When I was running the coffee shop, I would have, on occasion, someone come in that had purchased a bag of coffee and say something to the effect of “how come the coffee tastes so good here but I cannot get to taste this way at home”?
I would then ask them to tell me how they brewed the coffee and what steps did they use during the brewing process. Invariably they would be missing some if not all of the essential steps that need to be taken in order to get a consistent great cup of coffee every time and so it is for this reason that I am going to give you what I think is the essential coffee equipment list for making great coffee at home or even on the road.
Keep in mind that this list is for the true purist and you can apply some or all of these steps to get a better cup of coffee then if you used none of this. Of course, ideally you would use all of them but I have found that many people don’t have the time during a busy work week to go through these steps but if you do or perhaps even on the weekend then I think you will be amazed at the difference it will make.
My essential coffee brewing equipment list:
But Fresh and Locally Roasted Coffee
It all starts here! Nothing from this point on will make any difference if you don’t start with fresh whole bean coffee that has been recently roasted.. I would recommend that you get a single origin coffee from your local roaster or a subscription service like Bean Box and nothing that is too different tasting, like Ethiopia or Kenya, at least at the beginning. You can expand your horizons on subsequent bags but try and start with something like a Brazil or Costa Rica as they have a broad appeal and are enjoyed by most people. You can see my other post if you want more details on this subject
Everything in coffee is about coffee to water ratio so having a scale that can accurately measure this is invaluable and thankfully not that expensive. I usually tell people to start with a 15 to 1 ratio of water to coffee and then tell them to adjust it from there. For example, if the coffee is too strong then just increase the water to say 17 to 1 ratio and the reverse is true as well
Kettle with a Temperature Gauge
The next piece of equipment that you are going to need is a kettle but not just any type of one. It should be one that has a goose neck and preferably with an electronic temperature control such as the Bonavita Variable Temperature Kettle ( found on Amazon) instead of a stick thermometer which can be found on Amazon.
The reason why you should get one that is electronic is because then you can set the maximum temperature you want the water to get to. This is important because for out purposes you do not want the water to be anywhere between 195 and 205. I always go with about 202 as the temperature will naturally decrease as you are brewing your coffee. This is also below the water boiling point which you want to avoid because if you use boiling water you will burn your coffee when brewing.
As far as the reasoning for the goose neck, this is because you will have a lot more control on how you pour your water over your coffee which may not be as important if you are using a French Press but is vital to a good brew if you are using a V60 or Chemex.
You will need a timer in order to do this correctly however any type of time will do whether is your phone or a dedicated one. The reason for this is because you only want to brew your coffee for 4 minutes. If you brew it any sooner you increase the chance of under extracting the coffee and the reverse is true, if you let it brew longer then you increase the likely hood of over extracting the coffee.
You will also need it because for the first 30 second you are going to add just enough water to allow the coffee to bloom.. What does bloom mean you might be asking? With fresh roasted coffee the bloom is the part of the coffee brewing process in which the gasses from the coffee are released as the water hits the grinds. It causes the grinds to grow & rise ….well.. like a bloom. You can usually tell how fresh a coffee is depending how much (or how little) a coffee does this.
This is was probably one of the most asked questions I got at the roastery. And if there is one piece of equipment you don’t want to save money on its your grinder because if you grind your coffee improperly then you will never get a consistent brew and your coffee will taste differently each time.
Now there are essentially 2 types of grinders out there:
Blade Grinder – This is usually the less expensive of the 2 types and you can recognize it by the single blade that rotates like a helicopter blade. Its what a lot of people use for grinding herbs but as for using it to grind coffee? I would tell you just too toss it over your shoulder. The reason being is that when you used this type of grinder for coffee you will get a very uneven grind where you will have some large pieces and small pieces and you will end up with a uneven brew as some beans will over extracted and some under.
Burr Grinder – This is the type you want to get.. Now within in field there are different varieties but that goes beyond the scope of this article but you can read more about it on my coffee grinder post. Suffice to say do yourself and your coffee a favor and get a burr grinder. The burr grinder will grind your coffee beans evenly and this will produce a much better brew.
You can get a manual or a electric . I have both and let me just tell you, although it may be tempting to get the manual as its much cheaper but your arm will thank you over time when all you have to do is press a button to get the same result.
This is the most often overlooked variable when it comes to coffee but yet one of the most important. Here in Florida we have some really bad water compared to most of the US due to a variety of reasons and therefore, for coffee purposes, w.need to use a filter in or to remove many of the impurities that will affect the taste of the coffee.
According to the The SCA ( Specialty Coffee Association) water brewing guidelines state that water should be clean, odor-free, clear with no chlorine. Therefore you can use something like the BRITA filter ( from Amazon) for simplicity sake or if you want to go all out you can get a Berkey Water Filtration system both of which can be found on Amazon if you cannot find one locally.
Believe it or not the right coffee cup or mug can make or break your coffee. And it would be a shame to have gotten to this point in the brewing process and to lose some flavor simply due to using the right type of drinking cup. Therefore all though there are many types of cup made of different materials such as Plastic, Stainless Steel and double walled, your best option is to go with a ceramic cup as ceramic is neutral or that is to say it does not absorb or give flavors to your cup of and this way your coffee will taste just the way it should.
Brewing Vessel – For the purposes of keeping it simple I am going to recommend that you use a French Press as it’s the most forgiving and the easiest brewing method that will get you started.
Afterwards you can always try brewing coffee in a V60, Chemex or Clever Dripper. I would recommend that you get one made of glass as it best material to use. You can look at the Bodums on Amazon or look for one or something similar locally.
Putting it all together:
Ok.. lets brew a cup of coffee. Here is what you should do:
- Get your fresh roasted coffee and your going to use as I mentioned a 15 to 1 ratio, so for a 12oz of coffee, measure out 12grams of coffee
- Since we will be using a French Press we are going to want to have course grind so break out burr grinder and grind those 12 grams of coffee coarse
- Heat up 180grams (180ml) of water and set the temperature maximum to 205 degrees
- While the water is heating up, take your freshly ground coffee and put into the French Press and we will start the brewing process. Put in just enough water to cover the grounds maybe a little more, generally about 10% of the total water and watch the coffee bloom for about 30 seconds and then pour in the rest of your water.
- Once you get to 4 minutes brewing time then put the top on the French press and slowly plunge until it stops..
- Pour into your ceramic cup and enjoy!
And that’s it! Simple! And now you have a wonderfully prepared coffee so sip and enjoy! You can, if you want, pour whatever you does get into the ceramic mug into a decanter type container.. This will prevent the possibility of the coffee continuing to brew.
Hope this post was helpful to you and that you brew the best cup of coffee every day! Don’t forget to check back often and read our other blog posts for more tips on coffee.