10 Ways To Make Better Coffee On A Budget
There’s an unfortunate assumption in the world of all things coffee that great-tasting java only comes at a premium. You have to splash out to reap any rewards and those who can’t afford it may as well just give up.
Thankfully, this is absolutely not the case. If you’re trying to watch your spending but you still want to enjoy mouth wateringly delicious coffee then don’t let anyone tell you it’s impossible! There are tips and tricks that can help you maximize whatever coffee you have to hand and result in a cup of joe that’s brimming with enough flavor to keep you satisfied all day.
To help you out, here are ten top tips to transform your coffee game and you won’t break the bank by giving these a go. From optimizing your instant coffee to cost-effective whole beans, we have it all here. Let’s get started straight away and find out how you can make your instant coffee grounds taste better than fresh coffee!
Make Instant Coffee Taste Better
This first trick to help elevate your coffee game is useful if you have to resort to instant coffee. There’s no doubt instant is cheaper and you don’t need any specialist equipment to make it. My best advice here is you need to make sure you don’t burn the powder as you brew a cup of joe.
I like to switch the kettle on until it’s hot and then switch it off. I add just enough lukewarm water to the coffee to dissolve it into a thick paste. Then I let the kettle boil and give it a minute or so to cool slightly.
Use this to top up your mug and you’ll have a rich-tasting mug of java that’s never bitter and burnt!
Trick For Testing Water Temperature
The last tip brings us onto the subject of coffee brewing temperature. Coffee grounds have an optimal brew temperature where the water is just hot enough to extract a full, delicious flavor profile but won’t burn the beans.
This temperature range is 195-205F.
You can buy fancy stovetop kettles with built-in thermometers that tell you when the water reaches this point but, let’s face it, if we’re trying to keep the price low then this probably isn’t an option. If you have a kitchen thermometer to hand, you can use this to test the water temperature instead.
If you don’t have either of these to hand then don’t worry. A neat trick is to let the kettle boil and allow it to sit for a minute. This lets the water cool to around this point and you’re ready to get brewing with no extra equipment required.
Weigh Your Coffee
A really useful tip for making your coffee taste consistently great is to use enough coffee grounds for your brew method of choice. A good rule of thumb for most brew methods (drip coffee, pour-over, french press) is to use a 1:15 coffee to water ratio. This means for every 15ml of water, use 1g of coffee. You can use a bit of trial and error to tweak this ratio until the coffee tastes just right for you.
Of course, you can buy a fancy set of ultra-sensitive coffee scales but in reality, any kitchen scales will do, as long as they can measure to the nearest gram.
Let Your Coffee Bloom
A really important step in the coffee brewing process is the coffee ‘blooming’ stage. To carry out this won’t cost you a dime. When the water first hits the coffee grounds they swell up and start to let off carbon dioxide gas. This reduces the acidity in the coffee and gives a better balance of flavors.
To let your coffee bloom, simply add just enough water to saturate the grounds. Wait 30 seconds and you should notice the coffee fizz and bubble. Once the 30 seconds are up, add the rest of the water to complete the brewing process.
This simple step will ensure your coffee tastes as delicious as possible and it doesn’t cost any extra to do it.
Use Filtered Water
Impurities and minerals found in tap water can add a bitter taste to coffee and can affect the extraction. Using filtered water helps remove this issue. To sum it up, better-tasting water makes better-tasting coffee.
I’d like to stress, this tip is only useful if you have a water filter jug or tap to hand already otherwise it’s not so budget-friendly.
Buy The Best Coffee You Can Afford
Better quality coffee tastes better. It’s a good idea to look for the freshest, whole beans that fit into your budget. Don’t break the bank but take some time to research different options.
I like to browse the coffee aisle in my local grocery store and see which beans are on offer. I often find they have decent options that cost a similar amount to pre-ground, as long as you’re patient and don’t mind having a browse.
Use a Manual Burr Grinder
Burr coffee grinders are the very best option to ensure an even grind size which makes for much better extraction of flavors and aromas. Unfortunately, electric burr grinders are pricy. You can get around this issue by opting for a hand-crank/manual burr grinder.
These models often have the same ceramic burrs as the electric ones but require you to do the hard work. You twist the handle and slowly but surely, you’re coffee comes out ground up and ready to use.
These devices are way cheaper than electric grinders and work pretty well as long as you add in the elbow grease.
Clean Your Equipment
A common issue in the coffee brewing world is the misconception that coffee equipment doesn’t need to be cleaned and rinsing will do. Coffee releases oils that build up on your equipment over time and these go stale. This imparts a bitter taste to your java.
It’s a good idea to clean your coffee-making equipment once a week or so (depending on how much you use it) with mild dish soap and a non-abrasive sponge. Rinse it thoroughly with clean water to remove all the suds.
Make Cold Brew Coffee
If you want to make delicious coffee but you don’t have any equipment to hand then cold brew coffee is the perfect solution. All you need is a large pitcher or glass jar and some means of filtering away the coffee grounds. Cheesecloth works well or a fine-mesh sieve.
Add coarsely ground coffee to cold water at a 1:15 ratio (or a 1:7 ratio if you’re looking to make cold brew concentrate). Let this mixture sit together in the fridge or even just at room temperature overnight. After 12 hours, remove the grounds by passing the coffee through your cheesecloth, sieve, tea strainer, french press, etc.
You can store the coffee in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and dilute it with fresh water to taste. Cold-brew coffee can be enjoyed over ice or you can warm it up and enjoy it hot. It’s really easy to make and doesn’t need expensive brew equipment to do so.
If you’ve brewed your java and it tastes off, bitter, and just not quite right then don’t toss it away immediately. A pinch of salt can bring out the sweet flavors and help tone down the bitterness. This tip has saved hundreds of disappointing mugs of java from being discarded and is a really useful, cost-saving coffee hack.
Making great coffee doesn’t have to break the bank. With these tips on board, you can take any kind of coffee and make it taste better than you can buy at any coffee shop. Whether it’s instant, pre-ground, or whole beans you use, there’s always a budget-friendly way to improve. Happy brewing!