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How to Brew a Great Cup of Coffee Without Breaking the Bank

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Brewing a great cup of coffee is not as hard as some may think.  So many of us have settled for sub-par coffee at home for years, reserving the “good” beverage for those high priced visits to the local roasterie, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  With a little understanding of the elements that go into a delicious cup of joe, the basic equipment needed, and the brew process anyone can make that amazing cup of coffee for which they long in the comfort of their own home.

The Beans

If you visit your local grocery store you will see a myriad of brands, styles, and flavors of beans.  From the generic pre-ground to the expensive whole bean varieties, picking one can be a daunting task.  They key to choosing the right beans to make that delicious coffee you want is threefold.  First, and most importantly, the fresher the beans, the better the resulting beverage will be.  If you have a local roaster, that is your best bet for fresh beans.  Most of the coffee on the shelf of your local grocery store is more than likely too old to get the flavor you want. 

Second, never, EVER, buy pre-ground beans.  The moment you grind the beans the flavor profile begins waning, so you want to brew it as soon as possible after grinding. 

Finally, don’t buy more beans than you can drink in two weeks, and store it in an air tight container.  This way you can ensure that your beans will be fresh, delicious, and full of that caffeinated goodness that makes the heart and soul soar.

Plain Old H2O

The second essential element to a great cup of coffee is water.  Since water makes up the base for the coffee, the quality of the water plays a very big role in how your coffee will taste.  If you want a great cup of joe use water that is filtered, but not distilled.  If you want good body and flavor in your cup of joe, you need some mineral content for the deliciousness to bind to.  Distilled water doesn’t have the minerals to make the magic of brewing happen. 

Necessary Equipment

The single most important piece of equipment in making coffee is surprisingly NOT the coffee maker itself, but rather the grinder.  Getting a consistent grind helps reduce the bitterness that makes coffee unpleasant.  The best possible way to get a consistent grind is to go to your counter or cupboard, take out the blade grinder, and throw it in the trash.  For making delicious beverages, blade grinders are completely worthless.  What you want, dare I say need, is a burr grinder.  They come in a whole range of prices, but if you are going to spend money on  brewing equipment, this is where you want to spend it.  A good quality burr grinder will provide you with years of perfectly ground beans and is well worth the investment. 

The second piece of equipment is a vessel or machine in which to brew.  My go to brew method is the Clever Coffee Dripper which takes a Melitta #4 filter.  This is an inexpensive and easy way to brew a magnificent cup of coffee.  I use mine every day, and when I brew a cup for friends, they can’t believe how easy it is to use and how much flavor the resulting coffee is. 

The third piece of equipment is a kettle to heat your water in.  I use an electric kettle, but you can easily use a tea kettle that you heat on your stove.

The last piece of equipment is a kitchen scale to weigh out your beans and water.  This is important because the water to bean ratio is very important to get that flavorful cup of coffee.  Make sure you get one that allows you to weigh according to the metric system.

Brewing It

Now that we know what we need, it’s time to look at what to do.  It only takes ten easy steps to brewing using the Clever Dripper.  Follow these steps and you won’t be disappointed with the results.

  1. Take your filter and fold over the crimped edge of the filter.  This will help it sit in the Clever Coffee Dripper.
  2. Preheat all the equipment that you will use to brew your coffee (The Clever Dripper, filter, mug, etc.).  This will keep the water at the right temperature throughout the process.  It will also clean the filter so that it doesn’t have that “paper” flavor.
  3. Weigh out 25 grams of fresh coffee beans.
  4. Bring water to just off boil, approximately 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit).
  5. Grind coffee slightly finer than regular filter coffee.
  6. Place the ground in the bottom of the clever (in the filter), and place the whole thing on your scale and zero it out.
  7. Pour 400 grams of water over the grounds.
  8. Brew for 3:00, gently stirring the slurry of grounds and water about half way through.
  9. Place the Clever Coffee dripper on the mug so that the coffee begins to drain through into the mug.
  10. 10.Sit back, relax, and enjoy the best cup of coffee you have ever made at home.

Clever Coffee Dripper

Clever Coffee Dripper (L)
Amazon Price: $18.85 $16.41 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 30, 2014)
See! It's not so expensive!

Mellitta #4 Filter

Electric Kettle

Burr Grinder

Baratza Encore - Conical Burr Coffee Grinder (with Bin)
Amazon Price: $229.00 $129.00 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 30, 2014)
This is the one I use. Yes, it's expensive, but remember, it's the most important piece of coffee brewing equipment you can own.


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