Sometimes, a hot cup of coffee is the only thing that can get us out of bed in the morning. Coffee drinkers have grown to expect more out of this daily ritual than a quick dose of caffeine—these days, we’re looking for an experience and, at a minimum, a quality cup of coffee.
National Coffee Day is September 29th, which means the coffee shops will be packed and the lines will be long. So avoid the rush and learn how to make a great cup of coffee in the process. In celebration of National Coffee Day, we’re sharing some tips for cultivating a better coffee experience at home.
The Beans, a.k.a. The Most Important Part
A great cup of coffee is made possible largely by the coffee beans. There are two main types on the market: Arabica and Robusta. While Robusta has more caffeine and comes with a lower price point, Arabica is considered a higher quality bean with better flavor. For an even higher quality, choose an organic Arabica bean. Made without toxic fertilizers and pesticides, organic coffee is richer in antioxidants and has a purer taste.
A bean’s flavor will largely depend on its growing region as well. Since coffee tends to thrive best in Ethiopia, many coffee enthusiasts prefer Ethiopian beans, although Latin America is also known for growing high-quality coffee beans.
Know Your Roast
Do you prefer a fruity coffee or a chocolate-y one? Generally speaking, light roast coffees tend to have more citrus or floral flavor, while dark roasts are more bold, rich, and chocolatey. There are more flavor varieties among light roast coffees since the roasting process can mask a lot of the natural character of the bean. A medium roast is a safe bet as it contains natural flavors from the coffee and is more balanced than a light roast.
Get Your Grind On
If you want a truly great cup of coffee, you need to grind your own beans. This gives you more control over the size of the ground, which needs to be compatible with whatever method you use to brew. You don’t need to own a grinder—most grocery stores will have one available to use.
Freshly ground coffee allows you to experience flavors you won’t find in packaged ground coffee. There are a handful of factors that begin to affect coffee’s flavor the second it is ground (re: science). Try grinding your own beans and see what a difference it makes in your morning cup.
Brew So Fancy
There are lots of different ways to brew coffee, but don’t let that overwhelm you. Instead, focus on the main three: pressure, steep, and drip.
When you think pressure, think espresso: fast extraction, more intense brew. Espresso machines fall under this category, but so does the Aeropress. An Aeropress is a great way to brew coffee at home because it’s small, easy to use, fast to brew, and makes an excellent cup of coffee.
Steeped coffee produces a distinct taste and feel, plus it smells amazing. The French press is a longstanding favorite method among home brewers and baristas. French presses are easy to use with the right advice and take about 10 minutes from start to sip.
For a great cup of coffee using a drip method, skip your traditional coffee maker and go with a Chemex brewer. Recognizable by its distinct hourglass shape, a Chemex gives you a rich cup of coffee similar to a French press but without the sediment. However, of all the methods we’ve discussed, this one is perhaps the easiest to get wrong. It will take some practice to brew the perfect cup.
While artisan coffee can be brewed at home within minutes, you might not get a chance to slowly sip your masterpiece at the kitchen table. For those times, it’s nice to have a stash of grab-and-go disposable coffee cups on hand. Comfort Cup® by Chinet® insulated hot cups will keep your home brew hot as you travel to your next meeting. So skip the lines on National Coffee Day and learn to be your own barista.