While you can always count on a quality cup of coffee at a good coffee shop, you can save time and money by brewing coffee at home. The secret to making gourmet coffee at home is using a good coffee maker and grinding your own coffee beans.
Selecting a Gourmet Coffee Maker
If you’re thinking of making gourmet coffee at home, you have four basic models of coffee makers from which to choose:
- Drip coffee maker: A drip coffee maker is a standard electric coffee maker that is widely found in kitchens and coffee shops around the country. Ground coffee is placed in a lined basket and hot water drips through the filter, creating fresh, hot coffee. Drip coffee makers are popular for their convenience–some are even programmable, so you can have fresh coffee ready when you wake up in the morning–and ease of use. However, their method of using a hot plate to keep the coffee warm can lead to a burnt taste after about 30 minutes.
- French press coffee maker: This is the simplest and arguably the best way to make gourmet coffee. A French press is a glass carafe with a mesh filter and a plunger. To make coffee, simply add coffee grounds, pour hot water on top and put the lid on the jar. After 3-4 minutes, press the plunger, trapping the coffee grounds and leaving only fresh, hot coffee in the carafe.
- Percolator: A stovetop or electric percolator forces hot or boiling water through a basket of ground coffee. Since boiling water can spoil coffee, this isn’t the best way to make gourmet coffee, but it’s convenient for camping trips and other situations where another coffee maker would be cumbersome.
- Single-serve coffee maker: This is one of the most convenient methods of brewing coffee at home. Simply add a sealed single-serve cup (called a “k-cup” or a “pod,” depending on the manufacturer), select your size and press the “brew” button. These coffee makers are extremely popular for their convenience and for the variety of coffee flavors available. However, both the coffee makers and the coffee itself are expensive, and the disposable single-serving cups produce a lot of waste.
Grinding Your Own Coffee Beans
Coffee has the most flavor immediately after grinding. If you plan to make gourmet coffee at home, buy a good coffee grinder. Grind the coffee beans coarse for percolators and French press coffee, medium for drip coffee and fine for espresso. Clean the grinder well after each use so that oils from the coffee beans don’t build up.