How to Brew Fabulous Coffee includung water to grounds ratios, making your own flavored coffees, brewing methods, tips and trouble shooting, plus fabulous coffee recipes.
The ratio of water to coffee is essential in making a great cup of coffee. The following chart will give you a good basic guideline.
Adjust accordingly if you like your coffee weaker or stronger.
Ratio of Ground Coffee to Water
Not sure how much coffee to use to brew a regular pot of coffee? These guidelines will help.
Brewed Coffee Yield
5 1/2 cups/44 ounces
Some folks love flavored coffees, and I’m one of them. But I prefer to add my flavor later in form of Italian syrups like those made by Torani, Monin or Da Vinci, rather than buying flavored beans. Why?
Quality. Flavored coffees are often made from inferior beans. During roasting the beans are mixed with flavors, often chemical laden artificial flavors. If you do choose to use flavored coffee beans, be aware that it can be difficult, if not impossible, to rid your coffee grinder or brewer of the flavors.
The oils from the beans and flavor essences tend to permeate everything and you may have to make many a batch to get rid of all traces of the flavorings. Take my advice, flavor your coffee with extracts or syrups AFTER brewing. You’ll have a much better cup of coffee. The syrups come in a huge variety of flavors, in regular and sugar free versions.
There are many methods for brewing coffee. Below are some of the most popular methods along with their pros and cons.
Electric Drip Machines
The electric drip machine is what most of us here in the United States are used to, as they are found in majority of American households. The machines work by pouring heated water from a premeasured reservoir over coffee grounds placed in a filter.
The coffee makers come from basic inexpensive models to high tech versions, that grind the beans, brew the coffee on a preset timer (so you never need wait even a second for a cup of Joe upon rising) and have insulated carafes to keep your coffee warm without overcooking or burning it.
The filter cone works like a manual version of an electric drip machine, without the electricity. A filter filled with the desired amount of coffee grounds is placed in a cone (usually made of plastic) which is in turn placed over a pot. Hot water is poured over the grounds and allowed to drip through the filter into the pot below.
To make coffee with a filter cone, bring water to a boil, then let rest for about 20 seconds before pouring over the coffee grounds. This method is convenient as it doesn’t require a separate electric appliance.
Best of all, it’s easy to regulate the amount of coffee you make. In fact, Swiss Gold makes a single serving gold filter cone device called CafÎé Uno that fits on top of a coffee mug. Measure your coffee, pour in hot water and your drip coffee brews directly into the cup you will drink it from – quick efficient and mess free.
Also known as a plunger pot, this method brews a mighty fine cup of coffee rich in flavor and body, with no electricity. The desired amount of grounds are put loosely into a pot .
Water is then poured over the grounds, and they are allowed to steep for about 3 to 5 minutes. The lid of the pot is fitted with a screen and a plunger. When the plunger is pressed, the screen lowers, trapping the grounds in the bottom of the pot.
The coffee is now ready to drink. While most French Press pots are made of glass, Bodum makes a wonderful plunger pot that’s an insulated stainless steel carafe, so your coffee will stay hot for a long time after brewing.
Pump Espresso Machine
Espresso is a coffee brewing method that yields the richest most full body result of all the brewing methods. Pump espresso makers (the method of choice for premium espresso and other coffee house drinks) force hot water through finely ground coffee, producing an intense, almost syrupy textured cup of coffee.
Other brewing methods just can’t duplicate the pressure from pump espresso machines, and that is exactly what produces the exquisitely rich coffee with the complex slightly bitter taste that lingers on the palate. A moka pot (see below) comes close, making a coffee that is somewhere between regular drip and that made by a pump espresso machine.
Pump espresso machines usually come with an attachment that will steam and froth milk for making cappuccino, macchiato and other coffee house favorites. While they can be pricey, investing in a decent espresso machine is a bargain compared to paying exorbitant coffee house prices. Capresso’s Espresso Luxe is a midrange model that we like. We’ve been using ours nearly everyday for the last five years and it still makes wonderful espresso and cappuccino, and it’s easy to clean and maintain.
If you’re looking for an easy, inexpensive way to make espresso, look no further than the Moka Pot. This little device brews right on the stove top. The pot consists of a tightly sealed bottom chamber (which holds the water), a central tube and filter basket, and an upper chamber to hold the brewed coffee. When water is heated in the bottom chamber, steam builds and forces the water through the center tube and filter and into the upper chamber.
While a Moka pot is easy and inexpensive to use, note that the resulting cup of coffee, while not shabby by any standards, will have a flavor and consistency somewhere between regular drip coffee and that made by a pump espresso machine. Moka pots also do not come with milk steaming and foaming capabilities. An annual replacement of the pot’s rubber gasket is all that’s necessary to maintain a Moka Pot.
If you’re old enough you remember the singing percolator television commercials for Maxwell House – I’m dating myself here — then you’re probably old enough to remember coffee percolators. While once popular, the percolator is now old fashioned and dated — and with good reason. Percolating is arguably the worst method of brewing coffee. Percolators work by boiling water which is then poured over the grounds over and over again.
The high temperature of the boiling water results in the coffee grounds releasing bitter and sour elements that don’t come into play when coffee is properly brewed by running hot (but not boiling) water over the grounds in a single pass.
While a percolator might be a nice nostalgic addition to a vintage style kitchen, it’s best left to a decorative function.
Coffee Brewing Tips
- Never pour water over used grounds a second time. You will not get a stronger coffee, you will get a cup of coffee filled with bitter and acidic elements – in other words, the part of the coffee that you want to stay behind with the grounds.
- Water quality matters – if the water you brew with has an off flavor, so will your coffee. Use bottled or filtered water if necessary to get a great tasting cup of coffee.
- Instead of using paper filters, consider a gold plated metal filter for better taste. It’s also more economical over the long run as gold plated filters can last for several years. They also eliminate paper waste so are better for the environment.
- When buying a drip coffee maker, try to get one with a flat bottomed filter cone, as opposed to one that that tapers to point. The flat bottom allows for better saturation of the coffee grounds, and likewise a more flavorful cup of coffee.
- The higher wattage on a coffee maker, the stronger the coffee maker’s heating element. A higher heating element will produce a better cup of coffee than a weak one.
- Do not leave brewed coffee on the heating element for more that 10 minutes. After that transfer to a thermal carafe and turn off the heat. Some coffee makers, such as Capresso’s 500 (pictured) come with a thermal carafe instead of a glass pot, so you can brew your coffee and enjoy it all morning long, right from the very same pot.
- Be sure to clean your electric coffee pot every few months by running a mixture of one part distilled white vinegar and four parts water through the machine. Follow that by running clear water through the machine three or four times to get rid of any trace of vinegar flavor before brewing coffee.
- As French Press or Plunger Pots cool quickly, rinse them with hot water before crewing to help the coffee stay warm longer. Transfer what you don’t drink to insulated carafe for further drinking.
- Always clean the steam tube of your espresso machine immediately after using, as dried on milk can clog the tube.
- Got extra coffee? Don’t throw it out! Pour it into ice cube trays and freeze. Use later in ice coffee – you’ll get a delicious drink that won’t dilute as the ice melts.