Amp Up Your Home Coffee Setup
Cafés are steadily reopening and grocery store coffee aisles are often ransacked and left barren by caffeine-starved people who’ll do anything for their fix. I can just see all those poor bags getting smushed. Be still, my heart. If I didn’t work at Fresh Roasted Coffee, where I can have as much specialty coffee as I want, I might be joining them—maintaining a six-foot distance at all times, of course.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has likely made hundreds of thousands of people around the world wonder, "hey, could I make my own coffee at home?" Yes, absolutely. Unfortunately, coffee isn’t as simple as having a mug and some grounds. You need a way to brew it, which can admittedly get a little frustrating. You have a world of brewers to choose from, but they all behave differently in terms of the grind level needed, the amount of water required, and even the type of cup it produces.
These are all things you have to figure out. If you’re used to getting coffee from your favorite shop, you might be overwhelmed right now, and that’s okay. There’s much more to your order than you may realize. That more complex "caramel latte" or simple "dark roast, one cream, one sugar" didn’t just materialize in your mug. Shout out to all the baristas who can pull shots like people pull their socks up. #flawless. But right now, you are your own barista, unless you’re quarantined with an actual barista. In which case, you’re one lucky duck. But if your home coffee setup game is #weak, even with a barista, you may be more of an unlucky goose.
I recently read an article about at-home coffee bars, and it left me a bit disappointed. Coffee wasn’t even on the list. Forget the bar cart, kitschy coffee canisters and mugs, fake foliage, expensive spoons, the goofy cream pitcher, and signs—I can’t drink a sign—where’s the coffee?! There’s a reason cafés don’t have recliners in them. Comfort isn’t the point; it’s the coffee. The article also said that bigger coffee cups are always better. Um, no. More coffee typically translates to weaker coffee.
If you walked into my kitchen right now—please don’t come over right now. Social distancing is very important—you would only see a matte-black electric kettle and a scale. That’s it. I keep all my coffee and equipment in the cupboard, away from coffee’s four age-old nemeses: heat, light, air, and moisture. The only time my setup looks mildly impressive is when I’m actually making coffee. Coffee isn’t about the aesthetic, though coffee culture is sleek, eclectic, and cool as hell. It’s about this little cherry seed we harvest, wash, dry, and roast to perfection.
So let’s get down to business. Here are five different simple coffee setups that’ll take your kitchen counter and make it a man-made meadow of metal, glass, and some polished wood. Let’s go.
We’ll use the difficulty levels from the popular video game Halo to add some extra fun into this already fun topic.
A setup for the coffee novice whose daily fix comes from a coffee shop.
- How you’ll boil the water: Coffee pod machine – ~$100 most places
- Brewer: Coffee pod machine
- Coffee: Organic Black Knight Coffee Pods – $11.95 or Tiger Nebula Coffee Pods – $11.95
- Total: ~$111.95
If you’re wary of beginning your at-home brewing journey with a coffee pod (K-Cup) machine, hear us out. Yes, traditional coffee pods are terrible for the environment, but Fresh Roasted Coffee pods are 100% recyclable and compostable, so they’re good for you and good for the Earth. Coffee pod machines are notoriously easy to use and as convenient as a coffee shop, just be sure to clean your machine often and use clean water to get the best flavor possible out of your brew. If you like dark roast coffee, our Black Knight is the boldest blend you’ve ever had. But if you’re looking for something a little more tame, Tiger Nebula might be more your speed. Don’t let the name fool you, this medium roast is king of the universe.
A setup for the coffee capable who switches between making their own cup and buying one. They can make a pot of drip no problem, but they’re looking for something a little more flavorful.
- How you’ll boil the water: Stovetop whistling kettle – ~$10 anywhere
- Brewer: AeroPress – $30
- Coffee: FRC Organic Guatemala Huehuetenango (ground medium-fine) – $9.95
- Total: ~$49.95
Normally, we would recommend a gooseneck kettle for added control of the flow and precision of the pour, but the AeroPress is already a no-fuss brewer, so it isn’t necessary to spend the extra money, especially if you’re somewhat new to making your own coffee. The AeroPress is great because you can brew a stellar cup of espresso-style coffee in less than one minute. Down the line, you’ll want to invest in a nice electric gooseneck kettle. I did, and I’ve never looked back. Our Guatemala Huehuetenango is a middle-of-the-road, perfect brew that makes an instant fan out of anyone who’s lucky enough to try it.
A setup for the coffee confident who makes coffee at home more times than not, reserving visits to their favorite cafés for special occasions.
- How you’ll boil the water: Hario V60 Buono Electric Power Kettle – $73.95
- Brewer: Bodum Chambord 8 Cup French Press – $39.95
- Coffee: Organic Dark Mexican Chiapas – $9.95 (ground coarse)
- Total: $123.85
Though a simple Hario V60 Buono Coffee Drip Kettle ($51, non-electric), or even the simple whistling kettle mentioned above, would suffice for a French press, coffee lovers looking to continue progressing through the difficulty levels may want to save themselves the money and heartache later by investing in an electric kettle now. Not only are they easier to use, but they are infinitely faster than a traditional stovetop kettle. The French press is great if you want a bold cup of coffee. The lack of a paper filter (it uses a mesh filter) allows more of the natural oils from the roasting process through, leaving you with a full-bodied, complex cup. The flavor depth of our ever-popular Dark Mexican Chiapas is best savored from a French press, as little to none of its brown sugar, cashew, or bold notes are lost. Pro tip: 80g of coffee to 800g of water for an easy brew.
A setup for the coffee connoisseur who not only prefers making their own coffee at home but also enjoys perfecting their brew. "Good enough" is not good enough. They strive to make the perfect cup. To those who are playing on Legendary mode, coffee is life.
- How you’ll boil the water: Hario Buono V60 Electric Power Kettle – $73.95
- Brewer: Hario V60 Ceramic Coffee Dripper - Size 01 – $18.95
- Coffee: Organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe – $11.95 (ground coarse)
- Total: $103.85
Remember that electric gooseneck kettle we suggested earlier? Here’s where you really might want to have one. The Hario V60 Ceramic Coffee Dripper is a pour-over method, and as such requires a little more control than a stovetop kettle can provide. The pour over is all about, well, pouring—you want complete control over the precision and flow of the pour to achieve the best coffee extraction from the grounds. Evenly saturate the grounds using the least amount of water, allow to bloom (de-gas) for 30 seconds, and then continue your pour depending on the amount of grounds used. Our Organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, like many of our African coffees, has an interesting, complex flavor profile, respectively sporting cupping notes of sweet tangerine, lemon tea, and lime. If you’re looking to take your taste buds on a journey, this is the coffee for you.Optional equipment: Hario V60 Drip Scale and Timer – $48.59
A setup for the coffee elite who is no longer satisfied with pre-roasted beans. They love the challenge, creativity, cost-efficiency, and achievement of roasting their own green beans.
- Roaster: Fresh Roast SR800 Coffee Roaster – $259
- How you’ll boil the water: Hario Buono V60 Electric Power Kettle – $73.95
- Brewer: 8 Cup Classic Chemex – $43.95 or Chemex Funnex – $33.95
- FIlters: Chemex Bonded Filters (100 ct.) – $9.50 or Funnex Bonded Filters (100 ct.) – $9.95
- Coffee: Unroasted Organic Colombian Sierra Nevada – $8.95 (ground coarse)
- Grinder: Bodum Bistro Electric Burr Coffee Grinder – $99.95
- Total: $495.30, if you go with the 8 Cup Classic Chemex
Aside from purchasing your green beans from someone else, this setup gives you complete control over every aspect of your coffee life. You choose the roast level (though we have suggestions), grind level, and brew strength. Every conceivable ball is in your court. Keep in mind, control equals money. The good news is, with proper love and care, this large investment will last you for years to come. And green coffee costs less than roasted coffee! By the time you’re playing on Mythic, it’s all you, friend. You’ve mastered the game. Congrats!
The shuttering and uncertain reopening of cafés all over has hit a lot of people hard, both those who work there and those who rely on them. Caffeine makes the world go ‘round, and all we can do right now is stay home, order coffee, make that coffee, and carry on.