Barista Tips: Brew Like a Pro at Home


Bryan Huynh

on July 16, 2024

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Millions of people across the globe enjoy the fresh and delicious taste of coffee brewed by professional baristas every day. While it is a tasty and energizing treat to enjoy, it does have its drawbacks. You may not have the time to keep running out to a coffee shop, especially if you don’t live in a city where coffee shops are everywhere, and you may also not have the money to keep buying expensive fancy cups of coffee prepared by a barista every day. 

Brewing coffee at home is an option, but it’s common for people to feel like making a fantastic cup of coffee from scratch that tastes the same as those prepared by professional baristas is outside of their skill set. It’s intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Being your own home barista is actually very easy when you have the right tools, ingredients and tips to help you along. Check out our Coffee Club page to compare and read reviews of our favorite coffee clubs.

Choose the Right Beans

Anyone with even a slight interest in coffee will be more than happy to debate which coffee beans are the best and why. Most arguments are based on brand and taste preferences, which is ultimately what you should be considering most. After all, when you’re brewing coffee at home, the main person who will be enjoying the coffee is you. If you’re not sure which coffee bean is the best option for you, try a bunch of different types until you find some that suit your tastes. No matter the brand or type, the best coffee always comes from fresh beans. Roasted coffee beans will immediately start losing their flavor after roasting. While even fresh beans should be consumed as quickly as possible, fresh beans outlast roasted beans significantly in the realm of maintaining flavor.

If you prefer the taste of roasted coffee beans, you can easily roast them yourself. Roasting coffee beans is about as difficult as making popcorn on the stove. In fact, the method that many people choose to roast coffee beans at home is by using a popcorn popper. Simply pour some raw green coffee beans into a popcorn popper or skillet, roast them for a while, stir after the beans have started cracking open, let them roast to your desired darkness level, being careful not to burn them, and then take them out of the popper. Let them cool and dry on a baking sheet for about two hours, grind them up and enjoy your coffee. 

Store Your Coffee in a Cool, Dry Area

You may be tempted to store your coffee beans in the fridge to help keep them fresh, but that does more harm than good. Unlike with other foods, storing coffee in the fridge doesn’t help it stay fresh longer. In fact, coffee may actually lose is freshness and go bad faster in a refrigerator since coffee absorbs the moisture that is present in a fridge. It will also absorb odors from other foods, changing its flavor and scent. It’s best to store your coffee beans and grounds in a cool, dry place. Ideally, it should be kept in an air tight and opaque ceramic container. Don’t use clear glass containers since light exposure can also negatively affect the flavor of coffee.

Use a Burr Grinder

Once you have your preferred coffee beans, you’ll need a good grinder. Not all grinders are made the same. Blade grinders will simply smash and cut up the beans in random sizes, leaving dust sized particles and large chunks. The smaller pieces will be too small to produce any worthwhile flavor, and the larger chunks may be so big that the brewing process won’t be enough for the oils to release and produce a proper amount of flavor. 

Professional baristas swear by burr grinders, which use a series of plates and burrs to grind up the beans into uniform bits that will be evenly brewed to create a balanced flavor.The overall grind consistency should be medium. Grounds that are too coarse tend to wind up tasting weak while grounds that are too fine will be overly bitter.

Use High Quality Water

Tap water doesn’t cut it when you’re trying to make a quality cup of coffee. Not only is tap water not all that tasty to begin with, but it could also have high amounts of minerals, copper, iron and other impurities that could make your coffee taste bland, metallic or even dirty. Filtered or bottled water is much purer and creates the best tastes in coffee. 

However, avoid using distilled water since that is too pure and may actually make your coffee taste strange. Distilled water is missing the beneficial minerals in filtered and bottled water, such as calcium and magnesium, that positively contribute to the brewing process and makes coffee taste better.

Measure Out Your Coffee with a Scale

Cooking, baking and mixing liquor require precise measurements in order to achieve the best flavors. Coffee is no different. You need to measure out coffee beans accurately with a gram scale in order to get the best-balanced flavor. 

Don’t try to measure out using spoons or cups. Coffee beans vary too much in weight based on their type to reliably be measured through scoops and cups. A gram scale will allow you to get the most precise measurements to create the best cup of coffee no matter which type or blend you want. Your measurements will vary based on the type of bean you’re using and your brewing method, but the general rule of thumb is to use a ratio of 1:15 coffee to water for immersion brewed coffee and a 1:17 ratio for pour over brews. Most professional baristas find staying within the range of a 1:14 to 1:20 ratio is the best for nearly any cup of coffee, but it’s ultimately up to your own preferences. Experiment with ratios going up or down by single gram increments if you’re having trouble finding a ratio that works well for you.

Use Coffee Grounds as Soon as Possible

Believe it or not, coffee starts going stale about 15 to 30 minutes after it’s been ground. Grinding up a bunch of coffee and saving it for later simply isn’t an option if you want to have a consistent flavor in each cup. It’s best to grind your coffee beans immediately before brewing a cup.

Choose Your Brewing Method

Even your brewing method affects how your coffee will taste. If you prefer milkier coffees with a big hit of caffeine, use an espresso machine. If you like darker, stronger and more unique flavors, try a French press. Automatic drip and pour over brews are good for quick, simple and mild coffees. There are over a dozen methods and tools that you can use to brew coffee. Start with the simplest methods first, and work your way up to experimenting with more complex methods later on.

Use Water at the Right Temperature

The water should be at a temperature range between 195- and 205-degrees Fahrenheit. Water below 195 degrees won’t be able to extract the proper amount of acidity and flavor from the grounds, making it taste bland and watery. If the water is above 205 degrees, it will taste too bitter.

Warm Your Cup or Pot with Hot Water Before Pouring the Coffee

One of the quickest ways to ruin a delicious cup of coffee you worked very hard to brew is by pouring it into a cold cup or pot. The coldness of the cup or pot will immediately start sucking the heat from the coffee away, making it get colder faster. Fill up the cup or pot with hot tap water and let it sit for a minute or two while the coffee is brewing. Pour out the water immediately before you pour the coffee in. The hot container will absorb the heat from the coffee at a much slower rate, allowing the coffee to stay hotter longer.

Clean Your Equipment Thoroughly and Often

The oils from coffee beans linger in your coffeemakers, coffee pots and any other equipment your use in the brewing or grinding process. If the oils aren’t cleaned out of every nook and cranny of your equipment before the next time you brew coffee, the oils will seep into the new brew and make it taste stale or even putrid. Thoroughly clean all of your equipment after every use. Check your user manuals for specific cleaning information on your tools.

Don’t be Afraid to Experiment

One of the best things about being your own home barista is that there is a nearly limitless amount of blends, bean types, brewing methods and more to try out. You can even add spices and toppings to your coffee to make it even more delicious and unique. Brewing coffee is an adventure, and it’s one you can share with friends, family and even total strangers. Don’t be afraid to try new methods, tools or ingredients, and never be shy about sharing any tasty brews you’ve created with others so they can enjoy them just as much as you do. 

About the Author

Product Tester & Writer

Bryan Huynh

Product Tester & Writer

Bryan Huynh is a determined Product Tester & Writer. Being a coffee addict, it is only right that he mainly tests and reviews different coffee from around the world and coffee subscription services.

Bryan Huynh is a determined Product Tester & Writer. Being a coffee addict, it is only right that he mainly tests and reviews different coffee from around the world and coffee subscription services.