That first cup of coffee in the morning is often what gets us out of bed, and is sometimes the most satisfying part of our days. We love the boost of energy it gives us and how delicious it is as we sip it. But we also always think it could be better: Will the coffee out of our home kitchen ever match the $5 cup we get at the coffeehouse on the corner?
Achieving an awesome cup of coffee at home is actually not impossible. It, like anything else that comes out of our kitchen, is about the right tools, ingredients, and a little bit of practice. While good coffee obviously has a lot to do with personal preference, you may discover there's a whole lot of science involved as well.
Keep things simple: If you love to drink coffee at home in the mornings, make it easy on yourself by creating a coffee station. You've probably seem these in hotels and offices, and it's a great way to keep all your supplies in one place. Here is where you'll maybe put your sugars, your French Press, some beans—whatever you may need.
Invest in a French press: Making fresh ground beans and a French press is incredibly low-tech and affordable—and will get fresher and more delicious results than anything that comes out of a pod or drip machine. Making coffee in a French press vs. a regular coffee maker or a pod coffee maker will change how the coffee tastes. (The roast makes a big difference too.) Coffee lovers are fans of French presses because this method retains many of the natural oils from the coffee grounds, so the best parts of the flavor are not filtered out. You can also adjust how strong you want your coffee to be by adding more (or less) coffee grounds into your French press.
Roast your own beans: It sounds difficult but it's actually easy and it will make a huge difference in the flavor and freshness of your coffee. These beans can be roasted anywhere, from your oven to a stovetop skillet, to even a hot-air popcorn popper.
Keep things fresh: Even if you do not choose to roast your own beans, always go with whole beans you grind at home rather than purchasing ground coffee. You'll have a much fresher taste and better coffee experience. Fresh coffee beans are the most important part of a good cup of coffee. No one wants to drink coffee that tastes stale or rancid! Consider freezing the coffee beans between uses in order to keep it fresh for as long as possible.
Use filtered water: It seems easy to just pour water directly from the tap into our coffee pot (or whatever coffee device we're using), but the type of water we choose will have a huge impact on the taste of our coffee. Put simply, better tasting water leads to better tasting coffee.
Homemade syrups: Part of what draws us to the coffeehouse is that dash of vanilla or hazelnut. Simple syrups are easy to make, and can last in the fridge for a few weeks at a time. A basic simple syrup is just equal parts water and sugar in a saucepan, heated until the ingredients dissolve. However, keep things fun by adding in flavors like vanilla, cinnamon, mocha, or hazelnut—whatever you love.
Choosing a milk: You may discover the slightest change—like subbing coconut milk for your normal 2%—will create a whole new taste experience. Don't be afraid to experiment! If you are craving a creamier cup, try half & half instead of milk.
Milk frother: This takes coffee from good to awesome—with that heated, frothy cloud of liquid and foam on top. Handheld foamers or frothers run under $10, and can turn your basic coffee into a perfect latte in seconds. If you don't have a frother, you can also froth warm milk in your French press!
Iced coffee: Iced coffee is often complicated, even when bought in coffeehouses. The biggest risk is your coffee tasting watered down as the ice melts. Avoid this issue by freezing ice cubes of espresso and using that as the “ice" in your ice coffee. The coffee will never taste weak or watered down.