Coffee gets most of us through our day. In fact, a study showed 64% of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee daily [2016 Gallop poll]. They don’t just drink one cup either, they average 2.7 cups of coffee per day or just over 24oz (at 9oz per cup). However, 2020 has presented the world with some unique challenges, keeping many of us home more than usual.
Don’t worry - we’ll give you 5 incredible ways to make your home brewed coffee better than ever. In fact, we’ll help you make it so good, we’ll keep you home-brewing for good.
Hi! Welcome to Relax & Brew Coffee.
We deliver fresh roasted, globally-sourced, artisan quality coffee to your door! We keep your home or office stocked - saving you trips to the store, all while giving you better, fresher coffee.
Grind your coffee beans fresh
Pre-ground coffee is not inherently bad so I will start with that. But, grinding your beans at home can immensely improve your home-brewing experience. Whether you buy your beans at the grocery store (we’ll address that later), a specialty shop, or online - pre-ground beans can hide poor quality, and rob you of the fresh coffee smell percolating through your home in the morning.
Purchasing a nice at-home grinder is pure gold. I tend to prefer an electronic grinder because of the consistency and ability to quickly grind enough beans for a full carafe (my wife likes coffee too). Manual grinders can do an incredible job as well in smaller quantities but tend to be much quieter so those with sleeping roommates may want to consider them.
These are all conical burr grinders. Don’t get a blade grinder - you won’t like the result. They chop the beans as opposed to grinding it. They’re inconsistent in sizing, quantity and generally do a terrible job.
Most at home burr grinders are conical burr as opposed to flat burr. This isn’t always the case but it is typically the case and canonical burr tends to be better for brewed coffee as opposed to espresso - this doesn’t mean it is incapable of grinding espresso - but likely not the first in like for a commercial espresso grinder.
Here are a few models that I have used, or have recommended to me that strike a great balance between price and performance for the home. Note that this doesn’t mean cheap - they’re all and investment but you get what you pay for.
Electric Coffee Grinders
Manual Coffee Grinders
The Smart Grinder Pro from Breville is what sits on my coffee station counter. It comes in a beautiful black steel finish, but more importantly it grinds consistently and has really granular settings to switch between different coffees and brewing methods.
Use better water
One advantage that many cafes have over home brewing is their water. Typically, they’re using filtered water for their brewed coffee and espresso. While some automatic drip machines have built-in charcoal filters that help to some degree, starting with better water is one of the best ways to end up with better coffee. There are a few ways to skin this one, the lazy way being to use bottled water. This has some serious environmental implications and on top of being expensive. Instead, I would recommend a filtration device. Here is a fancy one that was built specifically for brewing coffee:
You may think it’s overkill for your average home brewer - but they’ve done the math for you. It’s roughly 30% the cost of inexpensive bottled water! It’s extremely cost effective when you compare it to going to the cafe regularly!
Control your temperature
Hotter water extracts flavors from grounds much faster than cold water.
If only it were that simple.
Because hotter water extracts flavor more quickly, it can over-extract flavors within coffee and produce bitter results. On the flip side, cold water takes much longer to extract flavors and can produce muted flavors and under-extracted brews. [Note: This is why you steep cold brew coffee for so long.]
Different brewing methods, and different roasts will dictate what temperature is most ideal for producing the best flavor, however, the general gold standard is between 195 - 205 degrees F. I tend to start at 200 degrees with a new roast and adjust from there.
In order to do this, you need a kettle that controls the temperature of the water. There are many different products on the market that will allow you to do this.
The Stagg EKG from Fellow kicks ass and is my favorite. The EKG+ has some fancy bluetooth features but I didn’t see the need to spend the extra month.
Use better coffee beans
It’s unbelievable how many people settle for mediocre coffee.
You don’t have to, but you have to be an educated buyer. Most grocery stores are receiving coffee from large chain coffee roasters that ship through large distributors. The coffee has sat on warehouse shelves for weeks, maybe months at the distributors, then again at the grocery store distribution center.Then, it sits on the grocery store shelf depending on its popularity.
Even more, it’s typically pre-ground to hide inconsistencies in quality and dark (over) roasted to create consistency over massive batches.
Whew - that’s a lot of reasons why you may have a hard time getting good beans!
What can you do instead?
Shop at small, specialty shops and online retailers where coffee is shipped directly from the roasters to you. Look for single-origin coffee or estate coffee that are traceable to a region and ship as whole-bean coffee so you can see the quality and consistency when you receive it.
Certain retailers (like Relax and Brew) can even provide beans that are roasted and shipped on the same day.
The cost difference is small until you step up to estate-level beans.
One of our most popular beans is our Costa Rican Medium Roast!
Costa Rican Medium Roast Coffee
Story of the Roast A micro-farmed, slightly-sweet coffee dried in the sun of Central America, this medium roast is a smooth drink with notes of sweet apple, raisin, and honey! In our opinion, this is the best coffee from Costa... read more
Find your perfect cup
It can be amazing how much of a difference finding a great cup makes in enjoying your morning coffee. It elevates the sensory experience by letting the warmth through to your hands (without burning), and is wide enough for the aromas to be pushed to your nose.
If you’re on the go, look for a travel mug that is ceramic inside instead of stainless steel. Ceramic won’t add any metallic flavors to your coffee. Check out this cool mug from Fellow - it’s also the perfect size to make a pour-over directly on top of.
Better Coffee at Home
There’s so many more things to learn about making incredible coffee at home, but if you start with these five tips, your cup will improve instantly. It’s all about experimentation and making things work for you, so keep tweaking and tuning until you have the perfect cup that makes you happy.
Check out our single-origin beans to up your game before you go!