Coffee Brewing Techniques,Tools, and Terminology

Barista Badge, Step 1

Is a cafe-quality cup of coffee in the comfort of your own home possible? Brewing the perfect cup of coffee may seem like a daunting task. I often take the quick and easy way out and dump my Maxwell House ground coffee into my home coffee maker, pour in the water and wait for my cup of joe… but there is a better way.

You can make a much better cup of coffee at home! And it can be achieved without breaking the bank or spending hours doing it. Read on to find out how.

In this post we look into home coffee brewing techniques and the tools recommended to make a great cup of coffee. Additionally, we will explore common coffee terminology and have you talking like a barista in no time!

Interested in learning more about coffee? Our last post covered the history and types of coffee. In today’s post, we discuss home brewing tools and techniques, coffee terms, and throw in a few coffee fun facts!

Earn the Barista Badge

If you are interested in earning the Barista Badge yourself, you can see the Barista Badge Guide, or “recipe” for the badge here. Each Badge Guide contains three steps to be completed in order to earn the badge. These steps can be done on your own, but we encourage you to grab a few friends and learn together!

Step 1 is always focused on research. Look up the topic online, watch videos to learn a skill, or visit your local library.  You can read about the facts and resources we found below.

Coffee Brewing Tools

Drip and Pour Over Coffee Makers

Brewing a great cup of coffee begins with having the right tools. Lucky for us there is a lot of research out there on tools that are affordable and get the job done as well as the expensive versions. The New York Times recommends the following tools for any home brewer who wants to make the perfect cup:

  • Storage: If your beans come in a foil lined valve bag leave them there. If not, transfer them to an airtight container. Beans should be kept in a cool, dark spot. Any exposure to oxygen can alter the taste.
  • Kitchen Scale: Use a scale to improve consistency and insure coffee to water ratios. NYT recommends this scale.
  • Pour-Over Dripper: This method is arguably the best way to make coffee and the cheapest. It allows the home barista to have control over water temperature and coffee saturation. NYT recommends this pour-over dripper by Kalita. More on this technique below.
  • Coffee Mug: A mug with a lid can cut off aroma. You should be able to smell the coffee, drink it hot, and let it linger on your tongue. Check out this recommended double walled vessel. I personally like the old school mug.
  • Descaling Solution: This solution should be run through your machine monthly. Descaling can greatly improve the taste of your coffee. You can also use a simple vinegar-water solution. Find out more about regularly cleaning your coffee pot here.
  • A Good Grinder/Reverse Osmosis Filtration System for water: Both on the pricey side buy will take your cup of coffee to the next level.

The Spruce Eats has also put together a great article on home brewing tools.

Coffee Brewing Techniques

Tips by The Atlas Coffee Club

  • Roast– It should be fresh. The best quality coffee is consumed within 5 days to one month of the roasting date.
  • Water– temperature should be between 185-205 degrees. Less minerals in the water is preferred. Use a high quality filter and never reheat water.
  • Grind– A finer grind will extract more of the coffee’s flavors, while a course ground will extract more caffeine. If using an older roast a finer grind in recommended. Clean your grinder after every use.

Brew Methods

  • Pour Over– coffee will be silkier and brighter.
  • French Press– coffee will be more full bodied and velvety.
  • Drip Percolators– Percolators produce consistent results but offer less control over the process.

The Pour Over Method

This coffee brewing method explained below by Kurasu was new to us. We have dabbled in the french press but mostly stuck to our trusty Mr. Coffee machines. The Pour Over method was highly recommended in our research, so we decided to dive into this area and up our home coffee game.

  • Grind .7 ounces (20 grams) of coffee beans to medium coarseness (or filter coffee setting).
  • Boil water to 194-203 degrees (90-95c) – wet filter and warm mug, then dispose of water.
  • Add grounds to filter and pour in 1/8 cup (30 grams) of water to allow to bloom (when the CO2 escaping makes the grounds look like they are growing or blooming) for 30 seconds.
  • Pour water in circular motion up to approximately .5 inches (1 cm) below top of filter. Wait for water to recede and pour again. Repeat 3-5 times.
  • Stop at 2 cup (240 gram) mark.
  • Serve.

The Pour Over Technique is demonstrated in the two videos below. We especially love the very “hipster” video by Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

We will be demonstrating the method in Step 3 of the Barista Badge, so stay tuned!

Coffee Brewing Terminology

Coffee comes with its own vocabulary. Be aware that the language can vary slightly depending on where you are consuming your beverage. Having some basic knowledge of coffee terms can help you navigate the cafe’ culture and order a cuppa you will be happy with. We highlight some coffee terminology we found helpful below. Find the full list in this article. For even more coffee jargon read this.

  • Single Origin: Coffee from a specific geographic area.
  • Blends: When coffee beans come from different places and are blended for a brew.
  • Drip Method: Coffee brewed in large batches.
  • Pour Over Method: Coffee brewed in small batches, usually by the cup, using a cone.
  • French Press Method: Coffee brewed by plunging steeped grounds to the bottom of a vessel.
  • Espresso: Finely ground coffee brewed quickly with steam pressure.
  • Americano: A shot of espresso with hot water.
  • Red Eye: A shot of espresso added to a cup of drip coffee
  • Latte: Espresso combined with steamed milk
  • Latte Art: decorative pattern formed by pouring steamed milk into an espresso drink
  • Cafe au Lait: French for coffee with hot milk
  • Cappuccino: espresso, hot milk and steamed milk foam.
  • Iced Coffee: Hot drip coffee and ice
  • Cold Brew: coffee brewed with cold water
  • Mocha: coffee, steamed milk and chocolate syrup or cocoa powder

Slang Names for Coffee

  • Joe
  • Dirt
  • Mud
  • Java
  • Brew
  • Cuppa
  • High Octane
  • Rocket Fuel
  • Go Juice

A few insightful videos:

In our next post we will share about our experience attending a Cupping at a local coffee shop! Later, we will teach our new coffee making skills to others and experiment with making different coffee drinks at home!

We want to hear from you! What’s your favorite coffee drink? Have you experimented with differing brewing methods? Message us on Instagram or Facebook or drop us a line here.

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