Most bags of beans feature their “roast date,” which is vital to your brew. “Under the two-week mark is the ‘Goldilocks zone,’” says Ultimo Coffee’s Aaron Ultimo. “After that, it starts to taste dirty and it starts to taste boring.” Never ask for your beans to be pre-ground unless “you plan on literally using all of that coffee within the same day or less,” says Lilly Vamberi of Federal Donuts.
Spend low on a brewer.
For home brewing, pros are fond of affordable pour-over tools, such as a Chemex, Bee House or Hario V60, that rely on gravity for quick brews; Bodhi Coffee’s Tom Henneman is fond of the classic French press. If you’re set on a dripper, One Shot’s Melissa Baruno suggests a Bonavita, which brews with multiple streams of water.
Spend high on a grinder.
“The grind has huge importance, even more so than the brewing machine,” says Elixr’s Evan Inatome. While pricey (you’re looking at $150 on average), quality burr grinders produce dramatically better-quality coffee than traditional grinders.
The consensus: Water temp between 200 and 210 degrees is optimal for brewing. For this aspect of the process, “Electric kettles are fantastic,” says Town Hall Coffee’s Tim Noble. “You can do exactly what we do on the bar.” Most baristas eschew tap water due to high levels of TDS (total dissolved solids); if you don’t have a filtration system, use bottled H2O.
It’s all about the ratio.
Everyone offers a different figure when asked about bean-to-water ratio. Ratios for specific coffees can often be found online, and baristas are typically happy to share their thoughts. (“Most people use too much coffee in their dose,” says Ox Coffee co-owner Will Gross.) Once you lock in a number, make sure you nail it down to the gram, with a digital scale. “I can eyeball it, but let’s be real—I’ll just get a scale and call it a day,” says Menagerie Coffee’s April Nett.