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Best Coffee: Learn How To Make It At Home

First Posted: 02/21/2012 11:00 am Updated: 08/31/2012 10:48 am

Coffee just isn’t what it used to be. It’s better. With the transition of coffee brewers to artful baristas, we no longer have to put up with homemade watery -- or worse, burnt -- coffee. We can easily go to our local espresso bar to get our caffeine fix. But the truth is, this can quickly become a pricey habit. A cup of drip coffee ranges from 1-3 dollars -- and many of us have more than just one cup a day. This means that your caffeine habit can cost you close to $60 a month, and $720 a year. If you're the kind who opts for a stronger fix, one that's espresso based, you can nearly double that amount.

While there's a certain amount of enjoyment from receiving our lattes with a bit of art on top (leaf or heart anyone?), you can easily enjoy the same great coffee experience within your own kitchen -- you just need to know a couple of things about the science of making coffee -- and which equipment will give you the result you're looking for. (You can even learn how to make your own latte art at home.)

There are a couple of basics to keep in mind:

  • The recommended ratio of coffee to water is 2 tablespoons to 6 oz. of water (though if you like it a little stronger or weaker, you can adjust the amount accordingly).

  • An all too important and overlooked element of making the perfect cup is the temperature of the water. Optimal temperature for coffee and espresso is 195-205 degrees. This temperature extracts the aroma and flavors we all love, while leaving the acidity behind.

  • When steeping coffee, allow 4-5 minutes for the best tasting cup.

  • Be sure to use the right type of grains for the method you are using, and always opt for grinding your own beans for the best result. Coffee grinders are an integral investiment in getting that umtimate cup of joe.

If you want the perfect cup, without too much effort:

  • The French press is your method of choice. And the best part: the equipment is completely affordable. The way the press works is that you combine the coffee grounds and hot water, and after the appropriate amount of steeping time has passed, you push down the coffee with the attached filter. Using coarser grains is recommended so that sediment does not float into your brew.

Looking for that ultimate cup of coffee while living out your dream of being a scientist:

  • The vacuum coffee pot is the right fit for you. With the vacuum, you get the same great taste as the French press provides, but you're guaranteed that no coffee sediment will get into your cup. Now, don't be intimidated by the look of it, this piece of equipment is actually pretty simple to use. You add water to the bottom carafe and medium ground coffee to the upper bulb -- there is a tube that connects the two. When you place the vacuum on the burner, the water filters into the upper chamber through the tube and brews the coffee. Remove the vacuum from the heat and once it cools slightly, the coffee drains into the bottom carafe and is ready to be served.

If you need a jolt of caffeine to get you going in the mornings:

  • Your best choice is espresso (macchiatos, cappuccinos and lattes, too) since it has a higher amount of caffeine per ounce. Espresso is made by forcing hot water through packed, finely ground coffee. Machine prices vary from reasonable to not so reasonable, but if you perfect the art of pulling an espresso (watch the video below) you can make a perfect cup with whatever equipment you have in front of you. If you feel intimidated by the precise art of espresso making, the single serving coffee makers like Nespresso are a pretty good option too.

How do you achieve your ultimate cup of joe? Leave a comment below!

WATCH: How To Make A Perfect Espresso

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Filed by Julie R. Thomson  |