How do you make great coffee?

My friend and I were just enjoying a really excellent java at Starbucks and wondered how come our stuff at home never tastes so good. Now we know good beans plays a huge part of course. How much does the water contribute to it? Also, do real home brew enthusiasts have top notch coffee makers or just what is the trick?

In places where I have bought beans and also bought ready-made coffee (Starbucks and Peet’s), the main difference I’ve noticed is that they make it really, really strong. (I’m assuming you are just talking about regular coffee here, and not anything with espresso in it–that’s another animal.)

Keeping you coffee maker and pot absolutely clean is essential. The oils in coffee can accumulate on surfaces and become rancid quickly, imparting an undesirable taste to your coffee. Buying coffee bean blends (try a few different ones and see which one you like best) and grinding it right at the time of brewing rather than preground coffee also helps with making fresher, better tasting coffee, IMO.

Grind your own beans and roast your own beans. It’s not as hard as it sounds and it really makes a difference. I roast them in a popcorn popper I got on ebay for $20. Link

I find that some tap waters can make coffee taste slightly off. Use bottled spring water for a real fresh taste. Or do what i do: use Water Joe. (Gives it that little extra “kick”:wink: )

This is sort of a cooking thread, so I’ll move it to the appropriately named Cafe Society.

moderator GQ

Coffee Chemistry
Coffee Making Tips

Go to a garage sale and buy a vacuum coffee pot, it has two pots. One fits into the top of the other with a rubber seal. Put fresh ground coffee in the top, it has a glass plug. Bring to a slow boil, when the water in the lower pot rises into the upper chamber, reduce heat and let it settle. Folgers tastes great this way. My sister is a Gevalia freak and she finds a way to come to my house for coffee…

There is a near foolproof way to have fabulous coffee

1: Buying your unground roasted beans whole. Buy quality beans. (IMO) Most major market supertmarket brands like Eight-O’clock etc are fairly good if fresh ground just before use. If you are a real coffee gourmet try some of the more expensive premium blends. Stay away from the cheapest stuff.

2: Keep your beans sealed in a non-refrigerated air tight container

3: Grind them up medium to medium-coarse just before use. Little grinders like the Braun for $ 20. or so are ideal for this. Grind only enough for he immediate use you have planned.

4: Use a French drip cone ( $ 3) and cone filter paper and pour the boiling water (slowly), directly on the ground up beans.

5: Never reheat the coffee - ever

Adjust amount of beans and water to your strength preference

Coffee is near perfect every time this way.

Location is everything for a good brew.

When I am hiking I carry a little spring-loaded strainer. (Originally intended for tea leaves I think.) It weighs all of 20 grams and is about the size of a teaspoon. Five days walk from anywhere it is fantastic to sit on the side of a mountain and relax with a delicious hot mug of steaming coffee.


If you can find one, I highly recommend the Cuisinart “Grind N’ Brew” coffee machine. It makes FANTASTIC coffee. Better than Starbucks. And it’s fully automatic.

The way it works is you pour your whole beans into a reservoir, a nd when the clock timer goes off, it grinds your beans first, then immediately brews the coffee with the freshly ground beans. It also has a fresh water bypass system so that not all the water goes through the grounds.

It’s a fairly expensive coffee maker (around $100), but it’s worth it.