“Now, that’s one good cup of coffee!” For us coffee lovers, that’s the one line we’d love to say every-time we first sip that hot, rich, eye opening drink that touches, zings and soothes our senses all at once. Darn powerful stuff!
And whether you take that cup straight black or with your choice of cream, sugar, spice - or egg nog (YAH!), what really matters most is what first comes out of the pot. And, wow, I’ve known lots of perfectly capable people in the kitchen who’ve confided in frustration, “yah, but I can’t make a decent cup of coffee”.
First, good coffee = right amount of ground coffee + right amount of cold water. So, what does “right mean”? Exactly – and here’s the biggest obstacle: all coffee makers measure "cups" of water differently, which makes it difficult to figure out exactly how much water to use. But that's easy enough to fix either one of two ways. You can read the written tips and directions below or click this link for a completely free step-by-step picture book recipe, which shows exactly how I’m gonna’ make my coffee tomorrow morning.
1. As mentioned above, the secret to making a good cup of coffee is using the right ratio between ground coffee and cold water: usually 2 tablespoons of ground coffee to every 6 ounces of cold water as shown in these written directions. The only problem is that coffee makers tend to measure water not in ounces but in “cups” - and those cups are neither the traditional 1 cup = 8 fluid ounces nor are they standard between coffee makers. My advice: fill a measuring cup with 12 ounces of water and pour the water either into the coffee maker carafe or water reservoir, whichever has graduated cup markers as shown in the picture on the right. I found that 12 ounces of water equates to 3 “cups” in my coffee maker, which, at 2 tablespoons per 6 ounces of water, means I need 4 tablespoons of ground coffee to make 3 “cups” (12 ounces) of brewed coffee using my coffee maker.
2. Taste the coffee, and don’t worry if it didn’t turn out the way you’d hoped the first time around. If it’s too weak, measure out more ground coffee for the same amount of water next time you make coffee. If it’s too strong, use less ground coffee.
3. Equipment counts. I highly recommend using a decent coffee maker. Yes, they can be more expensive up front, but they’re inexpensive in the long run and make a big difference regarding reliability. If you like buying whole coffee beans (I sure do!), I also highly recommend a good coffee grinder. They make all the difference in the world when it comes to making fresh coffee, and they last a long time.
Preparation Time: About 2-3 minutes
Brewing Time: 5 minutes or more, depending on the coffee maker
- Cold Water
- Coffee Grinder (if you’re using whole coffee beans)
- Coffee Maker
- Paper Coffee Filters (I recommend using them even if your coffee maker comes with a fine mesh reusable filter.)
1. If you’re using fresh coffee beans, pour the beans into a coffee grinder, making sure not to overfill the grinder to ensure an even grinding consistency. Grind the coffee beans for 10-12 seconds. Freshly ground coffee should have the consistency of coarse sand.
2. Although some coffee makers come with fine mesh filters that the coffee maker instructions say don’t require the use of a paper filter, I highly recommend using a paper filter anyway for easier cleanup and to ensure the coffee grounds stay in the filter when the coffee brews. Paper coffee filters come in two shapes, basket shaped and cone shaped, so make sure you know which filter shape your coffee maker accommodates. Basket shaped filters can be used right out of their packaging. For cone shaped paper filters, fold the crimped side and bottom of the filter to help the filter fit snuggly in the coffee maker filter basket.
3. Place the filter in the filter basket, and add 2 full, well rounded tablespoons of ground coffee per 6 ounces of cold tap water – just beware that coffee maker “cups” usually do not correspond to the standard 1 cup = 8 fluid ounces. For example, I know that each cup mark on the coffee maker I use measures 4 ounces - I therefore use about 4 rounded tablespoons of ground coffee per 3 “cups” (or 12 ounces) of water.
4. Cover the carafe with its top - some coffee makers will not operate without the carafe top in place properly. Put the carafe in place and start the coffee maker.
5. After finishing the freshly brewed coffee, remove and discard the used paper coffee filter, and leave the water tank top open to allow the coffee maker to air dry. Then rinse out the carafe with tap water and let the carafe drip dry upside down.