How to Make Good Coffee

Every morning when I wake, the first thing I do is start my coffee maker. That first cup of coffee in the morning is the best. It gives you the jolt you need to become alert.

Over the years I have toyed with various types of coffee and methods of making the beverage. At some point I am going to try the French press method because from everything I hear, coffee made with one of those is the best tasting coffee you will ever have.

I bought a coffee grinder several years ago and started buying whole beans for a time, but honestly, I didn’t really detect much difference between freshly ground coffee and the pre-ground kind. If you are a coffee connoisseur, you will I am sure.

Currently I am in the market to buy a new coffee maker for a rental property of mine. Actually, I am going to replace the old one in the property with my current one, and buy the new and improved model for myself.

Before you decide on a coffee maker, there are some things you need to consider to get the best cup of coffee. Here is how to make good coffee.

Quality of the Water

Since coffee at its core is flavored water, garbage in, garbage out. Most people probably fill their coffee makers from the tap before brewing. Depending on where you live, you might not have an issue with the taste. I for one can hardly ever detect a bad taste in tap water in my area, but if you live in other areas (Florida comes to mind), you can definitely taste it.

Some types of coffee makers such as the Keurig machines have a filter inside the water compartment that will remove some the bad taste from tap water, however, those types of charcoal filters do not remove all of the harmful minerals. If you are using that type of filter alone, you are only removing the chlorine which is what gives tap water a bad taste to some.

Your best bet is to double up. If your coffee maker has a built-in activated carbon filter, great, but if you want the best cup of coffee, you should be using bottled spring water, or bottled purified water as  the next best choice.

If you do not know the difference between the two, in short, if it is labeled as spring water, it must have come directly from the source of the spring. If it is labeled as purified, it was probably taken from the tap water of a municipality and put through a purification process to remove not only the chlorine but other harmful elements like fluoride. Both are better options than water straight out of the tap.

Type of Coffee

If you are a serious coffee drinker, then you need to focus on the type of coffee bean you buy. Coffee experts swear by whole beans ground up fresh no more than a week in advance because once the bean is opened, it loses its flavor quickly. Some even ground the beans every morning. For the average person just trying to wake up and get moving, that is not really practical. I certainly am not going to do that every day even though it only takes seconds.

Experts advise that if you want to get the best flavor from coffee, buy enough whole beans for a week or two. It is ok to freeze beans in an airtight bag if you will not be using them for more than a week.

However, here is the practical advice on this matter. You have no idea how long those whole beans took to get to the store shelf or how long they have been sitting there, so to obsess over that seems trivial to me.

Of course, you could buy all of your coffee from a coffee specialty store that guarantees freshness dates, but for most people that is not practical.

If you choose to grind the whole beans, here is some advice. Do not select the fine option on the coffee grinder for a couple of reasons. First, if coffee is ground too fine it may clog the filter and not allow the water to filter into the carafe.

Second too fine or too course of a grind will not extract the optimum flavor of the coffee. It is best to choose the medium selection on the grinder.

So when it comes to coffee, it is simply a matter of preference. I tend to stick with certain breakfast blends already ground up, but I do not obsess over it. My coffee grinder is mostly used for grinding flax seeds into mill now.

Proportion of Coffee to Water

When it comes to brewing coffee, be sure to follow the recommended guidelines on the coffee. They are there for a reason.

A lot of commercial type coffee makers add about 2 tablespoons for each 6 ounces of water. That makes really strong coffee, the kind you find in Starbucks.

Most coffee makers have a 12 cup limit and recommend that you use no more than 15 tablespoons of ground coffee in the filter. If you go over that limit, the water is likely to back up causing you to get a mixture of coffee grinds in your carafe as the water overflows its filter.

Going the Single Cup Keurig Method

How to Make Good CoffeeAs I mentioned, I also have a Keurig single cup machine. Someone gave it to me as a gift last year and I use it sometimes during the day, but hardly even to start the morning.

These machines make a great cup of coffee. If you like a strong cup, go this route and choose one of the smaller cup options when filtering it.

The one piece of advice I would give you if you like to use this type of machine is to buy the cup adaptors that use a paper filter inside. Those little things really do work well. Yes, it takes a little longer but you will save a ton of money over buying the prepackaged cups from Keurig or other manufacturers.

Best Options for Brewing Coffee

How to Make Good Coffee

I have narrowed down my choices for my next coffee maker to the following choices. All brew 12 cups and some have a separate hot water dispenser which I am considering given that I also drink green tea in the morning.

All have a 2 hour shut off, pause and serve while it is still brewing which is essentially in my opinion. One feature that I do not like are the built in filters. They are supposed to be more environmentally friendly allowing you to pass on the paper filters, however, like so much in the environmental movement, the law of unintended consequences applies. I find that I use a lot of water trying to clean that built-in filter to remove the old coffee grinds each morning.

If you do go the paper filter route, skip the white ones. Those are bleached so if you want a purer cup of coffee, stick with the brown ones.

Finally, the only type of coffee maker that I recommend you do not purchase is one with a metal carafe. Its actually called a thermal carafe. The heating element immediately shuts off after brewing relying on the metal carafe to maintain the heat. However, after an hour, it is lukewarm at best.

Mr. Coffee BVMC-SJX33GT

12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker

This is a basic coffee maker and for most people, this will more than suffice. It has very good ratings.

  • Removable filter basket
  • Brewing pause 'n serve l
  • Cleaning cycle
  • 2-Hour auto shut-off keeps
Mr. Coffee BVMC-SJX33GT 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker, Chrome
Amazon Price: $54.99 $34.67 Buy Now
(price as of Apr 11, 2016)

Hamilton Beach 48464 Brewstation Summit

12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker

I am considering buying one of these with no carafe. It still brews up to 12 cups, however, you just stick your coffee mug under it and press a lever and it pours on demand like a soda dispenser.

  • Insulated inner tank and no carafe
  • Dispenses one cup at a time
  • Brews regular, iced coffee or small-batch options
  • Removable water tank
  • Customizable auto shut-off

Hamilton Beach 49983 2-Way FlexBrew Coffeemaker

I am strongly considering this model because it brews coffee and dispenses hot water for tea or hot cocoa. This would be ideal if you have a lot of people in your household. Some members of my extended family will only drink instant coffee for some unknown reason.

  • Makes single cup or a full pot
  • Compatible with K-Cup Packs
  • Varying brew settings
  • Programmable with 2 hour automatic shutoff
Hamilton Beach 49983 2-Way FlexBrew Coffeemaker
Amazon Price: $99.99 $55.43 Buy Now
(price as of Apr 11, 2016)

Cuisinart CHW-12 Programmable Coffeemaker


Similar to the previous model, this one brews coffee or dispenses hot water. It is toss up between the two, however, I am leaning toward the Hamilton Beach because that is the brand of my blender and it has performed well.
  • Fully automatic, self-clean function
  • 1-4 cup setting
  • Brew Pause feature
  • Adjustable carafe temperature control (low, medium,high),
  • Adjustable auto-shutoff
  • Hot water system for tea or cocoa
  • 12-cup glass carafe