How To Make The Perfect Brew: Hot Or Cold

How To Make The Perfect Brew Hot Or Cold

Introduction

A dude making a perfect brew

If you’re a fan of coffee, you probably pay extortionate amounts to buy it from somebody else. You might even make it for yourself but still, many do the bare minimum instead of brewing themselves quality coffee.

If you’re here, you want to level up your coffee brewing. We’re here to help!

In the following guide, we’ve covered how you can brew good coffee. We’ve included how to brew both hot and cold cups, so you’ll find useful information below no matter how you like it!

Here’s what you’ll find below:

  • Why Brew Coffee At Home?
  • Steps For The Perfect Cold Brew
  • Tips For The Perfect Cold Brew
  • Steps For The Perfect Hot Brew
  • Tips For The Perfect Hot Brew

 

That covers everything you should know about brewing coffee at home. Some of the steps or tips link away to other resources for those who want to read deeper into their caffeine, but this isn’t necessary to understand how to make the perfect brew.

Before we get into the best coffee brewing methods, let’s talk about why everybody should brew their coffee at home.

 

 

Why Brew Coffee At Home?

Why Brew Coffee At Home

You’re already interested in brewing at home if you’re here. Whether you’re on the fence or you just want to appreciate home-brewed coffee more, we’ve gathered several points below to argue why you should brew coffee at home. Sure, we’re biased, but brewing coffee in the comfort of your own home allows many benefits that you just don’t get when you’re buying pre-made coffee or eating out.

Here are our five points that make brewing coffee worth it.

 

Saves Money

Having mentioned worth, let’s start with the fact that it saves you money! As we said above, coffee can get expensive when you’re buying it pre-made from restaurants and cafés. When you buy pre-made coffee, you’re paying for the drink, the skill and labour that went into making it, and the brand label that’s often attached to the coffee. By making your own, you only need to pay for the equipment and the materials.

Let’s go through how buying your own equipment is cheaper in the long run.

First, think of it like cooking at home. You can’t expect to get takeout or eat at restaurants and spend less money than if you cooked for yourself. Of course, everybody has an oven and a microwave in their kitchen while many don’t have brewing equipment, so you need to buy it. That can be a hefty investment but, like food-making equipment, it saves you money.

You can get decent coffee-making packs for £30 to £40, including bladed coffee grinders. Then you can go to your local supermarket and pick up coffee beans. For every 1kg, you can expect to get approximately 120-150 cups of coffee. While prices vary depending on the beans and the supplier, 1kg is often around £7 to £10. This means you’re looking at about £37 to £50 with a very basic setup.

Now imagine going to Starbucks or some other café and ordering 150 cups of their coffee. That’d set you back much more than £50. While it requires some upfront investment, it will always be cheaper to make your own coffee long-term.

 

Can Do It In The Comfort Of Your Home

Next, convenience. No matter what it is, people gravitate towards convenience and comfort in most aspects of their lives. Naturally, brewing your own coffee at home is much more comfortable than journeying out to find somebody else’s.

You don’t need to make yourself presentable for the outside world, you can make your breakfast right there beside the coffee. By making coffee in your own home, you can take pride in the fact you’ve brewed your own coffee while watching TV or enjoying other leisurely, hobbyist activities.

 

Able To Start Developing Your Palate For Coffee

You may know that coffee doesn’t have just one taste. The taste you get when drinking coffee depends on where the beans have come from and many secondary factors associated with its preparation, like brewing methods, roasting level, and the temperature of the water you’re making it with.

To begin exploring different tastes, you need to develop your palate so you can tell the difference. You can’t expect to drink wine for the first time and tell if it’s good, you don’t know anything better. Coffee is the same and making your own is a great way to build your palate.

The best way to explore different coffee tastes and preparation methods is to start doing it yourself. You can experiment with different beans, equipment, and blends to produce many tastes and textures. The objectively perfect cup of coffee doesn’t exist but, by making your own, you can find your perfect coffee.

 

It’s A Fun Process

Homebrewing coffee can be fun for many people. If you’re the type who likes preparing dishes and other things in your kitchen, that enthusiasm will probably carry over to coffee too!

It’s also common to get a feeling of accomplishment and contentment when you’re consuming something that you’ve made yourself… As long as it tastes good, of course. It’s another skill that allows you to be self-sufficient when it comes to all of your caffeine needs.

 

Familiarise Yourself To The Process Of Brewing Coffee

You’re here to learn, right? The surest way to learn all about brewing coffee is to get stuck in and try it for yourself! We can give you all the information you need, sure, but experience is always more valuable when learning new skills and hobbies.

As you’ll learn throughout this guide, a lot of our advice comes with a wrinkle. As long as you like the end product, you can experiment and bend the rules to find the best brew for your taste buds. We can get you started but only you can experiment and find out which brews are best for you.

 

Steps For The Perfect Cold Brew

Steps For The Perfect Cold Brew

Now that you know why brewing your own coffee is a good idea, let’s start with how you make good cold-brewed coffee. We’re starting with cold-brewed coffee first because it’s a simpler and more passive way to make coffee over hot brews. If cold coffee isn’t your thing, just skip ahead to our section on hot-brewed coffee further below!

Cold-brewing coffee also has its own benefits like:

  • Isolating bitter/sour compounds from the coffee beans.
  • Slowly pulls out the flavour and caffeine from the coffee beans with none of that bitterness
  • Results in a sweeter-tasting brew that’s also incredibly smooth and great when served with ice.
  • You can also easily adjust how strong the brew is by changing the coffee to water ratio. You can also add milk.

 

For now, let’s look at what you need to make cold brews.

 

Equipment

There are five main steps to brewing cold coffee but, before we get into them, you need to have all your equipment ready. We say all your equipment, but cold coffee doesn’t require any fancy equipment at all! It’s not like hot-brewed coffee, all you need are a few very simple things:

  • A cup of whole coffee beans and a grinder to prepare them.
  • Or ground coffee beans to skip the grinding process
  • Four cups of water.
  • A small strainer and some cheesecloth.
  • A measuring cup.
  • A storage jar.

 

That’s it, that’s all you need!

You don’t need to get fancy with the water, the running water in your home will do just fine. Since you’re starting out, you don’t need to get too experimental with the coffee beans you’re using either. There’s always time later to buy other, more expensive beans from around the world.

 

Coarsely Grind The Coffee

You need to grind the coffee beans if they are whole. Invest in a grinder and familiarise yourself with its settings so you know what you’re doing. The coffee beans should have the consistency of coarse cornmeal when you’re done.

That’s often achieved by setting your grinder to its coarsest setting but it’s always a good idea to double-check. We can’t know what grinder you have, after all. You can also use a spice grinder and grind the coffee in one-second intervals.

 

Combine The Coffee And Water

Once you’ve created your ground coffee, which should be just less than one cup if you started with one cup of whole beans, then you should now combine it with water. To start with, try four cups of water if you’ve used one cup of coffee beans.

Simply pour water over the top of the coffee and then stir it gently with a spoon. Everybody has a few spoons at home but it may be worth investing in a long-handled spoon that can fully stir the bottom of the cup and get rid of all ground coffee by saturating it with the water.

 

Steep Overnight

Now that the coffee and water have been combined, you need to play the waiting game. Cover the coffee with a lid, which can also be a small plate on top of it if you haven’t got size-appropriate lids lying around, and then leave it to steep. The covering will keep it free from dust, bugs, and other things that might try and find their way inside over the night.

That’s right, over the night, because you’ll need it to steep for 12 hours. The most convenient way to do that is to mix the coffee in the evening and then come back to it in the morning, it should be ready by then. You don’t have to refrigerate the coffee if you don’t want to, it’ll be fine left on your kitchen counter.

 

Strain The Coffee

After 12 hours have passed, you’ll need to strain the coffee so you have something drinkable. To properly strain the coffee, grab a small strainer and line it with a cloth that can be used to filter the liquid. A cheesecloth works very well but fabric cloth, like flour sack cloths, can also work well. Place a bowl or a measuring cup beneath the strainer so that it catches the coffee.

 

Store The Coffee

You should have something that resembles coffee now. All that’s left is to place the coffee into a storage container, like a jar or something equally convenient, and then store it in your fridge. You and others should drink the coffee within a week, otherwise, it’ll get stale and lose a lot of its taste.

Serving is as simple as pouring it. If the cold brew is too strong for you, you can dilute it with a little bit of cold water or some milk. Cold brews are often served with ice too, making it even colder and pleasant to drink, especially on hot days.

 

Tips For The Perfect Cold Brew

Tips For The Perfect Cold Brew

Those are the steps involved with making a cold brew. The exact equipment or process can change in a few small ways but ultimately, a cold brew is always made with those five steps. Here are five extra tips that’ll provide more information on the steps and guarantee you achieve the perfect cold brew.

 

Make Sure Beans Are Coarsely Grounded

So, why must the beans be coarsely grounded? If the beans you use are grounded until they’re too fine, like a powder, then it’ll become over-infused with the water. This means that the result will be gritty and filled with coffee particulate, which isn’t very appetising! That’s why we advise your coffee should look and feel like cornmeal.

 

Use Filtered Water

While most clean water will do, your coffee will be fresher and sweeter if the water has been filtered beforehand. If you want to make the best coffee you can possibly make, you should get into the habit of using good quality water that has been filtered.

 

Steep For 12 Hours

While we recommended 12 hours, this is a part of the process that can be played with to alter the strength of your coffee. You can cut the time a little short if you want a weaker coffee where the beans haven’t been infused enough. Similarly, you could leave it in a little longer if you’d like.

Watch out for over-steeping, however, which is where you leave it for too long and those bitter flavours get out of the beans and into the coffee mixture. This typically happens after 15 hours of steeping, so don’t leave it for that long!

 

Chill Cold Brew With Ice Cubes

As we said, you can chill your cold brew even further with ice cubes. You don’t want to overdo it, otherwise, your mouth will be too cold to taste anything! Naturally, the ice will gradually melt over time and become water as you drink. If you don’t want the coffee to be diluted by anything, you can pour some coffee mixture into an ice cube tray. This makes coffee ice cubes that chill the drink without adding any water to the mix.

 

Keep It Cold

If you’re busy or on the move, keeping your coffee cool can be challenging. Just like with hot coffee, it’s best enjoyed when it stays the original temperature throughout the day. Fortunately, travel mugs and flasks that have thermal protection will keep coffee cold just as well as they’d keep it hot. That’s because the insulation doesn’t just keep things warm, it also keeps things cold.

 

Steps For The Perfect Hot Brew

Steps For The Perfect Hot Brew

Now that we’ve covered how to make cold-brewed coffee, it’s time to tackle hot brews. Hot brewing is the more popular way to get your caffeine and it tastes differently from cold coffee. It also requires the most equipment, so you should be prepared before you start going through the steps below.

 

Equipment

To properly brew coffee hot, you should have all of the following in your kitchen:

  • Grinder
  • Scales
  • Pouring kettle
  • Filter papers
  • 63.79g of ground coffee
  • 1.02kg of filtered water

 

For those who want to experiment with multiple coffee types, you’ll want to get a grinder that has multiple settings. Grinding coffee doesn’t just enhance the taste, the coarseness or thinness of the grind also changes how it interacts with hot water, producing different tastes and strengths in your beverage. By choosing a grinder with many settings, you can experiment to find the best consistency for your perfect coffee.

When grinding, you should keep the coffee-water ratio in mind. While you can change this to produce different tastes when you start experimenting, many go by the so-called golden ratio – one/two tablespoons for every six ounces of water. That should work well for beginners who want to get their foot in the door and figure out how to brew coffee before they get fancy with the ratio.

Of course, any measurements and amounts are advisory for now. Once you’ve found your footing, you can experiment to find ratios that produce the best results for you. Most of your measurements will be done with a set of scales, though you should be aware that different coffee beans have different densities.

The beans themselves will taste different depending on where they’re from, the variety or blend of bean (arabica, robusta, etc.), how it’s roasted, and the texture of the coffee beans once ground. You should be able to find a healthy variety of coffee in local stores and online that can cater to your taste preferences.

You should use the right thickness of filter paper, which should be detailed by your coffee-making machine. Using the wrong kind of coffee filter will ruin the coffee, so make sure you get the right ones for your hot brewing method.

As for the equipment you use, they should be cleaned after each use to keep them properly maintained and fully operational. You don’t want to lose precious coffee because of a grinder malfunction! All it takes is a rinse with hot water and a wipe down with a towel, usually, and you should clear any grounds or bitter coffee oil.

 

Pour Over

To make hot-brewed coffee with the pour-over technique, you should start by rinsing your coffee filter with hot water. This primes the filter so that it does its job properly and pulls as much coffee flavour from the beans as possible. Once the filter is primed, place your coffee grounds into it.

Boil your kettle or use some other method to heat water to approximately 90 to 95 degrees Celsius, or 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the optimal temperature to make a hot brew. You should also pour in a circular motion to make sure water hits all of the coffee grounds from all different angles.

After 30 or so minutes, you should have some freshly brewed hot coffee that you can drink and enjoy!

That’s far from the only method for brewing hot coffee, however. Using a coffee maker or a French press are two popular alternatives, so let’s go through how that’s done.

When working with a coffee maker, you should do the following:

  • Place a coffee filter into the coffee maker’s basket.
  • Add your ground coffee beans in.
  • Add just enough water to soak the grounds without making it pour through.
  • Wait for 45 to 60 seconds so that the grounds settle.
  • Activate the coffee maker and watch it automatically brew your coffee!

 

As for the French press, you need to do these steps to make the coffee:

  • Carefully pour a little hot water onto the ground coffee. It should start to bloom, meaning foam forms on top of the water inside the press pot.
  • Leave that bloom for 15 to 20 seconds and then stir it with a spoon for a few moments. This makes sure that all of the ground coffee contacts the water.
  • Then go through the motions of a French press. Many French presses require about 4 minutes of steeping time to get tasty results.

 

Brewing Methods

There are five main ways to brew hot coffee:

  • AeroPress – Makes strong coffee for one person that has a lot of body.
  • Cafetiere – A fast, easy, and filter-free method that requires little clean-up when you’re done.
  • Chemex/V60 – These similar processes differ in how the coffee is ground, with V60 demanding a thinner grind than Chemex.
  • Moka Pot – The so-called Moka Pot is a simple way of creating thick coffee by boiling it on the hob of an oven.

 

Tips For The Perfect Hot Brew

Tips For The Perfect Hot Brew

Now that we’ve walked you through some of the steps required to create great hot brews, here are some extra tips you should keep in mind. If you’ve made hot brews in the past and they weren’t up to your standards, you should follow the four tips below to make sure that you’re doing everything right.

 

Choose A Good Quality Coffee Beans

No matter what you do for the grinding and brewing process, you’re off to a bad start if you’re not using quality coffee beans. Choose quality coffee beans to up your brewing game and create your perfect coffee.

You should source coffee beans that are relatively cheap and produce a taste and texture that you enjoy. If the beans are too expensive then you may be sacrificing the money-saving aspect of homebrewing.

 

Buy Coffee In Small Amounts To Keep Coffee Fresh And Flavoursome

Your coffee beans should be properly kept and prepared to make the perfect brew. If you know anything about grinding coffee beans, you’ll know that it’s best to grind them close to brewing. This is because they lose their taste over time, becoming stale.

By grinding the beans, you have cracked them open and exposed the chemicals inside that add the taste to coffee brews. That’s why the best brewers tell us to grind and then brew the coffee near-instantly, so it’s fresh and flavoursome.

 

Water Temperature

Having touched on water temperatures, let’s take a closer look at how water changes the coffee. First, try to use very clean and filtered/bottled water. Like with cold brews, the cleaner water makes for a better cup of coffee when you’re done.

If your tap water has a distinct taste, odour, or even the taste of chlorine, then you should try alternatives. Running your tap water for a few seconds before using any of it can help with unsavoury tastes and smells. You should run it cold too, you’ll be heating it up via a kettle or some other heating implement anyway. Stay away from softened or distilled water, it’s not the same as clean, filtered water and won’t produce the same results.

Before you do anything else, you should take safety precautions. Nothing ruins a coffee more like burning yourself while trying to make it! As we said, the optimal extraction temperature is 90 to 95 Celsius or 195 to 205 Fahrenheit, but this is also optimal for burning your skin.

If your water is slightly colder than the optimal temperatures, it’s going to be flatter and somewhat stale. If the water is too hot, you’ve gone too far and the taste of the coffee suffers as a result. Not only does the good taste disappear, but you also won’t be able to taste it because you’ll burn your tongue. What you can taste will often be bitter and unpleasant, too.

The optimal temperature is where the water starts to boil, so just wait until bubbles start to form and then get going with the rest of the brewing process. After serving, coffee cools rapidly and so you may want to store it in a thermos or another insulated container. Adding milk or cream will also cool the coffee down.

While there’s an optimal temperature for brewing the water, the serving temperature is largely up to the person drinking it. Some like it at those optimal temperatures while others like adding dairy products or other coolants to enhance the taste. 

If you’ve let your coffee go cold, reheating it isn’t a good idea. It will make the brew bitter by activating and encouraging the volatile compounds present in most coffee mixtures. Instead of sticking your brew in the microwave, you should make a new one and invest in a thermos so that your coffee doesn’t turn cold in the future.

 

Brewing Time

It should be noted that coffee gets stronger when the grounds are left in it. You probably knew that already, especially since it’s the same for the cold brew we’ve talked about, but the process happens much faster with hot water.

While cold brews take hours to properly steep and gather up all that flavour from the beans, it takes minutes with hot brews. If your machine uses a dripping system then that’ll take around five minutes while French presses typically demand two to four minutes. Espresso brewing is known for being fast, dispensing a hot and caffeine-rich coffee in only 30 seconds.

With all of these options, there’s the threat of under or over-extracting from the coffee beans. Under-extraction means the coffee will be weak while over-extraction will create a bitter taste that’s too much for even the most fanatical coffee lover. You can and should experiment with contact times until you get the perfect brew for you.

 

Summary: Time To Make A Brilliant Brew!

Man pouring a cup of coffee

With that, we have come to the end of our guide on how you can make the perfect brew. It doesn’t matter if you like your coffee hot or cold, the above methods will help you find your next caffeine fix. By following the steps and tips we’ve included above, you can also make great coffee without sacrificing comfort or burning a hole in your wallet.

We’ve included a lot of information in our guide but we’ve formatted a lot of it so you can follow it like a checklist. When making your hot/cold brews, you can follow along with the steps to get the best results until you find your feet and start tinkering with your own coffee recipes.

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