5 Ways to Brew Coffee Better than a Keurig
This article was originally posted on Sweet Tea and Sunshine as a guest post. Sweet Tea and Sunshine is owned and operated by the wonderful Sara Watkins who writes about everything from motherhood to her global travels.
If you’ve stumbled onto this blog, chances are you’re tired of the lackluster taste of Keurig coffee. Or, you pour gallons of milk and sugar into your cup to drown out the taste of coffee.
If you drink coffee like this, you’re doing it wrong. Very wrong.
I get it. I too once lived by the convenience of a Keurig. But that was back when I was chained to my desk at college and those first few jobs. Long hours in the library or attempting to work my way up the food chain at work meant little time for the finer things in life. (Such as a well-brewed cup of coffee.) Of course, I also had no concept of what a great cup of coffee entailed.
Then, I moved next to a coffee shop that showed me the error of my ways. Good coffee can’t be spewed out of a machine with no regard for quality, time, and standards. It must be crafted. The fact that you’ve made it at least this far tells me you’re looking for something more than drinking scalding hot, brown liquid from your dimly lit break room or kitchen.
Before We Begin
It would be foolish of me not to mention that I am in no way a coffee professional. I just like it a lot. It reminds me of home, of friends and family, of past travels, and more. It means a great deal to me, and as a result, I try to learn all I can about the industry, brewing, roasting, etc.
Why Coffee From a Keurig Tastes So… Bleh
While Keurig has made advances to their machines and brewing methods in the past few years, the following points still stand:
No Control Over the Water/Coffee Ratio
When using a Keurig, you can select your cup size. Yet, each K-Cup only contains so much coffee grinds. Meaning, your coffee to water ratios are all over the place. A smaller cup will result in a stronger cup of coffee (more coffee to water) while a larger cup will be watery nonsense not worthy of the title of “coffee.”
To concoct the perfect cup of coffee, it is recommended by the National Coffee Association that you use about 2 tablespoons of coffee grinds per 6 oz of water. This ratio can be slightly more or less depending on your preferences, the blend, and other factors.
No Control Over Heat
Ideally, hot water used to make coffee should be between 195℉ and 205℉ (once again, depending on beans, preference, yadda, yadda, yadda). On average, Keurig machines only reach about 192℉. While 3 degrees may not be a life or death situation (depending on your reliance on coffee, of course), it can affect the end result.
Rapid Brew Time
The whole point of Keurig coffee is the convenience, right? In fact, the whole point of coffee for a certain segment of consumers is the quickness of it. You stop by your local Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks, order a coffee via the drive-thru, and are on your way. A rapid brew time leads to a lower quality cup of coffee. But if you’re drinking coffee for caffeine and convenience, why not just pop a caffeine pill or chug a 5-hour energy?
Remember the ancient saying, good coffee comes to those that wait. (I’m 98% confident that’s exactly how that saying goes)
It’s understandable. You’re on the run. You need that sweet, sweet surrender of caffeine NOW. Been there, done that. But why sacrifice taste and the actual experience of drinking coffee for convenience? Not worth it. Instead, use these five brewing methods to up your coffee game.
1. Drip Coffee
Those who really can’t handle adding anything else to their hectic schedule or complicated lives will benefit from a drip coffee maker. They’re convenient, easy to use, and give you slight control over the brewing process. Plus, it’s nearly impossible to mess this brewing process up. If you know how to measure out ingredients and press a button, you’re set.
To best use a drip coffee maker, you must properly measure out the amount of coffee grinds and water you use. For the best results, it is recommended that you use 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds for every 6 fluid ounces of water.
Another word of advice: buy whole bean coffee. By grinding your coffee beans right before brewing, you are guaranteeing yourself the freshest cup of coffee possible in that moment.
Choose the best drip coffee maker for your home with this article from Roasty Coffee.
2. French Press
Ah, the French Press. A classic among coffee brewers. Created in 1929, the French Press has been a staple in American homes for generations. This fairly simple way of brewing coffee, known as immersion brewing, allows you to control the grind of the bean, temperature of the water, and time.
Since your coffee is steeping rather than filtering, you’ll notice a bit of a taste difference (in a good way, I promise… that is, if you follow the right proportions!) Many note that this yields a “stronger” cup of coffee. Of course, this all depends on if you’ve gotten your measurements and timing right. Go ahead and experiment with the water ratio, timing, and roast to find your perfect french press process.
For those new to brewing their own coffee without pressing a button, a French Press is a great place to start. This brewing method is more forgiving than others since you don’t have to control the speed at which water is filtered through your grounds.
For step-by-step instructions on using a French Press, use this brewing guide.
I love my Chemex. While my non-coffee loving friends give me weird looks and ask if I’m working on a chemistry project when I use it, I have yet to make a bad cup of coffee with it.
For those unfamiliar with the Chemex coffee maker, this pour-over coffee maker was invented in 1941 by Dr. Peter Schlumbohm Ph.D. Its shape and material were designed to avoid imparting any additional flavors to the coffee. In addition to brewing unparalleled coffee, the coffee maker’s appearance and function have earned it numerous awards and accolades. It is a permanent addition to the Museum of Modern Art and has been recognized as one of the best 100 product designs in modern times.
Many note that they prefer the Chemex as its filters and design eliminate the “bitter” notes normally associated with coffee. After properly brewing, you’re left with a smooth cup of coffee.
Using a Chemex does require a bit of trial and error at first. Measurements, grind, and water distribution all affect the final outcome. It’ll take a few times to truly get the hang of it, but once you do you’ll be hooked.
A word of advice: invest in a gooseneck kettle for pour-over coffee. At the beginning of my DIY coffee brewing journey, I only had a regular tea kettle. This resulted in an uneven pour which affected the overall time it took to brew.
To learn how to brew coffee with a Chemex, start with this easy guide.
Another favorite brewing method is the Aeropress. This portable brewer can go camping with you, through the airport TSA line (packed properly, of course), or wherever your heart desires. Those who like Keurig coffee for the speed and ease will find the Aeropress to be a valid competitor.
On top of the ease of use, many prefer to use the Aeropress due to its simple cleanup. Press out the used grounds, rinse, and you’re good to go!
As always, the beans you use, water temperature, and amount of both are critical to the quality of your coffee. I cannot stress this enough!
For more information on using an Aeropress (instead of a Keurig), follow these instructions.
5. Support Your Local Coffee Shop
If you can’t be bothered to try a new way of brewing coffee, go out and support your local coffee shop. In doing so, you’ll receive a fantastic cup of coffee, the shop receives revenue, and you’re supporting the local business scene. Works out just fine for all parties involved!
If you’re interested in learning more about brewing better coffee, ask the hard working baristas in your area. They are passionate about their craft and would be more than interested in helping you steer clear of a Keurig! A local coffee shop helped me see the light (way back when) and it can do the same for you.
Drink Better Coffee
Whether you choose a French Press or Chemex, drip coffee or a trip to your local cafe, there are better ways to drink coffee than a Keurig!