Although it is certainly the easiest method to make sure you get your morning caffeine, brewing coffee with an automatic machine just produces a caffeinated beverage that is just, well, average. Don't resign yourself to a life of average coffee. Instead, ditch the machine upgrade your morning coffee ritual to something that will really kickstart your day.
There is something to be said for slowing down. Brewing coffee should be a process. Though most of us enjoy the fact that we can just click a button and suddenly liquid energy is streaming into a mug, there is something about carefully and consciously brewing that cup of java. Among other things, if you spend a little extra time creating your coffee, you will be rewarded by getting to enjoy the most delicious cup of coffee every morning of your life.
Manual brewing involves three key components: The beans, the water temperature, and the steeping time. Controlling and manipulating these factors is what allows you to tweak a cup of coffee specifically to your tastes.
According to the 2012 U.S. Barista champion Katie Carguilo, creating a truly spectacular cup of coffee is like baking - you must treat your kitchen like a laboratory, and in your culinary pursuits, there must be a fascination with experimentation.
How do you grind your beans?
The first variable that you need to tackle is your beans. You must not only buy good quality, freshly roasted beans, but you must grind them with precision. The 2008 winner of the U.S. Barista championship, Stephen Morrissey, insists that "stale-ish coffee off a good grinder is better than fresh beans (within two weeks of the roast date) off a shitty grinder."
So if the professionals are emphasizing that above all the coffee should be a main consideration in your morning cup of joe, maybe you should think about reconsidering all those super-convenient pod machines where the beans have been ground for goodness knows how long.
Water Temperature is Critical.
The second variable that you need to monitor is the water temperature at which you brew your coffee. Most professionals will use a pour method which allows their water to be several degrees hotter than with other methods like a French press or an aero press.
However, as long as you aren't burning your beans with water that is too hot or not extracting enough flavor because your water is too cold, you will be fine. Water temperature is, up to a point, a matter of personal preference.
Timing is Everything.
The last major variable you should consider when crafting the perfect cup of coffee is the timing. Getting the timing right is, unfortunately, a matter of practice. Due to a bunch of science-y reasoning, to extract the optimal flavor from a coffee bean you need to extract the first 19-20 percent of the mass of the coffee bean through the application of hot water.
To do this, you need to spend some time experimenting with the size of your coffee grounds and the speed with which water passes through all the grains. Remember, the finer the grind, the slower the water will move!
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Sure this all sounds complicated and time consuming, but the results are worth it. Once you learn what you're doing, brewing your coffee by hand will consistently create a more delicious cup of coffee than any coffee machine could create for you automatically.
So tomorrow morning, think about it when you wake up. You could flick that button and have a cup of coffee, or you could spend the time meditating over the transformation of coffee beans into a morning elixir personalized to you tastes. What will your choice be?