Brewing at home: 'It's super-easy to make really good coffee'

Brewing at home: 'It's super-easy to make really good coffee' »Play Video
Trevin Miller shows us some different ways to brew coffee at home. From left, the home coffee maker, the pour over, aeropress, French press and French press hybrid. (KATU photo)

PORTLAND, Ore. – If you clicked on this story, you probably love a good cup of coffee.

But are you paying too much for your café-crafted drinks?

“It’s super-easy to make really good coffee,” said Trevin Miller, who teaches a class on home coffee brewing at his North Portland shop, Mr. Green Beans.

Miller took us on a tour of five different coffee-making methods, each with its own flavor. First, we started with the beans.

“The big thing to keep in mind is you need it to be as fresh as possible,” he said. That means buying beans within two days to one week of roasting. If you have beans for more than two weeks, they’re probably too old, Miller said.

Next, the grinder. Don’t pre-grind your coffee ahead of time, Miller said. Use ground coffee within 15 minutes for the freshest flavor.

Miller says your typical blade grinder is cheap, but inconsistent. “The big chunks are going to be under-extracted. The really fine powder is going to be over-extracted. It’s going to give you a bitter, sour cup of coffee,” he said. You’re better off spending more ($130) for a Burr grinder that grinds more evenly.

Then it was time to make some coffee.

Home Coffee Maker

This one’s not Miller’s favorite.

“The temps are never right,” he said. “They don’t saturate the beans very well, and they typically have a heating element in the bottom that re-burns the coffee.”

Classic Pour Over

The pour over requires some technique. Miller recommends pre-wetting the filter. “It just gets rid of that paper flavor,” he said.

Then, pre-wet the coffee. “By allowing it to bloom, then you get the coffee ready to give up all of its good flavor,” said Miller.

Use water that is about 200 degrees. One way to estimate that temperature is to boil water, then take it off the heat for about 20-30 seconds. When you pour in the hot water, pour it in a circle, Miller said.

Be consistent with how you brew your coffee, so you can figure out what needs to be adjusted to make your favorite brew.  Measure the beans and the water.  Miller uses two grams of coffee for every ounce of water. “Whatever you do, do it the same way every time.”

Price: $5 to $30

Aeropress

This one’s relatively new. “Put the filter on it and, using two hands, flip it over and gently press down,” said Miller.

The aeropress gives you concentrated coffee. Sort of like a shot of espresso.

“But it has more of a buttery component to it,” Miller said. “It doesn’t have that kind of sharp bitterness of a shot of espresso. So, smooth and round and buttery.”

Price: About $30

French Press & French Press Hybrid

This coffee will have a different taste, as the finer grounds will seep through the filters into the coffee. Both sit for four minutes. The difference between these two? The French press (left) has a metal filter that lets more solids and oils come through. The hybrid (right) has a paper filter for a cleaner taste, Miller said.

“It gives you flavor and depth of character without gritty, oily sludge.”

Prices: $15 to $120

Taste Test

Finally, it was time to serve. We sampled them all, and the French press coffee was our favorite.

“I prefer a little ruggedness in my coffee,” he said. “It’s going to have a thicker, grittier mouth feel. A lot more depth and character to it because of all the suspended solids in the oils.”

But that was just one opinion on one day. Miller recommends going to cafes and trying some different brew methods to find out which ones you like.

“Coffee can be so many different things,” said Miller. “I don’t think there’s a right or wrong when it comes to coffee.”