How to make coffee: the best coffee beans you can find; a grinder; a brewing device; and pure, cold water. Here is a guide for creating a perfect cup of coffee right at home.
Many people buy their coffee from the grocery store. Most selections are drinkable. However, the issue with grocery store coffee — even national brands — is freshness. Once roasted, any coffee’s quality decreases with time, like fresh baked bread. An incredible cup of coffee demands not only fresh, but high quality beans. Coffee shops that roast, or roaster-only operations have the freshest coffee. Find a local shop/roaster, or search online.
Coffee purchased from these retailers will consist of specialty Arabica beans that meet very high standards of both quality and growing conditions. “Specialty” is an actual grade of coffee – the highest. Beans that meet this standard have almost no noticeable defects.
The person roasting is an artisan, a member of the Roaster’s Guild, which is part of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA). (The SCAA is a trade association that promotes excellence in the specialty coffee industry through education and training.) To him or her each pound is precious and their survival relies on your satisfaction. Roasting is done in small batches and the fresh coffee is shipped directly to your home. Air, light, and nearby food odors are coffee’s arch enemies, so use air-tight storage and whole beans will maintain freshness about 2-4 weeks; ground coffee about 2 weeks.
A little more about coffee. Arabica coffee is grown in countries on or near the equator — including the U.S. (Hawaii). Central, South America and the Caribbean also produce coffee in this hemisphere. African, Arabian, Asian, and Indonesian countries produce in the eastern hemisphere. The coffee for you will depend on the flavor profile that suits your taste. Do you prefer a bright, acidic Costa Rican with a quick finish, or a heavy yet smooth Sumatran that lingers on your tongue? Lighter roasts, or dark? Coffee from a specific country is called single origin; when coffees from different countries and with different flavor profiles are mixed they are called blends. Thus, blends often have names that don’t always reflect their origin, like Breakfast Blend, or Uncle Ben’s Blend.
Unless your palette has traveled the coffee world there are likely many countries whose coffee you have yet to try. Map out your coffee travels. Perhaps start with the office favorite, Columbian, and then expand to a pleasant, fruity Ethiopian. Experience the difference between a Guatemalan and a Nicaraguan. Or a Kenyan and a Tanzanian.