Direct above view of roasted coffee beans, white coffee cup with black coffee, dark brown colored napkin with one white spoon full with blended coffee on dark brown background.

How to Make the Best Coffee (and What to Add to It)

From the aromatic smell to that delicious first sip, nothing beats a fresh cup of coffee in the morning. Whether you’re looking to brew your coffee at home or want to upgrade your office caffeine routine, you don’t need a barista to make an incredible brew. With the right tools and ingredients, you can create café-worthy coffee drinks at any time!

Ready to learn how to make the best coffee ever? We’ll show you six unique ways to brew those beans and introduce you to flavor-boosting coffee additives so you can tailor the perfect drink for your taste buds.

Tips for Making the Best Coffee

Fine-tune your process for making hot coffee to banish bitterness, improve ingredients and adjust measurements so you can enjoy a better, more flavorful cup. Level up your coffee-making skills with these pro tips:

  • Buy fresh coffee beans: The best coffee starts with choosing the best beans. Avoid inexpensive bulk options sitting for weeks on shelves at the supermarket. Try to buy fresh beans from trusted, quality-conscious providers to guarantee you’re brewing the most flavorful coffee available. Light and oxygen exposure deteriorates coffee quality, so make sure you buy beans professionally packaged in light-blocking, vacuum-sealed bags.
  • Choose high-quality coffee: Flavorful Arabica is generally considered the better quality bean, while Robusta offers higher caffeine content but a harsher finish. Great blends harness the best characteristics of both. Different roasting methods will affect the taste, too. To pick the best coffee for you or your employees, research flavor preferences. Choose premium beans and ground coffee from trusted brands and your coffee drinkers will keep coming back for more!
  • Grind your own beans: Coffee quality starts to diminish almost immediately after grinding. The best-tasting coffee drinks are crafted from beans ground right before brewing. Use a quality burr grinder to control the particle size. Choose the grind size based on your desired drink — coarse for French Press, medium for pour-overs and fine for espresso. Generally speaking, finer ground coffee yields the most flavor.
  • Store coffee properly: The best way to guarantee freshness is to choose prepackaged coffee solutions measured for your machine and specific brew needs — whether it’s a single cup or brew for the entire office’s afternoon coffee break. Contrary to popular belief, you should never freeze or refrigerate ground coffee. Store them in an opaque, airtight container at a cool room temperature to keep coffee beans and grounds fresh after opening.
  • Check your water quality: Every cup of coffee starts with two components — coffee beans and water. While the beans are important, water quality is often overlooked and affects the flavor outcome more than most people realize. Chlorinated, softened and unfiltered tap water can ruin an otherwise fine brew, and distilled water strips away minerals necessary for good taste. Coffee connoisseurs only use bottled spring water and filtered water.
  • Select better quality filters: Those standard inexpensive coffee filters might not be such a great bargain if they reduce the quality of your brew. Switching to better-quality oxygen-bleached and dioxin-free paper filters can elevate your coffee’s flavor. Serious coffee drinkers swear by gold-plated stainless steel mesh filters known for delivering maximum taste, but they sometimes let sediment through if the ground coffee is too fine.
  • Measure the correct amount of coffee: Using 2 tablespoons of coffee for every 6 ounces of water isn’t always the best ratio. Because coffee types have different sizes and densities, a tablespoon of one kind of ground coffee might weigh less than another, so use a scale for precision. The more coffee you add to water, the stronger the flavor intensity, so experiment with adjusted ratios to find what works for your favorite drink.
  • Use the right water temperature: If you’ve ever brewed top-notch beans and experienced a bitter aftertaste, the water temperature was the likely culprit. Because too-hot water extracts bitter compounds, most coffees should be brewed between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Good coffee machines can automatically regulate temperature, but if you’re manually pouring, let the boiling water cool to the appropriate temperature before adding it.

6 Different Ways to Make Great Coffee

Whether you want a quick-and-easy method to brew a family-sized amount of regular joe or just one robust cup of espresso to sip solo, everyone has a preferred method. We’re here to help demystify how to make good coffee in six different ways:

1. Perfect Pour-Over

If you’re interested in making a delicious, medium-bodied cup of coffee with fuller control over the brewing process, you’ll love the classic pour-over method. This hands-on approach is a favorite among baristas because it allows the brewer to control the speed of the pour and the total number of pouring rounds to carefully extract the coffee’s tasting notes.

Start with freshly ground beans at the right size — the grounds are too fine if coffee takes a long time to pass through and too coarse if water passes through too quickly. Craft the perfect pour-over in a few easy steps:

  • Bring cold water to a boil in a kettle.
  • Place the filter in the brewer.
  • Dampen the filter with hot water and pour out the excess.
  • When boiled water cools to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, pour it over the ground coffee in a circular motion.
  • De-gas the coffee during the “bloom pour” by pausing the pour before coffee begins to drip through.
  • Slowly pour the remaining water until the dripper is between one-half and three-quarters full.
  • Remove the filter, serve and enjoy!

2. Convenient Drip Method

When you want to make coffee to go or need hot-and-ready coffee available for several people at once, nothing beats the convenience of a drip coffee machine. What batch brewers lack in hands-on control, they make up for in their simplicity and capacity to make larger quantities of coffee, making them a trusted choice for professional settings.

The drip method is ideal for:

  • Households with multiple coffee drinkers
  • Office break rooms
  • Corporate conference rooms
  • Business and hotel lobbies
  • College residence hall kitchens
  • University lounges
  • Healthcare facilities
  • Hospitality services

When using a high-quality industrial-grade brewer, all you have to do is grind the coffee beans, add them to the filter and press the brew button — it’s that simple! Premeasured coffee packets make it even easier to achieve perfectly portioned, flavorful batches every time. With advances in brewer technology, anyone can enjoy café-quality coffee at home, work or school.

3. Flavorful French Press

Europeans certainly know a thing or two about making an excellent cup of coffee! If you’re looking for a rich, full-bodied brew with a smooth finish, nothing beats the time-tested French press experience.

The method is right in the name — grounds are “pressed” to the bottom of the carafe with a plunger after they’ve brewed directly in hot water. Because the grounds steep freely in water, the coffee finish is creamier with a more robust flavor. Since no paper filters are needed, the French press is one of the most eco-conscious brew options.

To make, simply add loose ground coffee into the beaker, fill it with water and wait four minutes. Now comes the satisfying part — gently push those grounds to the bottom! Grab a croissant, pour the coffee into your favorite mug and relax.

For the most flavorful outcome, follow these tips:

  • Use a coarser grind.
  • The water should be around 195 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Decant the coffee as soon as possible once it’s brewed to prevent over-extraction.

4. Classic Cold Brew

Cold-brewed coffee provides the taste of your favorite caffeinated beverage without the heat. It’s no surprise this refreshing drink is one of the hottest — rather, “coolest” — trends in the coffee market right now.

Unlike traditional hot coffees, cold brew is made by soaking freshly ground coffee in cold or room temperature water. The much slower extraction method yields a smoother, sweeter flavor and a slightly higher level of caffeine.

Anyone can make this easy drink, no barista required:

  • In a large mason jar or cold brew system, add one-third cup of medium-coarse grounds to every 1 and a half cups of cold water.
  • After cold-brewing for 12 to 24 hours, strain the coffee twice through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth and refrigerate.
  • When you’re ready to drink, mix one-third to one-half of the coffee concentrate with water, to taste, over ice.

Cold brew is a popular choice for campus cafés and businesses because it can be made ahead of time in larger quantities. Most folks enjoy cold brew without any additives since it’s naturally sweeter than other coffees, but a splash of milk and sweetener tastes great, too.

5. Refreshing Iced Coffee

Not to be confused with cold brew, iced coffee is brewed cold but the brewing process is different. Making iced coffee still involves the traditional brewing method using heat.

At home, brew coffee using your method of choice. Cool the coffee to room temperature and refrigerate. You can also flash-brew coffee for a quick drink by brewing, letting it cool a little, then immediately pouring it over ice. Keep in mind that the ice will dilute the flavor as it melts. Here’s a pro tip — the next time you have leftover coffee, freeze it in ice cube trays and use the cubes in a glass of iced coffee to prevent flavor loss.

At the office, breakroom coffee experiences don’t need to be limited to hot beverages only. Some on-demand professional machines include an iced coffee option so colleagues can enjoy a cold drink at the touch of a button.

6. Energetic Espresso

The beloved drink that originated in Italy in the 1800s is more popular than ever, with American coffee drinkers choosing espresso-based beverages and premium beans over traditional coffee. If you’re a fan of extremely strong coffee and espresso drinks, choose an espresso-making option for your counter.

Before selecting your espresso maker, think about available space, budget and versatility:

  • Moka pot: The stovetop percolator’s simple design can brew one cup or enough for a small gathering. Heated water is pressurized by steam, then passes through the ground coffee.
  • Espresso machine: A small amount of highly pressurized hot water passes through the ground coffee to create highly concentrated coffee in under 30 seconds.

Here’s a flavorful pro tip — espresso requires the finest coffee bean grounds out of all coffee types, so make sure to grind well. While it takes more practice to use a professional espresso machine, once you get into the rhythm, you can make a wide variety of specialty drinks at home, school or the office — cappuccinos, café lattes, macchiatos, mochas and more.

What to Add to Your Coffee to Make It Taste Better

Do you like your coffee black, or do you add milk and sugar? Most folks prefer their drink jazzed up with a little something extra. A recent National Coffee Association report shows that at least two-thirds of American coffee drinkers add some type of creamer and more than half use sweetener.

From herbs to spices to extracts, there’s an entire world of coffee extras beyond milk and sugar that can transform your cup into a whole new experience. If you’re wondering what to put in coffee to enhance its taste, try one or a combination of the following:

  • Creamers: Add a splash of whole, half-and-half, 2% or 1% milk, or use one of the increasingly popular non-dairy alternatives — coconut, oat, rice, soy, almond, hemp or cashew milk. Enjoy creamer and coffee alone or mixed with sweeteners, syrups and spices.
  • Natural sweeteners: If you have a sweet tooth, test the flavor differences between white, brown and raw natural sugars. For sweetness with a more pronounced flavor profile, try agave nectar, syrups, honey or molasses.
  • Artificial sweeteners: If sugar is a no-go for health or dietary reasons but you still want a sweetened cup of coffee, add sucralose, aspartame, dextrose or saccharin.
  • Cinnamon: Sprinkle cinnamon on top of your latte for a touch of sweetness without the calories of sugar. Plus, cinnamon has a positive effect on blood sugar levels!
  • Cardamom: This Middle Eastern spice adds unique floral notes to coffee. Try a traditional Turkish coffee made with hot water, finely ground coffee, sugar and ground cardamom.
  • Mint: It may seem like a strange combination, but trust us — adding fresh mint leaves to coffee is refreshing and delicious. Stir in grated dark chocolate for a minty mocha drink.
  • Lemon: While the Italian espresso romano’s origin story remains ambiguous, one thing is certain — adding a twist of lemon peel to a cup of espresso is delightful. The acidity of the lemon plus the sweetness of sugar balance the intensity of the espresso.
  • Cocoa powder: Coffee-drinking chocoholics can combine both loves in one drink. Add a spoonful of cocoa powder to the ground coffee in your French press for a velvety smooth treat.
  • Syrups: With a few pumps from one of the countless sweetened and sugar-free syrup flavors on the market, anyone can turn coffee into a specialty drink in seconds. Try refreshing fruit-inspired syrups like peach and blackberry, year-round favorites like salted caramel and French vanilla or seasonal selections like pumpkin spice and peppermint mocha.
  • Extracts: Get the flavor of syrups without the artificial ingredients with natural extracts. While warm vanilla and nutty hazelnut are well-known coffee additives, try almond extract for an amaretto-inspired coffee experience.

Make Your Coffee Your Way

So, what is the best way to make coffee? The answer is any way you like it. When it comes to coffee, there are better ways to prepare the drink — using filtered water, fresh beans, proper grind size and brewing at the right temperature — but the drink style is your choice. Experiment with different coffee brewing methods, bean blends and stir-ins to discover your favorite approach.

We hope this guide encourages you to embrace your adventurous side and experiment with different coffee additives to find your favorite flavors. After all, you’ll never know whether you enjoy cardamom or lemon in your coffee if you don’t try it.

The Best Coffee Solutions for Your Business

At American Food & Vending, we understand that a great cup of coffee provides the fuel needed for you, employees, students, clients and guests to seize the day. You and your patrons deserve superior coffee solutions for your business. As a hospitality industry leader and one of the largest privately held refreshment service providers in America, you can trust we’ll provide the highest quality products, cutting-edge technology and superior service.

Our state-of-the-art machines, sought-after national coffee brands and top-tier service ensures your coffee bar is fully-stocked and provides delicious drinks. From smaller breakrooms to university cafes to hospital lobbies, our solutions allow folks to access a fresh cup of their favorite coffee beverage in minutes, saving you time and keeping them happy.

Ask us about our client-loved variety-on-demand coffee solutions — contact American Food & Vending today for a personalized consultation!