Last Updated on August 23, 2023 by Barry Gray
I must admit drinking coffee was a journey for me. I didn’t grow up in a household lined with coffee machines and basic hand-crafted coffee connoisseurs who got up each morning waiting to show me the ropes.
But if you are starting out with your coffee journey, I suggest keeping it straight black, or a flat white. They are simple drinks while I’d also opt for a medium roast bean as a middle-ground until you get used to the taste.
But as you will soon discover, there’s a whole coffee world out there, and it’s just waiting for you to step out and explore it.
Not A Fancy Coffee Pot In Sight
No French presses at the ready, no moka pots, and not a bean grinder in sight. It was a barren landscape. Later on, I can give you some tips on how to grind coffee beans without a coffee grinder, so read on.
Instead, our home was the land of instant coffee, which was probably on sale or at least two for three. My mother hated coffee; even the smell of it would turn her stomach; she was a dedicated tea drinker. So how did a person grow up in this sad ‘no real coffee for you experiment’?
Sometimes You Learn To Love Coffee
I grew to love coffee. It didn’t come naturally.
When I was younger, I first experienced the aroma of coffee in restaurants and coffee shops, just like you may have. It was like something I had never experienced before; it made me hungry to know more.
Starting a coffee journey can be daunting, but don’t worry! I have some great tips to get you started.
Once you master the basics, you can create your adventures. Even mistakes can be fun, like when I accidentally over-whisked milk and added a shot of espresso.
The espresso poured through the whisked milk, leaving foam in the glass. I turned it upside down and shook it; nothing could budge that foam which was like concrete!
Get To Know Your Beans
Sounding knowledgeable and getting a decent cup of coffee starts at the beginning, which is getting to know the beans.
Arabica Coffee Beans (Arabian Coffee Beans)
These beans are subject to rigid growing methods, making them more expensive. Pests and other conditions quickly spoil them, so they also need more time and attention than other beans, but the result is paradise in a cup.
The coffee is mellow yet smokey, not too acidic, and has a cacophony of gentle chocolate and fruit flavor that blends like a fine wine.
Often arabica coffee is blended with Robusta coffee because of the expense, and you also get some great coffees from this mix. Still, Arabian coffee is the caviar of coffee beans.
Some of my favorite brands are Counter Coffee Culture, Ninety Plus Coffee, and Blue Bottle Coffee, which are warm, fruity, and light. I love adding a shot of vanilla to my Blue Bottle Coffee, but it’s unnecessary!
Make sure to store specialty coffees properly to protect your investment.
Robusta Coffee Beans
Robusta coffee beans are the second most popular coffee bean, after Arabica beans. They are known for their bitter taste and higher caffeine content.
Robusta beans don’t require the same strict growing controls as they are hardier and less susceptible to disease and are, therefore, cheaper to grow.
They love tropical environments, so they are grown in Southeast Asia and Africa. Robusta beans are versatile and can be found in espressos, canned, and instant coffees. I do not have a problem with instant coffee, as some taste good.
Because they are less expensive to grow, the price of Robusta coffee is lower, so it is famous for that reason and also the versatility of the coffee.
Some coffee lovers prefer them; for example, when used in espresso, they produce an excellent crema and a robust kick-butt flavor.
Getting The Essential Gear
If starting out on your coffee journey, you need to have the correct gear to make life easier when it comes to making coffee.
Essential Gear for a First-time Coffee Maker
If you are a first-time coffee maker, there are a few essential pieces of gear that you will need to get started. These include:
- A coffee maker will be used to brew the coffee so it could be the most essential part of your gear. Different coffee makers are available, from simple drip coffee makers to more complex espresso machines. The best coffee maker for you will depend on your budget, needs, and preferences. Try a French Press or Moka Pot; these are excellent coffee makers and don’t break the bank.
- A grinder grinds the coffee beans into a fine powder; you will learn that finer and more extensive grounds make different flavors. There are two main types of grinders: blade grinders and burr grinders. Blade grinders are less expensive, but they produce inconsistent grind sizes. Burr grinders are more expensive, but they have more consistent grind sizes. There are also ways to grind beans without a grinder.
- Coffee beans. The quality of the coffee beans will significantly impact the taste of the coffee. As you have seen above, Arabica and Robusta have distinct profiles. It is important to buy fresh, high-quality coffee beans. You can purchase whole beans and grind them yourself or buy pre-ground coffee. I like all coffee, so beans or pre-ground are fine, but I purchase quality beans. I am also careful not to over-buy, as storing coffee can be a hassle.
- Coffee filters filter the coffee grounds from the brewed coffee. There are two main types of coffee filters: paper filters and metal filters. Paper filters are more common but can produce a more bitter taste. Metal filters are less common, but they make a cleaner taste.
- Water quality will also affect the taste of the coffee. It is essential to use filtered or bottled water for the best results.
- Coffee mugs. Different coffee mugs are available, from simple ceramic to more stylish glass or metal. The best coffee mug for you will depend on your personal preferences.
In addition to these essential items, there are a few other things that you may want to consider getting, such as:
- A scale measures the amount of coffee and water used to brew the coffee so that you brew your coffee to the correct consistency.
- A thermometer can measure the water temperature used to brew the coffee you don’t want to over- or under-extract.
- A timer to brew the coffee for the correct amount of time can help to prevent the coffee from being over-extracted or under-extracted.
My Favorite Tips For Those Without A Coffee Bean Grinder
Using whole coffee beans gives you the best coffee, but what happens if you don’t have a coffee bean grinder? Well, there are other options out there for you to check out.
Use A Blender
A regular blender can work well as a coffee grinder. If you use one, use the pulse setting and keep the coffee beans moving evenly. You should have enough coffee beans to cover the blades.
Use A Rolling Pin
It sounds rudimentary because it is! But you can make a good espresso or cowboy coffee with coffee beans ground this way. Just place your beans into a ziplock bag and crush them with the rolling pin.
Use a Mortar and Pestle
It can take ages, but it will make a few decent enough cups of coffee from fresh beans. Because the grounds will be rough, using it in a more potent brew is better.
Use A Hammer
Yes, you heard right. A hammer will work to crush coffee beans. Place your beans into a ziplock bag, cover them with a cloth, then gently hammer them. I make them evenly cover the pack to get a reasonably even grind. However, the grounds will be coarse and only valid for cowboy coffees.
Get To Know Brewing Methods
I think it’s also important to understand different brewing methods when it comes to coffee. Each method manages to change the flavor profile of the coffee, so knowing you can alter the flavor so easily is cool.
- Drip coffee: This is the most common method of brewing coffee. It is a simple method and produces a consistent cup of coffee. You will need a coffee maker, grounds, and water to drip coffee. The coffee maker will heat and drip the water over the coffee grounds, extracting the flavor.
- French press: This method is also known as immersion brewing. It is more involved than drip coffee but produces a richer, more full-flavored cup. To make French press coffee, you will need a French press, coffee grounds, and water. The coffee grounds are added to the French Press, and hot water is poured over them. The coffee is then allowed to steep for 4 minutes, and then the plunger is pushed down to separate the grounds from the coffee.
- Pour-over: This method is similar to drip coffee but uses a manual pourer to control water flow over the grounds. This method allows for more control over the brewing process and can produce a more flavorful cup of coffee. You will need a pour-over dripper, coffee grounds, and water to make pour-over coffee. The coffee grounds are added to the dripper, and hot water is poured over them steadily.
- AeroPress: This is a newer brewing method that is becoming increasingly popular. It is a versatile method that can be used to produce a variety of cup profiles. To make AeroPress coffee, you will need an AeroPress, coffee grounds, and water. The coffee grounds are added to the AeroPress, and hot water is poured over them. The coffee is then brewed by pressing down on the plunger, forcing the water through the grounds.
- Cold brew: This method is the opposite of hot brewing methods. The coffee grounds are left to steep in cold water for an extended period, typically 12-24 hours; this produces less acidic coffee and a smoother flavor. You will need a cold-brew coffee maker, coffee grounds, and water to make cold-brew coffee. The coffee grounds are added to the cold brew coffee maker, and cold water is poured over them. The coffee is then allowed to steep for 12-24 hours and is ready to be enjoyed.
Get To Know The Most Popular Coffees
It’s much easier to ask for coffee when you are out when you know the names of the most popular coffees. It also makes it easier when searching for different ways to make coffee.
- Americano: An Americano is made by diluting espresso with hot water. It has a strong flavor, but it is less concentrated than espresso. Americanos are one of the most popular coffees and the type you have seen the most thus far.
- Cappuccino: A cappuccino is made with espresso, steamed, and foamed milk. It is typically served in a cup with a layer of foam on top. It has less milk than a latte.
- Espresso: Espresso is a strong, concentrated coffee made by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee beans and can be used as a base for other coffee drinks, such as lattes and cappuccinos.
- Latte: A latte is made with espresso, steamed milk, and a small amount of foamed milk. Lattes are served in a tall glass; milk is the most predominant feature, particularly if you don’t choose a robust coffee.
- Mocha: A mocha is made with espresso, steamed milk, chocolate, and a small amount of foamed milk. It is similar to a latte, but it has a chocolate flavor.
- Black coffee: Black coffee is straightforward, with no milk or sugar. It’s a solid, strong drink full of flavor. Good coffee is required to pull this off.
- Turkish coffee: Turkish coffee is made by grinding coffee beans and boiling them in water. It has a robust and unfiltered flavor.
- Cold brew coffee: Cold brew coffee is made by steeping coffee grounds in cold water for an extended time, typically 12-24 hours. The result is a less acidic coffee with a smoother flavor than hot brewed coffee.
- Iced coffee: Iced coffee is made by brewing hot coffee and then chilling it. It can be served with or without milk or sugar. There are tons of recipes for iced coffee, whether you make it yourself or buy it off the shelf. I love iced coffees; one of my favorites is Starbucks.
How To Start
The best way to start savoring coffee is to go out and try different types of coffee. Try iced coffee; they are easy to drink, not too strong, and have different exciting flavors.
Look at the menu in coffee shops and study the wording. Try an espresso and ask the servers about the different ways you can have espresso.
Most coffee shops are very helpful when it comes to coffee because your interest in their product helps increase their profit line.
When you like a coffee, please make a note about it and try to find out more about that particular coffee. Take your time with this; it is not a race but a journey.
I loved the trip more than the goal because finding out about different coffees was fun. Now I experiment more, and so can you!