Home coffee setups don't have to be big pimpin' to make a big change in your daily routine. In this first of a series, we'll explore three easy ways to make huge improvements in what you taste—and how you think about brewing—each and every day.
A few simple modifications to your coffee routine that don't make a huge dent in your wallet will follow—and just think, at under $25, you'll see a return on investment in only ten cups of coffee you didn't have to buy outside of the house because your coffee at home is so damn good.
1. Try New Water
Depending on where you live, the water that comes out of your tap may leave a lot to be desired. Or more specifically, it may include a lot that you don't desire.
In the simplest terms, your water may be too high in mineral or other content, it may be too hard or too soft to brew nicely, it may impart a taste that affects the coffee negatively, and so on. For a tiny investment (less than five bucks) you can bring home some filtered or spring water (not distilled) and do a comparative experiment between brewing with it, and brewing with your tap water. Find a marked improvement in taste and dissolution of coffee? You'll know right away that you have to make a change.
If you're already filtering your tap water, this is also a good way to compare the effectiveness of whatever method you're using without a big outlay of cash for a new filter system (or simply a new pitcher). Though it might not sound like how you want to spend your Saturday, a good session getting to know your water could be one of the most defining (and cheapest) factors in making your good coffee into great coffee.
2. The Bonmac Dripper
For those moving up from French press, auto drip, or even the similarly styled plastic Melitta cones, advancing to a super-affordably priced ceramic dripper like the Bonmac can reap instant taste rewards. At around only $14, the Bonmac is among the cheapest of the ceramic drippers in vogue these days—while conveniently also being one of the easiest to get right every time. With a simple construction that encourages even water-through-coffee flow and minimizes human error, the Bonmac ranks high as a problem-solver brewer that doesn't require years refining your "muscle memory" or a huge outlay of cash. If you haven't played with pourover yet, this is a great place to start.
3. The Clever Dripper
Another solution I constantly recommend to friends is the Clever dripper: it's cheap, it's lightweight and portable, it's not going to shatter in your luggage, and it makes a great, well-developed cup of coffee that incorporates two methodologies of brewing (immerson and pourover) to wonderful result. Priced at around $18, this resilient dripper made of medical-grade plastic acts like a French press, holding the grounds in contact with the water for 3 to 4 minutes, before it magically releases the coffee right into your cup through a gravity valve activated when you set it over top of a cup. That's right, it's magic.
And since the Clever produces better coffee when you give the grounds a stir or two anyway, you don't have to worry about bringing home some crazy $100 Japanese kettle to pour in such a way to make the coffee taste perfect. And when was the last time you paid that little for a really delicious magic trick, anyway?
Stay tuned for more in our series of simple coffee improvements tailored to any budget.
About the author: Liz Clayton drinks, photographs and writes about coffee and tea all over the world, though she pretends to live in Brooklyn, New York. She is currently compiling photographs of the best coffee in the world to be published by Presspop later this year.