7 Valuable Steps to Brewing Coffee That Will Make You an Expert

7 valuable steps to brewing coffee
Guest post by Shaun Pullen

Making coffee is serious business, woe to the Keurig pods.

The search for great coffee has become an American obsession. It’s right up there with NASCAR and colluding with Russians. Connoisseurs of the elixir of life can now please their discerning palates at boutique coffee emporiums stretching from Seattle to Key West.

However, a fierce debate rages on regarding the best way to brew one’s coffee at home. Some swear by the vacuum process while others pledge their fealty to the French Press or the pour over. Brand names like Chemex, Aeropress, and Hario are now tossed around as freely as Frisbees.

IF YOU’RE GOING TO MAKE YOUR COFFEE,
THE FIRST DECISION IS HOW YOU’RE GOING TO MAKE IT.

Making coffee is serious business, and woe to the neophyte who says, “I think those Keurig pods are pretty good.” Blasphemer!

So, if you want to impress the Caffeine Cognoscenti, you may want to follow these seven easy steps to make one helluva good cup o’ Joe.

coffee brewing steps

STEP #1: FUNNY, YOU DON’T LOOK BREWISH

If you’re going to make your coffee, the first decision is how you’re going to make it. Many people who are sticklers for great coffee swear by the pour-over method and swear even more when they run out of filters.

So, if you find automatic coffee makers an abomination and a tool of Satan, get yourself a good Hario V60. Hario in Japanese means “King of Glass.” So don’t throw any stones at it. This Japanese-made pour-over kit contains a heat-resistant glass coffee pot that’s microwavable. It holds 4 cups and is easy to use.

And best of all, it makes a killer cuppa.

coffee brewing steps

STEP #2: GRINDER FINDER

What? You use pre-ground coffee! That’s a serious misdemeanor in Eugene or Portland, OR. According to the Coffee Nostra, coffee must be ground every time you make coffee. So, a grinder is de rigueur (which is a French phrase for “super cool”).

A GOOD GRIND CAN BE LIKE YOUR FRIENDS; SOME ARE COARSE, AND OTHERS ARE VERY FINE.

People in the know love the Burr coffee grinder and not just because of Aaron Burr, who killed Hamilton, invented it. His invention is making a killing, I know, ironic. The Burr can grind 17 different ways (insert joke here), so it’s well worth the modest price.

Nate Note: Unlike the blade-type grinders, burr grinders produce a more consistent grind size. Blades always create dust, which makes your coffee taste bitter.

coffee brewing steps

STEP #3: THE BEAN IS BOSS

Okay, you’ve got your coffee maker, your grinder, now comes the hard part.

Back in the day, there were only three kinds of coffee beans, and two of them were found on top of Juan Valdez’s donkey.
Today, at last count, you have 26,341 different types of beans to choose from, some from countries you’ve never heard of before.

So, why whole beans? Could it be because all their essentials oils are locked inside? Yes, I just answered my own question. And make sure they’re freshly roasted.

Okay, where are these precious beans? At a local roaster or a small roaster who sells online. Don’t have one? Then go to GoCoffeeGo and you’ll find a selection of quality beans from several roasters…all in one shopping cart. Or just walk around a trendy neighborhood in your city and sniff around a lot.

coffee brewing steps

STEP #4: SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF

Now that the obsession of brewing the perfect cup of coffee has jeopardized your job and your social life, let’s go full-tilt OCD and talk about water thermometers. Yes, that’s right. Because if your heated water is only 185 degrees (the current temperature in Phoenix), you’re cheating yourself.

Those in the know say that 200 degrees in the gold standard of heatitude. So get that water thermometer out or get yourself the Bonavita Variable Temperature Kettle and impress your friends. If you still have any left.

coffee brewing steps

STEP #5: WATER, WATER, EVERYWHERE

The average human body is about 70% water unless you’re Michael Phelps. Then it’s 98.75%. The same for coffee. That’s why many people think of Michael Phelps when they drink coffee.

THE AVERAGE HUMAN BODY IS ABOUT 70% WATER UNLESS YOU’RE MICHAEL PHELPS.

So it’s important to use filtered water. Not tap water. That will only anger your grind. And angry coffee is yucky coffee. Spring water and filtered water are best. Distilled? Not so much.

coffee brewing steps

STEP #6: BREWING 101

If you aspire to be a great coffee brewer, then there are a few fundamental things you should know. So get out your calculators and take notes.

  • Coffee to Water Ratio
    “Do I really have to know this?” “Will this be on the test?” Hey, stop your bellyaching. This is important stuff. Ideally, the ratio for a great cup is 18 parts water to one part coffee. So, if you’re using 4 cups of water, then… umm… you should be using… uhhh…Math is hard! I prefer the eyeball method.

    Nate Note: I get crazy here and uses a Hario scale to measure the mass of water used. I use a scale because mass offers better consistency from brew to brew than measuring by volume. If you use a ratio of 15:1, it would be 1000 g of water to about 67 g of coffee. Coffee is subjective, so adjust the ratio until you find your preference. Note that you’ll adjust this ratio for various brewing methods.


  • Grind Particle Size
    When it comes to coffee, size matters. A medium fine grind is ideal for most brewing methods. A coarser grind says to the world, “I haven’t a clue about the brew.”…unless you’re using a press pot. So get out that Burr device and figure it out.

  • Water Temperature
    Don’t forget the water should be between 198 and 202 degrees.

coffee brewing steps

STEP #7: THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE STARBUCKS

Gandhi once said, “This lousy coffee tastes like the Ganges! Send it back!”
Coffee is a very personal thing. Start your day with a bad cup of coffee and the whole day is ruined. But a great cup of coffee makes the world seem more tolerable, like a world with fewer Kardashians.

So how do you tell the difference? Well, if you take a sip of java and immediately spit it out and cry “Foul!” that’s a good indication you’ve just tasted bad coffee. Conversely, if you take a sip… smile, say “Ahhh!” and high-five your umbrella stand, then you’ve tasted the delicious stuff.

NO EXCUSE FOR BAD COFFEE

In summary, there’s no excuse for a bad cup of coffee anymore. Just follow the previous seven steps, and nirvana will be awaiting you. Namaste.

Shaun Pullen
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Shaun Pullen

Shaun Pullen is the owner of A Beautiful Taste, which shortens the gap between beginners at home and seasoned baristas behind the bar. His website is meant to be a guide for him and others who are just getting started in this whole new world of coffee.
Shaun Pullen
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