The fact that you have a simple, home-grade coffee machine does not mean you cannot prepare a good cup of coffee. Just a few steps to follow and tweaks to apply and you will enjoy a coffee as good as the one you had in Rome. When you apply these techniques, you will see results right away, regardless of how basic your coffee machine is.
Tip 1: Always buy fresh coffee, only whole beans
Everything starts from the main ingredient and if its poor quality, the end products will also be poor quality. So, head out to the market and start searching for fresh whole bean coffee. Many coffee companies will not disclose the date when the coffee was roasted. You can expect that the coffee you usually buy off the shelf spends months in the store. Ideally, you should consume the coffee a few days after roasting, when the flavors are at their peak. The solution is local coffee shops. Many of them roast their coffee themselves, or you can always buy from local roasters who handle smaller batches. Then you will be certain you got fresh stuff.
Just like other foods, coffee deteriorates in flavor over time. You have to store it properly to prolong its shelf life. Vacuum sealed containers are always a good solution, but a Mason jar will do the job almost just as good. Having multiple jars of different volumes is a good strategy. This way, if you have a big bag of roast coffee, you can place it into the jar of appropriate size, depending on how much coffee you have left.
Grinding is a science
Well, it is not that complicated, but there are a few rules to maximize coffee quality. First of all, grind the coffee right before you brew it. Coffee will inevitably start to lose flavor within half an hour of being ground. Also, be careful about the grind size and consistency. If you grind to coarse, your coffee will be weak. If you grind too fine, you’ll end up with a bitter cup. The answer is a medium grind. Manual hand mills are the perfect budget solution, those who want something more expensive can buy an automatic burr grinder.
The fewer variables you cannot control, the better. One thing you can certainly influence is the weight of coffee, which is a crucial component of a quality cup. Once you figure out the perfect weight, always stick to it. The same amount of water and the same amount of coffee. This ratio should, ideally, be somewhere around 1:20, although some people enjoy a strong 1:14 or a weak 1:30 cup.
Finally, it is important to note that many coffee machines do not prepare coffee properly. Pre-infusing the coffee is a crucial step to get rid of any CO2 from the roasting process. To manually preinfuse the coffee, slowly pour the heated water over the grounds placed in a filter and let them sit for about 45 seconds.