What I do makes an amazing mug of coffee to my own preferences and standards. I won't get coffee when I am out because it never tastes as good as it does at home.
But... I was asked by an online friend just exactly how I make my own perfect cup of coffee. The Best On The Island, so to speak.
First of all, I roast my own beans. I'm controlling the roast very closely, somewhat obsessively. This maintains the highest of quality. It's subjective again, but it is exactly what I like. I roast a "Single Origin" Guatemalan green coffee bean from a specific region to "Just Past First Crack". At this point I have been doing my own roasting since about 2008 so I have that process down pat.
So the main thing is that if you like that stuff you bought in the supermarket, stick to it. I'll keep my own comments to a minimum but I will say that coffee that is pre-ground goes off flavor starting in two weeks especially if exposed to the air. Commercially Pre-roasted may not last quite as long as expected since it may have been roasted months ago.
Second, get a grinder and an electronic scale at the thrift shop. While you are at it, you may need a second one for spices. If you grind the beans for coffee just before you brew it, you will have a more complex flavor. I typically only grind enough coffee for two or three days at a time and then keep those grounds in a metal airtight container.
Third, use a French Press for brewing. Even better if you can drink from it, but a French Press is what I use. It allows your beans to brew completely and fully. My French Press is the mug you see in these pictures, and I've had this one for about 12 years now. I'll use it until it breaks. It's lined so it keeps the coffee warm and drinkable for hours, the mug I am working on right now is an hour old and it still is warm. My "mug" holds about 22 ounces of brew, max.
Fourth, Temperature is crucial. I have had to make coffee with the power out in the house and really it's just a matter of bringing the water to the right temperature. However the water I use is always 200F/93C. My electric kettle has a helpful thermometer on the side and I pull it from the power at 196F/90C. By the time I walk it across the room it hits 200F.
Why is temperature crucial? I found that if I pour the water over the beans at a full boil, the resulting coffee is acidic and bitter. Colder than that and it is weak. 200F is the sweet spot and I get a good brew every time.
Fifth, use the correct amount of beans for the amount of water. For my mug it is exactly 21 grams. For those who look at grams and glaze over, it is exactly one quarter cup dry of espresso grind coffee. You get more flavor when your beans are ground to the consistency of a rough flour. Nothing more rough than corn meal. Typical "Italian Espresso Grind". If you have a thick grit then you are wasting your time. I did say you need a grinder!
I obsessively make 17 ounces of coffee. The reason is that it is 440ml/15oz to 454ml/16oz of water for the brew plus three ice cubes to cool it to drinking temperature bringing the amount to 500 ml of coffee. Yes, that is an even half liter. For those of us who are metrically impaired, it means you can use one typical sport bottle of water brought to temperature, minus a bit. I always do the pour over with the french press on the scale set to grams. It gets the numbers right but if you don't have a scale, you can eye ball it easily this way. Even using a sauce pan or a kettle on a fire, it is foolproof.
Finally before you go too far, you will want sweetener and creamer to taste. I find it's two packets of saccharine and two rounded teaspoons of coffee creamer powder. I occasionally use real cream but that tends to just add fat and calories, and the saccharine in the pink packets will dissolve better without rotting your teeth.
So the "recipe" is simple:
454 ml Hot Water at 200F/93C.
21g or 1/4 cup level of GOOD espresso grind coffee grounds
2 packets of sweetener
2 rounded teaspoons of creamer
3 ice cubes to serve.
Process is just as simple:
Add grounds, saccharine, and creamer to the French Press.
Bring water to temperature and add to French Press.
Serve with 3 ice cubes
I won't complain if you add cocoa for Mocha or a dusting of Pumpkin Spice