Tips from a Pro: How to Get That Coffee Shop Taste at Home!

I opened my first coffee shop (Coffee Break Cafe) at the age of 25 because I was sick of bad coffee and even worse service. I had exhausted all of the coffee chain possibilities in my area and knew there had to be something better. My husband and I (boyfriend back then) worked in the restaurant industry and had access to a lot of different coffee companies. We bought whole bean coffees and brewed at home back when people still bought instant coffee in a can (wait, maybe they still do?)

We drank a lot of coffee.

By the time we had opened our first location, we were completely hooked. Coffee is like wine or cheese- at first the cheap stuff tastes pretty good but, as your palate develops, you find that you can no longer tolerate the inferior. It happens to most people who drink a lot of coffee. Once you discover the good stuff, it is REALLY hard to go back.

I am asked, all the time, why brewing coffee at home doesn’t taste as good as it does when you buy it at the coffee shop. I think there are a lot of reasons why, but I am here to explain how SIMPLE and AFFORDABLE it can be to brew really good coffee at home.

The beans:
Starting with the best quality coffee is the most important aspect of a really good brew. You want it to be freshly roasted (within the past few days is best) and if you own a grinder, you should always buy your coffee in whole bean form. If you don’t own a grinder, buy smaller quantities of pre-ground coffee more frequently. That way it will always be fresh. You will want to ask for the beans to be ground for a french press, which is coarse.

Coffee should be purchased whole bean and roasted very recently.

Coffee should be purchased whole bean and roasted very recently.

Nice course grind for the French press.

Nice coarse grind for the French press.

 

One misconception I hear frequently is people think that darkly roasted coffee is “stronger”. Darkly roasted coffee actually has less caffiene than a bean that is roasted light or medium. It might taste “stronger” but it is not.

I am slightly biased, but we do have the best beans around!  Check them out here!

Equipment:

Let’s briefly discuss grinders.…. You always want a burr grinder. Blade grinders shred the beans with inconsistent results, while burr grinders make even particles that allow the water to steep evenly through out. You can get a decent, inexpensive burr grinder just about anywhere. Depending on how much you grind you might want to spend a little more, your choice. This is a decent inexpensive one here…   Higher end, more expensive, the one we use at home is here.

Rancilio is the one we use at home but there are many others out there.

Rancilio is the one we use at home but there are many others out there.

Our grinder with freshly roasted beans.

Our grinder with freshly roasted beans.

Our Rancilio burr grinder!

Our Rancilio burr grinder!

Up next is a French Press. You can get them for as little as $10.00 or as much as a couple of hundred dollars. The one we have at home was about $40.00 and is perfect, check it out here.

Water:
Since water is the main ingredient in coffee, it needs to be clean, and free from any foul odor or taste. A good filter goes a long way. If you are using a french press you have to get the water to a boil. If you are making iced coffee, your ice cubes should also be made with filtered water.

How to:

While waiting for the water to boil (just fill a pot, no need to measure) put the beans in the grinder. We add the grinds right to the french press. The ratio of coffee to water is typically one tablespoon of coffee to a cup of water. You can adjust to your taste of course.

I don't measure the water, just fill the pot and let it boil.

I don’t measure the water, just fill the pot and let it boil.

At home we usually don’t measure. At work, we don’t brew without measuring. (Consistency is the key to success in business!) At-home brewing can be a bit more flexible; you can brew to what you like best. Add a little more coffee beans if you like it a little stronger and a little less if you like it a little weaker.

When it’s just off the boil for a minute, pour the water right on top of the grinds in the French Press and let sit for about a minute and a half. You will see the top looks like foam. (This is called bloom.) This means the grinds are starting to release some of their aroma. The water is becoming infused with delicious flavor, and did I mention the smell? Your house will smell so good!

Coffee foam!

Coffee foam!

After about a minute and a half, agitate with a wooden stirrer. Wood is best because metal may accidentally tap the sides and break the glass. I usually use chopsticks.

Chopsticks make great stirrers!

Chopsticks make great stirrers!

stirring the coffee!

Let sit for another minute and a half or so.

Next, press the top plunger stick down, using just the weight of your hand. You don’t want to press too hard or fast, or the grinds will escape into the coffee you are about to drink. You want to push all of the grinds to the bottom.

pressing down, coffee french press

You are ready to drink. OMG, nothing better than freshly brewed, high quality coffee.

Hot, freshly brewed coffee!

Hot, freshly brewed coffee!

I almost always drink my coffee iced. So, I let my coffee sit until it reaches room temperature and then pour over ice…. YUM.

Feel free to post questions in the comments below- I love talking coffee, business and mommy business.

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