So, what is that makes a cup of coffee great and others not?
We need to start with good, whole bean coffee that has been properly roasted. Preferably the coffee would not be any older than two weeks. It should be a single origin bean not a blend and it should be ground just prior to the brewing process. Region of preference in descending order:
Island (Hawaii, Jamaica, Cuba)
Coffee originated in Ethiopia so I think that Africa and Arabia are a good place to start. The reason I suggest to you not to try a blend but rather a single origin is so that you can develop a palette for coffee and it’s flavor profile. In blending coffees from different regions it is easier to cover up mediocre coffee. Coffee from different regions will have different flavor characteristics, therefor I encourage you to try and distinguish the difference between a Yirgachaffe from Ethiopia to a Tarrazú from Costa Rica.
Now that you have some whole bean coffee you will need to grind it. There is no need to drop several hundred dollars on a burr grinder when a twenty dollar blade grinder will be more than adequate.
Now that you have the beans and have just ground them in a blade grinder, what to brew your coffee in? A regular drip coffee maker is not a bad choice but the majority of drip coffee makers on the market just do not heat the water enough. To properly extract all the flavor of the coffee the water needs to be between 200º F and 205º F, most drip coffee makers only get to about 185-190º F. If you are curious about just how hot your drip maker gets, get a kitchen thermometer and measure the temp. the next time you brew coffee.
What to do if you want a better cup of coffee than what the drip coffee maker offers? Can I interest you in a French Press? The French Press is nothing more than a glass cylinder with a base, handle, filter, plunger and top. The process is rather simple, you grind the coffee then dump it into the cylinder, add the hot water then place the lid which includes the filter and plunger on top. You let the coffee steep for three to four minutes then you press the plunger which pushes the filter through the brew which in turn pushes the coffee grounds to the bottom leaving you with a pot of the most rich and delicious coffee you have tasted.
Be sure to use good drinking water for all your coffee brewing!
If you do not want to try the French Press, then how about a Filtercone? Filtercones are nothing more than a manual drip coffee maker but this way you can be sure that the water will be hot enough and you can drip right into a thermos or carafe.
If you will be using either a French Press or Filtercone, you may want to consider using an electric water kettle. It can bring your water to a boil faster than a stove and it shuts off as soon as the water is boiling hot. Just several seconds off the boil and your water is good to go!
If you are using paper filters try using gold filters instead as they allow for more of the oils to pass through rather than being filtered out.
If you like cappuccinos but don’t want to drop four grand on a home unit then try a Moka Pot. It is nothing more than a stove top cappuccino maker and nothing less than spectacular!
This is not the fastest nor the easiest way to get a cup of coffee, but there are no shortcuts to quality.