How to Make a Delicious Coffee at Home, for Pennies!
2020 was the year I embraced coffee at home and got rid of my habit of costly daily takeaway coffees. Aside from the obvious financial implications of this habit, I had always enjoyed getting a coffee out as part of my daily routine. Without the commute to work I also lost that part of my day where I would walk, listen to a podcast, have a coffee, and mentally prepare for the day.
Making coffee at home doesn’t have to be a chore, it can be a beautiful ritual which marks out the beginning of your day. Filter, aeropress, french press, espresso, there seem to be an endless number of gadgets available for making coffee at home.
My personal favourite is the American-style filter coffee machine. I make a pot of coffee when I wake up in the morning and usually have two cups before I leave the house. I like that it’s more mellow than espresso based beverages and that it’s the perfect temperature for sipping. My favorite brand is a hazelnut coffee bean from Dunkin Donuts, but I save that as a special treat for the weekends and just use an Italian roast during the week.
Benefits and downsides of various coffee making tools
The aeropress is a funny looking plunger system to make espresso coffee at home. It was invented in 2005 by Aerobie president Alan Adler. Coffee is steeped for 10–50 seconds and then forced through a filter by pressing the plunger through the tube. The filters used are either the AeroPress paper filters or disc shaped thin metal filters.
Using an aeropress is simple. It takes a bit of time to boil water, a little time to let the grounds brew, and then you press the plunger and Voila! Espresso coffee from the comfort of home.
These are also great if you work in an office and want to make your own coffee. I used to keep one at my desk to save me running out for an afternoon brew.
It’s 25$ for the Aeropress starter kit, which includes paper filters. Replacement filters will run you 7£ for 350, so a small 0.02 cents per coffee. If you are making a couple coffees in a row you can also reuse the filter paper. So we are talking pennies!
Cons: You can only make enough coffee for one or two people at a time. Definitely a negative if you are serving a crowd.
Pros: Delicious, strong, single serve coffee. Good base for making lattes and cappuccinos. This is a great option for making espresso at home without having to buy an expensive espresso coffee maker.
25£ + 7£ a year filter papers.
Simple and timeless, French press coffee is a weekend staple for me. You can buy smaller versions to serve one cup at a time, or larger versions will serve 4–7 cups of filter coffee.
French press coffee has a higher caffeine content because of the way that its brewed, you may also get a slightly more acidic flavor from the bean. It’s a great option when you want to make a pot of coffee to share.
One of these will set you make between 7–30$, depending on the size of the carafe. There are no filters involved, so no running costs.
Pros: Fuss-free coffee. You just pour nearly boiling water over coffee grounds and let it sit while you get on with your day.
Cons: Coffee will be served at a lower temperature because you have to allow it to brew. So coffee will get colder quicker, its not a deal-breaker for most people because they will consume the coffee quickly, but it’s something to be aware of.
American Style Filter Coffee Maker
Americans grow up with this kind of coffee maker, very common and usually pretty cheap to buy between 15–50$. If you’re living outside of America these are harder to source and will be more expensive, somewhere in the region of 25–75£.
Filter coffee from these machines is mild, you can drink a lot of it and not get the jittery feeling you may get from espressos. Higher water content in the coffee itself, its a smooth and flavorful drink, though some find it too watery for their taste.
This all comes down to personal preference, if you prefer espresso to filter coffee than this machine won’t be for you. But if you love filter style coffee, and you drink coffee in larger quantities, I think it is worth the investment.
Pros: Will keep coffee warm for hours if you are working from home and want to top up your coffee cup. The coffee is great, what you get in an old-fashioned American diner, with free refills!
Cons: If you prefer espresso based coffee drinks, than this probably isn’t going to cut it for you. The kind of coffee it brews is much more mellow in flavour. This makes filter coffee, and that’s it, so not a hugely versatile machine.
25$ for the filter machine, 2–4$ for replacement filters. Yearly cost roughly 10$ for filters.
Coffee snobs will turn up their nose to instant coffee, but I am a true believer.
The typical complaint from the uninitiated is that people find instant coffee weaker than drip or espresso brewed coffee; I think they’re just not using enough. More is typically better. Most brands of instant coffee will recommend a teaspoon per 8oz. of water. Chances are the size of your mug is not the regulation size 8 oz., so you are probably putting too much water in ratio to the coffee granules. Experiment a bit and calibrate your instant coffee to the size of the cup. I use a heaping tablespoon for my medium size mug.
Err on the side of too much and see if you like it. If not you can always add more water or milk to thin it out.
Also, experiment with different brands.
My personal favourite is Douwe Egberts Gold Roast. It’s a good flavoured, rich, full bodied taste without the acidic aftertaste you can get with some cheaper supermarket brands. As you are experimenting with different brands you’ll notice there is a big price differential. Some of the cheaper instant coffee brands are $3–4 or some brands may be as much as $10–12. However, you have to calculate out the price breakdown to really put that price in perspective. If you buy a $12 jar of instant coffee you’ll likely get at least 40 cups out of it, 30 cents a cup. For that same $12 you could get 3 lattes at a coffee house.
The average cup of instant coffee costs less than 12 cents. Yes, 12 cents.
So there you have it, options to make coffee at home for pennies! Instead of spending 3–5$ on your caffeine habit everyday, try switching to one of these methods.