how to make coffee: woman pouring milk into coffee
Coffee Basics

How To Make Coffee: Tips for Brewing the Perfect Cup

how to make coffee: woman pouring milk into coffee

There are millions of ways to enjoy a cup of coffee. From rich, full-bodied flavor to airy, citrus notes, there’s a taste for almost any preference. So why do so many people think coffee tastes bitter or bad? Oftentimes it comes down to people not knowing how to make coffee.

All good coffee starts with great ingredients and proper brewing techniques. By nailing these two aspects, you’re sure to enjoy the perfect brew every time. Here, we’ll show you how to brew coffee the right way. You’ll learn how to make coffee using various methods including pour over tools, coffee machines, and presses.

How To Make Coffee

people learning how to make coffee

There are several tools you can use to make coffee. From an Aeropress and French press to espresso machines and coffee makers, there are tons of options. Here, we’ll show you how to brew using several different techniques.

In a Coffee Maker

One of the most common ways to make coffee is in a coffee maker. Coffee machines vary from basic drip coffee makers with large glass coffee pots to fancy espresso machines that offer steaming capabilities to make dozens of java drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, and cafe au lait. Coffee makers are best for brewing large batches rather than just a single cup — unless you’re using an espresso machine. Follow these easy steps to brew coffee in a coffee maker.

  1. Measure and grind the beans
  2. Add the coffee grounds to the filter
  3. Pour water into the machine and hit the start button. For espresso machines, you can choose from different drinks and steam milk as needed.
  4. Wait for the machine to finish brewing and enjoy!

With a Pour Over Tool

If you love silky and acidic tasting notes, try making pour over coffee. These coffees are known for their bright flavor profiles full of citrus and floral hints. To brew this java, you’ll need a Chemex or a similar pour over tool. Just follow the easy instructions here for a vibrant and light coffee experience.

  1. Grind the beans to medium coarseness (after all, fresh coffee tastes best!). You’ll want to use around 1 gram of coffee for every 16 ml of water.
  2. Rinse the paper filter by pouring hot water over the filter until it is soaked. Dump the water out of the carafe.
  3. Add the coffee grounds to the filter.
  4. Pour water over the grounds using a zig zag motion.
  5. Remove the coffee filter and serve!

In a French Press

A French Press is a great way to make full-bodied and oily coffee. This brewing method offers a velvety flavor and works well with earthy coffee blends. Here’s how to brew a French press coffee.

  1. Measure out two tablespoons of coffee beans for every 8 ounces of water.
  2. Grind the beans using a burr grinder or another coffee grinder using a short, sharp pulsating setting. Set the grinder to the coarsest setting. The coffee grounds should look like small breadcrumbs.
  3. Bring water to a boil in a kettle and then let stand for 1 minute or until it reaches about 195 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Pur the hot water into the French press and stir vigorously.
  5. Let the coffee steep fro 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Press the plunger all the way down, pour the coffee into a cup, and enjoy!

Tips for Making the Best Coffee

coffee and croissants on table

Aside from brewing techniques, ingredient quality is just as important when it comes to making a good cup of coffee. If you don’t start with high-quality ingredients, your coffee simply won’t taste great. Here are a few things to consider when choosing ingredients for your next java.

Invest in Quality Coffee Beans

Wondering how to make coffee that tastes delicious? Start with good coffee beans. Arabica beans tend to be higher quality than robusta beans. You’ll also want to use the freshest beans possible. That means buying small amounts of beans that you‘ll use within a week or two — rather than stocking up on a huge bag.

Fresh coffee also provides the best flavor. Instead of using ground coffee, try to use whole bean coffee whenever possible. That means ditching the instant coffee scoops and grinding your own beans just before brewing. It’s a little extra work, but it will make all the difference when it comes to flavor.

Choose the Right Roast

Different coffee roasts offer different flavors. A light roast coffee is strong, acidic, and bold while a dark roast tends to be nuttier and creamier. Figure out what types of flavors you prefer and choose the roast that best fits your desired tasting profile. Next, choose a fresh roast whenever possible. Ask your local coffee shop or roaster how long you can wait to use the roast and make sure to brew it before that date for the freshest flavor.

Nail Water Quality and Temperature

For brewing coffee, you’ll want to use pure, filtered water. Tap water contains minerals that can affect the flavor and texture of coffee. Water consistency can also vary from city to city depending on regulations and where the water is sourced. By using filtered water, you ensure that you’re getting the most authentic tasting notes from your beans. For the coffee snobs among us, experts recommend using water that’s right around pH 7.

Like teas, different types of coffee and brewing methods work better with different water temperatures. Lower water temperatures tend to bring out milder flavors since there isn’t as much heat to draw out oils in the beans. High water temperatures tend to provide a more complex tasting profile. However, boiling water can burns beans and result in bitter flavors in some brewing methods. In general, you’ll want to use water between 185 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit for brewing coffee.

Brewing Cold Brew or Iced Coffee

When you want a refreshing cup of java, it’s tempting to pour hot coffee over some ice and start chugging. Unfortunately, this leads to a weaker brew since the ice melts quickly and dilutes the coffee flavor. 

Instead, brew iced coffee using hot water and then let it cool to room temperature before adding coffee ice cubes. You can also chill the coffee in the refrigerator to use later. For cold brew coffee, you’ll let coffee steep for 24 hours in cold water before enjoying or adding nitrogen for nitro cold brew.

Brew Great Coffee Every Time

person pouring hot drink

With this guide on how to make coffee, you’ll enjoy the perfect cup of joe each and every time. Plus, there’s something for everyone. From the novice who’s looking to brew a large pot for guests that are visiting to connoisseur coffee drinkers that want the best of the best: there’s a brewing method for everyone.

You don’t have to be a barista to make a delightful cup of coffee. To nail the brewing process, gather quality ingredients and pay attention to the brew time and water temperature. Make sure to choose the right grind size and roast as well as the right amount of coffee for the type of coffee you’re making. Follow these step-by-step instructions and you’ll brew up the perfect cup of coffee.

Looking for more coffee tips? Continue browsing Cup & Bean for everything you need to know about coffee. From fancy flavors and country guides to coffee basics, you’ll find what you need to enjoy the world’s tastiest little bean.

After chasing down everything there was to know about tea on the Cup & Leaf blog, I'm now exploring the world of coffee. From different types to countries with the best brews and everything in between, I'll be your guide on this coffee discovery.