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How to Brew Perfect Coffee to Save Money
It’s commonly cited financial advice to create your own coffee drinks at home to save money.
However, many people resist – not because they don’t want to spend less but because they simply can’t make good coffee at home.
They’re frustrated with subpar attempts that turn out bitter or weak or just plain odd tasting. It’s time to rescue your coffee dollars by learning how to brew perfect coffee to save money.
Before you begin, it’s important to acknowledge 3 inherent things about brewing the perfect cup of joe:
1.) Delicious coffee is a precise ratio of water to coffee. And herein lies the main reason people struggle.
Similar to baking, coffee brewing is an exact science. If you’re “eyeballing” your measurements, it will be entirely hit and miss on flavorful results.
To complicate things further, every coffee brand and roast, plus every coffee maker is different. This means the key to it all is figuring out your exact measurements to work with your favorite coffee and your specific coffee maker.
2.) Coffee is not just coffee.
Another major hurdle is that coffee is complex. There are countless varieties, origins, brands, blends, and roasts.
If you’re not consistently buying the same exact coffee or you’re not buying the right variety for your taste buds, you’re going to struggle to make your ideal cup of joe.
3.) Give yourself time and a lot of attempts to get it right.
Trial and error is a big part of perfect coffee creation. Expect to go through numerous attempts.
Practice in very small batches (about 2-3 cups) at a time.
You’ll use less product and water that way. Don’t be afraid to dump poor results down the sink drain and start over.
Now that you know why you’ve struggled, let’s talk about how to get it right:
1.) Clean everything very well.
All components of your coffee pot need to be residue-free.
Leftovers from old brews create a bitter taste. Rinse the parts of your coffee maker well with warm water.
If you struggle to get old coffee from the bottom of your glass coffee pot, place a few ice cubes in it, along with some lemon slices (lemon juice can suffice) and a sprinkle of salt.
Holding the pot securely, swirl the ice, lemon, and salt to loosen burned-on coffee residue. Rinse well in warm water.
2.) The standard recommended water to coffee ratio is 1-2 tablespoons of coffee grounds to every 6 ounces of water.
This is where to start your practice brews. It’s critical to measure precisely on each attempt. Again, do not “eyeball” your amounts.
Adjust a little at a time, keeping the water consistent and only altering the amount of coffee grounds.
3.) Time and heat of brewing.
Automatic coffee pots are designed to brew for the correct amount of time and at a specific heat.
Even with these, however, don’t be too quick to pour yourself a cup.
Allow the cycle to fully finish, and the coffee to mingle in the pot for 2-3 minutes.
With manual coffee makers, you don’t have the built-in help with timing it or controlling the temperature.
That means that you’ll need to play with the time and temperature until you get it just right.
Direct contact methods, such as a French press, typically need about 2-4 minutes of brew time. For the water, adding very hot but not boiling water helps avoid over brewing.
To get water that is hot enough, heat to boiling and then allow to cool for a 60-90 seconds before using.
4.) Picking your perfect beans.
All coffee has a different flavor.
Buy very small bags of various brands and styles from a coffee purveyor or the specialty coffee section in your local store.
Many grocers offer the option to fill coffee bags yourself from a selection. Alternatively, you can buy various coffees at the dollar store as you’re just testing to narrow down what roasts and origins taste best to you.
These two options are by far one of the cheapest ways to try multiple varieties. As you choose, there are some general guidelines to get you started.
Espresso coffee is typically made of medium roast beans.
Lighter roasts are smoother, less bitter, more acidic and yield more caffeine than darker roasts.
Dark roasts are bolder, more bitter, less acidic and yield less caffeine than lighter roasts. Furthermore, some coffee makers work best with specific grinds of coffee so research yours.
5.) Keep your coffee fresh.
Whether you invest in a grinder and freshly grind your beans or you buy already ground, freshness matters.
It starts at the store first, if you don’t drink a lot of coffee, buy yours in small batches. Then, it continues at home.
Keep your coffee in an airtight container that doesn’t allow any light or air to enter.
As you work on making your perfect brew, you may temporarily feel that you’re spending a lot on coffee. But as you enjoy your caffeine-fueled practice attempts, know that – in the long run – you’ll be saving a lot of money over buying your coffee out.