How To Make Amazing Coffee Like A True Barista

Baristas can seem like they’ve got it all figured out.

Don’t tell them we told you (lest they rise up in a melodramatic fury), but here’s their secret: they don’t.

Under the collection of ironic tattoos, chunky glasses, flowy flannels, and black skinny jeans, that barista, bragging about the book he’ll never finish, is ultimately just like the rest of us. Sure, he can slay latte art like he’s Cinderella’s fairy godmother, and he can talk for days about the notes singing on his divinely blessed tongue, but at the end of the day, what baristas do (while impressive) can certainly be learned by anyone.

Yes, even you.

As you’re looking to develop your brewing skills and get the most out of your at-home coffee experience, take a moment to consider the five T’s of making amazing coffee: Type, Technique, Time, Temperature, and Taste.

What TYPE of coffee are you using?

Here at Virtuous Coffee, we offer fresh, consciously-sourced, single-origin, whole bean (or ground) coffee, roasted to perfection, and delivered to your door. While subscribing to Virtuous would prove to be the best decision of your caffeinated life, even if you’re not ready for that just yet, here’s what you should consider when buying beans.

Perfectly-roasted coffee beans should be rich in color and have virtually no sign of moisture. Sorry Grandpa, I just described light roast. The reason a lighter roast is your best bet is that the level to which it is roasted is ideal for preserving and highlighting the natural nuances of the bean. Dark roast coffee can be thick, charred, and muddy. Under-roasted coffee just kind of tastes like dirt. But a perfect roast provides sweet tones and a gold-like hue that far outweighs the oil in your Grandpa’s mug.

Which TECHNIQUE are you using?

We don’t judge if you’re using a classic electric coffee maker, but why settle with average coffee when you can enjoy the best? Using a hands-on method ensures a cleaner and crisper cup. Consider a French Press, Aeropress, or a pour-over method like the Hario v60, Chemex, or Kalita Wave.

How much TIME should it take?

Now that you have a quality bag of beans, and you've decided on a technique, figure out how much time it should take before you can savor the sweet stuff. The three big factors here are the brew method you’re using, the grind size of the beans, and the pace at which you pour the water (if you’re using a pour-over method). Whip out your timer, check out a brew guide, and experiment, trying to master the perfectly-timed cup.

What TEMPERATURE is your water?

While temperature can vary slightly depending on the brewing method, for the most part, you’ll want the hot water between 195 and 205 degrees.

Don’t have a food safe thermometer? No big. Bring your teapot to a boil, and then wait about thirty seconds before you pour.

Finally! TASTE!

Now is the time to taste the fruit of your labor when all five steps come together to create perfection on your tongue. Tip that mug up, and let the liquid gold decorate your mouth like the Kardashian mansion. But, don't rush in too quickly. As it starts to cool, the nuances become more prominent, and if you really want to savor the magic, make some noise and slurp.

In the end, making an amazing cup of coffee isn’t rocket science, and it’s not even a magical power bestowed upon baristas. Experiment with the 5 T’s of home-brewing, and you’ll be well on your way to a barista-worthy cup.