Whatever your reasons for wanting to get into the coffee, whether it’s because you need a pick me up, want to impress a good-looking barista, or would just like to be able to make a great cup of coffee confidently, this guide will give you the basic knowledge to get started!
I have a love-hate relationship with coffee and have, through the years, many times been a non-coffee drinker; it’s true! I’ll explain a little about my coffee journey below. But, I’ve come to the conclusion ( an opinion that might well change with time) that coffee is one of those really useful tools that make life easier, and I really enjoy coffee. It’s a simple pleasure that doesn’t cost a fortune and brings joy to my life.
And I’m going to be fully honest with you here; I’m no coffee expert! I enjoy a really good cup of coffee, but my husband is the coffee connoisseur in our house, so I’ll be enlisting his expertise for some of this post!
Let's remember from the beginning that coffee has the ability to bring people together, to create a moment of connection. Whether it be a cup of instant coffee or artisanal coffee made with skill, there is no right or wrong way to enjoy coffee! Though, at first, the coffee world, and coffee marketing, might make it seem that you need fancy equipment or in-depth knowledge to be called a coffee lover. Take a glance at this Coffee Ad Compilation and you'll quickly understand that there is room for all coffee lovers! Let this be the key takeaway from this post!
SO, WHY DO YOU WANT TO GET INTO COFFEE DRINKING?
Your goal determines what route you might take…
For example, you may want or feel the need to start drinking coffee.. but hate the taste of coffee. You’re not alone! Most people do when they start out, a little like with whiskey drinking; your palate will develop as you learn. And I’ve some simple tips for how to get past that threshold.
If you feel you need a pick-me-up but can’t stand the taste of the strong coffee in the canteen pot, I recommend that you look into some of the different brewing methods. I’ll cover this more in-depth below
Or You might have a favorite coffee shop whose coffee you love the taste of and would like to be able to recreate that great coffee at home.
You may already be a coffee enthusiast and would like to deepen your coffee knowledge further, experimenting with brewing techniques, skill, and choice of bean. I’ll share with you some great resources that can take you to the next level!
GETTING STARTED ON YOUR COFFEE JOURNEY…
Most people who don’t drink coffee have tried it at some point in their life but didn’t enjoy the bitter taste. There are so many different types of coffee drinks available these days that with a little trial and error, I’m confident you will find one that tastes great to you!
An automatic drip coffeemaker is the easiest way to start brewing coffee. There is a huge range available on the market, and I recommend that you choose a medium-priced machine.
If you already have one at home and find the coffee is not to your liking, you can experiment with reducing the amount of ground coffee that you use. This will produce a weak coffee, but one that is possibly more palatable to begin with. A trick that I just learned a few days ago is to add a pinch of salt to your coffee to remove the bitter flavor. I’ve tried it, and it worked! But go easy on the salt!
When learning to brew using an automatic coffee maker for the first time, I recommend that you choose a coffee roast that is mild in its flavor profile. It can seem daunting to choose from all of the different coffee brands and coffee beans, so I recommend that you head to the supermarket or local coffee shop.
Most super market coffees are now labeled in a way that you can easily see the flavor profile, light roasts having the mildest flavor. Darker roasts have a deeper, more bitter flavor. I recommend that you start with light and medium roast and choose a coffee marked as percolator grind. Your local barista might be able to advise you!
You will also, depending on your coffee machine, need to get some paper filters too!
Follow the brewing guidelines on the packet, or start with 3/4 the amount of coffee grind and increase as you wish and as your taste buds get used to the taste of coffee.
Most coffee newbies enjoy café mocha, or a mochaccino as it’s sometimes called. You can order one of these at most coffee shops and can expect a hot chocolate with a shot of espresso added. It tastes really good and is also really easy to make at home.
Technically made using espresso, it takes some skill and equipment to make a good espresso shot, but you can, of course, use the coffee that you usually drink at home and mix it with your favorite hot chocolate. Experiment with the ratio and sweetness to find something you enjoy!
Most coffee shops have a range of coffee-based drinks to inspire you!
Instant coffee has gotten a bad rap these days, thanks to the coffee elite, and being honest… powdered coffee has its limitations. But as far as trying coffee for the first time, I think it’s a great, mild-flavored coffee to start with.
Follow the instructions on the packet or jar, and adjust how much coffee / add extra hot water until you find what works for you. Most people don’t enjoy the taste of black coffee to begin with, and adding a generous splash of warm milk and even a little sugar or honey will go a long way to help you soften the flavor.
If making your own coffee at home feels a little daunting, I recommend that you order an iced coffee at a cafe or coffee shop. They’re often quite sweet, or very sweet, so its that’s not your thing, you can also easily make one at home.
The simplest iced coffee you can make doesn’t require much skill. Put some freshly brewed coffee in the fridge for a couple of hours. When it has cooled completely, add some ice cubes and milk, if you like, and enjoy. I’ve listed a few add-ins below that you can experiment with. As you start to enjoy the flavor of coffee, you might like to try making your own cold brew. I’ll cover this a little more in the section below.
The majority of coffee beans sold and consumed are Arabica beans, and lighter roasts are generally less bitter.
Coffee add-ins to try out:
Homemade Masala Syrup is an easy way to add flavor and sweetness to your coffee.
Remember, coffee is an acquired taste that may take time to develop. I hope these tips and tricks are easy to understand and are a helpful introduction to the world of coffee!
If you really struggle with the flavor of coffee, try this Chocolate Soup Recipe! It’s delicious, and you can gradually increase the amount of coffee and decrease the amount of chocolate until your tastebuds become accustomed.
MAKING BETTER COFFEE…
What makes a ‘good coffee’ is, of course, a personal thing. I struggle with dyspepsia, and one thing that sets it off is percolator coffee which has been in the pot for a while. As coffee is exposed to air and oxidizes, it becomes more acidic, which of course, also affects the flavor.
Freshly brewed is the way to go! And there are lots of different ways to brew coffee!
I’ll go through a few simple methods you can use to make a fresh cup of good coffee without a lot of effort.
I’ll start with my favorite method and top choice, the French press.
My mum drank instant coffee when I was growing up but as we got a little older and time allowed, she began using a French press. So it was natural for me to take on that tradition.
I love the process, the waiting, not unlike waiting for an ice-cold pint of Guinness to settle. There's a satisfaction to it!
A French press is very simple to use and is very reasonably priced. IKEA still stock their famous glass French press, a great and inexpensive one to start with. But I actually recommend that you source one that is double-walled to keep the heat in. They are a little more expensive but worth it in the end!
How to make great French press coffee
- You’ll need medium-ground coffee. The fresher the coffee and grind, the better!
- The general consensus is that the best French press ratio is 30g of coffee to 500g of water.
- Add the ground coffee to the French press and pour over the boiled water. Place the plunger on the French press as a lid to keep the heat in. Let the coffee brew for about 4 minutes.
- Use a spoon to scoop off any foam that is floating on the surface. Then stir the grinds so that they begin to sink. Replace the plunger, without pushing down, and wait for a further 4-5 minutes.
- Slowly press the plunger down to the point where it is just above the coffee. If you push all the way down you risk mixing up the fine coffee particles that have settled to the bottom. Enjoy!
You can also use a French press for frothing milk and making great cappuccinos and lattes at home. You see why I love my French press so much!
The downside.. the best coffee to use with a French press is coffee beans that are ground specifically for a French press setting, as grind size is important.
There are some French press coffees available at supermarkets; some supermarkets even have grinders available. If not, there is a small hassle of having to get your beans ground at a local coffee shop or investing in a grinder.
This doesn’t need to be expensive; there are some small, reasonably priced manual grinders and some larger countertop varieties. It doesn’t take long to grind your own coffee, and the fresh results are usually far superior to any store-bought grind and well worth the effort.
If that sounds like too much effort, then I can recommend that you try an Aeropress.
Equal value for money compared to the French press, an Aeropress makes great coffee, espresso, and even cold brew! Plus, Aeropress coffee is easier to come by as you can choose from any espresso coffee grind. It takes next to no time to make a cup of coffee with an Aeropress, and the technique is pretty easy to master and only requires a paper filter.
I’m going to write a post about my experience soon, but for now, I can say that I recommend the inverted method!
Another brewing method that I can recommend, though don’t have much personal experience with, with the stovetop method.
I have several friends who use a Moka Pot percolator to make excellent coffee! The good thing with a Moka Pot is that you can use almost any kind of coffee as it uses a little bit of pressure to brew the coffee. It’s known for making great espresso!
For regular coffee and Americano it’s still recommended to use medium and dark roasts.
Speaking of Americano, this is my go-to drink to order at coffee shops. It's freshly brewed and less expensive than other fancy coffees like cappuccino, latte, and flat white, and you can still easily add milk if you don't enjoy your coffee black!
BECOMING A COFFEE CONNESEUR…
A coffee connoisseur is someone who has a deep knowledge of everything involving coffee, including the bean-growing methods, different roasts, and brewing methods, and appreciates a delicious cup of coffee.
Coffee enthusiasts are often on the hunt for the perfect cup of coffee and apply focus to details that you and I may not even think of, for example, water temperature, bean growing conditions and altitude, coffee grind size, and even using filtered water to achieve coffee excellence.
If this is your goal, then there is one man that I need to follow: James Hoffman. He’s really easy to listen to, great at explaining, and he also has a few books out if you prefer to read. He will teach you all you need to know!
My husband has dipped lightly into this world and makes amazing coffee every time. He recommends that you start by mastering the pour-over brew method.
Pour-over brewing method
All you need Is a coffee pour-over attachment (he uses a Kalita Stainless Steel pour-over attachment, as we have broken a few ceramic ones in the past) and a filter, and you can brew coffee directly into your favorite mug!
Kyle Rowsel has a great video where he tests pour-over coffee equipment with beginner brewers in mind! James Hoffman also has a video comparing various coffee brewers, though with more advanced brewing in mind.
If you want to get really professional about it, then you can learn how to use a digital weighing scale to fully control the extraction ( how the flavors dissolve and are released from the coffee ).
You’ll need to find a digital scale or one that can measure very tiny amounts. Specialty scales also have a timer, so you can time the pour-over and control the process down to the seconds.
Pour-over brewing is a process that is far too complicated to cover in this post. There are as many pour-over recipes as there are coffee brands. But if you’d like to dig deeper into topics like water temperature, bloom, grind agitation, and extraction times, then you can check out this youtube series on ‘wierd coffee science‘. And below is a pour-over recipe to get you started.
- Grind size: Medium coarse
- Brew Ratio: 1:14 (darker roasts) – 1:17 (lighter roasts)
- Water temperature: 85 – 100 degrees Celsius (revisit the above section on brew temperatures)
- Bloom size: 3x the weight of your coffee with water. If you are using 20 grams of coffee, use 60 grams of water for your bloom.
- Bloom length: 1 – 2 minutes – user bloom time closer to 2 minutes if the coffee is fresh off roast.
- Remaining pour: After the bloom is complete, pour the remaining water at 6-8 grams a second until you hit the final weight. If the coffee is draining too slowly, it is okay to swirl the bed of coffee to help improve the flow rate.
This is how my husband makes coffee, but I cannot manage to get it right, no matter how hard I try! This is probably not helped by needing coffee BEFORE I attempt to do the math thats needed to make the coffee... Thankfully he knows what he's doing, and I can sit back, relax and wait for the incredible coffee to be served!
If you’re really serious about your coffee and, like me, struggle with calculating pour-over times, it’s probably a good time to invest in an espresso machine.
An espresso machine will allow you stress-free control over the brewing process, giving you a barista-like coffee every time. There are tonnes of espresso machines on the market, but be prepared to invest if you want a really good one!
Having your own espresso machine means you can experiment with making and perfecting various espresso-based drinks, like cappuccino and latte.
A coffee subscription is a great way to dip your toes into the world of coffee beans.
It may also inspire you and give you the confidence to try different beans! Have a look online and choose a Subscription that speaks to you; alternatively, contact a local roaster.
Having personal contact with your supplier will give you further opportunities to deepen your knowledge, and it’s always a good idea to support local businesses when we can!
Learning to make your own amazing coffee at home is so satisfying and a great way to save a tonne of money in the long run!
WHY I GAVE UP COFFEE… AND STARTED DRINKING IT AGAIN…
As I mentioned above, I have a love-hate relationship with coffee.
On the one hand, I think it’s shocking to imagine a world so blindly addicted to a substance that is so accepted by society.
Though most people are now aware of climate change and there has been a huge move toward developing more environmentally sustainable coffee production, its toll on our planet might not become apparent for years to come.
Despite its touted health benefits, my journey with coffee has taught me to listen to my body, and symptoms such as tummy pain, anxiety, and insomnia are not signs of health.
On the other hand, I have four small kids and run a business from home.
Coffee is one of those things that make life easier in this stage of life and helps me to be the kind of parent that I want to be.
I’ve learned that moderation is my friend when it comes to coffee, and I’ve found that sweet spot when it comes to caffeine. I’m also mindful of where I source my coffee and encourage you always to buy fair-trade!
Hi, I’m Holly!
I want this space to be a source of wisdom, inspiration, and delicious recipes. Whether you’re looking to discover a new hobby or simply craving a great recipe, I hope you’ll find something that sparks your interest here!