hotter than most coffee makers make it) and has the oil in it (not oily where it’s like drinking an oil slick, though). That’s how I make it when I make it at home. Another advantage of a French press is it does not take up as much space (precious counter space or cabinet space) as a regular coffee maker.

BarnacleBill's avatar

I agree with @janbb (as usual!) that a coffee grinder and whole beans is the most important step to a good cup of coffee. I like Krups products. My grinder is 30+ years old and still going strong. I’m on my 3rd Krups coffeemaker in 30 years (there was a Mr. Coffee that was a gift, that lasted a week and then went to Goodwill.) It’s important that the water gets hot enough to brew a good pot of coffee.

The water-to-bean ratio is important, as is the type of bean and the roasting method. There is a difference between west coast “Starbucks” style roasting and others. It’s a personal preference. My ratio for whole beans to cup is 8 heaping tablespoons (from the kitchen drawer tablespoon) to 12 cups of water. This just about fills up the grinder to capacity with whole beans. I usually buy whole bean coffee from area coffee shops, who roast their own, or from groceries that carry local beans.

YARNLADY's avatar

@sarahjane90 I’m making a whole pot, with 12 cups of water.

blueberry_kid's avatar

Hazelnut coffee! Definetely!

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
john65pennington's avatar

Here is an above excellent description of a cup of coffee:

Beans, ground at home, make the best cup of coffee.

No grinder? Okay, try this award-winning procedure for the best smelling and tasting coffee on the planet.

If you have a Kroger store in your area, buy thier brand of Colombian ground coffee. Make sure Juan is on the label. Buy a gallon of spring water and take both home.

Make sure your coffee maker is clean.

For six cups of coffee, use three heaping teaspoons of coffee. The smell of this brewing coffee with knock your socks off!

Try it and let me know how you like it. jp

AmWiser's avatar

@sarahjane90 I have always had the same issues with my coffee, it doesn’t taste the same at home as when I’m out. I have good coffee machines and average coffee machines, I buy good coffee that I sampled in the store, whole coffee beans and ground coffee, but it just doesn’t taste as good as when I’m out. I came to the conclusion that the ambiance of someone else making the coffee and drinking coffee away from home is the best. As I sit here sipping on my home brewed coffee:)

the100thmonkey's avatar

A pinch of salt in the grinds.

It won’t be enough to taste, but it will act just as it does with food – as a flavour enhancer. It will also remove the bitterness.

creative1's avatar

You want to by whole beans and grind them at home, I buy a nice organic bean at BJ’s I love and its not that expensive only. I also love a good Kona coffee but that is going to cost you a bit they are some of the best beans I reacently saw them at Starbucks. When my sister was home from Iraq I used to have her get me the beans from the PX of the Kona coffee because its so much cheaper there but now I stick with my organic coffee until she is home again. The biggest thing is grinding your coffee beans yourself but if you really like a strong coffee then look for a Kona blend its not as good as the straight Kona but it will be cheaper and stronger than the regular. I am a avid fan of coffee and expresso if you like a nice strong coffee might I suggest an expresso?? Its wonderful!

Taciturnu's avatar

Great ideas here. My one additional contribution would be to use cold water in your coffee maker. It makes a difference in the quality.

filmfann's avatar

Don’t over stress the grounds. The coffee made at the beginning of the process is strong, the middle is a bit weaker, and the end is very bitter. The trick is not to get to that 3rd stage.

aseymour's avatar

Any time I make coffee, I give the milk a really good shake. I always get comments on it and everyone wants to know what i do to it to make it taste so good.
All I do is shake the milk! I swear im not taking the p*ss it really enhances the flavour!

jerv's avatar

1) Fresh ground is inherently better anyways. I buy whole bean and grind it as I set up the coffee pot for morning.

2) I use a fair bit of coffee. Many people skimp because they prefer coffee-flavored tea over a real cup of coffee. I use a bit less than I should (only ⅓–½ cup of beans for a pot) but that is because…

3) Fine grinds release more coffee goodness. Some people barely crack the bean while most use gravel. I shake the grinder a bit and keep it going about twice as long so that the grounds that come out are quite fine. Not exactly talc powder fine, but definitely finer than most people grind.

I don’t clean my machine very often as I find that keeping it immaculate doesn’t really affect what comes out. It’s not exactly dirty either; I just don’t obsess over it and only clean it every couple of weeks. For day-to-day use, just rinsing the pot works for me.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Make sure to get the right grind for your coffee maker. Most preground coffee is ground for automatic drip coffeemakers, that is fine for a ADC, it doesn’t work so well for Percolators or camp coffee.

I grind my own for my percolator, you don’t want the grind as fine if you are using a percolator or a pan on the campfire.

jerv's avatar

@WestRiverrat While there is some truth to that, I disagree that preground coffee is actually ground for drip. It seems to me to be coarse enough to be made for a French Press which needs a coarser grind than drip to avoid sneaking past the seal. Yes, the right grind is important, but preground usually isn’t right.

Smashley's avatar

The best homemade cups I’ve ever had always have a couple things in common. The beans are ground fresh. Not only are they freshest when you do it yourself, but the aroma fills the air and whets your appetite before you even start brewing. Aside from this, the best coffee tends to be brewed at a temperature below what your average Mr. Coffee does. You want to be shooting for 195–205 degrees Fahrenheit (boiling is 212) Also, if your coffee sits on the coffee maker’s hot plate for too long, it gets mighty nasty mighty fast. Try a percolator or a French press or simply pour hot water over the coffee and filter placed in a funnel, and positioned over the cup.

Haleth's avatar

@janbb and @jca have great tips. Buying whole beans and grinding them yourself will really improve the freshness. If you’re going to have the beans for a long time, you should keep them in a tightly sealed container. French press coffee is amazing. It’s so strong and flavorful compared to drip coffee. The grinds spend a longer amount of time in contact with the water, so you get a lot more caffeine, too.

One other tip is the type of beans you buy. Most coffee places have a default blend that they serve as their drip coffee. For example, Starbucks has a dark roast blend. If you ask for a drip coffee, that’s what you’ll get most of the time.

If you get coffee beans that are more lightly roasted, like a medium roast, it will be less bitter and you’ll get more interesting flavors. You can get single-region coffee beans, like Ethiopian or Sumatra, and learn about the difference in flavors. For example, lightly roasted Ethiopian coffee tastes citrusy and fruity. Lightly roasted Kenya AA has a smoother taste to it, like wine and currants.

YARNLADY's avatar

Oh, and use good quality, unbleached filters.

Kayak8's avatar

Although @jerv mentions shaking the grinder when preparing your beans, there are a few other tricks to home grinding. Either pulse it or shake it while grinding to avoid actually burning the beans when grinding them (can ruin the flavor). I add a tablespoon of ground beans for every two cups (according to the marks on the side of the coffeemaker and I make a mean cup of coffee!

RocketGuy's avatar

The quality of my homemade coffee suddenly jumped up when I got a conical burr grinder. The most wonderful invention in the world! Each coffee type is different. You adjust the grind until you get the taste you want. We use a fine grind, 5.5 tablespoons of ground coffee for 4 (6oz) cups.

suncatt's avatar

Pour cream (milk) first, then coffee from the hight into your cup. It is believed to taste much better.

sarahjane90's avatar

Some nice suggestions! I did have a great cup of coffee made by a friend in one of those French coffee presses. I think I will have to grab one, and the grinder sounds like a good idea too.

I don’t have access to those things straight away – but I have tried some of the suggestions. I just made a cup of coffee in my usual machine, with a tiny dose of cinnamon extract and a pinch of salt in the coffee grains. I have to say… it tastes about 50% better than usual! I can’t really taste the cinnamon, since I added it sparingly, but over all the taste is much smoother.. so thank you! I will be sure to try out the coffee press and grinder as soon as possible!

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther