Ahh, coffee. The sweet elixir of life that helps many of us transform into real, functioning humans each morning. While we all have our favorite place to buy the perfect cup, and we definitely know how to drink it, when it comes to actually making coffee, many of us find ourselves rather stumped. After all, there are so many ways to make a great cup of joe that even knowing where to start can make your head spin (usually a sign that it’s time for more coffee).
At Plated, we look to coffee for many caffeine-fueled reasons (cooking included), so we put together the ultimate guide to coffee-making that will transform you into your own personal barista. Plus, once you have the basics down, you can start experimenting with fancy flavors and even fancier pairings.
First things first: iced coffee and cold brew may look the same, but they are made in very different ways. Typical iced coffee is prepared by simply chilling brewed hot coffee in the refrigerator, and then pouring it over ice to serve. Cold brew, on the other hand, is a bit more of a long-term commitment.
First, grind your coffee beans. You’ll want to grind them to a coarser texture, so that they look like breadcrumbs, rather than a fine powder. Grind 3/4 cup of beans for every 4 cups of water.
Next, soak coffee grounds in cold water for 24–48 hours in the refrigerator. Finally, strain the mixture into a pitcher (or directly into your coffee cup) using a fine mesh sieve to capture the loose grounds. Add ice, your favorite milk, and voila!
Pro tip #1: You can make a huge batch of cold brew and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 8 days, so you can reap the benefits of your hard work all week long.
Pro tip #2: You can also do this process in your French press, as the plunger will act like a sieve, separating the grounds from the liquid.
Using a french press is one of the fastest, easiest ways to make coffee—especially if you’re only brewing for one or two people. Plus, french press pots are super easy to clean, and most are dishwasher friendly, so you don’t have to worry about a messy production.
To start, boil enough water to fill your french press—a standard french press is 32 oz, but check your model for a more accurate volume.
Next, measure out your grounds. The golden rule is one heaping tablespoon of coffee grounds for every 6 ounces of water, and add them to the french press pot. Once your water has boiled, let it rest for 1–2 minutes (you should never add boiling water to a french press, as this will make the coffee taste more acidic), and then pour into your french press, up to the fill line. Stir gently, and then carefully insert the plunger into the pot, stopping just above the coffee mixture. Let the mixture stand, with the plunge inserted but not pressed, for 4–5 minutes.
Finally, press the plunger until you reach the bottom of the pot, and pour directly into your favorite mug.
Perhaps the prettiest of all the coffeemakers, the Chemex is like the drip coffeemaker’s older, cooler sibling. This coffee brewing method is a bit more technical and handson- than the others, because it’s strongly suggested that you measure out the coffee and water by exact weight—this is the perfect chance to break out that kitchen scale you’ve never used. And while going the scale route definitely isn’t the quickest, simplest way to make your morning cup of joe, you’ll be in for a treat if you’re willing to put in the effort.
If you want to go the official route:
First, bring a pot of water to a boil on the stove, and then remove from the heat and let sit for 30–45 seconds.
Meanwhile, unfold a paper Chemex filter and insert it into the top of the brewer (the glass pot that makes up the body of Chemex), making sure to place the triple-folded portion of the filter in line with the pouring spout. Place the brewer on top of your kitchen scale.
Pour hot water over the filter until it’s fully saturated, and then discard the water through the pouring spout (this ensures that the filter will stay put while brewing the coffee, while also rinsing that papery taste off the filter).
Zero your scale, and then add 36 grams of coarsely ground coffee beans, checking the scale for accuracy as you pour. Once you reach 36 grams, center the coffee in the brewer and zero out the scale again.
Starting a timer as soon as you start pouring, add hot water to the brewer until the grounds are fully saturated, and you’ve reached 150g on the scale. Stir gently with a spoon to ensure even saturation. After 45 seconds, start your second pour—this time, in a slow spiraling motion. Stop when the scale reads 450g.
Finally, when the timer reads 1:45, do your last pour, filling the brewer to the top (the scale should read about 700g). Now is the time to let the Chemex do its thing! At 4:00, the filtering should be complete. Remove and discard filter, and enjoy your wellearned- cup of coffee.
And if you’re trying to cut a few corners, but still want a tasty cup of joe:
With that said—if you really want to try out the Chemex method and don’t have a kitchen scale, there are ways to make this process a little less scientific while still yielding a great cup of coffee. Rather than weighing out your coffee grounds and water, you can use a ratio of 3–4 tablespoons of coarse coffee grounds to 3 cups hot water.
The process is largely the same—after adding the coffee grounds to the filter, slowly pour 1/2 cup hot water over the ground until they rise and bubble (or “bloom”). Let sit for 30 seconds. Then slowly add the rest of the water, pouring into the center of the Chemex. Once you’ve finished pouring, it’s waiting time. After about 3 minutes, the coffee should have filtered into the bottom chamber, and you’re ready to drink!
This stovetop coffee maker may look like something that could have been in your grandma’s kitchen—and it probably was! These classic, simple metal brewers (no extra filters or scales required) use steam pressure to push boiling water through the grounds into the top chamber of the pot, in a feat of anti-gravity magic.
Percolators produce a small volume of very strong coffee, more in line with espresso than drip coffee, so don’t be discouraged if you get a smaller pour out of your percolator than you’re used to. Trust us, it’ll do the trick.
First, measure out your coffee. You’ll need about 1 tablespoon of coarsely ground coffee for every 8 ounces of water. Add your water to the reservoir (the bottom part of the pot), and then assemble the tube and the basket on top of the reservoir (the heated water will percolate up through the grounds in the basket to create your coffee).
Next, add the corresponding amount of coffee (depending how much water you used) to the basket, and place on the stove over low to medium heat. Once the water begins to sputter, but not boil, start your timer for 8–10 minutes, and let the percolating begin. Adjust the time based on your preference—the longer you leave the coffee percolating, the stronger the brew will be. Once your timer goes off, remove from the heat, and discard the grounds. Pour, and enjoy!
Nitro coffee: the sweet milkshake of the java world. You may have fallen under the spell of this tasty, craveable drink, but did you know you can make it at home?
First things first, a little lesson about what actually goes into making nitro coffee. Infusing cold brew with nitrogen (yes, there’s actually nitrogen in there!) produces a creamy, frothy coffee drink, without adding any sugar or milk. Nitro coffee makers have actually taken a page out of the beer industry’s guidebook; beermakers have been infusing their brews with nitrogen for years to achieve a unique rich, sharp flavor.
If you happen to have a whipped cream dispenser at home (or are willing to invest in one for your nitro brewing future), making your own nitro cold brew can be super easy—and tasty.
To get started, you will need a batch of homemade cold brew, so make sure to have at least 12 ounces pre-made before starting this project. Pour the cold brew into your whipped cream dispenser until the liquid reaches about an inch below the top of the canister. Close the lid, and then attach a nitrogen cartridge. Place the nozzle over a glass or mug, and squeeze the handle on the dispenser, until you’ve filled your glass. The foam will settle after a few seconds, leaving you with a frothy treat, no milk needed. If you’re a little unclear, you can use this clip for reference.
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