In our quest to bring you the latest food knowledge and know-how, we caught up with siblings Jazmin and Christian Medrano, founders of Brew Brew Coffee & Tea in Chicago’s Avondale neighborhood. From them, we gathered hot tips (get it?) for everything from using a scale to precisely measure your coffee beans to brewing coffee with filtered water. Read on to learn more about how to be a barista at home and craft the perfect cup of joe.
What You'll Need
- Whole bean coffee
- Filtered water or water filter
- Dark-colored ceramic or glass container
- Coffee grinder
- Automatic drip coffee maker, French press, or water kettle
- Coffee filters, if needed
- Your choice of flavoring and toppings (chocolate pieces, Reddi-wip®, cinnamon, nutmeg)
- Electric milk frother (optional)
STEP 1: KNOW YOUR COFFEE BEAN
Knowing where your coffee comes from is important. Acidity, strength, and flavor are dependent on the growing region the coffee derives from. “Usually coffee beans from Africa are dark and acidic,” Jazmin said. “Coffee beans from South America are less acidic and more of a medium roast.” If you’re unsure of what type of coffee to start brewing with, Guatemala is a good place to start. Grown in Central America, Guatemalan coffee is complex while still being balanced in flavor and medium in roast.
STEP 2: BUY WHOLE BEAN COFFEE
When it comes to coffee, it’s OK to splurge. As Jazmin told us, “… if you want a good cup of coffee, you need good coffee beans.” That’s why Jazmin and Christian buy all of the coffee and espresso beans used at Brew Brew from a Chicago-based, small-batch artisan coffee roaster. If you can’t find a local coffee roaster in your area, you can still make high-quality coffee at home by purchasing whole bean coffee and grinding the coffee beans yourself. Why whole bean coffee? Compared to ground coffee, whole bean coffee is fresher and more flavorful.
STEP 3: INVEST IN A SCALE
To brew better coffee at home, Jazmin recommends using a scale. Before becoming a barista, Jazmin measured her coffee at home with a spoon. “It doesn’t taste the same,” she said. She now understands the importance of accurately measuring your coffee. “You need to know how much coffee you’re going to use in order to make the perfect cup.” Having a scale will help you achieve the right strength and balance for you.
At Brew Brew, baristas measure 180 grams of whole bean coffee per carafe. Each carafe makes 12 8 oz. cups. At home, for a 6-cup, automatic drip coffeemaker, Jazmin recommends measuring out 90 grams of whole bean coffee onto a small, inexpensive scale before grinding and brewing.
STEP 4: GRIND ONLY WHAT YOU NEED
Don’t grind all of your coffee beans at once. Keep your at-home coffee as fresh as possible by only grinding the amount of coffee beans you plan to use.
STEP 5: STORE COFFEE IN A CERAMIC CANISTER
Once opened, coffee should be stored in a canister that shields sunlight. According to Jazmin, you should always “store coffee in a dark colored-ceramic or glass container—this keeps the coffee fresher.” It’s also important to avoid freezing your coffee. When you freeze coffee, there’s a chance that it will absorb moisture, which can affect its taste.
STEP 6: USE FILTERED WATER
When it comes to brewing coffee—water matters. That’s why Brew Brew uses filtered water to make all their coffee and espresso drinks. At home, Jazmin suggests keeping a pitcher of filtered water in the refrigerator and brewing coffee with filtered water that’s heated to between 195°F and 250°F.
STEP 7: CHOOSE A BREWING METHOD
Not all brewing methods are created equal, so you’ll want to choose something that works best with your lifestyle (and taste buds). For an even, mild pot of coffee, an automatic drip coffeemaker is your best bet. Meanwhile, the French Press is a great, low-maintenance way to get yourself a bolder, darker brew. But if you’re simply wanting a smooth cup for one, a nice pour over could do the trick. Whatever method you ultimately choose, just know you’ll have to adjust how course you grind your coffee.
STEP 8: CLEAN YOUR COFFEEMAKER OFTEN
“Coffee beans have oil,” Jazmin told us. “If you don’t wash your coffee pot—well, then the oil is going to stay. The next day you’re going to brew more coffee and the oil is going to affect the flavor.” That’s why Brew Brew cleans their coffee and espresso machines daily. At home, Jazmin explained, if you don’t clean your coffeemaker often, “… the coffee is going to taste like it’s burnt because of all the oil that’s been left in the pot.”
You can compost any leftover grounds!
STEP 9: FLAVOR YOUR COFFEE WITH SPICES
Brew Brew’s most popular seasonal, specialty drink is their Lavender Honey Latte. While Jazmin and Christian wouldn’t reveal the ingredients that went into their best-selling latte, they did provide some tips for flavoring coffee at home without using syrups. The baristas suggested stirring pieces of chocolate into your coffee or topping your coffee drink with whipped topping and ground cinnamon or nutmeg.
STEP 10: STEAM YOUR MILK
Did you know that you can steam your own milk at home? If lattes and cappuccinos are a morning must-have, Jazmin suggests buying an electric milk frother.
Learn more about Brew Brew Coffee & Tea.
*As told to Erin Nederbo.
Nitro creamer and sweet foam topper are all the rage right now, but no one’s really mastered replicating them at home. (Until now!) In just a few shakes, Reddi-wip nitro coffee creamer adds velvety texture to make your cold brews creamy and your morning lattes quick. But if you’re just looking for a tasty way to top things off, you’ll want to use the sweet foam coffee topper. Hot or cold, spiked or straight, your drinks will love its lightly-sweet foam and beautiful, barista-style finish. We’re drooling just explaining it to you.