The Secret To Making Your Coffee Taste BETTER Than A Barista’s
How many times have you said to yourself: “Why doesn’t my coffee ever taste as good as the coffee my barista makes?”
And no, despite what you believe; a barista-brewed coffee does not taste the way it does because of the barista’s training (this is a common misconception). Nor is it because he/she brews coffee using equipment that costs more than a German automobile.
The secret is simple, and I’m about to show you the secret to consistently brewing coffee at home that tastes so good it will make your barista cry.
Why Does Coffee ALWAYS Taste Better At A Coffee Shop?
Every person who wants to make good coffee at home has experienced this. You try and try and then try again to make great coffee at home – coffee that tastes as good as what we get at the local coffee shop, café or caffeine bar.
And we fail. again and again!
It’s not that our home brew isn’t good. It’s just not as good as the one you get at the coffee shop.
Some days, it can feel like our goal to make a coffee just as good (or heaven forbid… better!) is misplaced; that you’re a lost cause.
We all remember when we got that new espresso machine. Our hearts were filled with such promise taking it out of the box.
And yet, it keeps letting us down. Again. And again.
Those expensive coffee beans that you drove 30 miles out of your way to get after a long day at work… well, they clearly aren’t as good as advertised.
Yet you can’t help but wonder, what delicious dark liquid magic would the local barista make with them?
And what about that expensive burr grinder you bought? What the heck does it actually do to improve the coffee taste anyway?
I know those thoughts. I have had those thoughts. And I banished those thoughts. Know how?
I found the ‘secret’ to success.
I am here to tell you that you can make coffee at home that tastes as good, if not better, than the coffee made by your favourite barista. I am living proof of this.
The ‘Secret’ to brewing world class coffee is not what you think it is…
It may seem like the experts behind those big commercial machines at your local coffee bar are a part of some kind of secret society or they’ve taken specialty training that you just don’t have access to.
But, that ain’t it.
It’s not about fancy (expensive) coffee equipment.
And it’s definitely not about spending hours and hours in a professional barista school.
It’s actually a simple concept that you already know about.
Come on a little journey with me – and I will give you the secret to brewing better-than-barista coffee every day.
Listen closely and you will never feel bested by the local barista again.
If you’re curious why does coffee taste sour, watch our fun video:
But First Things First – the foundations of great coffee
I’m sure this isn’t your first espresso rodeo… but I don’t want to assume anything, so let’s just run through the basics.
I want to make sure that we’re on the same page when it comes to the foundational stuff about making a good as the barista at the cafe shot of that beautiful caffeinated liquid gold.
Believe me, I know you know this….so please, humour me and run through this list with me.
- Quality beans
- A scale
- A burr grinder (not sure if you have a good burr grinder – check them out here)
- You only grind what you need at that moment
- The beans are stored in an opaque airtight container away from light, heat and moisture
- You need to know how to tamp properly
I know these points seem obvious, but just in case there was some memo that you missed about one of these elements or maybe you forgot one, it’s worth running through them in your head.
Doing Everything Right But Not Getting The Result You Want?
How To Guarantee Amazing Coffee (Every. Single. Time)
I am about to share the secret to great coffee.
There is a secret that you need to know in order to make great coffee at home. Do you want to know what it is? I think it might surprise you.
It’s simpler than you think.
What is it?
I know you’re probably thinking that this answer is too simple – but hear me out… or risk brewing and drinking bad coffee for another 5 years.
Making coffee is both an art and a science. But let’s emphasize on the ‘science’ part of things. Because we can see the ‘art’ side of coffee everywhere (hipster baristas, fancy pour over coffee machines, latte art, etc).
The fact is, if you think of brewing a coffee through the eyes of a scientist – no matter the type of coffee maker that you use – you have a list of variables, and then you have the human (that’s you, buddy)
The variables are your coffee brewer, your coffee beans, your burr grinder, a scale, water temp etc etc etc.
These can all be controlled with consistency (just keep things the same)
And then there is YOU. The human.
Humans are consistently inconsistent. (See what I did there?). YOU are the reason for your bad coffee, nothing else.
By learning to apply consistency to your coffee brewing, you fix everything.
I am here to help you become consistent in your coffee brewing – and you’ll be amazed at how this will transform every cup of coffee you make from ‘meh’ to ‘WOW’
Bye bye barista dependence!
The Coffee Journal: An easy way to achieve consistency in brewing coffee
Let’s talk about how you can address this challenge.
The first step I want you to take is to go to your local office supply house or go online and get yourself a notebook.
You’re going to start a coffee journal.
Yep. That’s right, a coffee journal.
There are actually specific coffee journals/logs available online for sale.
This is not going to be a place where you pour your heart out about the challenges of your relationship with your espresso machine or local coffee roaster (although you could… it’s your notebook after all).
And if you had one of these espresso machines that do everything for you – you might be wanting to write poems about it!
We’re going to start taking notes on what works and what doesn’t work in your coffee-making process.
This is where you are going to embrace consistency.
So you have a coffee journal or notepad ready? Here’s how to get started!
Step 1: Set Your Benchmark
Let’s get started.
Go through what you would normally do to make your coffee and make notes on how you brew it. Your notes will vary depending on your brew method, but don’t forget the vital points:
- Bean type and roast date
- Brew time
- The grinder you used and the grind setting (this is more accurate than simply guessing and listing your ‘grind size‘)
- How many beans you use (use a scale)
- Water temperature (you are tracking this, right?)
- Water type (filtered vs tap water vs special coffee water – yes it’s a thing)
- Did you pre-heat your mug?
PRO TIP: As you go through each step, make notes of anything else that is adjustable on your machine.
Then taste the coffee.
And think about what is wrong – or in some cases, it’s simply what isn’t right. There’s nothing wrong, but you know it can be better.
Get poetic. Write down how the coffee tastes, and smells, and give it a score out of 10.
Step 2: Adjust The Grind
Now, make one change to the process.
Don’t make more than one at a time – or you won’t ever know the reason your coffee was tasting average!
We need to get one thing right at a time. Make the grind slightly finer or a little more coarse. And make notes about what it tastes like now.
If the grind is too fine it will taste bitter. Too coarse, it will be sour.
Get the grinds to a point where it tastes smooth to you. And make notes.
Do you want to know more about what grind is right for what beverage? Check out this great information on grinds. It’s helpful.
And if you haven’t tried using this secret weapon to further refine your grinds…you better start! (Seriously, this is a game changer.)
Step 2: Brew Time
Ok so you’ve adjusted the grind and it’s tasting a little better!
Next up – brew time.
The ideal brewing time will be determined by your brew method – but here’s a little table to get you started (remember these are just guides)
|BREWER||RECOMMENDED BREW TIME|
|Espresso Machine||2 minutes|
|Moka Pot||5 minutes|
|French Press||4 minutes|
|Coffee Bag||2-6 minutes|
|Vacuum Pot||6 minutes|
|Electric Percolator||5-6 minutes|
|Clever Dripper||4 minutes|
|Hario V60 Dripper||4 minutes|
|Kalita Wave Dripper||3 minutes|
|Vietnamese Drip Filter||4-5 minutes|
|Melitta Ready Set Joe Dripper||4-6 minutes|
|Bee House Dripper||4 minutes|
|Cold Drip Brewing||8-24 hours|
|Cowboy Method||6 minutes|
|Turkish Coffee||5 minutes|
But I’ll let you know that it only takes 10 seconds (to fast or slow) to dramatically change the taste of your brew.
Test out the time and see what works best. Adjust until you are happy.
And record it! Remember It. Reuse it!
Step 3: Water Temperature
Next up – water temperature.
The same process applies: Measure your water temp, note it down, taste and record.
Next time, slightly tweak it up or down, while recording the taste difference (there will be one)
How hot is too hot? What temperature brings out the flavour of the bean to your taste?
Typically, it’s said that for espresso, the temperature should be 90 to 96 degrees Celsius.
See what range works for you here and make notes!
Step 4 (And Beyond)
By now you should have figured out what we are doing:
Tweaking one variable at a time, recording the result, finding the best ‘level’ and moving on to the next.
Follow this process on as many variables as you like, but I’d suggest sticking to the 80/20; the variables that will give you the biggest improvements with the smallest legwork.
90% of the time these will be:
- Bean type and freshness
- Brew time
- Grind size
- Water temp
Your Road Map To Coffee Heaven
This may seem like a tedious way to make coffee, but once you get it right – you will have great coffee every time.
Don’t underestimate the power of small tweaks to the flavour of your coffee. If you doubt something this small will work – try it out and then come back here and leave a comment.
Why else do the best baristas in the world use timers, scales, thermometers and german-like efficiency throughout their brews?
They do this because with brewing coffee – the little things ARE the big things
It is about finding the sweet spot with all of the elements and making sure that you consistently do them. This is your road map to “better than barista coffee” at home.