Coffee can be brewed in a number of ways, and there are brewing solutions that produce coffee to suit any preference.
Perhaps the most familiar brewing system is the standard automatic drip machine. You see them at home, at work - anywhere you need a simple, convenient way to brew a quick pot. Automatic drip machines come in a variety of capacity sizes, quality levels and prices, and most these days offer a programming option so you can set your coffee to brew when you want. This is a great option if you like your coffee the minute you put your feet on the ground in the morning.
There are also other methods that produce coffee with a fuller taste, such as a French press - steeping coffee in a French press tends to make more of the flavor come out of the beans, because obviously, the hot water has several more minutes' contact with the coffee. Another plus of the coffee press is that it requires no paper filter, and that means there's no chance of the coffee oils getting absorbed which subtracts from flavor. The French press is a great way to brew a rich cup of gourmet coffee with strong body.
Growing in popularity are the super automatic espresso machine varieties in which you only grind your gourmet coffee as you go. As their name implies, these machines do everything, you just select the amount of coffee you desire and hit "go". It is a self-contained system that grinds, brews, steams and froths (if you're making cappuccino), making it a very convenient way to have a cup of coffee that is freshly ground every time with just the touch of a button. The machines come in a variety of quality and price levels.
Old-fashioned technology can sometimes be the best solution, according to many coffee connoisseurs. Popular early in the century, vacuum coffee brewing produces a cup with pronounced body and no sediment. This infusion method is an excellent option if you enjoy a very clean coffee; however if you are used to using a French press, which produces a "thicker" cup, you may find coffee brewed this way a bit weak. Enthusiasts insist that this method produces coffee with flavor that is superior in every way.
There are essentially two kinds of coffee grinders: blade grinders and burr grinders. Blade grinders have a metal blade that basically "chops up" the coffee beans. The control you have over the fineness is how long you keep the grinder on. Coffee ground in blade grinders can be uneven in size which can lead to a brew that is not consistent. Another factor is that the longer you have the grinder on, the more heat builds up, which can alter the taste of coffee. These grinders are sufficient for basic home use, but for more sophisticated use/taste, a burr is the better option.
Burr grinders offer a more consistent result, and are usually the choice for serious coffee enthusiasts. There are two types of burr grinders: the wheel burr and the conical burr. Wheel burr coffee grinders work by grinding the coffee beans between a wheel and a fixed surface. It's the placement of the wheel that controls the fineness of the grind. Conical burr coffee grinders are considered the cream of the crop for grinding, although they are the priciest on the market. With conical burr coffee grinders, the burr doing the grinding spins at a lower rate than the wheel burr grinder making it a more quiet option.
There is a common misunderstanding among many that coffee should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer rather than anywhere else. We're here to dispel that myth. In fact, storing your un-brewed coffee in a cold environment leads to the coffee becoming stale quicker. Any drastic change in temperature has an adverse effect on coffee, which has 3 enemies: sunlight, moisture and air. Keeping coffee in the fridge or freezer causes condensation, which is moisture. Your best bet is to purchase an airtight container and keep your coffee at room temperature and out of sunlight. This will ensure you get the freshest cup possible from your coffee.
Keep It Clean
The best coffee starts with a clean machine. Over time, lime scale builds up in coffee machines, which can slow your brewing time down and cause the coffee to be bitter. There are easy, chemical-free options for cleaning your machine, which should be done monthly, and once you experience the difference cleaning it makes, you will probably be diligent about keeping it clean!