When I sat down to write this piece about how to start brewing coffee at home the first thing I did was try to pick a title. I realized that the title of my first article, A Good Place To Start, made way more sense for this piece and that I should have named that earlier one something like Crikey! One Barista’s Journey From Nottie To Hottie: Part One Of The Pygott Saga; Espressin’ Myself. But it’s too late for that now. It feels weird to have started this project with such a glaring misstep but it won’t happen again I promise.
So you want to start brewing coffee at home? I think that’s a great idea! When I train people on dialing in espresso I emphasize the importance of creating a personal connection with the coffee they’re drinking. Taking the time to brew and taste a variety of coffees at home will strengthen your palette which is going to help you enjoy your coffee even more in the future. It’s exponential growth baby! Plus it’s really FUN!
But, if you’re like me and all new experiences scare you, it can be hard to know where to start. In this post I’ll outline the first things you’ll need and why.
Step One: Brewing Device
I can see how this might seem like an obvious first step. If you want to brew coffee you need a coffee brewer. I get it. But there are so many options out there for you to choose from it can get pretty overwhelming. I have four different devices at home and about twenty others I like to sit and stare at pictures of while scratching lottery tickets. But here’s two I recommend above most others for when you’re just starting out:
Step Two: Kettle
Unless you’re making cold brew, which you definitely should be doing, you’re going to need a hot water source. It’s true you could always boil your water in a pot on the stove (I have done this several times) but, when it comes to pouring, it’s nice to have something with a little more finesse. There are two questions to ask yourself here: “stovetop or electric” and “gooseneck or traditional.” There’s a comfort in being able to turn on an electric kettle knowing you won’t need to watch it but you’ll save money with a stovetop. Traditional kettles are great for immersion methods like the french press if you’re careful but gooseneck kettles give you more control for a little more cost. Personally, for people who are starting out, I recommend a stovetop gooseneck kettle like the Fellow Stagg. It gives you the control needed for pour over coffee without the price tag of its electric counterpart and dang it, it looks NICE.
Step Three: Scale
This is going to be your new best friend. Any kitchen scale will do but something that can measure to .1 decimals like the AWS 2kg scale is preferred. As you experiment with new coffees and styles of brewing I recommend trying out different recipes. Whether they’re from a roaster or a professional barista you’ll usually be called to measure the weight of your coffee and water. This is because measuring weight provides a greater degree of Consistency and accuracy than measuring volume. Usually, when I hear calls for Consistency I imagine soulless, fully-automated production lines churning out perfectly replicated products of equal, characterless value. But that’s not what’s happening here! You have a soul! You have a ton of character. You just want to make sure your coffee tastes as good as possible. And it will!
Step Four: Grinder
There are two big reasons to start grinding your own coffee: coffee starts losing gasses and flavour as soon as its ground so only grinding what you need at a time is ideal and giving yourself the ability to play with different grind sizes is a game-changer. I debated whether this should go before or after the scale. Really they’re both incredibly important but nine times out of ten wherever you’re buying coffee from will be able to grind it for you but they won’t be willing to come to your house and tell you how much your coffee weighs. If you do find a barista who is willing to follow you to your house they are stalking you and you need to TEXT A FRIEND. When it comes to buying a grinder with a rotating blade vs a burr grinder, for me, it comes back to Consistency. A burr grinder like the Baratza Encore will give you a lot more control and Consistency than trying to time yourself with a blade grinder. For a smaller, more economical option you should consider a handgrinder like the Hario Slim Plus. It takes a little longer but you can grind coffee for one person in the time it takes water to heat up and you might even get a little *ripped.*
And now you should be all set to start brewing at home; the only thing you need now is coffee. Well, if I may, let me make a couple of recommendations.
If you’re brewing with a french press I love our Fair Trade Organic Mexican. This profile is generally less acidic and more chocolatey than our other medium roasts and does well with the fuller body offered by a french press.
If you’re brewing pour over I recommend the Fair Trade Organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe for its lighter body and citrusy notes. But also the Tanzanian Peaberry really shines here. I’m drinking some right now and it’s amazing.
Thanks for reading! Whether this post has inspired you to start brewing at home or you’re an experienced home brewer I’d love to hear about it! Post your home brewing triumphs on Instagram and tag me or Java Blend in it! I will give you as many words of praise and encouragement as you need. I think you’re great.