Starbucks Coffee Expert Shares Secrets for Brewing Coffee at Home
When customers come to the Starbucks Reserve® Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle, they are fascinated with an array of nearly a dozen different brewing options.
“People who come to the Roastery are amazed at all the different ways we brew our coffee,” said Chad Moore from Starbucks Coffee Education team, who helped open the Roastery in December. “There is a lot of curiosity there.”
Moore shares how to bring the experience of the Roastery through brewing coffee at home.
Start off with the Four Fundamentals
Getting the four fundamentals right is the best start: using the proper proportion of coffee to water, selecting the best grind for the brewing method, and using quality water and fresh coffee.
Proportion - The general rule for coffee-making is two tablespoons (10 grams) of ground coffee for each six ounces (180 milliliters) of water. Too few coffee grounds result in over-extracted or bitter coffee. Too many grounds result in under-extracted coffee that does not achieve the full flavor of the blend. Proportion is the most common coffee-making mistake – and the easiest mistake to correct.
Grind - Different brewing methods require different grinds. A grind that is too fine will trap water and result in a bitter, unpleasant brew. A grind that is too coarse leaves coffee weak and without distinguishing characteristics or flavors. Over-extracted coffee tastes much worse than under-extracted coffee, so when in doubt as to the brewing method, always err on the coarse side. Coffee connoisseurs agree that the best coffee – thick, rich and truest to its flavor profile – is made in a traditional coffee press. A coffee press requires a coarse grind.
Water - While it may not seem like an important ingredient, coffee is 98 percent water. The type of water used when brewing greatly affects the final taste. Always use clean, fresh water that is filtered or free of impurities – avoid soft water or well water. Water heated to just off the boil (195º-205ºF or 90º-96ºC) does the best job of extracting the coffee’s full range of flavors. Water that is too cool will mute the flavor and dull the coffee’s aroma.
Freshness - Coffee’s biggest enemies are oxygen and moisture. Always store coffee in an airtight container at room temperature. Storing coffee in the refrigerator or freezer can result in moisture from condensation and is not recommended for daily use. If coffee needs to be kept for more than two weeks without being used, store it in the freezer in an airtight container. Coffee should be ground fresh each time it is made. Grinding exposes more surface area to oxygen, releasing flavor and freshness. Brewed coffee should always be stored in a thermal carafe and never left on the burner or reheated.
One of the simplest ways to brew coffee is also one of the most flavorful. Brewing with a coffee press retains the precious natural oils that paper filters absorb, and extracts the coffee’s full flavor while giving it a thick, rich consistency.
“A coffee press doesn’t have a paper filter, just metal mesh. So you get all the oil, all the flavor,” said Moore. “It produces a nice full-body coffee that’s a little smoky, sweet. A dark-roast coffee like Caffé Verona really comes through in a press.”
To make a pot of coffee in a coffee press, use coarse ground coffee that resembles sea salt. Fill the press with hot water that is just off the boil, making sure to saturate all the grounds. Plunge after four minutes and enjoy within the next 20 minutes.
Pour-over is a simple way to brew a single cup of coffee with clean, fully developed flavor and body.
“Blonde Roast coffees like Veranda Blend® have a more delicate and citrusy flavor that shows up nicely in a pour-over.”
Moore recommends starting with a good vessel that pours easily – such as a kettle with a gooseneck spout. He also pre-moistens the paper filter with hot water and discards the rinse water to give the coffee the purest flavor possible.
Next, measure out the coffee (it’s a fine grind that looks like granulated sugar). Start with a process that’s called “blooming,” which sets up the coffee to extract. Pour just enough near-boiling water into the filter to saturate all the grounds, and let it rest for 10-30 seconds. Then pour the rest of the hot water into the cone in a slow, circular motion.
“When I’m at home, I usually make my coffee in a pour-over,” said Moore. “A good pour takes two or three minutes, and I find taking that time can be relaxing, almost meditative.”
Chemex® is an elegant one-piece hourglass shaped vessel, made of high quality, heat-resistant glass that ranges in size from three to 10-cup coffeemakers.
“Like with a pour-over, you can control the water flow extraction,” Moore said. “You can make more than one cup at a time and bring the carafe right to the table.”
Drip coffee is a convenient way to make great coffee. With the right grind and pure water, you can brew a fantastic cup of coffee in a coffee brewer. For a flat-bottom filter, use a medium grind that resembles sea salt. Cone filters use a finer grind similar to granulated sugar.
"The great thing about a coffee brewer is that it's automated and programmable," Moore said. "Press a button and you’re good to go.”