How to Make a Simple, Savory Cup of Coffee 

by Tammy Strobel on October 18, 2011

“Look at the coffee. See the oil on top?” Logan said.

I nodded my head yes and Logan went on to say, “From what I’ve read, the oil is what makes coffee taste good. If you want to do the pour over method, it’s important to slow down and let the oil gather on the top. It makes the coffee have a rich, savory flavor that you love so much.”

Yesterday, I asked Logan how he makes coffee because over the last month my coffee seems to be tasting worse and worse. Whereas, every cup of coffee Logan makes seems to taste better and better.

Coffee makes me happy. I love the flavor, the smell, and drinking it in the early morning. It’s a little pleasure that’s enjoyable and affordable. If my coffee is bad, I tend to get very cranky.

Since Logan’s coffee is so yummy, I wanted to share his coffee making method with you.

Our traditional automatic coffee maker produced really horrible coffee, so we started using the pour-over method. For a while we used a double walled, glass drip coffee maker and it was okay. The coffee got cold relatively quickly and we were in the market for something better.

Last year, Logan discovered the insulated Kleen Kanteen and started using the steel GSI H2Jo for a filter. Now, it’s our preferred way to make a cup of coffee. The system is simple, light, and easy to transport, which makes it perfect for bike camping, trips to visit family, and everyday use.

If you want to make a stellar cup of coffee follow these simple steps:

1. Add water to your little tea pot and bring it to a boil. I’ve been known to make coffee with warm water and that never tastes good.

2. Screw the filter onto the Kleen Kanteen. Then add in two heaping tablespoons of fresh, fine-ground coffee.

3. Slowly pour the water over the coffee. Slow is the key word here, it seems to help with the flavor, but perhaps its only the anticipation that makes it taste better. Also, if you pour too fast you risk overflow and being burned by scalding hot water.

4. Once you’ve filled the Kanteen with water, stir the grounds a few times. Then let the coffee sit for 30 seconds to a minute to brew.

5. Pull the filter off slowly and let the residual coffee drip into the Kleen Kanteen.

6. Pour it into a cup. I always add half and half because I love milky coffee.

7. Now, sit down, relax, and savor your cup of coffee. While you’re at it, read: National Coffee Day highlights health effects of popular brew and American’s Most Caffeinated Cities.

Share your coffee making tips in the comments section.

1 Karen October 18, 2011

We have been making our coffee in a French press for a while now. Love it! We also have an espresso maker that we use as well.

2 Gwyn Michael October 18, 2011

It’s 8pm here and I want coffee! I will definitely be looking into this.
Thanks

3 Tammy Strobel October 18, 2011

@Gwyn – LOL! Well, I want coffee too. Have some tea instead and use the same method above (just don’t stir the leaves). :)

4 Foy Update: Garden. Cook. Write. Repeat. October 18, 2011

A good cup of coffee is important. When we were in the Peace Corps we had to learn how to make coffee without a machine. Most volunteer eventually got a French press. We, however, perfected The Sock Method. This doesn’t involve an actual sock, but it does involve a cloth filter. We would put the coffee grounds into the filter and then hang/wedge it between slats in the wall so it was just the right height to sit in a coffee cup. We’d pour the hot water over and then let it soak for two minutes before removing the filter and grounds. The result? Perfect coffee. Way better than Panamanian coffee which involved boiling the grounds in the pot and adding a ton of sugar. I taught several folks how to make Cafe del Estados Unidos before I left. Our coffee making method will probably long out last any of the other projects we had.

5 Tammy Strobel October 18, 2011

@Foy – Very cool! Thanks for sharing the story and the coffee making method. Love it!

6 Heather October 18, 2011

This was lovely. Tammy’s Coffee Ceremony. We pretty much do the same as you describe, except we pre-steep the grounds. I just pour enough to get all the grounds wet, and I stir the coffee mud for 20 seconds or so. When all the grounds are soaked, I pour water up to the top of the filter. Another stir for good measure. I may try a larger, insulated cup. I usually just brew into my coffee mug one cup at a time. It’s never enough coffee. Never.

7 Mark October 18, 2011

Okay, so here’s my home brew, secret method. This is the first time sharing. I’m a coffee lover through and through. So I’ve done a lot of research on how to make the best cup of coffee. Generally what I found was that the purists prefer the coffee press, also known as the french press. And categorically brewing was based on time, which never quite sat well for me for reasons I won’t go into here. What I did learn though is that optimal flavor occurs when the granules have been completely infused with water, that is they became saturated. The obvious result when saturated is the granules no longer float, they sink. Using a glass press, you can watch this happen as a layer of granules builds up on the bottom of the press. I use a wooden spoon with a round handle during brewing. I simply dip the handle into the brew. If covered with granules upon removing it, then it’s not ready yet. There are too many unsatured granules still floating at the surface. If it comes up empty, it’s quite possibly over done. I consider it optimal when just a few lingering granules stick to the spoon handle, usually the few really big ones. They obviously take longer to infuse with water. Another measure of when the coffee has reached optimal brew time is how easily the plunger goes down. If difficult to plunge, then it hasn’t brewed long enough. There’s still a lot of unsaturated, floating granules that act to clog the screen as you plunge. If it plunges with no effort whatsoever, then it’s probably over extracted and bitter. The best part is that this method of brewing has turned coffee making into a fun ritual for me. It also makes it easy to produce a consistently yummy cup of coffee. Of course there’s a few more steps to the process, but I figured I’ve already overextended my word limit here.

8 s.e. October 18, 2011

I love hearing coffee (or tea) making stories and rituals.

We only make coffee at home on the weekends, I don’t drink much coffee, i like black tea at home and my husband drinks his at work:) He had a french press at work and at home. My oldest son recently got married and he and his partner are living permanently in a travel trailer. They don’t always have access to electricity but they have a propane stove so they requested an enamel stove stop percolator and they love it:)
By the way, we grind out coffee in an electric coffee grinder that we bought used at a yard sale almost 30 years ago, it still works just fine.

9 Dave October 18, 2011

Heh, we just did a post like this as well :)

http://givetothewheat.blogspot.com/2011/09/how-we-do-coffee.html

…and occasionally we do espresso :)

http://givetothewheat.blogspot.com/2011/10/espresso.html

10 Frank October 18, 2011

I’ve been using a French Press for months now and love it. Nice, simple, delicious. Planning to get a grinder at some point and grind my own beans, as freshly ground is apparently better than grounds that have been sitting in a bag or even an air-tight jar for months on end.

11 Nick Danforth October 18, 2011

Wonderful post. A good cup of coffee is an under-appreciated privilege.

I tend to use the Aeropress as my primary brewing method. Simple, quick, convenient, and the coffee is always amazing. Clean-up is easy too, which I appreciate. It’s also really easy to take camping or backpacking.

When I’m not using the Aeropress, it’s either a french press or a good local coffee shop :)

12 Andrew October 18, 2011

I need to get me one of them insulated Kleen Kanteens!

13 Martin October 19, 2011

I use a coffee maker (drip percolator) if we have visitors and I need more than a few cups of coffee. Otherwise I use a French press. Make sure the water is just off the boil though – boiling water tends to make the coffee taste too acidic. Although, as you rightly point out, you don’t want to use tepid water either ! I leave the kettle for a minute or two after it boils before filling the French press then let the coffee sit for another minute or two to let it settle before pouring. I also warm the milk a bit before adding the coffee to the cup. Finally, keep the re-sealed coffee in the fridge as it doesn’t loose its flavour quite so quickly.

14 patti October 19, 2011

i was all set to blog about my own new favourite coffee extraction method.
like all addicts i’ve tried various methods over the years, but my new aeropress is hands down the best.
inexpensive, totally portable, quick…..and the coffee is sooooo good that i am selling my commercial espresso machine, which has been an important piece of equipment in my life for the last seven years, because i just don’t need it any more.
the coffee is smooth, strong, delicious. no bitterness at all.
we top up our aeropress shots with a dollop of pure cream and then boiling water and a little sugar.

the best tips:
get the right grind….fine filter is best for an aeropress
use 80 celcius water (our rainwater is wonderful) and use the prescribed amount
don’t stir the coffee for more than 20 seconds
press the water through the coffee for about 30 seconds
top with hot steamed milk or boiling water

15 Tara Gentile October 19, 2011

Im completely with you on the pour over method, Tammy. I’d put it to the Test against those press lovers any day!

One thing I’ll add is that you shouldn’t ever use actually boiling water for coffee. Once boiling, take it off the heat for 5 seconds to drop the temperature a few degrees. Then pour. Or you could scald the beans.

It’s probably what you’re doing naturally but it’s also a common mistake!

16 Yan | Towards simplicity October 19, 2011

Beautiful post to wake up to, sipping a cup of coffee!

It was once explained to me why we pour water very slowly over coffee grinds. In fact, I was told to wet all the coffee grinds with as little water as possible, wait 30 seconds, then pour the rest of the water slowly. In doing so, we allow the tiny grinds to open (like a flower) and release both their oil and caffeine. This also explains why coffee prepare in an espresso machine has less caffeine than regular coffee; the water is rushed through the grinds and very little caffeine gets released. Now, I don’t know if this is all true but it seems to make sense.

Now returning to my warm cup…

17 Helen October 19, 2011

I just wanted to say that I love that you are posting so often these days.

18 Meghan Kav October 19, 2011

If more people don’t start living smaller like you and logan, we may not have coffee (or chocolate) much longer.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/oct/13/starbucks-coffee-climate-change-threat

19 philosophotarian October 19, 2011

I love my Chemex coffee maker. It’s beautiful, simple, and produces amazing coffee. I grind my beans just before brewing for a lovely, glorious bloom after the first tiny pour of not-quite boiling water. Then I slowly pour the water over the beans as it drips below until it just hits the little “button.” I like it better than french press and better than conventional drip.

20 Another Heather October 20, 2011

My husband and I appropriated my dad’s old Chemex from his basement several years ago. We use it on camping trips. It does make the best coffee, but it also takes about 45 minutes! Have to do it when we have plenty of time. The 40-year-old filters still seem to work just beautifully too, although apparently you can still buy them.

21 Dave October 20, 2011

They do still make the filters, but Coava Coffee here in Portland has made a stainless steel filter for them that we plan to get soon. It’s a large initial investment, but then you don’t have to buy filters all the time, you just wash the one.

http://coava.myshopify.com/collections/frontpage/products/kone

22 Frank October 19, 2011

Anyone have a recommendation for a good inexpensive grinder?

23 Rita October 19, 2011

I grind coffee in my blender. Maybe not the best, but I am low income and tiny kitchen, and not very picky.

24 Sunday October 19, 2011

if you go to Tammy’s link about the pour over method, it takes you to a coffee geek site where they rate all kinds of equipment. Hope that helps!

25 Sherri Dunham | The Budding Lotus October 19, 2011

There are fewer things I love more than a great cup of coffee (well, I may be exaggerating a bit). Here in Costa Rica even the cheap coffee is good coffee – it’s definitely better than the cheap stuff at home in the U.S. When we moved, we made sure to very carefully pack our glass French Press. Through the grace of the coffee gods, it survived 2 layovers! And now we still get to enjoy those wonderful coffee oils. But I always enjoy discovering other great options for brewing coffee, especially those that are not glass (we’re on our 4th French Press, thanks to a porcelain sink we used to have). I think we’ll go for this one next should our French Press meet its demise. Thanks!

26 Sunday October 19, 2011

I’m so conflicted. I LOVE coffee and desperately want to be able to make my own fabulous coffee, but I need the right materials: the grinder, the cloth filter, the pour over pot. I almost bought it all today, too. I was on Amazon just loading up my cart and about to hit the button that would send me into coffee heaven when I remembered: I’m in the You vs. Debt course and I haven’t budgeted for these items. *Sigh* I don’t think I’ve ever been so let down in my life. So…I figured that while I wait to budget for these items, I will practice the slow pour using my current coffee maker but just set the filter on the pot and not use the machine part. If I actually DO make my own coffee each morning this way for a few months then I know I always can/will and the expense is justified (plus I can then sell my little coffee maker at our annual block sale in the spring) :) You truly are an inspiration, miss Tammy. Keep it up!

27 Tammy Strobel October 19, 2011

Right on Sunday! Way to be mindful! Saving up for something and then buying it is worth the reward. :)

28 Tammy Strobel October 19, 2011

I’m loving these comments gang! You are the best. Thanks for sharing your tips. :)

29 Annie October 19, 2011

Hello Tammy!

I’m glad the house is coming along so well! I use a Vietnamese coffee filter for my morning brew. Here is a picture of mine on this post: http://annienygma.com/2011/03/minimalist-coffee-maker/ It is kinda like your Kleen Canteen but smaller and only does one cup at a time. Since it is just me – it’s perfect.

Take care!
Annie

30 Tammy Strobel October 20, 2011

Awesome! Thanks for sharing Annie. :)

31 John Taylor October 19, 2011

Just wondering – are you using a 12, 16, or 20 oz insulated Kleen Kanteen? I notice the amount of coffee used is “two heaping tablespoons”.

Good luck and best wishes to you and Logan on your transition to the new home! What an exciting journey! I’ve been following the progress for a few months and can say that I’m living vicariously through you. John – Austin, TX.

32 Tammy Strobel October 20, 2011

Hey John – Thanks for reading! We’re using the 16oz Kleen Kanteen. :)

33 Doodlemaier October 21, 2011

Want to make coffee that tastes exactly like the beans smell roasting or when ground? Cold-brew!
I use a heaping tablespoon per cup of water, a large jar with a tight fitting lid – shake and let it sit on the counter. After about 16 hours, or 24 hours strain out the grinds with a paper filter (like a paper towel – most quilted varieties work wonderfully, institutional stuff is hit or mess) over a fine sieve. The results are a concentrate that’ll keep in your fridge for a week or so, although I often drink it straight, black and cold, but you can do anything you’d normally do to prepare coffee – heat it up, cut it with water (for fewer curly hairs) add milk. This method requires no special equipment and can even make cheap coffee taste better without a bitter or acrid flavor. Don’t get me wrong, I love, love, love my tea and coffee parafernalia but it’s been collecting lots of dust lately.

34 [email protected] October 22, 2011

Thanks for this informative article! I’m not a big coffee drinker myself (i’m a tea person), but my husband LOVES his coffee all day!
I’m often intrigued by how to make a good cup since I don’t normally make it myself! That way I can impress all my coffee drinking friends and my husband of course!

35 Terra October 22, 2011

Coffee is a soul-food, for sure. We grind at home for each pot, weight the water to calculate for the proper grams of beans, and use a thermometer to heat the water to exactly 200 degrees. Four minutes in the pot, then pressed. My husband went from an avowed, life-long coffee-phobe to coffee-fiend overnight. A well-made cup of coffee is not to be under estimated! Thanks for the post – it validates my coffee near-obsession.

36 Mike | Homeless On Wheels October 24, 2011

While pourover (using non-paper filter) and press both produce a potable cup, the best brewed coffee comes from a syphon (vacuum pot). My inexpensive stovetop vacuum brewer makes delightful coffee – bold but never bitter. If I’m not drinking that, it’s espresso or cappuccino.

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