How to Brew Perfect Coffee

Taste my Pumpkin Spice Coconut coffee.

By Kevin RR Williams

RECIPE Specialty coffee shops love tempting patrons with exotic aromas. The special of the day may be a dark roast blend with undertones of almonds, cinnamon and cranberries. Perhaps you purchase a bag to take home and enjoy a swallow of bliss. On your next visit there is a different flavor but perhaps just as enticing. The discovery process is the allure of repeat visits. But what if you want to rewind to that first bliss?

A perfect blend is crafted to your individual tastes. Right now for me, it’s Pumpkin Spice Coconut. You are welcome to try it yourself if this combination of flavors excites your tastebuds. And it won’t require a fortuitous visit to your local barista. Easily blend exotic flavors in your own kitchen. So strap on your hairnet, we’re going to give the NutriBullet a whirl.

Related: How Fast Should Smoothies Blend?

A Nutribullet does more than blend smoothies. The powerful motor can crush dried seeds and, in this case, coffee beans. The trick is matching the granularity to the filter. If the resulting coffee grinds are too fine they can clog the coffee filter. Heavy-handed powdered spice additions have the same result on the sieve. Where possible, crush whole dried spices like cinnamon sticks or vanilla beans. Nevertheless, like me, you can also master the dash of powdered spice.

My affection for freshly brewed coffee is well documented in this blog space. I grind small batches of frozen beans and brew one cup at a time. Sessions are limited to a few times a week rather than multiple times per day at the height of my addiction so a pound of beans goes a long way. Whether you use a K‑cup hack for a fancy Keurig or an economical Black & Decker Brew and Go, you too can enjoy a perfect brew.

The Bean Hunt

According to Joe Speicher & Mark Wickens of Ground to Grounds, There are only two types of commercial coffee beans available, Arabica and Robusta. Arabica is grown in high altitudes and is known for it's smooth, slightly acidic taste. Robusta is grown in lower altitudes and is known for it's stronger, more bitter taste.

Related: I Hate to Love Coffee

My love affair with coffee is not mutual. Caffeine is unkind to me. It interferes with peaceful nighttime rest, dries my skin and often makes me drowsy. For these reasons I purchase decaffeinated Arabica coffee beans. Decaf implies to most people the absence of caffeine. It actually means that some caffeine is removed. Starbucks Decaf Pike Place® Roast has about 25mg of caffeine per 16 fl oz serving when prepared according to directions.

Begin by selecting coffee beans that appeal to you. You might be limited by what is available in your area. Some grocery stores have an isle of whole beans that customers can grind themselves on the spot. You don’t have to buy a pound; just get enough to sample a cup. This way you can compare several varieties. Go back and purchase the whole beans for your preferred flavor. Alternatively, you can order the drip coffee at Starbucks or whatever shop you frequent. If you like it, purchase a bag of whole beans.

According to coffee connoisseurs Tony Konecny and Ryan Brown, "The full flavor and richness of coffee diminishes dramatically and rapidly after roasting. The broadest range and intensity of flavors is experienced within the first two weeks, and no technology or fancy packaging can do very much to stop that decline. Once you experience the aroma and presence of drinking coffee from fresh roasted beans, it's hard to go back to the stuff on the supermarket shelf. Only buy coffee that has a roasted-on date and will get consumed within a couple weeks of that date.”

Blend Away!

After picking your whole coffee beans and dried spices, you're ready to blend. Start with very small batches of about a quarter cup of beans until you perfect your recipe. Keep modifications simple with one or two additions. The goal is to enhance the flavor of the coffee, not mask it.

Here’s how make my personal favorite blend. You can scale up or down for your needs. Place one half cup of whole coffee beans in your NuriBullet (or Ninja Bullet). Add a couple light shakes of Pumpkin Pie Spice seasoning. (It's a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger, but no pumpkin.) Add a teaspoon of dried coconut flakes. Attached the single-blade grinding attachment. Then pulse the Nutribullet by tapping for one second six times. Remove to shake. Reattach for one final single pulse.

The resulting coarse blend is perfect for my brewer. After making a cup you can determine if more pulsing is required. Using my single-cup Black & Decker Brew and Go, I add one heaping tablespoon to a Milita No.1 coffee filter. Fill the 12 oz cup with purified spring water to pour into the reservoir. Place the empty cup with lid on it in the space provided and press the on switch. Keep unused beans in the freezer.

For my taste, a perfectly brewed cup of coffee does not require any cream or sugar. Those are only added to mask strong or bitter coffee. In this case, they will also mask the subtle nuances of the pumpkin spice and coconut. If you must have sugar and cream, they you may need to tweak your blend or use a stronger roast. Once you have it dialed in, you will appreciate the ability to replicate your perfect cup of coffee. Please share what you come up with in the comments below.

Tags: barista, beverage, java, recipe