5 tips to brew the best-tasting drip brew coffee at your home
Drip brew or pour-over as some people call it, can be delicious, easy to make and good value for money. Making excellent Drip Brew coffee is easy when you do this:
- Use a blend of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans from larger origin countries. No need for expensive specialty beans to make an indulgent drip brew at home.
- Buy and use whole beans, freshly roasted. A fresh roast is never roasted more than 8 days ago.
- Use an “Italian” fresh roast. Only Italian coffee roasting has an extended browning phase during which your coffee develops its natural sweetness and mildness.
- Grind & brew only as many cups of coffee as you will drink within 10 minutes. It will avoid oxidation. Use a (medium) fine grind.
- Brew & serve your coffee in smaller portions to indulge in natural sweetness.
Most of us have a drip coffee maker at home. In fact, according to Statista, almost half of all US coffee consumers own a drip coffee maker and buy coffee at the grocery store. Drip Brew Coffee is the coffee-type, which most people in the world enjoy. Although drip brew coffee was not the focus of the coffee market in recent years, it seems that professional baristas have rediscovered the rich flavor of drip brew. According to Market Watch, the drip brew coffee market segment is poised to grow again with double digits in the coming years. A drip coffee maker is easy to use and makes acceptable coffee. But the coffee from my drip coffee maker is never as good as coffee from a professional barista at the coffee shop. The coffee from my drip coffee maker often tastes bitter, sour, and sometimes burnt. Even if I use more expensive, gourmet specialty beans from the grocery store, it still has a bitter or burnt aftertaste requiring me to add sugar and milk to mask the unpleasant flavor. That’s why I often buy flavored coffee from the grocery store, although I know the flavors are artificial. So, what can you do to make better-tasting drip coffee at home?
I would like you to indulge at home in the best drip brew coffee possible. A Drip Brew can actually be naturally sweet, mild, smooth, and creamy. If you want natural sweetness instead of sugar and chemical flavors, mildness instead of bitterness and smoothness instead of burnt notes, here is your guide to make the best Drip Brew Coffee at home.
Tip 1: Use a blend of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans from large coffee producing countries.
First, you will want to use a blend of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans from larger origin countries. Arabica is generally considered the better-quality coffee bean, while Robusta beans are thought to be of lesser quality. However, it all depends on how you believe your drip coffee should taste. For your homemade drip coffee, Robusta beans can add a little “kick” and make your drip coffee taste less watery. That is why Peak Flavor Coffee recommends a blend of 80% Arabica and 20% Robusta beans. Not only does this blend make a better-tasting cup of coffee, but it’s also a little less expensive than the gourmet Arabica-only coffees you can find at the grocery or specialty stores.
To make the best-tasting drip coffee, expensive beans from exotic origin countries are not necessary. We recommend you buy coffee bean blends from larger origin countries, such as Brazil, Honduras, and Vietnam. Beans from these countries are more likely to produce better coffee at home than the more expensive, rare specialty beans from smaller countries such as Rwanda, Burundi, or Togo. Coffee bean harvests from larger coffee-producing countries are fresher and much easier for mere mortals (like me) to work with. Larger-origin countries also grow more consistent coffee bean harvests of better quality with fewer defects. You can also find large coffee bean harvests with more consistent quality from Columbia and Indonesia.
Tip 2: Buy and use whole beans, freshly roasted. A fresh roast is never more than 8 days old.
Most importantly, for the perfect home-made Drip Brew Coffee, your medium roasted whole beans should be freshly roasted. In its handbook for coffee freshness, the Specialty Coffee Association defines fresh roasted coffee as: “roasted within the past 8-14 days”. Once the expert roaster has done his (or her) roasting, roasted coffee beans need to rest for about seven days to develop their full flavor and get rid of excess gasses, a process called de-gassing. On day eight to fourteen after roasting, coffee reaches its best or Peak Flavor. Between day eight and day fourteen after roasting is therefore the best time to use the fresh roast to make your Drip Brew Coffee.
Expert coffee roasters have no problem indicating the roasting date prominently on the front of their packaging. In fact, if you ask me, you should never buy a coffee brand that does not have a roasting date prominently displayed on the front. How else will you know when the coffee was roasted? And how else can you choose a fresh roast?
Roast freshness is the single most important “ingredient” in making a perfect Drip Brew Coffee at home. Getting freshly roasted coffee at your home is difficult. On Average, most coffee packs on the grocery shelf, are 120 days past their roasting date. These “old” coffee beans make it difficult to get the perfect drip brew coffee at home. Some small, premium specialty and gourmet coffees in the grocery store could be even older because they sell at slower rates and thus sit on the shelf for longer. You can imagine that old grocery store coffee has lost most of its flavor by that time and turns stale, bitter and rancid. If your roast is not fresh, it is impossible to make great Drip Brew Coffee.
If you want the perfect Drip Brew Coffee at home, buying and using fresh roasted whole beans to ensure peak flavor is the most important thing to do. This is also why I encourage people to buy smaller packages of coffee. Smaller packages of freshly roasted beans get used faster and ensure that your coffee stock at home does not get much older than 14 days post roasting. Buying & using whole beans instead of ground coffee is important to help you get a fresher roast because whole beans do not oxidize as fast as ground coffee. We’ll discuss oxidation a little later.
You can easily recognize the freshness of your coffee by the smell your coffee emits as soon as you open the package. Just like you immediately smell freshly baked bread at your local bakery, only a fresh roast, not roasted longer ago than 8 days, will emit the rich aroma that anybody can immediately recognize. Smelling your coffee when you open the package, is the easiest way to recognize a fresh roast in a second. Before you have even seen the roasting date on the pack.
Tip 3: Use an Italian Roast. Only Italian Coffee Roasting has an extended browning phase during which your coffee develops its natural sweetness and mildness.
There is a reason Italian coffee is generally considered the best coffee. Besides always being freshly roasted, the Italians employ an expert roasting technique that is designed to bring out natural sweetness and more aroma. To do this, you don’t need expensive specialty beans or premium coffee from origin countries you have never heard of. Using expert Italian coffee roasting methods, you can make any coffee bean deliver natural sweetness and mildness, no matter it’s origin. Italian roasters do this in two ways:
First, Italian expert coffee roasters extend the browning phase or “natural sweetness phase” of the roasting process. Generally, there are three phases in any coffee roast. During the first roasting phase, green coffee beans lose their humidity until there is none left. The end of this phase is called “dry end”.
In the second phase of Italian coffee roasting, coffee beans start to turn color from green to brown. The reason for browning is called the “maillard reaction”, a well-known process whereby sugars (carbohydrates) caramelize and turn brown. Caramelization is the reason why your coffee beans are brown. If this process is rushed, the beans will acquire a burnt taste. If this second phase of the roasting process is extended at medium temperatures, like during Italian expert coffee roasting, more carbohydrates are caramelized and your beans will acquire their natural sweetness. Italian roasting expertise in this second roasting phase, ensures you’ll need less added sugar, less milk-sugar (lactose), or artificial sweetener in your morning brew. And still get the perfect Drip Brew Coffee at home.
In the third phase of Italian coffee roasting, the Italian experts roast well beyond “first crack” to release the natural coffee oils which contain most flavor and aroma. In this third and last roasting phase, the beans become gradually darker. This darkening is what most coffee amateurs in the USA speak about, when they talk about light, medium or dark roasts. Italian expert roasters, however, instead focus on making the beans “crack”. Sometimes even a second time when they roast for their espresso. Italian roasting expertise is straightforward on the subject. After “first crack”, coffee roasting enters its third phase. This “crack” literally opens the beans to release the natural coffee oils, which are full of aroma. You should know that aroma and flavor substances are mostly fat-soluble. This means that only if your roasting manages to release the natural fats (oils) from the beans, you’ll unlock the best taste from coffee beans. Breaking off the roast now for a light or medium roast prevents the beans from releasing these natural oils and from developing their full flavor. Expert Italian roasters will roast close to the second “crack” to ensure all flavor, oils, and aroma are released whilst preventing acidity and/or burnt notes. Large coffee roasters often can’t afford to take the time to wait for the second crack. This is exactly why some famous coffees taste a little burnt or sour and need lots of sugar or flavoring.
Based on this, we recommend to use an Italian roast for your drip brew. You’ll immediately notice the natural sweetness and creaminess. Try it out for yourself with a drip brew from Peak Flavor Coffee.
Tip 4: Grind & brew only as many cups of coffee as you will drink within 10 minutes. It will avoid oxidation. Use a (medium) fine grind.
Coffee’s exposure to air causes it to lose taste and aroma. In scientific terms, this natural process is called oxidation or “exposure to air.” We all know how a sliced apple starts to look and taste worse when we leave it on the table. After the apple slices are exposed to air (oxygen), the apple turns brown and tastes stale. The same is true for coffee beans. Once ground, oxidation accelerates as the exposed surface to the air has increased. The coffee taste and aroma will start to deteriorate over time.
To make the best drip coffee at home, we recommend you grind your fresh roasted coffee beans yourself, just before you brew in the exact amount needed. Doing this will limit oxidation of your coffee and therefore preserves flavor, taste, aroma and freshness when you pour the Drip Brew Coffee in your cup. A (medium) fine grind is the right grind for the best Drip Brew Coffee. A (medium) fine grind will release the essential oils in coffee while you brew, delivering body and creaminess. If you don’t have your own grinder, make sure your roast is fresh. Never older than 8 days past the roasting date. Using older, ground coffee from the grocery store will make it impossible to get the best Drip Brew coffee at home.
Always buy whole beans and grind them yourself. Many easy-to-use and inexpensive grinders are available to help you get a (medium) fine grind. Grinding yourself takes only 1 minute. But you’ll notice that grinding yourself will dramatically improve the taste of your coffee. In addition, if you only grind as much as you need in the next 10 minutes (1-2 cups), you will avoid oxidation and eliminate your coffee’s stale and bitter taste.
This leaves the question of how much you should grind per cup. Professional baristas advise you to grind only as much as you need immediately before brewing. You need about 10 grams of (medium) fine ground coffee or a full tablespoon for a 6-ounce cup.
Tip 5: Brew & serve your coffee in smaller portions to indulge in natural sweetness.
Most coffee shops and offices in America make a large pot of drip brew coffee in the morning and leave it standing around for a long time before they pour you your cup. Its their way of serving you fast and conveniently. Unfortunately, leaving drip brew coffee standing around for more than 10 minutes causes bitterness and acidity. And you’ll need a lot of sugar, milk-fat and flavoring to mask the effects of oxidation. Considering how fast drip brew coffee oxidizes, leaving drip brew coffee pots standing around is the worst thing to do if you want to have good taste. To avoid oxidation, only make as many cups as you will drink in the next 10 minutes. When you brew & serve in small portions, you’ll notice no more bitterness and no more acidity. In fact, brewing and serving Drip Brew Coffee in smaller portions will ensure that your coffee is naturally sweet, mild and creamy.
For that reason, we prefer small drip coffee makers, brewing one or two cups at a time. Because we like our coffee to be as fresh as possible. When you brew in small batches, there’s no need for a large carafe or thermal to keep the coffee warm during the day. Any true coffee lover does not want to drink oxidized coffee that has turned bitter or acidic and has lost its freshness. Besides making fresher and better-tasting coffee, a small drip coffee or pour-over coffee maker is much cheaper and easier to clean.
In my opinion, Bodum makes the best drip coffee machines. They have small coffee drippers that fit on a single coffee cup at a great price. They also offer slightly larger drip coffee makers with permanent filters that are easy to clean. Their designs are beautiful and do not take up much space in your kitchen.
In summary, if you follow the above-recommended steps to make the best Drip Brew Coffee at home, you will immediately recognize the difference. Your coffee will taste naturally sweet, smooth, and mild. A fresh roasted cup of coffee brewed and served in small portions has no bitterness because oxidation has not occurred. As a result of this better-tasting coffee, you’ll probably need less sugar or artificial sweeteners, no chemical flavorings, or milk. You’ll be able to indulge in the true taste of fresh roasted coffee! Knowing this, you might say that using fresh roasted coffee to brew at home helps you cut down on empty calories and supports weight loss or weight maintenance. Coffee is already known for its appetite suppression benefits. Imagine what could happen if you took out the other additives too?
In addition to helping your waistline, serving fresh roasted coffee in smaller glass cups will help you savor the true notes of your coffee blend, honoring our farmers’ work to grow and nurture the beans to perfection. If you want to learn more about our coffee farmers, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to help our farmers become more productive to provide a better living for themselves, consider supporting the Peak Flavor “New Trees Initiative.”
As mentioned above, I believe that buying fresh roast coffee beans at the peak of their flavor is the single most important factor in making the best drip coffee at home. If you follow the other tips as outlined, I promise every cup you brew will feature the mild, natural sweetness of the perfect cup of coffee.