Take a moment to think about the best java you've ever had. Maybe it was an espresso sipped al fresco in Paris, a specific roast you picked randomly and totally blew your mind, or a pot of drip coffee you shared with a good friend. Whatever it was, know that you deserve more cups like that one.
So, below, we rounded up the five best coffee-brewing tricks we've learned over the years that elevate the coffee experience. Whether you want to know how to DIY cold brew without a fancy machine, eliminate bitterness from your coffee experience, or learn how to choose blends that agree with your stomach, we've got the intel for you.
1. Make cold brew... minus the cold brew maker
Winter or summer, rain or shine, you may have days you wake up and just... crave cold brew. While machines that churn out ice-cold coffee can be bulky and expensive, it's possible to make your own pot at home with coffee grounds, a fine mesh strainer, a filter, a large jar, and cold water. (Check out the full process here.)
Once your work is done, you'll have a to-do list-saving jar of cold brew concentrate that you can dilute with milk or water and enjoy for several days. Voilà! You just saved the $7 you would have spent at a café.
2. Match your caffeine needs with the corresponding coffee-brewing technique
There are about a million ways to make coffee, but you may not know that different methods yield different quantities of caffeine. Bob Arnot, MD, an internal medicine doctor and author of The Coffee Lover's Bible, previously told Well+Good that certain brewing protocols result in higher levels of "extraction"—meaning they yield more caffeine and polyphenols.
Turkish and cowboy methods are among the highest extractors, while French press and drip coffee will offer some of the lowest quantities of caffeine and polyphenols.
This information comes in handy if, say, you're someone who's more sensitive to caffeine. You may find that drip is your BFF while Turkish coffee leaves you feeling jittery. Read more about the benefits of each coffee brewing method here.
3. Brew your coffee the food scientist way
If there's anyone who can geek out on whipping up the perfect cup of coffee, it's food scientist and chef Makenzie Bryson Jackson, MS.
When we challenged her and Kaleena Teoh, co-founder of Coffee Project NY, to tell us how to make the Platonic ideal of a cup of at-home joe, they gave us a 10-step process that involves choosing the right beans, considering the water temperature, quality, and ratio, and paying special attention to the grind.
While some will call the process "extra" (and we're all entitled to our own coffee opinions), you may just get to experience the best java of your life. And, hey, it's a pretty great flex for guests. Like, "hey, let me make you a food scientist-approved cup of coffee."
Make sure to check out the full step-by-step instructions here.
4. Dial down the bitterness of your cup with salt
Let's say you've brewed your coffee and notice that it tastes a bit bitter today. If not even a generous pour of oat milk is making things right, Jackson previously told Well+Good that a grain or two of salt (yes, pepper's better half) will settle everything down.
This method works because salt represses the receptors on your tongue that would ordinarily alert your brain of bitterness. So, the salt doesn't make the coffee less bitter; it makes you less likely to perceive that bitterness. Cool, right?
5. Choose a low-acid blend if you have stomach troubles
Look, coffee is an amazing substance—but it's not always kind to the digestive tract. How you brew your batch can make a big difference in the coffee's level of acidity. And, by extension, how tough it is on your stomach, said Maddie Pasquariello, RD, a registered dietitian and founder of East Coast Health and Nutrition with Maddie.
"Coffee contains several different acidic chemical, including malic acid, citric acid, and acetic acid," Pasquariello said. These different players change the pH of your stomach and, in some cases, can elevate the gastric acid down there, causing an upset stomach.
If you're someone who would describe your stomach as "sensitive," dark roasts are going to be the way to go. Because darker roast beans are roasted for longer and at higher temperatures, they often contain fewer acid-producing compounds. (Huge win.)
Learn all about a dietitian's take on coffee:
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