Essential tips and techniques for making a perfect cup of coffee
A handy guide for every step of the process, from buying the beans to heating the water
September is here, and with it comes a feeling of getting down to brass tacks. Like a cool, bracing wind blowing through, the post-summer weeks remind us that there are things to do...and coffee to be made. Sure, New Year's resolutions are fun, but it often feels like fall is the true fresh start — whether you're stocking up on sharpened pencils and fresh notebooks or simply dusting off your favorite fall recipes.
In light of the growing to-do lists and new class schedules and syllabi, we've rounded up all of our coffee intel in one place. Feel free to take notes.
Pick — and store — your beans.
- We're all about strong food foundations here at Food52, and coffee is no exception: Great coffee starts with great beans. We love these varieties from Stumptown to start the day. But we use them as more than just morning pick-me-ups: Here are a bunch of other great uses for your grounds.
- Resist the urge to freeze or refrigerate your coffee: The drastic changes in temperature can rob you of subtle aromas and flavors. Instead, store in pretty, airtight containers, safely set away from heat and humidity. You can also store it in its orginal bag; just make sure it's sealed shut.
- Weigh it out. Different beans have different densities, so a scale is the best way to guard against the crushing disappointment of weak coffee.
Keep things fresh.
- Grind it yourself. While the ease of pre-ground coffee is tempting, the effort of grinding your own is well worth the payoff — both in slight arm muscle toning and a fresher, more flavorful cup. If you really can't see yourself cranking your own, pick up this electric option. Just don't forget to clean it properly when you're done.
- If you want your coffee hot, remember to keep your water temperature below boiling to avoid scorching it.
Choose your method, then master it.
- For warmer days, make your own cold brew — here's how we do it. (We also, sometimes, rely on these handy cold brew bags.) Once you've got your technique down, try making it into a float or a cocktail.
- Whatever your method, make sure you're doing it right. Master your aeropress, get your pourover just right, perfect your Chemex technique, or become a French Press pro. If you're using a filter, rinse it first. You'll get less paper on your palate and more coffee.
- For hot coffee, remember to heat up all your equipment before you brew. Bonus points for a pre-warmed mug.
Now that you have the perfect cup:
- When the coffee's this good, you don't want to dilute it with anything but the best. Make your own coffee creamer and almond milk, and add some tonic or syrups for added flavor and depth.
- Have leftover coffee? You're in luck; it's the perfect secret weapon in the kitchen. Brine your chicken in it. Add it to your cheesecake. The possibilities are endless, especially when you're caffeinated.
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