How to Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee and Common Mistakes to Avoid

Brewing coffee should be taken very seriously, especially if you know that it's one of the things that will get your day going. A hardcore coffee drinker myself, I don't think I could go a day without a few cups of that liquid caffeine running through my system! It's become part of my morning routine and actually turned into a hobby for me-I absolutely love coffee making and trying out different coffee beans from different countries.

While some prefer French press coffee, cold brew coffee or espresso, here's how to make coffee in the simplest way- a fool proof method for the perfect cup of coffee. Although you won't get a latte out of this brewing method, you will end up with a cup of dependably good coffee, and it's actually quite easy if you follow a few simple steps. Break out the coffee machine, grab some coffee beans, and get ready to feel like an at home barista.

1. Buy High Quality, Fresh Coffee Beans

While you're patiently waiting for the coffee machine to give you the OK that it's ready, the last thing you want to do is sip on just an average cup of coffee. The quality of fresh coffee beans makes a huge difference in taste. You can choose your coffee beans a few ways:

  • By roast type- light roast, medium roast, medium dark roast, or dark roast. It's all about your taste preference.
  • Country- you can buy coffee beans from all around the world and they can have different flavor notes, which is determined by the weather, soil, or the variety of plant. Try out different coffee beans to find your favorite.
  • Variety of coffee beans- arabica or robusta.

It's best to buy from a specialty coffee shop, farmer's market, or local store where they carry quality coffee beans. It's also always wise to check out the roast date, which is usually on the bottom of the package. Try and find beans that have been roasted within the last 2-3 weeks for the freshest flavor.

2. Store Coffee Beans Properly 

The best way to store coffee beans is in an airtight container at room temperature and free from humidity. In my kitchen, I have glass containers with lids that I use for my coffee. They look pretty and it keeps all of my coffee organized in my pantry. You can also purchase containers with chalkboard labels so you can simply write down each type of coffee and erase it when you fill it with a new one.

Keep coffee beans out of the refrigerator and freezer since they can easily take on moisture and food odors that float around.

3. Grind Your Own Beans

Nothing beats the convenience of ground coffee and I'll admit that I buy a few bags of ground coffee every so often. However, once coffee beans are ground, they lose their flavor so it's best to grind whole beans at the grocery store or to do it yourself at home right before brewing coffee.

I love my basic blade coffee grinder- it gets the job done and is affordable, but some people prefer a burr grinder. A burr grinder is on the pricey side, but the consistency and grind size will give you a better result when it comes to flavor. Either of these can be found on Amazon or in the kitchen section of many stores.

4. Use Good Water

Sure tap water is easily accessible and free, but who wants to drink a cup of coffee with an acidic or chlorine aftertaste? Tap water can really affect your coffee flavor and maybe even how your day goes (I'm talking from experience here!). Invest in a water filter or bottled water to fill your coffee maker and be sure to avoid using distilled water.

5. Use the Right Coffee to Water Ratio

It can be a struggle to find the right coffee to water ratio, but it all matters on your taste preference. I like coffee with strong, bold flavor so I know to add in an extra tablespoon or two when I'm making my coffee. A good measurement to follow is 1-2 tablespoons of ground coffee for every cup/8 ounces of water.

For multiple cups of coffee, simply multiply the amount needed by the number of cups you'll be making. It's best to use measuring cups at first rather than eyeballing to make sure you're getting the ratio right. Not enough water can make an overly strong cup, while too much can result in a watered-down taste. You can always adjust the amount of coffee or amount of water to suit your preferences.

6. Warm Your Coffee Cup

This is one of my favorite tricks! When you pour hot water or any other type of hot liquid into a cold container, it's obviously going to drop the temperature of the liquid. Try pre-warming you coffee mug during the brewing process.

Fill the mug with really hot tap water and let it sit until the coffee is ready. Dump it out just before pouring in coffee.

Unless, that is, you're planning to make iced coffee. This is also super easy- just make hot coffee and then pour it directly over ice for easy, tasty iced coffee.

7. Clean Equipment 

I'll admit that I forget to do this sometimes, but having clean equipment really helps with the coffee taste. Wash your burr grinder every week or do to get rid of any coffee oils that might build up. Every month, run a vinegar and water solution through your machine to clean it out. If you're going for the pour over method with a chemex or a single serve brewer, those should also be washed every week or so to avoid build-up.

8. Use a Paper Filter

Paper filter vs metal filter, which one is best? Personally, I love paper filters. They're much finer and they do a great job at catching any coffee grinds. You can even reuse them or just simply toss them after each use.

Some metal filters are great, but you do have to clean them thoroughly after each use. Purchasing a metal filter will save you some money, too. Keep in mind that if you are using a metal filter, your coffee will have more of a bold flavor to it since the metal filter cannot catch as many coffee grounds and oils.

9. Make the Coffee!

Brew your pot of coffee! Grind the coffee beans, put them into the filter, make sure you have the desired amount of water in the coffee machine, and press the button. Or, if you're opting for a pour over, pour your boiling water into the brewer containing your filter and beans.

Enjoy a tasty cup of joe to start the day right!

Watch: Facts About Coffee That'll Shock You

This post was originally published on June 21, 2018.