Brew Coffee Like a Pro

by Daisy

Guest posting today is our friend John Pitman of J.Brooks Coffee Roasters.  Earlier in the week he soundly educated our readers on multiple coffee fronts. 

Today he shows us how to make the perfect home brew.

After this I have no excuse for pretending to my husband I don’t know how to make coffee so he has to make it. 

Wait, what am I thinking?  He’ll never read this.  I’m still home free.

Here’s John:

Today we are sharing one of our top two suggested methods for brewing a stellar cup of coffee.  Tomorrow: the French Press Method.

We are targeting the average coffee drinker here, so please bear in mind 2 things: first, we’re keeping it simple.  There would not be much benefit to you if we just showed how esoteric & geeky we can get with various methods of coffee infusion.  And believe me, there are many, many cool ways to imbibe the nectar!  Second, we will demonstrate using tools which are economical with both time and money.  As you begin to learn about coffee you can get overwhelmed with information and new “toys” and we don’t want you to be discouraged or confused!

So our approach here will be fairly plain & simple, but with this distinction: you will end up understanding why we call it imbibing the nectar… you will be astounded at how delicious and flavorful a cup of coffee can and should be!  The knowledge and equipment we share will be simple enough for everyone, but the results will be anything but ordinary.

We always start with fresh whole beans, so step 1 is to acquire a grinder.  You really need a burr grinder, which delivers the consistent grind size critical for proper extraction during brewing.  Most home units are blade grinders which are inexpensive but woefully inadequate for the job.  If you’re putting the effort into grinding fresh beans it only makes sense to have a machine that does the job properly.  This Cuisinart can be purchased for around $40 and does a great job.  You can also spend double that and get a unit that’s a bit heavier duty and has more stuff to fiddle around with.


(If you purchase ground coffee and use it within 10 days AND keep it stored as we described on Tuesday you can get by without a grinder, but as a professional I’m not supposed to share such insider secrets with you… <wink> )

Below are samples of coffee ground to different sizes.  On the left is a drip grind used in a home brewer; on the right is a coarse grind for use in a French Press.  You’ll want to experiment a little bit with the settings on your grinder to find the exact grind size you prefer.  When in doubt, lean toward a finer grind – you’ll get more flavor in the cup.  The white mark on the grinder pictured above indicates a great setting for drip brew – about half way between medium and fine.

Method #1: Home Brewer

When it comes to brewers, knock yourself out!  Find one with the features you’ll actually use and stop there.  Bells and whistles aren’t helpful in the pre-caffeine morning darkness.  Be sure to get one with a stainless steel pot – the insulation keeps your coffee piping hot while also preventing evaporation which will ruin the brew in a short time.

If you already have a brewer and are using paper filters, go directly to Target or Bed, Bath and Beyond and get one of these little jewels.  Do not pass go because you won’t need anywhere near two hundred dollars.  The mesh basket pictured here is worth its weight in gold.  Never use a paper filter again!  The mesh allows the flavorful oils of the coffee to come through into the cup but still brews a clean, smooth brew.

So if you thought it was crazy to include using a home brewer in this tutorial, hopefully you’ll get a mesh basket and discover a whole new world of flavor.  You can also get one in a cone shape if you have that type of brewer.  We like this system because you get French Press flavor with the convenience of a home brewer.
A note about dosage: taste is totally subjective!  We’ll recommend the best dosage for you to start with and then you can always adjust to what you like best.  You’ve probably heard the standard of 2 level tablespoons of coffee per 6 oz. of water.  It really depends on the roast level of your coffee, however; lighter roasts are denser than darker roasts.  The darker a coffee is, the more the beans expanded during roasting due to higher temperatures and longer exposure to heat so it occupies more space.  Thus correct dosage must be according to weight; this is essential for proper flavor enjoyment.

For a standard 12 cup home brewer, start with 2.5 ounces of ground coffee by weight.  For a 10 cup brewer, start with 2 oz. of coffee.  Once you discover your preferred flavor concentration, you can devote a measuring cup to your coffee dosing toolkit and avoid the hassle of a small scoop.  Use a scale to weigh out the coffee, then determine the size measuring cup you need for a single dose of coffee for brewing.  If you stay with the recommendations given here, you’ll need a 1-cup measuring cup nicely rounded for a 12 cup brew (approx. 1 ¼ cups for a dark roast; approx. 1 slightly rounded cup for a light roast).  If you’re really creative you can determine which cup to use for a whole pot and then halve it if you just want to make half a pot.

Single Cup Brewers
If you have a Keurig or other single brew unit, use its mesh filter basket with some freshly roasted specialty grade coffee and compare the flavor with the single serve cups.  You’ll be glad you did.

Thank you, John.  I’m getting a caffeine buzz just reading this. 

Everybody, we’re having a giveaway starting tomorrow following John’s next tutorial on the French Press method.  He’s giving away some of his combo packs.  If you’re a coffee person, or know one, your ears probably just perked up. 

I wonder, do you usually have good coffee, or the other kind?

Disclaimer: This post may contain a link to an affiliate.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Marthalynn October 14, 2011 at 11:52 am

I have been thoroughly enjoying this coffee series! Question – I have a Cuisinart Grind & Brew; so, what is the whole bean : water ratio for that? I’ve been using the scoop that came with the machine and measuring 4 scoops and two coffee mugs of filtered water. I know, not the most scientific way to measure… Do you have any suggestions on “proper” measurements for an ideal cuppa?

Tomato Lady October 14, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Marthalynn–I’m glad you’ve been enjoying our coffee posts. I’ve checked on a few reviews of the CG&B and on a couple of coffee forums, and there doesn’t seem to be an easy answer to your question. The consensus of the advice is to experiment to find the ratio that works best for you.

LeRoy Dierker October 15, 2011 at 6:46 am

Good information. I roast my own beans (for the last 10 years), use a French Press method and am enamored with the process. Roasting adds another dimension to the experience, to be sure.

Ben December 17, 2013 at 9:10 am

I’m a single cup brewer most of the time and have used your tips to great effect! Cheers, here’s to good coffee!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: