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How to brew coffee: Even if you are a complete newbie

Here’s a scenario that might sound familiar…

You love coffee, but your regular trips to the local coffee shop are costing you a fortune.

Besides the strain it’s putting on your budget, you’re feeling guilty about all those disposable cups that are so bad for the environment.

You’d like to try making your own coffee, but you just don’t know where to start.

  • Should you use whole beans or instant?
  • Colombian or Javan?
  • Brew it on the stove or use a coffee maker?
  • And what on earth is a French press?

It can certainly be a confusing topic – but before you give up and dig out the loyalty card for your nearest coffee shop, don’t despair!

We’re here to help.

As dedicated coffee lovers, we want to share with you our top, tried and tested tips for how to brew coffee even if you are a complete newbie.

Just follow our brewed coffee recipe and step-by-step instructions, and you’ll soon be sipping away at a top quality beverage in the comfort of your own home.

So read on, and prepare to say goodbye to Starbucks forever!

What you will need to follow this tutorial

coffee beans

coffee beans

Coffee grinder

Coffee grinder

coffee brewer

coffee brewer

Paper coffee filters

Paper coffee filters

Digital Scales

Digital Scales

Kitchen timer

Kitchen timer

Your choice of coffee beans

There aren’t any right or wrong answers here.

If you like your brewed coffee Starbucks style – or from any other coffee shop – why not start with one of their own blends?

coffee beans

coffee beans

But don’t be afraid to experiment if you find the taste isn’t exactly right: the beans are the single most important component of your coffee, so it’s worth investing some time to find the type that’s right for you.

Whatever kind you choose, make sure you buy them whole rather than pre-ground for the best flavor.

Coffee grinder

There are various types of grinder on the market.

Blade grinders are fast and cheap, but they produce an inconsistent particle size and aren’t practical if you’re looking to grind only enough coffee for a single cup.

Coffee grinder

Coffee grinder

A burr grinder is only slightly more expensive and will give much better results.

The particle size can be adjusted from coarse to fine, and if you want to speed things up you can invest in a version that’s powered by an electric motor.

Pour over coffee brewer

Drip coffee versus pour over is one of today’s hottest coffee debates.

Both can give great results, but even though we grew up with drip brewed coffee we believe pour over has the edge for its smooth, rich taste. 

Since there’s no need for electricity, the process is also completely portable.

coffee brewer

coffee brewer

Some pour over devices incorporate their own container, but if you choose one that doesn’t you’ll have the flexibility of sitting it on top of either a mug or carafe, depending on how much coffee you want.

Choose a stainless steel brewer for a great combination of durability and thermal efficiency.

  • Paper coffee filters (buy the right size for your brewer!)
  • Digital Scales
  • Kitchen timer

How to brew coffee: step by step instructions

Step 1: Bring at least 600 grams of water to the boil

First things first: make sure your water tastes great!

If you’re in a hard water area, ensure your kettle is free from lime scale, and if there’s anything about the taste of your tap water you don’t like, consider using bottled water instead.

Pro tip:

Getting the right water temperature is crucial. For the best flavor, aim for 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit – you can use a cooking thermometer if you want to be precise. Otherwise, simply boil the kettle at the start of the coffee making process and leave it to cool for a couple of minutes to help ensure you get the smooth, sweet flavor you’re looking for.

Mike Jones, a barista at New York based Third Rail Coffee, has made a Youtube video showing how to get the perfect temperature for your brew.

Step 2: Grind 30 grams of beans to the coarseness of kosher salt

Before you start, make sure your grinder is sparkling clean to prevent stale coffee grounds impairing the flavor.

The quantities given here are for dark roasted beans. You can change the brewed coffee ratio for a lighter roast.

  • we recommend 23 grams of coffee per 350 grams of water.

If you’re not sure how to measure coffee, follow the example of specialist coffee shops and use scales to weigh out quantities; it’s more precise than trying to measure by volume. 

This video from Transcend Coffee founder Poul Mark shows how to measure and grind your coffee. 

Pro tip:

​Too coarse a grind will leave your coffee tasting sour, whilst too fine and it will be bitter. This infographic from the I Love Coffee blog matches grind size to brewing method for the best results.

Step 3: Rinse out a filter and place it in the brewer

Paper filters are cheap and easy to use, but don’t be tempted to skimp too much.

You’ll get the best results from oxygen-bleached or dioxin-free paper filters, and consider purchasing recyclable versions to be kinder to the environment.

Pro tip:

Avoid dust, chemicals or other contaminants spoiling your perfect cup of coffee by rinsing the filter first. There’s no need to soak it: just run it under a hot tap or pour hot water through it into the cup you’ll be using for your coffee and then rinse away. The latter approach will also warm the cup, helping keep your coffee at the right temperature while it brews.

Ensure you check the instructions for your filter, as some need to be folded before use.

Now just pop it onto your brewer as shown in this image.

Step 4: Add your coffee to the brewer and get ready to start measuring

Place 30 grams of ground coffee into the filter, then tap it gently so that the surface of the coffee is level.

Next, press down on the grounds with the back of a spoon to remove any air bubbles between the coffee grains.

This will prevent the water from flowing through the air instead of the coffee, helping ensure you get an even flavor extraction.

This recipe will make enough coffee for a single serving, so place the brewer on top of a cup. (If you want more coffee, simply adjust the quantities and use a carafe instead.)

Then place the whole lot on a digital scales and set it to zero.

Now you’re ready to start pouring on the water.

Step 5: Pour water on the coffee grounds

You’ll need to pour the water over the coffee grounds four times. Be patient – the results will be worth the effort!

For the first pour, set the kitchen timer to zero and slowly pour the water over the coffee grounds.

Pro tip:

For even water distribution, start pouring at the outer edge of the brewer in a spiral motion finishing at the center.

Keep an eye on the scales and stop when it reads 60 grams.

Aim to take 15 seconds to do this – you’ll get the speed just right with a bit of practice.

It’s important that all the coffee grounds are saturated, so add a little more water if necessary.

At this stage, the coffee will swell up or “bloom” as the gases inside are released.

This Youtube video shows the pouring process.

Now, wait for 30 seconds.

Step 6: Pour on more water

Repeat the process, this time adding 90 grams of water.

Keep your pouring action slow and steady – it should take about 90 seconds to add all the water to the coffee grounds.

As before, pour in a spiral motion.

The coffee should have “bloomed” so that it reaches about half way up the sides of the brewer. 

This step aims to get as many of the grains of coffee as possible to form an even bed at the bottom of the brewer, rather than floating at the surface or clinging to the sides of the filter.

Pro tip:

Pour all the way out to the filter edge. This helps to stop the grounds from becoming trapped in the ripples of the filter, and ensures all their flavor is extracted.

Wait for another 45 to 65 seconds.

Step 7: The third pour

By now your coffee will be dripping through the filter and into your cup.

You’re almost there – but don’t be tempted to rush the final stages!

When the level of the water and coffee mixture from your second pour has almost reached the surface of the grounds, it’s time for the third pour.

Add a further 100 grams of water, bringing the total on your scales to 250 grams.

Again, pour the water in a spiral pattern. This time it can be slightly quicker – aim to take between 15 and 20 seconds to add all the water.

Pro tip:

Try to keep the water at an even level about half way up the filter throughout the pouring process. This will help ensure all the flavor is extracted from the coffee grounds.

This image shows how your filter will be looking at this stage.

Step 8: The fourth and final pour

Wait until the water from the third pour has reached the level of the coffee grounds before beginning your fourth and final pour.

Add another 100 grams of water to the coffee in the filter so that the total on your scales reads 350 grams.

final pour

Use the same technique as for the earlier stages – slow, steady pouring in a spiral motion – and aim to take 20 seconds to add all the remaining water.

Now, wait until every last drop has dripped through the bed of grounds. This might take another one to two minutes.

When it’s finished, you’ll be ready to savor a scrumptious cup of coffee. Sit back and enjoy – you’ve earned it!

Step 9: Recycle your coffee grounds

Now you’ve savored your wonderful cup of coffee, it’s time to decide what to do with those used coffee grounds.

Of course, you could simply throw them away – but there are a host of ways to put them to better use.

If you’ve had a disaster with your fridge freezer and you’re struggling to get rid of the smell of spoiled food, used coffee grounds can come to your rescue.

Use them to fill a couple of bowls and place them in the freezer overnight.

They’ll absorb the odors and leave your freezer smelling fresh and clean.

Coffee grounds also make excellent fertilizer, and those from pour over and drip coffee are particularly good as they’re rich in nitrogen.

Scatter them around the base of acid-loving plants like azaleas and rhododendrons to give them a nutrient-rich treat. 

Enjoy your perfect coffee!

We hope you enjoyed our step by step guide to brewing the perfect cup of coffee.

Whether you’re a complete newbie or a seasoned pro, a bit of practice and a little patience really are the most important ingredients to achieve great results.

We love our brewed coffee recipe, but we hope that this guide has also given you the confidence to try out different recipes and brewing methods to create your perfect cup.

By changing your beans, grind size and even experimenting with the brewed coffee ratio, you can subtly change the aroma, texture, and flavor you produce.

Not only can this be great fun, but you’ll be getting an excellent beverage for a fraction of the Starbucks regular coffee price.

If you’ve found this post useful, please let us know by commenting and sharing.

Let’s all enjoy making great coffee at home!

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